🎶 Podcast Intro: Welcome to the pursuing uncomfortable podcast, where we give you the encouragement you need to lean into the uncomfortable stuff life puts in front of you, so you can love your life. If you are ready to overcome all the yuck that keeps you up at night, you're in the right place. I am your host, Melissa Ebken let's get going. 🎶
🎶 Episode Intro: Hello friend, and welcome back to the podcast. I have a question for you. Do you have an adult in your life that is the consummate professional, that person who is audaciously, authentic and good at what they do? And, will keep you on your toes because they might do or say anything that'll make you laugh?
Well, that is Dr. Nicole Bradford. She has been through it all. She has overcome so many challenges in her life. She is a principal. And she's a fantastic human being that will bring joy into your day. I cannot wait for you to meet her. I know you're going to love her as much as I do. 🎶
Melissa Ebken 0:01
Dr. Nicole Bradford, it's a real pleasure to have you on the podcast today. Thanks for joining us.
Dr, Nicole Bradford 0:07
Thank you so much. I'm so excited to be here.
Melissa Ebken 0:12
And where are you joining us from today?
Dr, Nicole Bradford 0:14
I am joining you from the Lone Star State, the great state of Texas.
Melissa Ebken 0:21
All right, Texas is in the house. Love it. Love it. So have you all had fall down there? Does fall have any meaning in Texas? Or is that just a calendar designation?
Dr, Nicole Bradford 0:33
No, we are experiencing fall, we do have a few warm days. But for the most part, it's actually pretty cool out. It's really nice.
Melissa Ebken 0:44
Nice, nice. Well, I know you didn't come on here to talk about the weather. So let's find out what you do. Can you tell us a little bit about you in what you do?
Dr, Nicole Bradford 0:56
Oh, yes, I would love to. I am a public speaker. I travel around speaking on Maintain the Flame. That's the company that I established in 2018. And the company was established to inspire and motivate, motivate others to be true to yourself. And so Maintain the Flame encourages you to tap into your younger youth when you were carefree and you enjoyed life. And you didn't care who was around and what anyone said you just wanted to be young and free. And then you transition into the adulthood. And during those times, you know, we sometimes conform to the expectations of others, and the world in which we live. So we're juggling being a parent and the expectations and the concerns with that. Moving into or transitioning to the married life with our in laws and their family traditions and the stress that comes along with that. And then moving into the work world with all of the concerns and expectations in the workplace. And so as we go into our adulthood, we sometimes lose our fire for life and our excitement for life. And so my goal is to connect with individuals and assist them and removing the lies the labels and limitations so that they can live an audaciously and authentic life.
Melissa Ebken 2:28
I love that. As I've watched my kids grow up. I wonder, you know, when do we stop skipping everywhere? That was fun. Why do we stop doing that? Why don't we stop doing cartwheels? For no reason? I mean, I rediscovered them recently I thought I'd do a cartwheel. That was not one of my better decisions. Let me tell you. But I'm glad to hear you're doing that work. Yes, yes. So it wasn't always joyful for you, though. Is that true?
Dr, Nicole Bradford 3:07
Oh, you're 100% Correct. And, like so many others, you know, we have our trials and our tribulations and the tough times in life. Growing up, I was the youngest of six children, my parents had five girls and one boy. And you know, the home life at times were very tough. I witnessed domestic violence, I had family members that were either using drugs or selling drugs. I had the challenges with my family life. And it was difficult at times, and then also moving into my adulthood for myself, you know, there were so many expectations of everyone else for my life. And that began to weigh me down. Because you know, when you enter a new family and a marriage, you know where these are our holidays, or this is how you should parent, and that can weigh heavily on a person. And so as I moved through life, I begin to think to myself, what is it that Nicole wants? And what is it that I love doing? And so I only get one opportunity to do this. And so I wanted to be real with myself and do the things that I love, and I enjoy because if you cannot advocate for yourself, who else is going to advocate for you? And so that's a philosophy that I adopted, and sometimes it may not be popular with others, but you have to cheer on yourself and you have to have that passion for life.
Melissa Ebken 4:40
I couldn't agree more. But Nicole, you have mentioned several things that are truly, difficult doesn't seem to quite describe it. Growing up with domestic violence. I know that that's more common than we know in our world, but how did you navigate that as a child?
Dr, Nicole Bradford 5:06
Well, it was hard to watch at times because you would see what was going on. But I think as a young child, and adult, as I continue to move on through life, I understood that that was a choice that my family and my parents, and my mom was making, that was not a reflection of me. And so I had to empower myself, and set boundaries and know that that is something that I do not want for myself. And you know, as we're younger, we look at the adults in our lives. And we model some of the things that they go through. And we learn from their experiences. And I chose to learn from those experiences and say, that's not a good fit for me. And that's not something that I would ever tolerate for myself.
Melissa Ebken 5:54
That's such a powerful statement to make and such a powerful decision to make. In the work that I do, I see how behaviors good, bad and otherwise, are passed on generation to generation. And healing that within yourself, goes a long way toward healing your family. But also you stopped a cycle for your children and generations beyond and brought health into that. That's powerful.
Dr, Nicole Bradford 6:25
And it helped me to be a better parent, I believe, and put more love and energy into parenting my own children. I'm the proud mother of three amazing children. My daughter is a graduate of Hampton University, she's a teacher, my son is at Angelo State University, he plays football, and my youngest is at UNT for track. And so I put in the love, I put in the passion. I've taught them that you treat, you teach people how to treat you. And I think that that's very powerful. And they understand that this home life is their training ground. This is where you make the mistakes, but no matter what you're going to be loved unconditionally. So you can grow into the person that you desire to become.
Melissa Ebken 7:07
What a beautiful message to hear as a kid. I would imagine growing up in your home is a pretty blessed experience. 3
Dr, Nicole Bradford 7:27
Oh, thank you.
Melissa Ebken 7:32
And you also mentioned in your childhood, that there were a lot of other influences, drug use, and things that go along with that, that were in your life, and you had the courage to draw that boundary and to not participate in that.
Dr, Nicole Bradford 7:50
Yes. And I think in life overall, like I choose to use my experiences to inspire and motivate others, so they don't have to make the same mistakes. And so when I look at my siblings, or individuals in my life, and I looked up to them and what they were doing, I was younger. And so as I'm observing their behavior and traits, I'm thinking, Wait, that's, that's something's wrong with it. And it's just internal, because it's just like that integrity that you have inside. That doesn't work for me. And everyone has choices. And I'm not here to condemn anyone that makes choices for their personal life. But that just was not a good fit for me. And I wanted to do something that was different and go in a different direction. But also knowing that when you make those choices, sometimes it causes tension in your own family. And being the youngest, and the first generation college graduate, there was tension at times with my siblings, because she thinks she's better than us. She went to college, she received an education. She doesn't choose to live her life, the way that we choose to live our life. So what's wrong with her? She's different. And so that's kind of been the theme of my life. But at first, it was a negative that people would try to put on me. But as I grew older, I love it. And it's a positive because I don't want to be like other people. I don't want to conform. I want to do what truly makes me happy.
Melissa Ebken 9:26
I admire your inner strength. I wish that you could bottle that up and share it with others. But if that is kind of what you do isn't it?
Dr, Nicole Bradford 9:35
Yes, yes. And that's what I try to do. Yes I'm very energetic. I'm very passionate about everything that I do, especially I've been in education for two decades. So I've been in the classroom and I know the challenges that teachers have when working with students. And I also know that the days vary, some days you love your job, and your students are learning and they're so excited. And so you just can't wait to teach that lesson that you've prepared. And it's a great day. But then others, you'd have students that come in with all this baggage, and they want to misbehave or they're, they're frustrated, and they're angry. And those are the moments that you it's very rewarding for you. And I utilize my childhood experiences to connect with those young people. Because also being the younger, in my family, I had to witness my parents, as they went along and raised my nieces and nephews. And that was very difficult at times. Because my nieces and nephews would have that anger or that resentment towards my parents, because where's my mom? Why are you raising me? I don't want to be here. And so we had to navigate that. And I had to be a role model for them, while at the same time navigating my own personal experiences. And I always believe God takes you through things, because you're going to need it later on in life. And so I believe I had those experiences early on in my childhood. So when I entered the world of education, I could connect with those kids that felt like, I don't fit, what's going on at home, I'm frustrated, and I could use my stories to keep them uplifted and inspired.
Melissa Ebken 11:20
So Nicole, what would you, I'm sorry. What would you say to that teacher that is frustrated, that knows that these kids are struggling? That knows they have so many other things on their plate and in their home or absent from their home that's taking priority over what's happening in the classroom? What would you say to that teacher?
Dr, Nicole Bradford 11:50
I would tell them, number one, I applaud you, you're appreciated. And I know that sometimes teachers believe that we don't hear that enough, we're undervalued. And teachers are truly doing the hard work. I've been fortunate to be a teacher. And I've also been a campus principal, and an assistant principal. So I see it day in and day out. When they're calling for, we need an administrator in here. They're they're talking back or they're fighting or whatever it is. But I would tell those teachers, number one, to love on yourself, and give yourself some grace. And understand that you can't control the baggage that the children are bringing into the room. And I say children, I've worked from kindergarten all the way up to 12th grade. But you can't control the baggage that they may bring into the classroom. But you have the power through establishing strong relationships, and letting those babies know that you love and care about them to make a difference. Sometimes you'd have to do a pause on the curriculum so you can connect, and those children need those connections. Because you never know what's going on in their home life. Like for me on the outside because I had so much energy, and I was all over the place, my teachers would think oh my goodness, Nicole is just having an amazing life. She just won't sit still. She just won't be quiet. But there were days I'd walk in the class and they're like, Okay, she's, something's off Nicole's not acting right. And that, those moments, my favorite teacher, Ellie Larten, would come up and she'd say, Okay, what's going on today, Nicole? How can I help? So for those teachers, take the moment, number one, take care of yourself, because you can't help anyone until you help yourself. And number two, give yourself some grace and take time to put a pause on the curriculum and connect with your students.
Melissa Ebken 13:54
Those are powerful words of encouragement, thank you for that. What would you say to to the kid that overhearing this podcast, that's struggling in a difficult home situation?
Dr, Nicole Bradford 14:08
I would tell the the student to take time to find someone to talk to. And that is so important, because I know that sometimes students feel no one understands me, no one gets me. This doesn't make any sense. I'm frustrated with everyone. But there is someone that would listen and take your time. Identify someone that you can connect with. Trust them with your story, and allow them to support you. And then set aside time to write down the positive things about yourself and the positive things about the situation that you're going through. Because there's always something good to look for. Because even on your darkest day, you're still here. You're still moving forward. You're still breathing, you have your health and strength. There's always something positive in the midst of a storm. So identify someone that you connect with. Trust them with your story and find the good in the situation. And I am glad that you asked that question. Because for me, as an administrator on campus, I think it's so important that parents realize, not all parents, but parents realize that the students really have things inside that they would like to share. For example, I had a young lady that was at my high school. And she was very frustrated, because the parents had decided, in our family, you know, law is very important, you're going to be an attorney, you're going to do this, this is what we want for you. But that is not what she wanted. And they would put that extra undue stress on her. And it was, it's killing her inside. So we were able to sit down. It was either law or medicine, but it was one of the bigger fields. And we set aside time and we talked to the parents. Well they were like, you know, this is what she needs to do. This is what our family does. But I asked, did you take time to ask your student? Is this something that you want to do, because I think sometimes parents we mean, well, but you've lived your life, you've made your choices, please give an opportunity for them to have a voice. And so we were able to compromise, she was able to do some dance classes. And lo and behold, she wanted to go to Juilliard. She wanted to be a dancer. And so that was causing the extra stress on their relationship, because the parents were not taking time to connect, and to listen, and to compromise with the student.
Melissa Ebken 16:50
Yeah, that is a powerful story. Tell us a little bit about Maintain the Flame.
Dr, Nicole Bradford 16:56
Maintain the Flame, and I get so excited about it, is a business that is set aside to help others Maintain Your Flame for Life. And so I've come up with eight strategies that you can utilize to continue to push forward in your life, no matter what's going on. And I won't go over all eight of them. But I'll just share a few. Maintain comes from the M is your mindset, we all know that our mind is so powerful, it holds everything. So yes, I'm let's say I'm 48. So at 48 years old, even my, my trauma, or my good days, and my bad days from five or six years old, they're still inside my mind. But I can make a choice to dwell on those or learn from those and move forward. So making sure that you have a positive mindset is very important when you're trying to continue to maintain your flame for life. And A stands for action, take action. So making sure that you at least jot down at least one step. And that's also the name of my book, One Step Is All It Takes, but take action towards the goals in your life. So you may say, Okay, I want to start this book business or I want to be an author, or I want to start selling candles. Well, just one step is all it takes. And it could be a tiny step. Research what you're interested in, look at the competition that's out there and continue to push yourself and say, Okay, tomorrow, I'm going to go out and buy the containers, or whatever it is. But one step is all it takes. Because once you take one step, it's going to get a little easier, and you will have that momentum. And then after that you have I be intentional. Intentionally having the life that you desire. And being intentional with the relationships that you have. Taking time for those relationships is very important. I understand that we're also very, very busy in the world. And there's a lot of stress and anxiety because there's a lot going on, but being intentional and connecting with our loved ones, intentional and connecting with your friends because you never know what they're going through being intentional with your children. Setting aside quality time. And I even know I have a lot of parents that would say, okay, they won't get off their phone. Well, you bought that phone. So go online, stop the internet, or just tell them I need your phone. I need 20 minutes with you. And then you can go about your day. But it's so important to connect with our babies. And I know a lot of parents are so eager when it's kindergarten through fifth grade schools are inundated with those parents, but then it starts to have a low attendance for parents participation when you move from sixth grade and on. So make sure that you remain connected for the long term. And then N nurture yourself, take time to nurture yourself. It's very, very important. And I know sometimes we think I could go with it, I only need two or three hours of sleep, that's not taking care of yourself, or I don't have to eat well. And it's important. And I just recently learned and I will be honest, even in college, my lunch was a KitKat, Doritos and a Dr. Pepper. And that's horrible. Now, as I've grown older, and I've learned, but I didn't even know the importance of health, and how it affects your body until I recently started caring for my parents, I brought them here to our home, in 2019. Unfortunately, I lost my dad in 2021. And I just lost my mom in April of 2022. And she had Parkinson's and dementia. But the health is so important, because everything you're putting in your body starts to take a toll. So nurture yourself, take that walk, take that time and make time for yourself and advocate for yourself, you know, some of us that are taking this leap of faith to start these businesses or to build these new relationships or go to this new job. You know, when you're out there, I want you to believe, you tell our kids, you've got to believe in yourself. Don't worry about what they say about you. But then we get older and we're like, Yeah, not so much. That doesn't work. But no, you can't give it by that you're not willing to do what it takes so advocate for yourself, if you post something, be the first to like it, who cares? If you're not going to love your content, who else will so advocate for yourself, enjoy life, and have the courage to be audaciously authentic.
I love that.
Melissa Ebken 21:59
Love that. So that brings us to T
Dr, Nicole Bradford 22:03
T. Time. Take time, time is very important. And as I just shared with you, losing both my parents time is something that we take for granted. So make sure you make those connections and value that time, but most importantly, with time live in the moment. We're so busy saying oh, well, next month, and this next year. But what about now, and I was that person when I was younger, because I had so many challenges growing up, I would sit down and I'd say by the age of 20, I will have the following. And then I'd work so hard to accomplish that. And I'll say Check, check, check, okay, by the age of 25, I'm gonna Okay, check, check, check. But I never savored the moment. And it went by. And now I'm 48. And I'm sitting here like, wait, I did that? I accomplished that? But I didn't live in the moment. And that's very important. And then you know that. The other A is making sure that you have that you're authentic. We talked about that being authentic is important. Because unfortunately, as adults, we tend to wear that mask, we walk around and okay, I'm gonna wear this mask around them. I really don't agree with it, but everybody else is agreeing with it. That's that pressure. And I always say we're all just little kids in big bodies. So those bullies and that anxiety and that tension that we had our junior in high school years, we carry that with us, but we have to be authentic, that courage that you had to ask out that hot guy or that hot girl when you were 16 or 17. It's okay. It's okay to be authentic and do the things that you love. When my kids were younger. My son had a friend that would come to the house and he would always say, Miss Nicole, adults are not supposed to act like that. And I'm like, yes, they are. We should love and enjoy our lives. So it's okay to be authentic to who you are. And the other I integrity. Integrity and integrity again, unfortunately, in our society, it's lacking a lot of us out there, we may not have that integrity, but remember what you're giving and what you're doing to someone else. Would you want someone to do that to your child or your cousin or to your friend? Integrity is very important. And N there are two for me, non-negotiables and no regrets. At the end of life. Are you going to look back and say, Well, I really didn't like that job, but it paid the bills. Do you know that there are other jobs out there? I promise you there are and I promise you that love you just as much have that courage to go out and try something different or oh my goodness, he was so handsome. But yeah, he wouldn't like someone like me. If you're not there with your self esteem and your love and your courage for yourself, why would he? Put yourself out there enjoy life and live boldly and embrace you and who you are. And non negotiables, you have to set up your non negotiables for yourself and for your life, there are some things I will not do. And some things I will not tolerate. And I'm currently working on my next book entitled, My Soul Is Not For Sale, because unfortunately, in our current society, everyone's selling out for something, it's all money is not good money, or Okay, I'm gonna let my kids do this. But I know that that's not really what I want to do. But all the other moms are going to let them go. But then are you going to regret it? Do what makes you happy, and you have to parent on purpose. So just maintain your flame, we only get one shot at this, it may flicker, it may dwindle, but do not suppress your flame for anyone else. Because you're worth it, and you deserve it.
Melissa Ebken 26:08
I love that. Thank you so much for sharing all of that with us. And your book One Step. Tell us about it.
Dr, Nicole Bradford 26:17
Well it's the website, my website is www.maintaintheflame (all one word) .net, and it's just a small journal, it takes you through 30 days, it provides scriptures and it has some thought provoking questions, just to know, you know, am I really happy with where I am? And if not, it gives you some tips and strategies that you can utilize to move yourself forward.
Melissa Ebken 26:47
Excellent. And your next book, My Soul Is Not For Sale, do you have a waitlist for that?
Dr, Nicole Bradford 26:52
No. I'm just trying to get back to writing. Of course, you know, that was a tough time period with my parents. And I, you know, we have to sometimes take a step back, reflect on everything that you're going through, and then recharge and move forward. So I'm getting myself back the same advice that I give everyone else I'm I'm writing a little bit each day, and it will be published if and I'm just taking it slow, but I'll get there. But my soul is not for sale, because I'm worth it. And I have non-negotiables.
Melissa Ebken 27:27
Yes, absolutely. I love your message. And friends. She has kids in college, buy her book, go check out the website, get the journal, give her all the positive feedback and send her encouragement as she's writing this next book, it's going to be amazing. I can tell just by speaking with you that if you pour your heart and your personality into this book, it's going to be something I can't wait to read. And these links will be in the show notes. So make sure you check out the show notes and just click on the website and check out the journal. Dr. Bradford is there anything else that you would like to share?
Dr, Nicole Bradford 28:08
The last thought that I would like to leave with everyone is especially with everything that we have going on in our society. Just choose kindness and always take time for someone else. You never know what people are going through. So please take time, check on your friends, take time for yourself. But share and encourage you word with someone else.
Melissa Ebken 28:35
Beautiful thoughts. Thank you for all of the wisdom today.
Dr, Nicole Bradford 28:38
Thank you for the opportunity.
🎶 Episode Outro: Thank you so much for tuning into today's episode. If this encouraged you, please consider subscribing to our show and leaving a rating and review so we can encourage even more people just like yourself. We drop a new episode every Wednesday so I hope you continue to drop in and be encouraged to lean into and overcome all the uncomfortable stuff life brings your way. 🎶