Why Are You Here? by Nicole Roberts Jones

16 02 2012

Our BLOG has a new home at .. http://www.nicolerobertsjones.com/blog.html

So that you don’t miss it and our other tips that come in-between, please email us at DEFINE@imani.org to be added to our mailing list.


It’s Time to DEFINE! by Nicole Roberts Jones

19 01 2012

Life is all about Defining Moments.  Defining Moments are things that happen in an instant in our lives that define who we are.   For me, my life has had many defining moments. As a teenage girl growing up in South Central Los Angeles, a socioeconomically disadvantage community better known as “the ’hood,” the paths for escape seem to be limited to finding a means to “get rich quick” and move out.   So I was attracted to the “bling-bling” life of the drug dealers and equally infatuated by the allure of Hollywood life and that of the video vixens seeking stardom. I often dreamt of meeting a baller, you know a basket-baller or foot-baller who could somehow save me from my existence.  The desire to get money by any means necessary is often thought of as the only way out of the ’hood by teens and young women who grow up in circumstances similar to those that I was raised in.  The thought of getting a good education or having a successful career seems rarely to be top of mind.  It wasn’t for me, at least not until I met my mentor which was my first defining moment.

She was my YMCA summer camp counselor, whom I met when I was twelve years old.  That summer as I watched her prepare for law school.  Her dedication to achieving entrance into law school helped me to dream of the possibility of higher education.  In one summer my mentor fundamentally changed my life!  Before then, I had never seen anyone that looks like me who had gone to college; let alone studying for graduate school.   That summer, my mentor Cheryl, planted a seed in me that would change my life and show me that there were more options in life to choose from then those that existed within the four blocks that had occupied most of my life.  She helped me to understand that getting an education was more powerful and rewarding than the get rich quick schemes that had previously pervaded my thoughts. This was my first defining moment!   I have had many other defining moments after that, and each has helped me to get closer to realizing my potential.

Knowing the enjoyment and satisfaction I have found in defining my own way, it is disheartening for me to see women with so much potential that is never fully realized.   I thought I was alone in this until I recently read a quote by Oprah Winfrey, “It’s depressing and overwhelming at times to look at how much potential we have and yet we’re constantly bombarded by images and information that speaks to the lowest common denominator. We can do better. We can be better. I know it’s true.”   This is what I describe as a call to define!   My wish is that every woman finds the joy I have found inside of me by fully realizing my potential.  I believe it is time for us to turn the tide of the pop culture values that pervade the media (tabloids, reality TV) and start embracing our own potential.   It is time to define our authentic self, to stop allowing people, places and things to hinder us from developing our individual gifts and talents and to discover who we each are meant to be.  I say this from experience because if my neighborhood had its choice, my life would have been defined by jail, drugs and drive by shootings.  Instead my mentor shined a light on me of hope, possibility and promise. Now how to get it but she showed me that it was already there and available for me to tap in to.  I now know that this same power is available to each of us.

I’m sure you are asking, why this call to define?  Think about it, so many of us as woman define ourselves by the car we drive, the hair we buy and that designer purse on our arm.   There is nothing wrong with wanting nice things but I wonder how many women actually realize that those things do not make us who we are!  It is as simple as understanding that an outfit I may treat myself to has nothing to do with the label or definition I allow myself to be defined by.    What does it matter if I look good on the outside if I feel less than on the inside?  My desire is that we no longer allow people, places or things to DEFINE us but instead allow our passion, our purpose, our gifts and talents to be the fuel that drives our life.  My wish is that we each become the author of the definition that defines our lives.  This is why I am calling all women to the Define Your Own Way Movement so that as we become the women we are meant to be, we no longer need things to define us but instead we find that fulfillment from the light that burns within; that “bling-bling” that shines forth as we live in OUR truest calling. It’s time for us to stop thinking the grass is greener on the other side and start to water our own lawn.

So what is your untapped potential?  The Webster dictionary defines potential as “existing in possibility: capable of development into actuality.”   So if potential is that which is possible then it is up to each of us to make it possible, tangible, and real in our lives.   Think of it this way, no one starts a race at the finish line!  So, if we are capable then all it takes is to show up to the starting line and then run the race to get to the finish line. What does this mean to your untapped potential?  Well all you have to do is actually begin to move in the direction of developing your ability, your own genius, capacity and talents in order to be ALL that we are meant to be!   How you might ask?  Let me share with you my own journey and the 6 key principles I found that it took for me to DEFINE.

 DDiscover.  The first stop on my journey was to fully realize what was holding me back from realizing my potential: perceptions about what I thought it meant to “be‘ hood.” These thoughts created self-imposed limits about what I believed possible for my future.  I had to fight to get this off of me so that I would no longer be hindered by narrow minded thinking. I can tell you stories of the young woman I used to be and the things I did to try and be down in my ‘hood, and I have to tell you it was hard to make the switch but if I didn’t there is NO telling where I would be today!  What may be holding you back?  Or what limits might you be putting on yourself? It is time to heal yourself from it so can move on from the hold it has on you, preventing you from being ALL you were meant to be!

EEdification –   I learned that it was important that I be a complete package, and to be complete I had to build myself up both inside and out.  I had to increase my positive self-esteem, learn more about personal finances, focus on health and exercise, make better choices in regards to sexuality, concentrate on education and develop my self-image to be aligned with the definition of me that I wanted others to see upon my arrival.

FFaith – in order to succeed in defining myself, I learned I had to first believe in myself.  In all things, I learned that I had the power to choose to believe in my gifts, talents and abilities or to doubt and do without.  I had to learn to take my power back and believe just as my momma always says, God don’t make no junk!

IInvest – I had to start to pay closer attention to who was around me and who was investing in me. I had to figure out if my friends, family and relationships were building me up or tearing me down.  What I learned is that if I wanted my life to continue to move in a positive direction, I could only allow people, places and things in my life that will invest in me and help me to move in a positive direction toward maximizing my potential.

NNurture – above all else, I learned that I had to stay focused on nurturing my gifts and talents as I moved in the direction to fully realizing them.  If life is a game, it was time for me to score points and play to win!  It was time for me to put myself in a position that every defining moment in my life propel me in a positive direction and no longer take me off of my path.

E Essence – once I began to flourish in the first 5 areas I realized people began to tell  me that I was glowing.  That there was something different about me and I realized that what it was is that I was truly allowing my essence, my soul, my true authentic self to shine as I was now a fully DEFINED woman!  “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.”

These 6 key areas are not a onetime “wham bam thank you ma’am” exercise, but something I  continue to work at constantly which causes movement toward my potential on a daily basis, and thus I can live as my truest self!

So what is the dream that you have not fully realized?  The thing you are good at that you never fully started for fear of being laughed at?    Who is the negative person or the negative self-talk you continue to plant in your own soul? What is that thing that happened to you in your past that prevents you from thinking you are capable of being the fabulous woman you are meant to be?  Whatever it is, it’s time to LET IT GO and get moving in the direction of your purpose!    I have to tell you that this is the most significant desire of MY life, to truly, fully become the woman I am meant to be so that I may live in purpose and passion in every aspect of my life in every day of my life.  This is the same thing I want for each of YOU!  If this too is your wish I invite you to join me on this journey to finding your true self!  It is time to DEFINE!

NEW Defining Moments Newsletter

19 01 2012


A Special Note from Nicole


As January is a month of new beginnings and we embark on yet another year, what a perfect time for us to launch our new newsletter! Please know that we will be wedding out of this location on wordpress so make sure you are signed up to received it via email by emailing us at info@imani.org


The new format which will incorporate my weekly blog into a monthly article with weekly tips in-between all sent via email as well as other news from ALL of the programs of Imani Corporation. Yes you will get exciting news and updates in one place from all of our programs from this point forward. I am also ecstatic about all of the new programs and changes that are coming your way in 2012, so stay tuned for announcements to come throughout the year! For now enjoy our first Defining Moments E-Newsletter Article coming in next post!

Taking Stock at the End of Year

16 12 2011

As we all prepare to end the year, what a perfect time to take stock of 2011. What are your main take aways from this year? What did you accomplish? What did you learn about you that will help you move forward toward a better you in 2012? What are your goals both personal & professional for 2012? As we close out the year, I encourage you to take the next few weeks to think about what you have learned and how you have grown this last year as well as to sometime to set goals for next year. I would LOVE to hear from you if you would like to share 🙂

Now allow me to share with you….. My goal professionally in 2011 was to set up infrastructure in Imani so that we can continue to grow without me losing my mind..LOL. We brought in 3 new staff in 2011. This is a supper exciting for me as our new staff are all Imani Phi Christ (our youth program) alumni who have come back to give back as grown women and have truly been a blessing already to the company! This has truly helped me with my #1 goal for 2012, to continue to serve you all with new programming. I have heard input from many of you and because of that; we are working on 4 new projects to launch in 2012. YAY!!!! I can’t wait to share each of them with you in 2012. Personally, my goal is to take 3 vacations a year. This year I found the more I get renewed and recharged the better I am able to serve. I am also more committed to eat healthier and to exercise 6 days a week. Those are my major goals for 2012. I am VERY thrilled to see what 2012 has in store for all of us! I look forward to hearing your goals as well!!!

I would like to take this time to thank each of you for reading my Blog over this last year. Weather you read one or all, I appreciate you his journey with me and allowing me to have this moment with you. Please know that another goal for 2012 is to make-over our blog as well. Look for details in January but in the meantime…….Here’s wishing each of you a WONDERFUL Holiday Season & a Happy New Year. I will see you on our blog in 2012!!!

The Season of Giving

8 12 2011

The holiday season always fosters a spirit of giving. This is the time of year when we see the Salvation Army folks standing outside of stores with their ringing bells asking for donations.  We hear about toy and jacket drives to give to those less fortunate so that they too can have a nice Christmas.   Soup kitchens are working harder, homeless shelters are taking in a greater number of people, and believe it or not social service organizations she an increase in numbers of people they serve at this time of year.   Just thinking of this makes me wonder what would happen if we let this season of giving extend throughout the year.  If we did, I think it may take us back to a day and time where we truly did love our neighbor as we actually knew our neighbors and helped our neighbors.  It makes me think back to my childhood and how neighborhoods would really pull together to help one another.  It reminds me of Civil Rights Movement and how strangers, black, white, etc…. worked together hand in hand to fight against injustice.  It also makes me wonder how we have gone from being a community to now living in isolation in today’s society.  We have gone from looking out for each other to only looking out for self.  Christmas on the other hand is the only time of year when we are really pushed to think beyond seclusion and instead look at inclusion.    It actually touches my heart that despite the fact that so many of us are struggling with job loss and other economic issues due to the state of financial market, giving has not gotten lost at this time of year as we all are still finding a way to help the less fortunate.  Giving to others in need reminds us that our problems are smaller than someone else’s problems, that our issues are not as big as they seem.   So why not bless others each day with extending our giving thorough out the year. So as we celebrate this season of giving, I want to challenge all of us (including me) to think about how we can extend this feeling throughout the year and give 24/7, 365 instead of just 30 days around the holidays.

“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

 “No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.” – Aesop

 “Never look down on anybody unless you’re helping him up.” ~Jesse Jackson

The Greatest Gift of ALL!

1 12 2011

Last week we celebrated Thanksgiving and as we leave one Holiday and prepare for the next, all we really will be doing over the next 3 weeks is all in the spirit of generosity.  Think about it.  Christmas is all about gift giving?  No we do not give gifts to ourselves but to those we love. Yes we all will spend the next 3 weeks trying to figure out what everyone else wants and if we have selected a gift to their liking.  What other time of year do we focus so much on others and not on self?  That is one of the things I love about Christmas but the other thing I love the most is that God gave us the greatest gift, that of his son Christmas.  After all Christmas IS Christ birthday!  Can you imagine something so selfless than to give up of your only son so that others may be saved?  Imagine if you were on a ship that was sinking due to their being one too many people being on board, would you be the first person to raise your hand and say, I’ll throw my child over?  Because throwing your baby over would mean that everyone else would be saved?  Or how about if there was a war and they only needed one more male child to go in and fight and the world would be saved? Would you send your son?  I don’t know about you but either one of those would be hard for me to do.  So for me to think that God gave us his only son is really why we give on Christmas.  It is a way we pay homage to the greatest gift given!  To think of that unselfish act is really the example of giving the ultimate gift and really the greatest gift of ALL!

 Generosity is not giving me that which I need more than you do, but it is giving me that which you need more than I do. – Khalil Gibran

 Love is when the other person’s happiness is more important tha your own. – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

 If you haven’t any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble. ~Bob Hope

 Don’t wait for people to be friendly, show them how. ~Author Unknown

Thank YOU for Thanksgiving!

23 11 2011

Every year as I prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, I stop to think about all the things I am thankful for.  Now while I am thankful for my friends and family for who they are and how they bless my life, I realized that I don’t stop and think about how thankful I am to be ME. Do you stop and think about all the great things you are?  Do you stop and look at what your gift is and thank God that He gifted it to you?  I know it’s so easy for us to focus on what we are not.  Like gee, if I can just lose 10 more pounds, or if I could just land that dream job, instead of taking the time to look at all the great things about where you are right now or who you are already!  This year for Thanksgiving I want to challenge each of us, including me, to think about all the positives we have going for ourselves RIGHT NOW and thank God for where we each are in this moment.  After all as we come to the next holiday, Christmas, we will be looking for presents under the tree right? So what greater gift is their then the present…TODAY!  So what are you GREAT at?  What is wonderful about you right now?  We all must take a moment to focus on positive and take our minds off of what is not going right in our lives. After all there is no such thing as a perfect life!  So this Thanksgiving let’s each stop and look for the good and be thankful!  Yes stop and thank YOU for Thanksgiving!


I may not be where I want to be but I am thankful for not being where I used to be. – Unknown

 Be thankful for your trials.  If you’re being tested, you’re being perfected.  Which means you have a divine purpose & reason to rejoice! – Unknown

 Leaving yesterdays troubles behind me & being thankful for the gift of today! – Unknown