CURRENTLY: SHE DID NOT DESERVE TO DIE

FB_IMG_1558141524947.jpg

Hello Lovely,

This is not a post I ever wanted to write. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. For the past two weeks I have been very silent on my blog and various social media channels because I’ve been in total shock. I went from depressed, to anxious, to angry. And the worst part is the pain is only truly beginning. For those who don’t know, on May 15, my cousin, Kameela Russell went missing. An official missing person’s report was filed on May 17, which is when I was notified. I immediately had a bad feeling about it; I knew something bad happened. The circumstances surrounding her disappearance were beyond suspicious and nothing made any sense. She’s not the type to run away or commit suicide so I knew it wasn’t that. By Saturday morning, when there was no update or anything of value to go on, I knew she wouldn’t be found alive. People thought I was being cynical and needed to be more positive, but there was no denying the reality of the situation and I wanted to be prepared for it.

kameela.jpg

So two weeks later, when a body was discovered, I cannot describe the relief I felt. Here’s the thing, not knowing where someone is, is the worst feeling. There is always some level of hope that they’re okay and can possibly come back. It’s impossible to fully move on. I was glued to my phone, waiting for updates, constantly watching the news. I was on edge because every time my mum or dad called, I thought that would be the call, but it wasn’t. Finding her body provided a level of closure, because it helped me to accept that she was truly never coming back. But that doesn’t mean I’m okay with any part of this.

FB_IMG_1559235639621.jpg

Co-workers are shocked at how strong I am right now, and to be honest so am I. There were moments when I sobbed, and I do mean heavily, dramatically sobbed in my best friend’s arms, and coworkers arms. What I learned is although there are some people I can grieve with, for the most part, I prefer to grieve alone. I also learned that I’ve become the person that spends so much time enjoying the moment, that I don’t always remember to photograph the moment (which is weird as a photographer and blogger). I realised this when I could only find a handful of pictures of Kameela and I. I can’t begin to count the moments we spent together.

Halloween 2010.in Aunt Donna’s house: I was a cyber-punk and Kameela was a gangster

Halloween 2010.in Aunt Donna’s house: I was a cyber-punk and Kameela was a gangster

This woman formed so much of who I am today. She taught me how to dance and a lot of truth. She helped me to move out of my college dorm, picked me up from the airport countless times, trusted me of all people with her kids, picked me up after my first tattoo and taught me how to care for it. She taught me so much but I will never be able to repay her for. She was the life of the party, a source of wisdom and the big sister I never had. We somehow both ended up in education and always bonded over it. We traded stories and watched the TV Land show, Teachers. We laughed over memes and she educated me on who’s who, on Love and Hip Hop. I laughed at you trying to act gangster when you needed your glasses just to see. Your honesty was always appreciated and I will never forget when she took over my cousin’s Christmas party and actually made it fun. You even got my grandmother to twerk! I will always miss you. Thank you for teaching me so much.

29064066_1930967726927886_6391569976996452540_o.jpg
IMG_20180710_130413.jpg

On June 22, I will say my final good bye, but I cannot accept that this is how your story ends. No one deserves this. I’m still going back and forth between acceptance and “did this really happen?” I want answers. I want more time. I want to comfort my aunt who just lost her only child. There is nothing anyone can do to prepare for this kind of pain. But every day, I will try a little harder to get by. When I was little, all I wanted was to be just like you, now all I want is justice for you.

FB_IMG_1559136547568.jpg

6 Ways To Practice Self Care During Chaotic Times Of The Year

Hello Lovely,

As much as I love the holidays, if I’m completely honest, they also bring pangs of anxiety. Not only are you forced to spend time with family members you're not exactly fond off, or stuck in traffic or an airport somewhere you may or may not be interested in going, this past holiday season was particularly difficult for my family. On December 16, 2017 my step dad died. Even though he was sick and I had seen the warning signs that he would not make it to the New Year, it still felt like I had the rug pulled from under my feet. So to say that this holiday season was chaotic is a HUGE understatement. Family dynamics got crazier and we spent time we should have spent rejoicing and decorating, planning a funeral. It's enough to cause the deepest depression spell but I got through it all smiling and laughing. Which may leave you wondering:

6 Ways To Practice Self Care During Chaotic Times Of The Year.png

How can practice self-care during the holidays or other chaotic times of the year?

Check In Mentally & Physically

This requires you to be aware of your triggers and methods for recovery. Take particular note if your mood always drops after talking with a specific friend, or if you have anxiety around a specific task. On the flip side, don’t forget to do a scan of the positive things as well. Like if you feel a little extra warm and fuzzy after watching movies with your family. The more awareness you can bring to the things that both deplete you and fill you with joy, the more you can do these next steps effectively.

Setting Boundaries With People

I love my family but sometimes something as simple as calling me the wrong name ticks me off. Setting boundaries is going to look different depending on the person and situation. As an introvert, being around large groups of people for long periods of time can feel like my worst nightmare. There have been times I simply chose not to go to family events just to avoid the noise.

I was particularly inspired to work on this when the night before my step dad's funeral I had to sneak away to my bedroom just to be alone and work in silence. I still wanted the TV on (on something I actually enjoyed watching) but I couldn't take the back and forth conversation of my mum, grandmother and uncle over the noise of the TV while I was trying to work. I already had a brunch with my best friend's earlier that day so I had pretty much met my social quota for the day and just couldn't do it any more.

After dealing with my anxiety for over a decade my mum knows when to not take things personally but still checks me when she feels I'm getting worked up and taking it out on her. Make sure the people closest to you understand your triggers and respect your boundaries that you have in place or any effort you make in self-care can result in offended family members or friends.

Respect Your Budget

This is the time of the year where it is easy to over-indulge. For those of us who only get paid once a month, you know that after that early pay day in December, it's a LONG way to January. Once you figure out what you can spend on extras like holiday gifts, events, and other holiday things, honour that. If you splurge now, you pay even more later. And later comes sooner than you think. The list of things that seem to trap us in extravagance may differ from person to person, however, it is common to be swept up into excessive behavior. Aristotle wisely stated, “all things in moderation.” 

Forgive

Forgiveness isn't something that's one and done. Forgiveness happens again and again, often for the same offence. Because no one is perfect, someone will always do something you don't like. It takes a strong person to forgive someone, no matter what they've done or how long ago it happened. It’s not too late. Your forgiveness will not only heal their hearts, it will heal yours. Forgiveness simply means, I value myself (or our relationship) more than being right. Who do you need to forgive? Maybe you owe yourself some forgiveness. P.S. You don’t need an apology to forgive someone.

Give up expectations

I expected my step dad to die before the New Year but. no matter how sure of this I was, I still wasn't prepared when it happened. The holidays, particularly Christmas, can set us up for unrealistic expectations. It's supposed to be a “magical” time of year as we dream of the perfect holiday. Past experiences, the loss of loved ones, the loss of a job or financial difficulty all seems to heighten during this time of year.  One of the best ways to take care of yourself during this emotionally trying time, is to give up your expectations of the perfect family with the perfect tree while hosting the perfect parties with the perfect gifts.  This type of thinking is extremely damaging to you.  As you relinquish these ideas, you are able to open yourself up to experiencing greater joy in the reality of the moment.  Let go of false illusions and celebrate the moment.  

Don’t get caught in the hustle and bustle of the season

Plan ahead and designate specific time frames for the tasks that you need to complete or the functions that you will attend. This will give you time for mental preparation, allowing you to not be overwhelmed.  The malls and stores are extremely active at certain times of the day and week.  If possible, plan your shopping time during quieter hours, such as weekday mornings.  Shop online in the privacy of your home to avoid crowds all together.  When you do plan to be out in the crowds, calm your mind and body before going.  Realise that you don’t have to rush.  Take your time and enjoy the shopping process.  Often times, by changing our perspective of the situation, we can approach things with calmness.  We do not need to become part of the holiday frenzy.  Create a sense of peace and joy, true holiday feelings, inside your mind and spirit.

Take care of yourself over the holidays. It’s the best gift you can give yourself and everyone you love. May peace, joy, love and happiness be yours today and throughout the year!

An Ode to Grandpa - How to Embrace the Middle

Hello Lovely,

IMG-20161106-WA0014.jpg

“Ahhh!” As I breathed in the clean, cool Grand Bahama air on a Sunday afternoon in September, I instantly began to feel more at ease.  During the days leading up to the funeral, we mourned the loss of my grandfather: a great man of joy, harsh truths and hard work.  Grandpa will have you welding in the rain, protective gear and all; anything to get the job done!

As I stared out of the rain-stained window, betwixt the coconut trees, I took a long, deep breath and exhaled.  Eyes closed, chest lifted and mind cleared in seconds.  Memories of my grandfather flashed in my mind; fading in and out.  When we laid him to rest the day before it was indeed a heartfelt loss.  His funeral was short and fitting, with a harmonious music and fond memories.

I found myself lost in thought; reflecting, rethinking and analyzing the steps that led me to this point in my life. Was I following my passion? Have I made my mark on the world? Am I presenting my best self? Will I be remembered for the kindness of my heart and the thoughtfulness of my actions?

A loss often puts life in perspective. When a family member has passed, we lose a piece of ourselves and no matter how minute that may be, sadness and possible detachment are felt.  At times this may cause people to feel gratitude, inspiration, the reality of life's shortness  or its fragility.

Although I felt the heaviness of his absence, it did encourage me to make my life momentous and to be remembered as my true self; to share myself in all facets, with the world.  It was a reminder that we are all on a journey in life, one that ultimately comes to an end. We may not be able to choose that ending or even our beginning, but we do have power over the middle. Unlike the other stages, the middle doesn’t offer the excitement of new beginnings or the joy we sometimes find in endings. The middle is full of reality checkpoints where we realise the journey we had envisioned is unlike the journey we’ve actually experienced. As I reflected, I learnt a few life lessons. Here's how to better understand the middle stage of your journey:

  • Be passionate NOW! - No matter how old or experienced you are, passion is instinctive in us and shines through when we act on what is natural to us.  If it's public speaking, carpentry, singing, writing, art, photography, cooking: just do it. Your life will thank you.

  • Losing a loved one doesn't mean letting go - It means you've suffered a loss and now have the memories to hold dear. This doesn’t signify your end nor does it mean your life should be on indefinite hold. It isn't easy, it takes time, you may feel detached from the world and it will be emotional; but remember that these are normal.  Healing is normal.

  • Be remembered for the true you and not who you're expected to be  - My grandfather was jovial, selective and made nor took any excuses when it came to working and providing. He was small in stature but strong and wise in character. He will be remembered for these things, but mostly for his heart.  He was kind and mentored those whom he saw potential in.  Through welding, he taught others and changed lives.

  • Life is Fragile - My grandfather was preparing for recovery and family members were preparing to provide as much comfort and assistance as possible.  We were hopeful.  As with life, no one knows tomorrow and we did not have a chance to spend more time with him.  Knowing this: be wise, live in today, make the decisions that leave your minds at ease.  Time moves silently and quickly, ensure that it doesn't leave you.

My grandfather had a strong character and was remembered quite fondly by his church family and those whose lives he had changed and inspired.  He left big footprints to follow and truly no one can walk in his shadow.  The best part is he wouldn't want any of his relatives in his shadow, but more so paving their own path and adding value to their lives and the lives of others along the way.

Mark 13:32-33New Living Translation (NLT)

32 “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows. 33 And since you don’t know when that time will come, be on guard! Stay alert!”

What life moment has had you rethink your perspective on life? What life lessons have you learnt lately? How will you take charge of your middle stage to find your happy ending?

XoX,
Mechelle