COFFEE WITH NICOA: Creating A LIFE BY DESIGN.

S2 EP8: SHELLEY KELLY

February 21, 2024 NICOA DUNNE CORNELIUS Season 2 Episode 8
COFFEE WITH NICOA: Creating A LIFE BY DESIGN.
S2 EP8: SHELLEY KELLY
COFFEE WITH NICOA: Creating A LIFE BY DESIGN. +
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Show Notes Transcript

Another amazing LIFE BY DESIGN story with Shelley Kelly, not only a friend of Nicoa's but also a former client! Shelley is an amazing woman - she calls herself a creative, she is entrepreneurial by spirit, ran her own marketing business for years now leading the way with her company ENGAGE YOUR STAGE! Shelley has designed a life around not only her business, not only her family, but around her love of singing and story telling. She is the powerful lead singer of RIGSBEE ROAD out of Raleigh, NC, too! No matter the method of delivery, be it a song, a book, an event, or a simple conversation like this one, Shelley tells it with intention and with passion. Shelley's strength and energy exudes in this caffeinated coffee chat which is sure to inspire you!

LEARN MORE ABOUT SHELLEY KELLY HERE
AND her business ENGAGE YOUR STAGE HERE

BONUS NOTE: Nicoa is as close to Shelley as she is to a previous Coffee With Nicoa guest (S2 EP5) Ginny SanFratello who just happens to be Shelley's big sister! 
LISTEN to that episode HERE


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Nicoa Coach:

Grab your coffee and join me Nicoa For a caffeinated conversation about life I'll be talking to people who have chosen to walk their own paths and just like me, are creating a life by design. I hope that will give you the inspiration you need to do exactly the same. Here we are and look coffee with Nico everybody sharing all about the mug, right? It's so good man has her new coffee maker coffee in it. Oh, my gosh, Shelly Kelly. Now are you Kelly Kelly Sykes now, right, um, Kelly Kelly, You're still Kelly Kelly. Story. There's always a story. Well, tell me the story. Well, so

Shelley Kelly:

when we got married, and it was time to consider the name change, you know, I talked to my children. I was like, I think I'm going to change my name to Shelly sites. And Olivia said, Oh, I don't want you to change your name. And I was like, why? And she said, Well, don't you think it's kind of weird that my stepmother would have my last name, but my real mother would not. Oh, interesting. I was like, I never thought about that. I never thought about that. Why it said and at the time, he was seven or eight. There was little right. He said now I always want you to have my last name. Your my mom, your Shelly Kelly. Okay. Okay. Well done. So, Jason, you know what they said? He said, Well, there's no question. Yeah, you must keep it at least until they don't care anymore. You know.

Nicoa Coach:

So okay, so now I feel guilty.

Unknown:

It's okay. Because I'm older today.

Nicoa Coach:

Here's my story about we don't care anymore. They do care.

Shelley Kelly:

Oh they did.

Nicoa Coach:

They did. So I love that you told that story. Because here's my story. I told them, I didn't ask them. I told them. I said, I'm gonna take John's last name. And they were like, oh, but that's our last name is done. And why would you do that? And I said, you know, I understand that. But I really like my name. And I like all my names. So my name is Nicoa Sivan, Clemens done Cornelius and I said, I kind of look at my name as a story. And it's my wife. So I told that story, which is really what's amazing about a life by design, you get to make the story give you the meaning you need, and the value that you need for it to be meaningful for you. And so I love your story. And I love my story.

Shelley Kelly:

Yeah, I love them all. And I decided, you know, when when Wyatt gets older, and he's an adult, and doesn't matter anymore, I thought I might like surprise Jason one day because I think he would love it and just change it to Jason if you're listening at surprise.

Nicoa Coach:

You know, because it can be. And I do think of that. I mean, it's an old tradition. Now, some people will be like, Well, are you a feminist actually wrote a little blog post. Are you a feminist? Did you take your husband's name? And I said, Well, let's remember what feminism is choice. And I just said, it's a gift. He has me in his phone and how you put your contacts in your phone and you call them whatever you want to. It's Shelly Elaine San fratello Kelly Sykes. Oh, I love it. I love it. And I like I have you as Shelly Kelly Sykes, you know, just his name in there. And so the reason that we're here today, everybody is that you are one of my closest friends and your sister who by the time everybody hears this episode will recognize that they know your sister, Ginny Sanford, Taylor, Virginia. I still can't get used to call on her Virginia. Oh my gosh, she's grown up now and fancy. But I put her Virginia in my phone. So I'm reminded, but still callers. Can can't help. Well, the two of you have been my friend since you know, I think you and I didn't really get closer to post college days right in our but we met in early 90. We did. Way back in the day. You and I are both North Carolinians. And what I love about us is that we know each other very well for different reasons. So as friends as Jenny's best friend from college and being acquaintances that way, then we actually became client coach for a while I was a consultant to your business, your early startup and, and then we had some really intense coaching experiences together that got us to really know each other. And the one thing I wanted to share first before we have you tell us even more and elaborate is that you are one of the very few people who came to me after my divorce and it's gonna make me cry. But I was going through a hard time and when people go through divorces or lose a family member and they're grieving and that's okay, we can hear the phone. But when they're having these hard times they don't always recognize the depth of the grief or the depth of the pain. And I'm going through that right now with my mother but you seem to have record

Unknown:

Nice that within me, even though it was mainly my choice to move on and do my next thing in life, you came to Wilmington, do you even remember i You said, No, I'm coming. I'm bringing you dinner. And I was like, Well, you don't have to do that. And it's just me and you know, Campbell and PIPA and you're like, No, no, no, I'm coming. And you came in not, not everybody did that. And I will never forget it. And I'm so grateful. Well, I love that you tell that story. Because when I went through my divorce, I had that little tribe too, that kept coming around, you know, when a lot of people never came around again. Yeah, there were there were a few that were like, whatever you need. Can I bring you some muffins for breakfast? Just randomness, random. Love. Yeah. It just means the world. Because when you're going through that kind of deep stuff, yeah. Very lonely. And it's very scary. And it's very overwhelming. It's just a lot. It's just a lot. And you could see me, and I see you. And what I hope that people will glean from today's conversation is that you can go through pain like that. And you can go through that, you know, that painful change experience and come out really beautifully. And something even better on the other side? And why don't you take us back a little bit and tell us a little bit about that time of your life and what was going on and what you want to share about starting your own business and then making those changes in your marriage? Because you're a mama, you're a business owner again? Yeah, so I just made a singer, multi passionate entrepreneur. I mean, and I always have kind of craved creativity and new change growth, those sorts of things really excite me. And they don't excite everybody, you know. And so I guess I kind of felt like, just to nutshell it, because I don't want to go into all the details. But I had just sort of maybe outgrown that phase of my life. And I was ready for change. But I felt kind of locked into this set of expectations that I created for myself. Sure, you know, and I realized that 10 years later, it's nobody else's fault. But mine. There's no one that forced me to be or work or do or go or show up the way that I did. I chose all that stuff. But um, but yeah, I just felt like I needed to spread my wings and do some different things with my career. And I've kind of felt a little locked into that, too. So I just kind of pulled the trigger and made the change. And were you in that state of this is what's expected of me. Do you think if you reflect back, I mean, there's a part of me that was like, Oh, he's supposed to be married by this certain day. Yes. To live this life. Tell us a little bit about how you think you were influenced to think like that? Yes, I do. I wish our kids now I hope they're asking the questions like why I think it was just the the way I was brought up probably more than anything, my mom and my dad. But I think that and that's the way that I interpreted the conversations and the expectations from my parents, but my sister grew up in the same house. She didn't feel that way as she traveled the world. And she didn't do it right from the beginning. You know, everybody has a different experience, for sure. I was just much more of a pleaser than she was, you know, she was kind of like, Nope, I'm gonna go over here. This because that's what I want to do. And I was like, Oh, you want me to be over here and do this. I'm gonna do that then. Because I want you to be happy with me and pleased with me and love me. Yeah, looking for that external validation. And a lot of people find themselves in that, especially the second born or the middle child, depending on how many siblings that's actually very common. To be that kind of, I need to be the peacemaker, and the Peacekeeper and make sure everybody loves me. So you finally said enough is enough and use you had you you'd already started your business at that house. Well, I had a an agency, branding and marketing firm for business to business clients for 20 years. Yes. So I think at the point that I left that marriage, it was an 18 year, 18 years in the business. And then I sold it after 20 years. But that also was sort of I started to see my life's work get gobbled up in this enterprise economy where you just put so much time and energy and creativity and ideation into the brands and the messaging and helping these companies build and grow and be unique and learn how to talk about themselves and then they get bought by somebody else. And all that artwork is like oh, well can I start over? Yeah, you can start over or maybe it gets bought by a company from another country and you just you're done with it and it's it kind of felt like Where? Where is my mark? I feel like I'm leaving, I want to leave a mark on this world, but I feel like my marks are dissipating. The more years went by, okay, and so it was kind of like, okay, where's the value in this for, for me as a creator, as a creative person? Where am I bringing value in this world? Because I'm helping these companies grow, certainly. But what does it mean? Yeah. And so it just kind of lost that significance to me. So after after I sold that agency, I took a year or so to just try to recalibrate and think about, you know, what would feel like the impact I'm looking for in my life, you know, what kind of work did you do that year to try to, I walked a lot. I walked out, it was actually a beautiful weather here in North Carolina. And I walked a lot. And it was actually the year that I met my husband. And we walked and talked and walked and talked and walked and talked for months, and just figured things out. I remember meeting him. So we were at a bluegrass event. It during the Raleigh bluegrass festival. Oh, yeah, who was I with? I just you were by yourself. I think I must have been by myself. And you and I met. And then all of a sudden, you had been telling me about this guy you'd met. And you're and then he texted you? And you're like, Yeah, well, we're sitting down here at the architect bar somewhere. And he he's like, and you're like, What are you doing? He was like, nothing. You're like, come on down, and he came down. And then y'all are talking, talking, talking. And remember, though, before he even got there, it's funny how this just triggers the memory. You shared with me. So yeah, I was already. When did you meet him? 2017 2016 16. So we were separating? Yeah, that's right. We're just separated or something. And that's right. And he said, or you said to me before he got there that night. I've just been dating and figuring out what doesn't serve me. You've been dating different people and trying to you know, put yourself back out there. And you're like, I now I'm learning what I do not want. And I thought, oh, it's all about standards. It's all about, I'm now thinking well, what don't I want them before you knew it? Jason and Sharon up and I was like, third wheel, and I think I left. I'll never forget it. But it helped me it actually influenced me. You're a big influence on me whether you realize it or not. Yeah, I really do. I hear I mean, everybody is right. I'm really listening. So that was a good takeaway. That was a good life by design takeaway. I don't know if he even remember thinking that. I do. Remember, in fact, that year in February, this was right before I met him. It was Valentine's Day. And I had rented this little condo downtown Raleigh, because I had moved my company right downtown. But I still had a house in Sanford and I was commuting back and forth. And I thought, well, on the days that I can stay up here, I'm gonna just stay in this little condo and just read, write, just figure out what's next for me. And on that Valentine's Day, I remember, I bought myself a steak. And I cooked it about myself some flowers, and I sat there and had dinner by myself. And I just journaled and I wrote about what I would feel like with my right person. What does it feel like? What does it look like? What are the the absolute will not accept things, you know? And it was two pages. It wasn't a huge entry, but it was a thought about every single thing that I wrote down. And I met him two weeks later, I think and I remember going back to that writing, reading it again, like is he this? Is he this is he this, he was all the things. And so that next by the next year, we were engaged. And I gave him that journal entry for his Valentine's gift and he was just like, ah, what is this? And I was like, This is me manifesting you right now. That's right, you said a key thing and when you began to do that journaling, you wrote down how you wanted to feel so feeling and this was part of the work we had done together to how do I move away from well what is the details of life instead of the details? Let me say I don't want to deal with those deeds I do I want to experience my life with someone else in it. That's right, you know, and it was just so you know, it had been years of just kind of going out on dates here and there but there was always some clear this is not my person right? You can you could feel it fine, but right I really need to get clear on what I'm looking for. So I guess that's kind of what happened after I did that like what what is not for me, that's right thing what is not for me and therefore and then to what would i What do I want to attract and you have to go through that so there's value in all you know, as I like to say, yeah, so I did something similar. I remember my friend Sam Baker telling me she said you've got to write down a get some postcard hearts out and write down all the standards like every single standard that you're that you want to hold as true for you in your relationship and in your life for you. And then for whoever wants to join you. So, yes, Jason definitely met. He's a loving man. And he brought forth some children into your world, and you brought some children into his world. And like John and I, you have a blended family. Tell us a little bit about what that was like, and learning about yourself in a blended dynamic like that. It was. I mean, I haven't heard of a blended family story quite like ours. But when. So we were both pretty cautious about finding the right moment to introduce the kids, you know, and I was living here in this house, and he had a house in North Raleigh. And at one point, he wanted to just kind of like, test the waters, just like, so he had a buddy, that's also a musician. We're all musicians that was renting his basement from him. That's right. His name was Donnie. And we he was going to host a cookout one night, and he told his girls, he said, Donnie is bringing one of his friends over who's also a singer. She's a singer, and they know each other through music, but he invited her to come to our cookout tonight, they're like, Okay, fine, you know, and so we all hung out that night, and we ate burgers on the grill or whatever, you know, and, and I interacted with them a little bit, you know, but after I left, that was his opportunity to say, what do you think about that? Shelley? Girl? Yeah, nice. Right. And they were like, We love her, you know? And he was like, Okay, now, what's next? Yeah, so I love that. Yeah, he's kind of like, had me in the space without me being his date. You know what I mean? You know, what would be some of the lessons I've always told my friends after blending these two families for us, which happened, you know, right before the pandemic, which was really tricky for us. But I remember was talking to a friend saying, Oh, my God, they need like a support group for step moms. So how did you What lessons did you learn and another interesting thing about introducing them are when we finally decided to bring all the children together to meet each other, the girls were 13 or 14 at the time, they're 21. Now, but they were in those like, crazy teenage years, they already knew each other, oh, my gosh, they. They, they had heard money, or Olivia had heard his name, and Sela had heard my name. So they found each other on social media. And they had become like, they had a streak on Snapchat, or whatever that is, yeah. And we didn't know that they knew each other. So when they first met in person, for the first time, they hugged, like, they've known each other all their lives, you are the luckiest mama. And so I think we just kind of intuitively allow each other to parent, like their own children. Like I don't try to discipline his kids. And he doesn't necessarily discipline mine, even though sometimes I would love for him to discipline my son. But, um, but they've, they're all just real good kids, and they have loved each other from day one. So it hasn't been perfect. I mean, they've been all she took my sweatshirt to San bird or whatever. But for I mean, if I look back on it all, in all, they have just been very kind to one another, they've, you know, kind of been really close. And then grown apart. As the older girls have gone off to college, and they have different interests. They're not quite as close as they used to be. But they're adults now. That's right, and adults grew up, move out, and you don't see him very much anymore. They live in different cities, so I don't expect them to be best friends forever. But, um, but it's just been surprisingly easy. So I don't really have a ton of advice. Because the kids sort of did their thing. And they just, they're very social kids. And so they love the big family, they love hanging out, they love taking trips together. I mean, they still talk about the mountain trips, and the beach trips, and everybody kind of piling up in a house, they just lapped it, and you were able to do what you said, you know, I'm gonna let him continue to take the lead with his kids. And that's what we have done. Now if I have ever felt like our he's ever felt like one of us needed to step in with our own children where we might not have seen something or two or had the same observation will talk to each other about it. And then that parent can go and do something different if they choose to. And usually, you know, we're very respectful of each other in that way. You know, it's kind of neat with a second relationship. And, you know, I'm, I'm a big believer that relationships happen for some sort of either soul contract or some sort of karmic need, or, you know, a soul connection, that there's value there for learning and healing. And I've learned so much about myself just in the last three years of my second marriage. What are some of the things that you've learned about yourself and your second marriage in comparison to the first oh my gosh, I haven't thought about that. What I've learned about myself, yeah. Oh, gosh, I've learned so much but I don't I'm, well, I've always seen my musical interest in my musical talents as a hobby. Something that you do because you love it, but it's never been, like a serious endeavor for me. It never was in my home growing up. And it never was in my first marriage, it was like singing in the church choir or using the shower singing in the car, you send your kids to sleep at night, but that's where music lives in your life. And with him, especially during COVID, so during COVID, and 2020, my business my new agency that I own today was all based on conferences and events. Yeah, and which is the name of your business, engage your stage, engage your state. So in 2020, all of engaged, your stage events got cancelled, because they were 1000s of people coming together to hear global keynote speakers. That's what I did. So after a couple of months of hoping this pandemic will go away, and it didn't, I've started landscaping and planting flowers and walking again. And, and I got so bored, you know. And so I had several conversations with Jason and like, I feel kind of worthless. I mean, I don't, I don't feel like I'm bringing any value to our home to our family to our relationship. Right now. My business is dead, I'm not making any money. I just feel kind of aimless. And he said, We'll do something different. And I said, Well, I don't know what to do. And he said, Well, if you could design a dream project, like if you could just do anything you want to do something you've always wanted to do, maybe what would it be? And I said, you know, I've always wanted an all female music project where we play songs that everybody knows, but we play them with bluegrass instruments. So it sounds like bluegrass, but nobody knows bluegrass songs, but they know popular songs. So that would be a dream project. And he said, we'll just go do that. And I said, I have no idea how to do that. And he said, Shelley, you are the absolute smartest person I've ever met in my life, I'm sure you can figure it out. And you didn't make it out. So he taught me. Number one, that music doesn't have to be a hobby, it can be a career. And number two, I am smart enough to do something I've never done before. And just go for it. So I built this project during COVID. And it took a year to build up a show. Note well to find the musicians number one because that was not easy. And then build the show. And then year 220 21 Even though COVID was still around, we started doing outdoor concerts for free, just to you know, perform and get the experience and make some videos and stuff. And then by 2022 we started playing more paid some paid things. And then in January of this year 2023 We were selected as one of six bands to play the North Carolina festival showcase in Charlotte, which is where you perform for all of the festival organizers around the state of North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. And we booked the entire year fest Oh my gosh. So we've been playing festivals all year at our our top rate and literally a lot of my income is happening through music now. I am so which is something I never knew was even possible. So that was those are a couple things that I've learned a lot that you learned about yourself and sometimes we just need somebody to mirror back to us or just ask that one question. So back then when you were dreaming about that and by the way, the name of the band is Rigsby Road, Rigsby road and I actually went and saw them on YouTube and there's lots of great videos you guys found the video oh, so good. And I I'm gonna have to get a picture of this in the back the studio space. Totally awesome. And they are amazing. And there's seven of you there seven women. Yes, they are all professional musicians. And three of them are multi instrumentalists, and they bring multiple instruments to our show. And we play country music, popular music, r&b music, we play classic rock. I mean, it just runs the gamut. But it's all songs everybody knows and loves. But we rearrange them with our sort of bluegrass style style. Yeah, new grass. New grass is what we call it. It's probably not exactly new grass, but that's what we're calling it. Well, I want everybody to make note and I hope you heard yourself. There's seven women including that you're one off right. And they're all professional musician. They are all professional musicians, you included. Yeah. I do call myself a professional musician. Yes, you are. So what was that? What do you remember? If you do what was the First step you took when Jason helped you take the blinders off of that belief system that maybe I could do this, what do you remember? So what I did first is I called my good friend, Laura Shewhart, who is a keyboard player and a singer. But she's never played in a big band before either. But I know how talented she is. She's also a marketing genius. And, and I just shared my idea with her. We had had coffee a couple of weeks before, and she was telling me that she was feeling kind of bored in her work, and just hobbies just she was just looking for some things exciting to do. And so I thought of her first. And I said there was coffee involved that we just wanted to know that there was coffee involved, right? So I called her and I shared. I said, I have this harebrained idea. And I know you're brilliant, and you're smart, and you're a marketing whiz, but you're also a musician. Is this a thing that you think other women would be interested in? Do you think people would be interested in hearing this sort of music? Do you think it's possible to put this project together? And so when I shared the vision with her, she said, Oh my god, that is my dream to Oh, my God, I said, really? I said, Well, let's do this thing. And she said, Okay, well, what do we need to do next? And I said, Well, I really want to have a banjo player in the band. It's my favorite instrument. And I mean, if it's going to be new grass, it needs to have a banjo player. So I didn't know any female banjo players at all. But I did know Hank with Hank Petit in the current he plays down at the Bluegrass thing all the time. Your banjos at Raleigh times? Oh, yeah. Yeah. So I called Hank. And I said, Hank, you're like the leader of the Bluegrass Community in Raleigh, and I'm looking for a female banjo player that can also sing. Do you know anybody? And he said, Actually, I do. There's this lady. Her name is Skye pixton. And she's, you know, kind of new on the scene here. She's played a few times with us. And she's just trying to get out a little bit more and do some stuff with music, she may consider a new project. And I was like, Okay, well, can you give me your number? So I called her up. And I shared the same vision with her that I shared with Laura. And she said, That's my dream. This is wait. So I'm not the only one who likes this idea. It just went from there. And we just between the three of us, we started putting out feelers to other musicians that we knew. So our network got bigger and bigger. And so we started interviewing people. For the drummer and the bass player. We wanted a bass player that could also play cello and upright, or different music. Yeah, that was hard to find. But I have chills because we found her and she her name is Megan Maloney. And she is like, verified on social. And she's just incredible. She's a music teacher and our fiddle players in music destroying Teacher, are drummers were pregnant, and just came together, how quickly did it come together from that first spark of thought? It took about six months to find the people now we started with five, I recall, started with five. And with those five, we put together a one hour show and that first year. And then I always heard fiddle, and we didn't have fiddle as part of our initial five. So we started looking for fiddle player and maybe an acoustic guitar player. So we brought those folks in like your two or three. Oh, my gosh, and here you are. And here we are. And now and so for a while, like when we were, we played some paid gigs last year. Some of them had the seven piece some of them had the five Ps just because sometimes budgets aren't always enough for the seven piece. But this year, it's pretty much been seven the whole time. When you recognize that it was happening. And you thought back on that feeling before it always comes back to feelings for me, right? So that time in your life where you're kind of like more when I'm going to do at what point? Did you was it right away that you began to feel that spark again? And that energy? Was it a roller coaster tell us a little bit more about the emotional ride after taking that first step. It was so exciting. I mean, I never felt discouraged at all in the process of building the project. And I think the main reason was because Jason kept encouraging it. He was like, you're onto something really special here. And I support you in it. I will help you however you need me to. And he just continued to be that advocate for my idea and unwavering and that you've made me feel like this is possible. Yeah. And I'm not alone in it because I have his support and he loves the idea. And all these women seem to love the idea too. So it just kind of grew from there and it took off and it's been so much fun. You got the validation right away not only from him, but from everybody else and I would argue you don't need his support, but it helps. Right Yeah, and a lot of people when If you don't have that support, sometimes you have to ask for it and help that partner or that friend who you're trying to get that support from say, hey, I need your support. And it sounds like you had it right away. So that gave you that energy. Tell me what you've learned as an entrepreneur. Just any advice about going out on your own with a with a what some people might say, is their hobby, or their side gig. Any advice around the business side of things? Yeah. So I've just very recently started to see my business talents and my business gifts, merge with my hobby, which is a dream job. Right? Right. So I've always been a communication strategist, business development experts, CEO of a company, the leader of a group, writer, all those things. But now I get to do all of those things. As a musician, so there was value in that foundational your business endeavors Absolutely. Those 20 years with Kelly, Mark comm slash MODIS. I learned more in those 10 years than I could have learned in any master's program. Absolutely. I mean, just just the grind every day going at it right in the proposals talking to the clients and, you know, thinking solving problems, day after day after day, do you think you would have told yourself something different back at Kelly, Mark Modus about the impact you are having? And now, because that goes back, and you're like, Oh, my God, I'm not having an impact. It's not. But that wasn't that you weren't having an impact? You didn't impact on me? Exactly. You needed the impact on you. And you couldn't quite recognize that that was actually valuable endeavors. That was going to create something even better, and write feedback that I've gotten from former employees that, you know, they'll come back years later and say, that experience, whether it was a year or 10, were those years were the most transformative years of my career. And I'm so grateful to you for being the leader that you are. And those are the kinds of conversations you just never imagine are going to happen a decade later. But when they pop up, it's like God did make an impact, not only on developing the talents that I use in my business today, but the lives of other people, there's so many people that are touched by leaders and leaders don't think about it, you're right and card, the conversations, the calls out of the blue. Amazing, I like to say every action, every reaction, every interaction, and that you're always having an impact. And it doesn't mean for you to be uptight and on guard all the time. It just means recognize that your presence matters. Yeah. And your influence is happening, whether you are intending it or not. But I am still friends with some of your employees. To this day. I mean, Mary Ryan and I, I mean, my gosh, and I was just there for a hot minute at the end, you know, towards the last few years. And I just You did make a big difference. We made a difference. We did. Yeah. And doing that work together around energy leadership. Really, it was something that you trusted in me, and you were helping me launch mine. And it did have a big influence on people. So I'm grateful for that. In the season of gratitude, which were Yeah, the Thanksgiving season while we're doing this interview right now. I guess I'm out of the picture screen here. Anyway. So let's move into where you are today. Let's bring it forward. What's exciting you right now? Well, um, so rewind to beginning of COVID when you started the music project, and all that engaged, your stage went very flat for a while. So I started thinking, you know, this music project is a project, but it's not. It's not a revenue generating project. I kind of feel like I need a paying job right now. So I started looking for a full time job, which I had not done. I hadn't worked for anyone else since I was 24 years old. That's right, because I started killing more common. I was 24. So I found a chief marketing officer job with a structural engineering firm downtown and went to work for this Yeah, to work full time. eight to five, kind of a deal, you know, and I did some incredible work with that company and felt very valued and appreciated. And it was, it was creative. And for an engineering firm, they let we planned a flash mob dance downtown. One day with engineers. It was the CEO was so open minded to all the crazy harebrained ideas that I had. She was like, yes, nobody's ever done that. Let's go do that. I love those really, really fun. But then, you know, kids started going back to school and my son has a pretty significant school commute in the morning so it was getting kind of difficult to do the commute and be in the office every day for full time and my daughter got sick. And we had to be at her doctor's appointments pretty frequently. So there's just a lot of personal stuff that was pulling me in all different directions. And so I left that job thinking, Okay, I'm going to restart, engage your stage COVID is a little bit better. But I'm starting from scratch again, again, to build another company. To you, Newt. So what point did you make that decision? Was there some pain points where you did? Did you find yourself overwhelmed? Or are you pretty good at the self care and well, that was that was starting to be sacrificed, I would need to work out every day, I would need to move every morning. I want to move every morning. But it's gotten to the point where I was just feet hit the floor, and you go, and you take care of the kids and you take care of the doctor's appointments, and you take care of the the work and the boss and the projects. And I was not eating healthy. I was not exercising every day, I'd gained about 20 pounds, and thought and I was stressed. Because I didn't feel like I was managing things. Well, the band was starting to pick up. So my dream project was starting to become a reality. And I felt like life was really full of a lot of good stuff. But it was overly full. Yeah. And I was sacrificing my health and well being. So that's really what it came down to. And my CEO understood that. And she was completely supportive. In fact, she's hired me back to do some contract projects for her. So yeah, she wanted to have the conversation. A lot of people get afraid to have the conversation, and they don't really necessarily know, do I go take care of me first? Or do I need to have a conversation first? Like, you know, am I setting boundaries? Or am I quitting? Right? So they all know, well, we have the conversation about me needing more flexibility, okay. And she really needed someone there full time. And so I never want to give up because I'm a pleaser, again, you know, that part of me didn't want to be a flash in the pan cmo that comes in for two years, and then leaves, you know, because I thought, well, I could stay here. This was really fun. And so she really needed full time. And I really needed more flexibility. So it got to the point where I just felt pulled too thin. And so I just went to her. And I said it's time. Yeah, it's time for me to go. And she knew and she understood, and she was very gracious. So you didn't surprise there either. No. And I think that's critical. And this takeaway here is a lot of people don't know, start being authentically honest with the people that you're partnering with. You know, I, I've probably referenced this before in an interview, but I'll have a client say to me, I just wish I could tell my boss ABCD and I'm lucky you why not? They'll tell me exactly what they want to say. And then I'll say, That sounds pretty good. Why don't you just say a true thing that you just said to me? Like, what did they get upset? Or what if they fire me like, well, you just told me you didn't really want to be there anymore. So it might be okay, exactly. So good for you. You know, at the end of all of this, I've been thinking a lot about our womanhood as we age and remind me You're younger than Jenny and me. May I ask your age 5151? No, I missed your 50th Oh, that would have been so fun. We celebrated it in our driveway with about 300 people. I thought you must Yeah, you're always celebrating something in this driveway with about 300 people just to make that clear to everybody. You are. You have such a great, you know, you're a great hostess. And I'm 50 Almost five January I'll be 55 year older than Jenny. Yes. You're the same age. Yeah. How old is she? 54 352 51 year old. So we just started we were working together. That's how we became friends. Anyway, that's a whole other interview. Schedule time to listen to that episode. We're only 14 months apart. So we're Irish twins is what we've been Oh man, I forgot you're that close? Well, I'm thinking about us women in our 50s. And I've been listening to Julia Louis Dreyfus, his podcast, I think I've finished her episodes. wiser than me, is the name of the podcast. So I highly recommend you listen to it. And she's interviewing women in their 60s 70s 80s famous people like you know, Jane Fonda and Carol Burnett and all these famous people, but I think about us, all my friends, all of us getting into this next phase of our lives into that next quarter. Right? Who are we? And what do we really want to be doing? What do you think is the underlying like if you had to guess right now like the number one thing you just hope for yourself? In this next quarter? What What wish would you be making for like career or just life life just you being you being in your 50s 60s 70s? So I don't see myself not working, like ever really because I'm a creator and I just can't stop doing that. But I've written some songs recently, not necessarily for radio play, but for commercial. And so it's kind of like, so I have this marketing and advertising background, but I also have the writing and the music stuff. And I have not produced the first one yet. It's just written and we have scratch tracks, but we haven't gone into studio yet, but we are next month. So this particular piece is for commercial sale. And I can't say much more about it than that, Dan, but it's another merging of gifts and talents. I've always dreamed of writing music for commercial use, but I've never done it. This is expansion. So it's kind of an expansion. What am I already doing? And how will that make you feel? When that happens? Like I use it would just be amazing. So your presence, and your impact is through that you said I'm a creator, we're all creators, we are designing lives, whether we're intentional about it or not. So the beauty of this is you allow yourself to dream bigger, and even a little bit bigger. And it doesn't even have to be more more better, better, it could just be a different one different thing that, like I said before the growth and change is the thing that just really motivates me in my life and freedom. I've wrote this down on my little notes that I was thinking about before, like after, like in between my marriages, where as I'm trying to manifest, you know, what, what do I really want for this next chapter? Yeah, freedom was like the word that kept coming into my mind. And it wasn't freedom to just go willy nilly do anything you want to do. But freedom to have the space to create whatever inspires your heart freedom to be well, and freedom to go for a one hour walk every single morning, if you want to, you know, freedom to be the kind of mother and wife that you want to be freedom to go down out with friends once a week if you want to, you know. Not that and in that, that I never had that freedom. But I never felt like I had all of that freedom. Until that in between Tom. And that was one of those things that I decided I would never sacrifice the feeling of freedom. I didn't want to be with someone that didn't make me feel completely free to choose how to how to be and live and create and design a career or a project or sell a song to somebody. Yeah, I don't know if it ever held me back from that I was the only one who held me back from that. So I don't want to misrepresent. Now let's be clear. We choose people for different reasons in our lives. Yeah. And that that dynamic woke you up to that it's me. And we are the common denominators of our lives. And at the end of the day, we get to create it any way we want to, and we cannot get it wrong. And I hear so many people say well, I would love to, but I can't. Or I wish I could but you know, that'll never happen for me, or I can't afford it. Or I can't take time off work or whatever. And I know that feels like the reality for so many people. But it just doesn't have to be it doesn't have to be out and say to people can you accept if you're not if you're going to sit around wishing and saying well, I wish or I can't? Then can you step into a space of accepting what you have currently chosen, and not judge it as good or bad? Because you chose it because you chose it. And it's just like I used to tell mamas don't say I have to go to work. When you leave the house. You know, I get to go to work. I choose to go to work. I like to go to what I want to go to work. And at the end of the day, I'm role modeling for you how to work you're likely going to work when you grow up. So if people can accept where they are. If someone was telling me the other day, they said, Oh, I did this thing and a friend of theirs said, Oh, I wish I could do it. Like I'm just I just I'm not able or I'm just not. I don't know and there's all this self disparagement. How do you How did you get over that doubt for you not just the externals, but you must have some internal dialogue like, how do you remind yourself to keep going when you're stressed or tired or, you know, maybe you're less stressed and tired now because you're doing what you love? I think if I ever I don't feel stressed very often. I do get tired, but I do go a lot like working full time last week and I had bad. Five gigs in two weeks. Oh gosh, six gigs in two weeks. I can't keep track that's a workout. Singing and dance is a word that a lot of people don't realize that but after a two or three hour gig, I'm so hungry. I bet eat a whole pizza. But you're standing and moving and interacting and breathing. I mean, every breath is it's not just a normal breath. You know you really work in your breath and yeah, it's a lot. So in Jason understands that he's a musician to starving. Well, how do you stay grounded and take care of your body outside? Have all of that. So I allow myself until noon each day to deal with children school commute, grocery shopping, meal planning, exercise, shower, whatever I need to do. I don't ever book client meetings until afternoon every day. So between noon and five, I'm available for zoom calls or whatever. But I don't usually make a lot of commitments before noon. Good for you. And me, it's not because I'm sleeping late. I'm up at 530 or six everyday be clear if it was because you were sleeping late. That's good, too. I don't like to sleep early. anymore. I really miss that really deep sleep that we used to get. We were like college where you just crash for hours. And your mama would call you at one o'clock on a Sunday and say, What are you doing? You're like, oh, just waking up. I don't know how to I think the older we get, we just don't need I don't think I ever did that. I'm always, you know, the sun's up. I'm usually up to you're up and going. Yeah. So I, you know, I get up and I, I don't know, I'd have my coffee by myself before everybody else gets up gotcha rituals, and you set a boundary for time. So you control your time you manage your outcomes, and you get out ahead of it. And that's really something people kind of let the world happen to them sometimes. And, you know, obviously, if you needed to jump up and go do something, somebody needed you you do it. But yeah, I'm really proud of you to have watched your journey. You know, let's think about that for a minute. You know, what, what do you think is different about your way of being back when we first met when we were doing some coaching work together compared to your way of being now I have to be at work by 8am. Because if I'm late, everybody else is gonna think that they can come in like two. There's one that was and I can't leave before five. And I can't take more than a one hour lunch. I have to be an example for these people. That was really important to me. And what was the cost of that way of being back then? I felt like I missed out on a lot of time with my kids when they were young. So there was guilt, mom guilt. Yeah. Yeah. Makes sense. And now you feel luxuriously entitled as you should. And I feel like I have really great quality time with all of my children. You prioritize that. Yeah, yeah. I mean, I'm here right now the reason we were even able to do this in person is because I made a point of coming up here to be with two of my kids that are here in Raleigh right now. You know, and I might have to interrupt the other two who are also here, John's two that are at NC State. Okay, we got three today. And three out. And we are empty nesters. D nesters. How glorious. Glorious. I mean, I love my children. But let me be clear. I mean, we talk about travel and like doing home swaps and living in other countries. Yeah, you know we have so many ideas about I love that the day that we are empty nesters. But right now it is we've got two left in the house and we just spend so much quality time with them. Because we know it's fleeting. It goes back. We've already got three that are out. We're like where did that go? Oh, no. Look at us all these babies. All these grown up babies. I can't thank you enough for doing this in person with me. I'm glad I came up. I was almost about to reschedule it, because to your point. I'm very intentional about my time and I was thinking well, I don't need to be having like doing that. And then rushing to Raleigh and I went Wait, she's in Raleigh. It's like why am I not doing this in person? I was thrilled to get your message that you'd be here. Oh my gosh. I know is there anything else we should catch up on for the world? Any other advice or lessons talk about kind of manifesting you know that which you that serves you well. So you mentioned something about entertaining and hosting and this home that is a gingerbread house right now. Oh, it's decorated you guys to the nines there's so much Christmas happening around us right this week that insane might have thrown up a little bit my mouth. I'm just kidding. Just kidding. We have people say all the time your house so cute. Your house is so cute. It's an old 100 year old bungalow. And it's it's this pretty little blue color, whatever. And people keep describing the house is cute and like Okay, so this Christmas, it's going to be a gingerbread house. And Jason said what said I want like giant gumdrops on the roofline, which you have, I had, I didn't know if they existed, but they do found them. So anyway, but when I was a student at NC State University, I used to cut through Glenwood Avenue and drop the streets in five points and dream of living here. And I didn't for 20 some years. But I just remember thinking God that's such a really quaint little neighborhood and there's artists and music and cool restaurants and a good vibe and people just out and about walking around. and socialising, on porches and things like that. And I just felt this really interesting connection with this place from 1993 1993. And then I got married, and we lived in Sanford for 20 some years. And then when I came back here, this house popped up and I was like, that's the neighborhood I used to drive through, adds like five offers on it. And I was like, Okay, well, if it's meant to be, it'll be, and it was meant to be. And I ended up right in that very heart of the place that inspired me 30 Some years ago. Isn't that interesting? I'm not surprised at all. And it's just in your little even there's a deep part of you that knows of Oh, yeah, of course, that happens. Yeah. And I think if people can step into that knowing sooner in their lives, and trust the anticipation of, oh, something's pulling me to this location, or I bet one day maybe I'll live there or something even better. Just you don't be surprised when the synchronicities happen, you know, yeah, it is super interesting. But I also believe every bit of it, and I just interesting, and I'm so happy for you that all of your deepest heart's desires keep unfolding. I can't wait to see what happens in your life next to me too. And I want to be a more of a part of it. So I'm coming back to this oysters back and yeah, for sure. Move hills and everything I need to do to see you and to see Jenny and scuze. Me Virginia. Right out fancy friends slash sister here. famous architect. She's so famous and wonderful, but But you know what? We're not surprised about that, either. Not at all. Not at all. Not at all. Thank you, darling. I love you. I love you. Oh, you're the best. Okay, thanks you guys for watching. Thanks for joining us for a caffeinated conversation. Subscribe to Coffee with Nicoa for more stories from people living a life by design. You can also find inspiration on Instagram. Just follow Coffee with Nicoa and check out our website Coffee with nicoa.com and that's Nicoa N IC O A. We look forward to talking with you soon. And enjoy your coffee between now and then.