Lessons from the Little Robe

So lately, my youngest sister and I have been spending a lot of time together. During our teenaged years, we weren’t close but I’ve come to really appreciate our growing closeness. As I get older, I realize that family truly means a lot.

Enough with the sappy-ness. Here are a few lessons I’ve picked up from the younger “Robe”, my bighead-in-crime.

Lesson #1:

Don’t take yourself too seriously. Wind down. Be silly! Be sillier! If you feel like singing at the top of your lungs to some of your favorite lyrics, do it! Let down your hair and just embrace your silly inner child. Don’t hold back because the crowd is watching. They are all awaiting a similar permission to be free. As we Jamaicans would say “be fool fool and nuh watch nuh face.”

Lesson #2:

Be unapologetically you. Sometimes I spend a lot of time time trying to fit into the image that people have of me. To my mother, I’m the responsible daughter who factors her family’s needs into all decisions. To my coworkers, I’m the one who always delivers, sometimes at the expense of myself. To my friends, I’m the one with the advice who seems to always have it together.

Honestly, being all that all the time is exhausting. One of the things I’ve come to recognize is that despite putting your all to meet others expectations, you will still end up not meeting all. On top of that, people will forget all the great stuff you have accomplished, the moment they think you slipped up.

The best strategy then is to live for you. Be you! Live for your expectations! Anything else is just pure madness.

Lesson #3:

Use the brakes. This one will always be a joke between us. My first driving lesson, I took a corner and panicked when I realized there was a car on the curb that I couldn’t bypass quickly enough. My sister kept yelling “Brake! Brake!” as the car connected with the one on the curb. Over time, I’ve come to utilize the warning “brake” in my daily life.

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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.

It is time to leave your comfort zone

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A year ago, I reached a place where I felt like I wasn’t growing. I felt like I wasn’t going anywhere. I felt stagnant. I had dreams and visions in mind but I saw no fit manner to achieve them. I was doing so much but I felt as though what I was reaching for was always just outside my reach and no matter how far I stretched, my aim always eluded me. I had grown stagnant in my professional, personal and spiritual life and this stagnancy sucked me in almost as though I was standing in quicksand.

It is strange but have you ever noticed that when you have worn out a plot of land, you have to leave it for another plot and give it time to recuperate? It is the same with life. Sometimes we have to leave our comfort zone, what is familiar to us, and move afar from the shore. I was just reading of how the disciples of Jesus left their comfort to pursue a ministry that was hard and it is for this that they are remembered, for this that they gained the greatest prize of all, salvation.

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Two Types of Men

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I’ve heard people speak of waiting to find their Boaz. For those who don’t know what I am talking about… Boaz is the Prince Charming who basically took Ruth from the Bible out of poverty and before that, allowed her to collect the excess crop left behind in the field). It is almost like the first Cinderella story. Maybe that is what sparked the Brothers Grimm’s imagination.

Anyways that’s not what I am getting into. I find Joseph, the man whose lineage resulted in Jesus being born within the tribe of Judah, more interesting. For those who don’t know Joseph happens to be a descendant of Boaz. Now Joseph is a man who demonstrated steadfastness and dependability. He also exhibited his devotion to God by taking on what many in today’s society would have termed a “jacket” although he was not rich. Despite this, he carried out his purpose without murmuring and showed his dedication to his wife, Mary, and his child by uprooting his life in Nazareth and moving all the way to Egypt when the child’s life is threatened.

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The Subject of Crying

Maybe no one told you that there was strength in your tears. – Kelly Clarkson

I used to be one of those females who believed that crying was a sign of weakness. Well, it should be the flip as crying doesn’t show that you are weak but rather that you have strength. It takes strength to show others that you are vulnerable. One of the things that have really struck me is that although tears show considerable strength, we tend to apologize anytime we become emotional in the presence of a group or others – especially if we don’t know them well. I had to ask myself: ” Why do we do that?  Why is it not okay to become emotional whenever we want?”

Here are a few reasons why tears, whether in public or private, are okay.

  1. Tears enable us to get in touch with our deepest feelings. Unless you’re putting on a really good act, eating onions, or acting in a movie scene, tears express the rawest emotions within. We have all had moments when a really amazing gift or gesture had brought tears to our eyes. We cry when we share moments of great elation with others. There are many times, I’ve laughed until I began crying. Tears are also an expression of grief at endings or the loss of those who are precious to us.

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23rd Birthday Musings

Yesterday I saw this post in Facebook feed.

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This was a post I had written on my last day as an eighteen year old. I don’t know what I was thinking when I wrote this but it captured a piece of me that have been simmering for some time since then. I’m still smiling, still have a temper when I’m ready (though it has been honed) and Jesus and I are still having fun but I’m no longer as childish as I was then. Growing up does that to you.

Wow year 22 has ended and year 23 has begun. I can’t help but think of all the changes that I’ve undergone since year 18. I finished high school and university and changed jobs, said goodbye to my childhood and met and changed many friends. Hot potatoes! That’s a lot of changes but I learned a lot a long the way and for that I am grateful:

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Trees and I

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, well here are 4. I do seem to have a thing for Jamaican beaches and trees. 🙂
“Where there is a tree, there is a way – to climb.” – Chañel’s new motto lol.

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