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.

Dating the Dozen

Can I tell you guys that I started year 24 with a lot of hope. I was determined that it would be my best year yet especially, as my supervisor reminded me, it was my year according to the Chinese. Year 24 has been challenging, frustrating and rewarding. Most importantly, it is the year that I’ve learned to be brave and to find, define and focus on the positives.
 After almost three years of chosen singleness, I felt ready to be open and step out again. Fear and indecisiveness ruled me until my friends took matters into their own hands. Before I had time to think, I was agreeing to do to something different. My friends would ensure that I went on at least one date per month! 
That challenge was successful in a way that I didn’t expect! It turns out that my friends’ taste in men may be as atrocious as mine but these were experiences worth having. I didn’t find “the one” but some of these experiences forced me to find positives in some very dark clouds.

  1. Mr. April, a friend, reminded me to listen. I was blown away by the simple yet considerate touches he made to ensure our picnic date was memorable. Read more about that experience here.
  2. Mr. May, the lawyer who boasted constantly about himself and his successes reminded me of the grace and dignity which exists in being humble. 
  3. Mr. June, the guy who felt the need to tell me exactly where he thought a woman’s place is – in the home and breeding – reminded me of the importance of chasing after what i believed and never letting anyone, but God, stick a label on me.
  4. Mr. July, the guy who made me laugh until I cried, reminded me of the joy that came with smiling from within and being silly just because and the joy that exists in sharing that light. 
  5. Mr. August, the guy with the gap in his teeth who tried to grope me, gave me two lessons. The gap reminded me of a close friend I had a few years ago who disconnected when we had a major fall -out. Realizing how much I missed him, I reached out and we reconnected. He also reminded me of the importance of treating persons in the way that I expected to be treated. I walked away without giving him the kick my indignation said he deserved.
  6. Mr. September taught me to be open to expressing myself and slowing down and taking the time to savour the things I enjoy. I now ensure that I take the time to stop and smell the roses and, most importantly, to relax.
  7. I didn’t go on a date with Mr. October but, whilst he intrigued and challenged me and made me want more, he also served as the biggest and most painful lesson of all. Crying, even in bathrooms, when disappointed or hurt is not an indication of weakness or defeat but of strength, especially when after you are done, you get up and get back in the game swinging with all your might. Weakness is your unwillingness or inability to deal with the hurt/disappointment and allowing it to take root and fester inside. He reminded me to BE BRAVE!
  8. Following Mr. October, I took November off to ensure that I did not suffer any emotional ill-effects. I stepped back in the game after meeting Mr. December on my cruise. He reminded me to embrace the woman I am but not be afraid to let my inner child out to play. Guys, being chased, screaming and laughing in the rain is exhilarating! An added bonus is when, though you are soaked, the guy you are on a date with catches you and then looks and proclaims you the most beautiful sight he has ever seen. In that moment, I found myself wishing I could bring him back to Jamaica with me.

More than 3/4s of my experiences so far haven’t been anything to write home about but they have been very eye-opening. In fact, I look forward to continuing the challenge right up to the end of March 2018. You see guys, no matter how despairing, disheartening and disappointing the situation may seem, it’s all about perspective. 

I prefer to believe that there is a good reason or positive light to every negative. God has too much in store for you for you to only focus on the negative side of any experience you have!

The glass is only half-empty if you choose to see it that way. As for me? I prefer my glass half-full with a lot of room for possibilities, opportunities and…good wine. 😉 What about you?

XOXO
Chañel.

What Letting Go Has Taught Me…

After a long week, I took some time to just reflect on life and where I’ve progressed to since the year began. I realized something about myself. Many of the persons I had started the year with, has disappeared. This made me pause and reflect on how I felt about their disappearance. I realized I was okay.

A few months ago, I wrote a post about keeping persons to your standards. A confession, sometimes I write very good advice but I am generally the last to take it. What do they say about the counsellor? They need the most counseling… For weeks after that post, I would find myself getting annoyed with myself when people walked all over my standards and I kept them around. Frankly I was miserable and I decided to actively do something about it. I must say that once you begin to stand up for yourself, you will be amazed how quickly persons either pulled up their socks or disappeared.

Some of these persons tried to reappear later but I stuck to my mantra and eventually they would leave for good once they realized what I now stood for. I can’t moan about the disappearing acts, frankly, good riddance.

Another thing that changed was that I stopped allowing persons to drag me into their drama. I am a regular Miss-Fix-It. Maybe that is why I make such a good Project Manager… It is simply amazing how much energy it takes to deal with other persons’ drama. What makes it worse is when sometimes, these are the persons who you can never depend on. It made me wonder, what was the use, if these persons were only in your life to drain you. Now, whenever I want to say something or intervene, I beg the Lord to hold my tongue or simply walked away.

My final habit that changed was my “Superwoman mentality”. This on many occasions caused me to burn out and persons often took advantage of my inability to say “no”. I have begun to say “no”. Frankly, it feels good to be able to have time to myself and be able to do the things that I want to do. This meant that a lot of people walked away once they realized I was no longer available to be twisted around their fingers. Frankly, that set leaving was a breath of fresh air.

Friendship, I found, is never about quantity. It’s simply the quality. I would rather have a few good friends who look out for me than an entire army of friends whose actions are a guarantee to my destruction. I prefer to walk into my peace. Don’t you agree? Let me know your thoughts on the subject in the comments area below.

XOXO,
Chañel.

Shut Up and Act!

 

 

“Talk is CHEAP” is something my mentor used to tell me constantly. Actions have always spoken louder than words. In fact, if you think about it, the man generally feared is the one who metes out the judgement barely promised. He is the one who generally is considered deadly because his actions line up with his words.

 

When I was a child, I loved but feared my father. He wasn’t a man who spoke a lot. He would perhaps give a warning look or speak once in a calm voice if I was misbehaving. This was the total opposite of my mom who talked, threatened and warned a lot. My dad was the greater fear because he was the unknown force whose talk meant something.

When you do a lot of talking about your dreams and carry out no actions towards fulfilling them, you are like the little mongrel dog with a lot of noise and no bite. He will make a lot of noise when you approach his  gate but the moment you open it or raise your hand is the moment he takes off. Are you always just talking about your dreams? Where is the action towards fulfilling them? Do you run from or start to make excuses why you can’t take a presented opportunity? It is past time you move to the biting stage. The gates have been open, surely you don’t need God or anyone to push you through. You can reach you goals. It is time YOU STOP TALK THE TALK AND WALK THE TALK.image

XOXO
Chañel

Don’t Be Discouraged


“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.”

-Psalm 42:5

I’ve been reading “Battlefield of the Mind” by Joyce Meyer for a couple of weeks now. She was discussing the topic of Chapter 4 “Little By Little” which is simply saying that the renewal of the mind is a process that will bring forth progress…and it happens LITTLE BY LITTLE. In further discussion she added a sub-topic “Don’t Be Discouraged” with the scripture reference Psalm 42:5.

My mind travailed and I started thinking deeply of myself, within myself and how much I overthink, how much my mind strays, how often I get discouraged, how much I let the wind of a lie disquiet me and I was deeeeeply and honestly disappointed with myself. That simple thought alone, told me that my mind needs renewal.

Then I started thinking about my actions, “life’s” disappointments and all the things of the world that DRAGS ME DOWN & is DROWNING ME. Yes…DROWNING ME! It’s not easy when you can’t slide your troubles to the back of your mind without those dirty little mood killers and, depression setters finding their way back to the very surface and stifling all the positive thoughts that you had.

BUT…there’s hope yet. I was encouraged to NOT BE DISCOURAGED. Probably you’re saying to yourself, what is she talking about! How can I elevate myself to be encouraged when I’m caught up in all of this negative web. That’s because you CAN elevate yourself. Remember you are “drowning” in your thoughts….you have not “drowned”! There IS still hope. Drowning means to be overwhelmed by, while Drowned means to be totally submerged with or under and to die. You are not dead! There IS still hope.

I will leave with you a two simple passage of scripture, Romans 12:2 – “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” and Proverbs 18:21 – “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”

Be not conformed to lies, to the thoughts that will bring about actions that will hurt you…but be overcome with peace. Be not discouraged, whether in thoughts or in life. Conquer every bad thought with something good. No matter how much retrieval from archives you have to do within that mind of yours…DO IT and OVERCOME!

XOXO,
Mahogany

A Jigsaw Puzzle

As a child, I was fascinated with solving jigsaw puzzles. I would spend hours matching pieces just to see the whole picture. Even today, though I am no longer an ardent player, I still spend time playing the jigsaw app on my laptop.

Have you ever noticed just how nicely two pieces will fit when they are meant for each other? I mean you don’t have to deal with the stress of squeezing the end of one into the hole of the other. They just fit in a way that takes the process one step closer to solving the problem and making the picture much better.

How many of your relationships have been like? You meet persons and they just fall neatly in place. I have many friends who came into my life like that. Even now if I don’t see or talk to them for years, when we meet again, it’s like no time has passed. That is how your relationships should be. You shouldn’t have to force it. If you have a friend which you have to continually fight to keep, maybe that friendship shouldn’t be. If you are in a relationship in which every day feels like a battlefield, maybe the universe is trying to tell you something.

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