Lonely and Alone

This one is tough guys. This one is hard to write. Last week, much to my amazement, I heard myself saying, “I’ve changed this year. I feel much lighter.” It was strange but I’ve never thought much beyond the changes that I had felt in my gut needed to be made. Neither did I examine the emotional reasoning behind logical actions such as leaving my former church. I guess you could say that in that moment, examining the situation too closely would have revealed truths I was in no way ready to handle. It was time for a self-discovery.

As I thought back on last year, I could clearly hear myself questioning the reason why I had so many people around me but only few realized I was stressed and unhappy. A lot were quite happy to add more drama to my plate. I looked deeper and realized that at that moment in my life, unhappiness was too mild a word, I was depressed.

Acknowledging depression is a hard pill to swallow because when you generally think of depression, the image of the girl with the bright aura and smile doesn’t readily come to mind. Instead, we generally visualize the emos, dressed in black, sullen, and looking for all the world to see “depressed”.

I remember a few years ago, I saw the story of a young woman who was dead in her apartment for two entire years before any noticed. I remember thinking, “How could that situation have happened? Didn’t she have friends, family, neighbors, etc.” I am afraid of getting there. Dying and no one noticing. At the time, I thought to myself, that could never happen to me. I have way too many people around me.

Yet, last year, I remember sitting down in church and on the choir, and wondering how could I be surrounded by so many people and still feel so alone. Aren’t these the same people who hugged me on a Sunday and called me “daughter”? Why did I feel so alone?

Why was my phone full of church contacts who, for the most part, only called or messaged me when they needed something? Why these numerous contacts only seemed interested in the wide white smile but none took the time to look beyond and see the sadness in my eyes? These were the persons I prayed with. These were the persons I sang on the choir with. These were the persons I joker around with. These were the persons I spent a large percentage of my free time with. These were the persons I thought of as friends yet when I needed, no one knew me enough to see.

Where were all my friends? Why didn’t my family notice something was off about me?

Honestly, I felt betrayed by God too. Where was He when I was internally screaming loudly? Begging Him for a physical sign that He had heard my cry? Begging Him for someone to speak directly to me, to my feeling during one of the Sunday messages. Where was He? Why didn’t he give me the sign I needed?

I can remember thinking to myself, “So many people but only a handful.” It was amazing that despite me knowing so many persons, only a few thought to check if I was okay when I went MIA. Even fewer thought to push deeper when I gave my regular “I’m okay” to the general polite question, “How are you?”

A part of me recognized that I wasn’t needed. I didn’t want to be in such an environment where everybody looked but few really saw. I recognized I couldn’t stay. My mitigation action was simple. I let go of my “BIG” church and a lot of acquaintances. I chose a smaller church and began focusing my energies on building strong relationships with the few friends who have shown themselves as being worthy of the title. I gave myself the permission to be free of the things I didn’t believe in at heart and focused on ensuring my emotional health. Eventually, I felt lighter.

In retrospect, I wondered how I got to the point of being depressed and yet no one or myself seemed to notice. The answer hit me. I was always the one who could fix it. Most of my acquaintances believed that I always had it together. I didn’t need help, instead, I was the one capable and always willing to offer the assistance. It just didn’t cross their minds that maybe I needed help of a different nature.

Guys, I hope my blubbering makes sense. I want to call you to action. I came close but I escaped from the clutches of depression. Don’t be one of the persons who looks but do not see. Care enough to stop and take the time to see beneath the surface. Care enough to ask deeper questions.

XOXO,
Chañel.

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Dating Outside the Box

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If you have been following my blog, you should be aware of the yearlong dating challenge I undertook last year March as a form of breaking my three-year dating sabbatical and stepping out and putting myself out there again. This challenge was an immense success and resulted in stories like the ones described in Dating the Dozen and the internal tumult of My Perfect Mistake.

“Did the experience make me better?”, many asked. Yes. It taught me the importance of knowing  who you are and what you have to offer as an individual and to not be swayed by the thoughts and perception of others, even if it means walking way from someone who came to mean a lot to you. This experience taught me to walk away from situations that made me feel less than who I am. Most of it, it taught me to be comfortable in my own skin and to laugh, have fun and enjoy the companionship of others, if only for a moment. There is no crime in budgeting time for FUN!

Now, a year of dating equivalents to A LOT of dates! We certainly won’t get into numbers…

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There are two things that persons who have been following my progress want to know:

  1. Where do I find the guys?
  2. What do I do for my dates?

We will leave #1 for another time but I must answer #2 because the follow-up question to that normally focused on whether or not my dates and I went to get drinks or a meal. Well folks, anyone who knows me knows that I am not a foodie.  A lot of food gives me anxiety issues if I don’t have help…. so… if my dates were just based on eating, I would have a problem.

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So, here you go! 12 fun activities that I have done in the name of dates:

  1. An evening out Painting and Sipping – This activity gives you and your date a chance to have a bit of relaxing competitive fun. Plus, paint, brushes, bad artists, cheap wine and good company is a good combination to spark a little chemistry and give an evening to remember.Image result for paint and sip gif
  2. Go picnicking in the park – A picnic has been on my bucket list of date ideas for like…forever! Can you imagine my excitement when that wish was fulfilled? Throw in a movie as dusk approaches and chocolate and you will have what can only be described as perfection. If you are not a fan of movies, put on some low music and talk/dance…
  3. Do karaoke together – I don’t recommend doing karaoke with someone who is a stiff-shirt especially if he can’t sing or take a little good-natured ribbing. Karaoke, good company and drinks are a great way to have a very memorable night.Image result for karaoke gif
  4. Shopping for ingredients and then cooking a meal together – I never thought going to the market and supermarket could be fun until I made a date of it. It took it back to caveman days of foraging for food to make a meal. Once the foraging is over, you and your date get a chance to do accomplish something together. Who knows, if you are lucky you might just end up doing a food fight.
  5. Going hiking – If you are a person who loves nature, this is perfect for you. There are a lot of wonderful spots to go hiking. Personally, I prefer afternoons because it is cooler and that also gives me the opportunity to see the sun set.
  6. Doing a 5K together – There is nothing like bonding while running/walking for a cause. and joking about dying during the process. While I did a 5K, you and your date can spend an afternoon volunteering for a cause that you are both passionate about.Image result for 5k gif
  7. Going for a walk and exploring a spot you are both interested in – Throw in some Jackie back, good company and laughter and have yourself a marvelous time
  8. Building a playlist together – If you are both music lovers (I am average), a great date is to have a music face-off that results an a playlist. It’s fun when you are trying to up the song your partner just played, especially if you both like music from different eras. This becomes a great keepsake….well if the date goes well.
  9. Going to a fair/theme park – If you have a big inner child, like me, going to a fair or theme park is a definite “MUST”! Try every ride, every slide and every attraction possible! Do not stop until you are done!
  10. Taking a dancing class – This experience was the one I found the most uncomfortable because I am not much of a dancer. However, taking a salsa class is something else when you have relaxed and become engaged with laughing and dramatizing every body bumps and toe steps! I can honestly declare that in the end, my beginning discomfort was worth it! One of the best dates ever! Bad moves and all!Image result for bad salsa dancing gif
  11. Going to a concert – Personally, I don’t like concerts that have too big an audience of sweaty people who are all up in my space. But there is something to be said about bonding while grinning ridiculously and screaming the lyrics of some of your favorite songs. Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it… My personal favorite happens to be any concert that has a steel band. I have a ridiculous partiality to steel bands :).
  12. Having the person teach you something they like to do or via versus – like how to play pool… I totally never realized how fun learning during a date could be.

You should have noticed by now that I have not mentioned “Netflix and Chill” or some of the common date outlets such as going to watch a movie. The point is, there are many creative date outlets. Get dolled-up or dolled-down, put out your best personality and go out with the intent to have fun. A date is what you make it.

Do you agree? What are some of your favorite date ideas?

XOXO,
Chañel.

I Don’t Even Like Wine!

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I guess you can say that the cat is out of the bag with my post title, huh? I remember the first time I had wine…my initial thought was “who in heaven’s name would drink this horrible-tasting stuff?” Well, hello, it’s clear that I did for years… Fabulous toast to my idiocy…?

After my first experience, everytime I found myself in a social setting, I opted to fit in, be polite and have what everyone else was having. Before I realised it, it was considered my drink of choice and I found myself buying wine to relax after a long day at work. Despite this, my tastebuds protested everytime I decided to take a sip but I kept at it! While some were better than others, acquired taste is a myth (well except for coffee)! It was simply a long journey of taste after taste! Acquired taste, my ass! 😂

Well, one day I woke up! As I held a glass in my hand, I asked myself, “why the hell do you keep having this stuff when it’s obvious you don’t enjoy it…?” I had no answer.

I realized something though. I had developed this attitude towards quite a few things in my life. I did them for the sake of acceptance or just to fit in… Like the times I:

  1. Kept silent about something because everyone seemed to be on a different wavelength and I didn’t want to be the dissenting voice.
  2. No longer recognized myself but clung to the version of the person everyone expected me to be while I slowly felt like screaming inside.
  3. Refrained from saying no although I felt like I was constantly being taken advantage of.
  4. I refrained from voicing how I felt about the action of others because it offended others or resulted in argument that I couldn’t foster the energy to fight about.

All these are done at a cost to myself! These costs added up! Everytime I bit my tongue, I embraced another aspect of timidity and lost a piece of myself! Everytime I said yes when I wanted to say no, I lost the opportunity to do something I really wanted to do. Only to do something I had little desire. And everytime, I chose to cling to a older version of myself, my evolved self screamed a bit louder.

There has to be a tipping point though. I had to seriously ask myself: “How much of myself was I willing to forsake and sacrifice in order to fit in?” Mine took a while to come but when it did, I realized that there was no law that required my continuous agreement with everyone but myself. If I didn’t like something, I had the power to either accept it or walk away. I also realized that I didn’t have to be loud to be heard because my actions spoke volumes. The hardest part about coming to that conclusion was taking the first step. And even after the first step, it is still not easy when everytime you are faced with a situation where you are forced to make a decision about putting forward something the majority would agree with or putting a foot forward and being willing to say what I think and feel. It’s hard to consciously chose you!

Step by step. Day by day. I have decided to choose me. Be true to myself. Will you join me on my journey of truth?

XOXO,

Chañel.

Self-Honesty

I am an hypocrite. In fact, if many of us should stop and think about it, we are very hypocritical when it comes to being honest with ourselves. By extension, we become hypocrites with God and others because frankly, in order to be honest with God or others, you must first be honest with yourself.

I look back on some of the years I once deemed as the best of my prayer life. These were the years I spent talking to God about others and their problems. I never spoke to Him about myself beyond the face value stuff. Back then, I believed my prayer life rocked as I spent time loading on the godly platitudes, raising prayer requests and reciting all the lovely turn of phrases I had heard during service at church. I was a living-walking modern-day hypocritical Pharisee.

I look back now and laugh because I realize that in those instances I treated God as an acquaintance. I also spent a lot of time running from myself. But how could I be honest that I did not love all my neighbors? That there were some persons I truly disliked despite trying hard to find the good in them? How about areas of the Bible that I struggled to obey? How about church rules that I disagreed with and felt really strongly about? How could I acknowledge my struggles to myself much less voice them to God or anyone else? How could I bare my soul to God when I didn’t have the courage to bare it to myself? It was far easier to pretend that everything was hokey-dokey than be the sole representation of imperfection or voice of dissent. It was far easier to pretend to be the perfect Christian. Everybody else seemed to have it together, why shouldn’t I?

Those years helped no one. I know they certainly didn’t help me or my relationship with God. One of the reasons I love King David is because of his brutal honesty to God about his nature, even in moments when he is not quick on the uptake. It takes a lot to be able to acknowledge that you have messed up or that you were wrong or that you are not perfect and need help. Moments like those require you to be brutally honest with yourself and humble enough to make the acknowledgement.

Frankly, that’s the way I want to live my life. I choose to be an active participant in my life over the casual observer. I choose to be introspective and insightful. I choose to be more than the regular indoctrinated Christian. I choose to be honest with myself, God and others. I choose to live a life of honesty.

I would like you to join me in making a commitment to ourselves:

We will take the time to discover our true feelings and be honest about them to ourselves so that we can be honest with God and others.

XOXO,
Chañel.

Complaining…

As my vacation came to an end, I spent long moments reflecting. These moments were quite different from the first half of my vacation. Those were days I spent on a cruise mingling, making new friends, enjoying the entertainment and exploring new locations. These were all activities designed to feed my outgoing side. The only times I took for deep introspection were pre-dawn when I religiously got up to catch the sunrise. These were some of the most beautiful sunrises I had ever seem. As I stood on the ship’s deck and gazed at the sun rising from the horizon, I couldn’t help but feel in awe of God for His majestic works.

My latter vacation days were totally different. I spent hours on introspection as I thought about who I am and my year. I guess you guys can call this my year in reflection post. For the first time in many years, I can honestly say that I cried a lot this year! I cried during movies, I cried when I felt hurt or overwhelmed and I laughed until I cried. The difference though was that I ensured that for each of those moments I cried, I found even more powerful and soul-cleansing moments to laugh and smile about. So even though I cried a lot, I also laughed, smiled and played a lot.

I have a confession to make. This year, especially towards the end, there were many times I felt tired and ready to give up. I had some serious lows.

  1. Early in the year, my sister and I met in an accident with a Leyland truck on her way to drop me to work.
  2. My youngest nephew ended up in the hospital twice this year.
  3. While learning to drive, I hit someone’s car.
  4. I lost a close friend.
  5. I had my first failure to effectively close out a project. 
  6. While dealing with the ending craziness of that project, I received news that my grandmother was in the hospital and could have died. 
  7. While dealing with the craziness of the project, I got ill. My anemia started acting up to the point where I shivered constantly even in warm weather and fought waves of nausea and dizziness. As if that wasn’t enough, I also had to deal with issue that had affected me emotionally. In truth, #6 and #7 left me an emotional wreck.

In those moments, I can truly understand if God felt a little exasperated with me but through it all, He patiently taught me to focus on the silver lining that existed in each dark cloud.

  1. Both my sister and I escaped the accident without a physical scratch. We were alive! The car got fixed!
  2. My nephew is home, happy and well. None of his illnesses affected him long term.
  3. We got the man’s car fixed although he was a bastard about the issue.
  4. Maybe that friend was not supposed to be a part of my life beyond that point. My life now has less drama.
  5. The project gave me a lot of experience that I can use to effectively build my career. I also got a chance for a do-over.
  6. My grandmother is now home and recuperating.
  7. That period gave me the chance to see what I am made of. Despite being ill and feeling intimidated at times, I was not built to break.

You are not built to break either. Don’t waste time and energy complaining! Even in the darkest of storms, you can find the light. After all, with storms come the lightening. Loves, you are stronger than you think because it is in your weakness that you will find God’s strength.

XOXO,
Chañel.

My Perfect Mistake

​Headiness was catching
Talking, laughing
Mind alighting
Yearning…
Touching?
Forced to face
You weren’t surface but buried flesh-deep
A thorn, you are
My perfect mistake.

Ravaged by a few
Perfect-imperfect moments
Lolled into a false sense of security.
Awakened with the knowledge
Nothing is as it seems.
I was the surface
Just goosebumps, I am
Your unacknowledged mistake
While you were buried flesh-deep
A thorn, you are
My perfect mistake.

Distracted. 
Lost to space and time.
While wise mind screams, “Let it go.”
Hurt heart wonders, “Why?”
And worries bout you.
Body and soul steels and suffers
Forced to face each day
The evidence of my perfect mistake.
The thief? The deceiver?
Buried flesh-deep
A thorn, you are
My perfect mistake.

XOXO,
Chañel.

Zoomers Moments

A few nights ago, unable to sleep, I found my thoughts wandering. These wanderings took me down memory lane….

I was in my first year of high school when we were given a group assignment to present on various themes in the book, Silver Sword. As a natural leader who hates inactivity, I ended up planning a production. We were going to do a talk show with the book characters. After all the planning, I realised, much to my dismay, that I had planned out myself! I had totally forgotten to give myself a part!

Now note, if you did not present, you did not get a grade. I returned to the drawing board. We couldn’t change the production at that late stage but there must be some element that I had missed. During lunch (whilst eating one of my favorite cheesy snacks), an hour before the presentation, an idea took root. In the middle of the presentation, we had an intermission and I delivered one of the best impromptu Zoomers ads ever seen by man! 😂😂😂 (or so I like to believe…)

We got the highest grade for that assignment!

This memory reminded me of a couple lessons, I had learnt early in life.

  1. In moments of crisis or pressure, your levels of ingenuity will surprise you.
  2. In life there will always be Zoomers opportunities, you just have to be willing to open yourself to the possibilities.
  3. When faced with challenges, embrace your “I CAN” and “There must be a way.” attitude.
  4. Your belief in yourself and capabilities will take you a far way.
  5. Never plan out myself.
  6. Self-doubt gets you nowhere!

    What are your thoughts? Have you ever experienced a situation which required you think on your feet? How did it turn out? Let me know in the comments below.

    XOXO,
    Chañel.