Earlier this year I stumbled upon Nicole Ruiiz. Her Instagram was so filled with love and her positive attitude was exploding off my phone screen! She had me at puppies, cupcakes and family :) Even thought her pictures weren’t health and fitness related I wanted her to be a part of this series. Why? Because I could tell she had a story. And I had a feeling that her story would inspire many.
Nicole is a peppy little lady who loves to bake cupcakes! Making people smile and doing little unexpected things for someone to make their day is what she lives for! “My passions are crafting, baking and cooking. But give me anything when it comes to kids and doing research!” For Nicole, helping kids get better and helping parents see their children differently is what lights Nicole’s soul on fire! Her passion for helping children began when she found out her little brother had ADD. Her mother did absolutely everything and nothing helped. They finally put him in a special disabilities school and there was a child life specialist who worked with him. Within 1 year her brother was reading.
For Nicole, seeing her brother surpass all expectations and learn how to read started her down the path of Pediatric Psychology. He graduated high school in June of 2015. “Watching him cross the stage was the greatest thing ever.” To her, it’s so close so she knows how the families and parents feel. She understands the suffering and what it takes to grow past the limitations. After this experience, her mission was solidified and she was out to make her mark on the world!
In 2013 she graduated from college Magna Cum Laude and a semester early. She was ready to tackle the world and go into graduate school for Pedantic Psychology. She applied and applied and didn’t get in anywhere. “I cried my eyes out” she said talking about how frustrating that time was for her. So she took a gap year and decided to work at a hospital in Miami until she could apply again. The hospitals didn’t take her. “So there went my plans…” she said. I felt her pain as she relived those moments. Many times in life we have a grand plan and vision for whats next, where we’re going to go, and how it’s going to be spectacular. Only to have the entire vision turned on its side.
Nicole didn’t give up. She started helping out at the graduate lab at her alma mater. “The more I was on the case the more I wanted to be a Pediatric Psychologist. I applied to 8 schools and didn’t get in anywhere… I paid again and again and didn’t get in…again. Honestly 2015 was the year of her awakening.” But over the course of this year Nicole’s shining light began to fade and she began to question herself and her purpose. “I wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning. Any ambition I used to have completely disappeared.”
In 2015 she decided to stop saying “Yes” to all the things that made her happy. She didn’t bake a thing in 2015, and for her, that was scary. She put her life completely on hold. I asked her how she began to pull herself out of her funk. She told me about how she had to start contradicting the bad things she was saying in her head. She would break down to her friends and they would remind her that everything she was saying to herself was a bunch of lies. One of her closest friends told her “You’re a basket case with yourself but with everyone else you’re a basket of flowers.” What an amazing friend! Can I just get an AMEN! I mean seriously, how mean are we to ourselves and then we turn around and give every last bit to those around us. Her friends helped her turn her thoughts inward and look at everything she COULD do! She had to flat out stop what she was thinking and begin to believe in her mission again.
“2015 was a dark year. But it’s also been the best thing. It’s been an awakening.” Now Nicole knows what she wants. Last year she forgot who she was little by little. She said if she looked at the big picture it would be too scary to even start. Instead she’s decided to look at each little pearl in life that can become a beautiful necklace. She decided 2016 was going to be different in a good way. She was going to start saying “yes” again - and in fact, this interview was the first things she said yes to. I feel honored for that!
“In life, you get the test first and then the lesson” she said. The lesson she’s learned is to never give up. When you have a fire in your belly that is burning so bright and you know you were put on this earth to help people…you can’t ever give up. No matter what happens, how many times you fall flat on your face, or how badly it hurts.
Nicole has begun applying to grad school again. And she even started her blog called Black White and a Pop of Color http://bwpopofcolor.blogspot.com/
Little by little she’s pushing herself to ambitious and follow her dreams! She knows that failures will come but she knows where she needs to be and thats the push she needs.
Yup, I feel you Nicole. You know, I would be lying if I didn’t share that I have been feeling like the 2015 version of Nicole over the past several weeks. My dreams, visions, aspirations, goals, plans, etc. that I had for the year have all been distorted in some way shape or form. Over the last several weeks I’ve been incredibly tested and the desire to get out of bed just hasn’t been there. I can honestly say I didn’t know I would go in this direction as I started to write about Nicole, but like I said earlier, I think her story is meant to inspire…and the more I typed the more I feel inspired myself to follow Nicole’s message and start to become “me” again.
There will be dark times and there will be big picture moments of panic. But just like Nicole, if your fire is there…don’t let it be distinguished - EVER. Nicole taught me that there is beauty in everything, that there is a lesson in pain, and there is a higher calling for all of us. Nicole is an amazing spirit and I know she will go on to help so many children. Today was a perfect time to revisit my notes with Nicole. I think we are lead to specific things right in the times we need them most. And today, for me, that was Nicole’s story. Thank you Nicole.
Thank you for taking the time to engage in my 12th interview of 52 inspiring women! Please feel free to share your comments, feelings and send this to a friend you think would benefit from reading this! If you want me to interview someone you find incredibly inspiring, I would be truly honored to meet them! This is a journey that has no parameters or rules! Let’s have fun with it and continue to spread the message of empowerment, love and kindness - to ourselves and others!
You can follow Nicole as she changes the world at @Nicole_Ruiiz