Have you ever tried putting together a puzzle without looking at the picture on the box? It can be frustrating, right? You find yourself fumbling around with different pieces, trying to figure out where they fit in the grand scheme of things. But once you start to see the bigger picture, everything falls into place.

That's exactly how It feels when you go on this journey with Nadine. At first, with only a few pieces of her story - a snippet here, a detail there. But as the conversation unfolded, the pieces began to fit together like a puzzle. Her journey was full of twists and turns, but the end result was a beautiful picture of perseverance, courage, and self-discovery.

But there's a twist -  there is also a little puzzle for you to solve as you read along. Each answer will give you a clue to the next piece of the puzzle, and by the end, you'll have a complete picture of Nadine's incredible journey. 

Are you ready to put the pieces together? 

Let's dive in!

Q: What was it like dealing with loss at that age? How did you handle your pain? Did you rely on God to help you cope or was he not fully present?

A: I was scared, confused, and in disbelief. It all felt so unreal. I was completely unprepared for my mother’s death. It was like I was living in a nightmare for many months. Growing up, we were introduced to God but as a rebellious teen, I easily turned about from faith. But on the day of my mother’s passing, I didn't know what else to do but call out to God. That was the moment I was reintroduced to the Lord as an adult and at my own will. It was this turning point where I relied on God for about the next six months. Unfortunately, I lost sight of God’s goodness and then started handling things with my own strength. As a result, I turned to drugs, partying, and alcohol to help me cope.

Q: What did you use or do to escape? Were you aware of your pain or did you have to push it down to handle other affairs within the family? 

A: I didn’t want to deal with the pain at first. I quickly learned to bury all the grief and weight of my responsibilities by keeping myself distracted and busy with “friends”. 

Q: How did you feel having to take on the responsibility of being head of the family? 

A: To be honest, it was an instant instinctual reaction. Shortly before her death, I promised my mother that I would take care of my sister if anything happened to her. It was almost like my mother sensed it was coming. I wanted to fulfill my duty so I didn't think about how I was going to do it or if I was qualified, I just knew I had to and so I did. What I soon realized was how hard it would be to balance the role of sister and mother figure. While I focused on providing for and protecting my sister, I was also pushing her away. I stopped being her sister and fully acted as a guardian. This shift in me put a tremendous strain on our relationship.  I was so focused on being her guardian that I became so strict and rigid. After many ups and downs… trial and error, we soon rebuilt our sisterhood, but it took time and great effort. 

Q: Were you experiencing stress or anxiety in your life during this time period? What coping skills did you have and would you use those exact skills today? 

A: I was dealing with so much stress during this time- the pressures of surviving, learning to cook, supporting a household, and being single. I coped by surrounding myself with friends and staying distracted by the party scene.  I laughed the most when I was drinking.  I masked my pain well and never dealt with what I was feeling. This was the way I pushed the pain away for many years. Today, I would most definitely not use those exact methods to help me cope. I have now learned to rely completely and solely on my Father in heaven to carry me through all of my obstacles.

Q: What jobs did you have that helped to support the family? Any crazy stories or experiences you can share? Did any of your work experience help to shape you?

A: I landed quite a few jobs I wasn’t qualified for but I was confident and maybe fibbed a little to acquire them. I secured a few accounting department positions. But, I always had a hard time with people telling me what to do. I would just quit a job when I felt like it. My very last job that I acquired to make ends meet was as a waitress. On my very first day, the manager tried to correct me and I literally took my apron off and walked right out of this NYC restaurant. In hindsight, I feel really bad about leaving him with one employee short.  Part of that approach was immaturity and part was the fact that I just could never let anyone tell me what to do. Looking back on it now, I realized that I always had an entrepreneurial spirit. I believe I was born with this and this is the reason I couldn't work for anyone else. 

When I worked in the accounting department at a corporate company, I learned about the business aspect and that has really helped me in my business today. 

One funny memory was when I showed up to work in leather pants, a hot pink crop top, and pink flip-flops. Within 15 min of my arrival, the Human Resource department put out a memo about proper dress code. We all knew they were referring to me!! lol

Q: What fears did you have about money at that age? Do you have any triggers today in regard to money that takes you back to that time? 

A: I remember always having enough. I didn’t have any savings at this point. I lived check to check but, I wasn't fearful about the money part. My worry was my future and that is where I felt motivated to hustle hard. I knew that I couldn't keep quitting jobs and feeling unhappy going to work. I knew I was created for something bigger!! I always think like this even now. I always think about the long term…I can't get comfortable where I am and that is how I continue to grow personally and in turn, my business does also.

Q: Can you tell us how you felt during these years and was your mindset more negative or have you always been a positive person?

A: I always felt that everything I experienced had a purpose. I never played the victim. Therefore, I have always looked to the positive and that has kept me from staying in any negative place emotionally- in business or in my personal life.  

Q: What were your blessings at this time in your life? 

A: My blessings at this time:

-My fearlessness. (This allowed me to get jobs I wasn’t qualified for in order to provide for my family)

-My lights being turned off. I know that isn't a typical blessing, but this moment allowed me to make a promise to myself that it would NEVER happen to me again. 

-The people who trained me in corporate America because I learned basic accounting skills without having to go to school for them.  

-My fake ID bc it allowed me to get into all the hot clubs! lol

- Getting through these years unharmed and always having enough to survive. I’m grateful to God because I know His hedge of protection was over me.


Remember, we all have a unique puzzle of experiences that come together to create the amazing individuals we are today. It's up to us to embrace those pieces and use them to pave our way forward.

Thank you for joining Nadine on this adventure, and can't wait to see where your own puzzle takes you!