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.

A Contemplation Upon Ants – Move With Purpose

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It is often strange, the things you can be inspired by. I had the opportunity to observe some ants the other day and they, God bless their little hearts, reminded me of the importance of living and moving with purpose.
It was a windy, sunny, spring Saturday morning in Jamaica yet while many humans remained in bed, these ants were busy at work. I can only imagine what I would have seemed like to them. Perhaps a giant who had the power to crush them without a care but yet still they moved with purpose.

Their nest was to the east, the wind blew in the opposite direction. Ant after ant moved in every direction in their search for food. Then, despite the strong wind, they struggled home. When the wind became too much, they band together and made it home. They even employed this method when the load found was too heavy for one. They never slowed their pace.

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What is Your Perspective?

Last night as I laid in bed, I noticed what seemed to be a flying insect on the wall from the corner of my eye. When I looked around, it was gone! A few seconds again I noticed the same phenomenon and looked again. Still nothing. It happened a few more times and each look yielded that same result. Nothing! I got a little worried because I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep if there was indeed a flying insect in my room.
I shifted my position and I laid down again. It was then I noticed an ant crawling on the zipper of my bag. I was deeply amused to realized that the angle I had been lying down before had made the ant look like something flying on the wall. The thought came to me then, “It’s all about your perspective.”

Have you every realized how things and situations can change if you change the way you are looking at it? When you are in the sky looking down, everything seems small, yet when you are on land, things just seem bigger. When you are in the middle of the situation, you get caught up in the management of the details. However, when you take a step back and experience the bird’s eye view, your perspective can change.

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Not everyone is doing IT…

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As I was getting ready for work this morning, the Bible story about Elisha complaining to God about him being the only one in Israel who haven’t bowed to Baal came to me. What resounded in my head was God’s reply.

Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.
1 Kings 19:18

We live in a world where sometimes it seems like everyone is doing IT and we are the only ones not doing IT. This I admit can be pretty lonesome especially when we begin to feel pressured to do IT. What is the IT you ask? The IT is all the things you know you shouldn’t be doing for various reasons whether they are societal or personal reasons.

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5K Run – A Lesson in Endurance

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So, crazy me decided that instead of staying in my bed like a good little girl on a Sunday morning, I was up by 5:00 am and ready to do a 5K run at 6:15 am. I must say that I thought I would die especially since I chose to do the run instead of the walk.

Honestly, at times in the race, I did think I was dying. At one point I wanted to indicate to the Race team that I was stopping. My legs ached and my lungs felt short on air but the most important thing was that I maintained my pace even when I wanted to push myself to keep up with the people ahead of me. I didn’t run the entire race, there were points I had to slow down to a walk but I am proud of the fact that kept my goal in sight and finished strongly.

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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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