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Category: Let’s Talk About Grief

Grief: It’s a hard topic, but let’s talk about it!

Grief: It’s a hard topic, but let’s talk about it!

I’m preparing for a busy week working on the Final 48 project documentary with my fellow classmates from the Doc Studies program at Duke University.  I plan to keep you updated on all social media sites.  So, be sure to follow/like @Steelelens on Periscope, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Every Tuesday on Periscope, I host “Let’s Talk About Grief!” #GriefTalkTuesday 

One of the most popular questions I receive is, “why did you decide to talk about grief; how did it start?”

Well, similar to many of you that will read this I resisted the idea of talking about my journey with grief. I thought this is my road and I must venture alone. No one wants to hear me complain, or listen to my sob story about how I wish things were different. That feeling of what could I have done to save my dad. 

I had to come to the realization there was nothing I could do. The forty-eight hours before he passed was a rollercoaster of emotions. The person that I admired my entire life as a pillar of strength was physically weak, and there was nothing I could do besides love on him. Then it hit me. Maybe that’s all I was supposed to do. Love him into his transition. 

I grieved internally. The grief that I experienced began to spill to my external appearance. My hair fell out, and I gained a lot of weight. The heaviest I had ever been. I was depressed and finally determined the only way I was going to bounce back was to keep the promises that I made to my dad a couple of hours before he passed away. 

My strength encouraged others. The times that I felt the weakest I had people around me that were inspired. I felt broken but I “appeared” to be so strong to my peers. Who knew that my story would encourage or inspire others. 

If my story had an impact on others just think what would happen if I had others that wanted to share their journeys with grief. I became mind blown at the possible outcome. 

I began with my IPad, a few questions, and went to work! As of today I have over 25 hours of footage for the project, and I still feel like it’s only the beginning.  My purpose is to not only provide a comfortable platform to talk about grief, but to inspire and encourage others that the journey is far from over. Keep going!

  

Yo Birthday Is Not About YOU! When someone special forgets your birthday…

Yo Birthday Is Not About YOU! When someone special forgets your birthday…

**Singing** back down memory lane…

I love old photos and music.  You can catch me at any time snapping pics, and listening (and singing) to music.  The featured photo today is from my 25th birthday.  You know your 25th birthday can go up there with your 18th, 21st, and 30th birthday.  I could rent a car by myself, and my car insurance premium decreased.  #Winning

My birthdays have always been extra special.  I have the gift of remembering others birthdays and being more excited for them than for my own.  Insert **YASSSSS, TURN UP, LET’S GRAB DRINKS & BAR HOP!**  I love celebrating birthdays, because it gives us another opportunity to be great.

What happens when someone special forgets your birthday?  You’re crushed, right?  I know when people used to forget my birthday I would be all in my little feelings.  Who am I kidding, I still feel some type of way when certain people forget.  I used to think well I remembered their birthday, they should remember my birthday!  I was tired of one person forgetting my birthday after I turned eighteen.  So, I decided to speak up about it.  No more calling my sister or mother to remind them that it was my birthday.

I began writing my birthday on my dad’s calendar.  This huge calendar hung in the kitchen, and it also served as his appointment reminders.   I said he’ll remember this year I tell ya!  I’m writing in big purple letters!  HE FORGOT AGAIN!

One day I decided to ask my dad why was it so hard to remember my birthday.  I was born a day after his mother.  It should be the easiest to remember!  In a calm voice I finally received an answer, one that I didn’t expect.  “When granny died, I tried to forget everything that was attached to her, including her birthday.  You never notice that my appointments are heavy in January. ”  I was speechless.  I identified my dad’s way of grieving.  To shield his hurt he became busy.  It made perfect sense.  On holidays such as Mother’s Day or Memorial Day he became unavailable.  Too busy to do anything.  On that day I realized my birthday was no longer about me anymore it was about others.

I adopted the practice of celebrating my birthday alone or with others, either way I was going to celebrate life.  For those that reached out to me on my birthday I always wanted them to know how special I felt for even remembering, and offer some encouragement.  Yes, offer a little love to them on your day.  It’s not that hard!  My birthday is not solely about me.  I had to remember there are some grieving people out there, and it was selfish of me to be upset with anyone about forgetting my birthday.  Especially when there are others waiting to celebrate the gift of life.

Your birthday is a gift from God.  Celebrate the possibility of becoming a better you, and share a little love to others in the process.

Guess Who?! The #FaveArchivist strikes again!

Guess Who?! The #FaveArchivist strikes again!

One of my favorite board games as a child was “Guess Who?”  You know the one that you tried to guess your opponent’s character by asking questions, and you narrowed it down by process of elimination.  Don’t tell me I’m alone here? Well, I know it well because Granny would play with me, but she would CHEAT!  Good times!

In a sense “Guess Who” is similar to a mystery game.  We ask questions or find clues to solve a problem.  That’s probably why I became an Archivist.  Anyways, let me stay on task.  So, as you know (well I hope you know) for almost two months I’ve been going through my dad’s personal archives, and some of the photos I’ve been finding has me feeling like the board game.  Constantly asking my sister to “Guess Who?”  The plan to have all of his papers sorted by February 2016 is actually ahead of schedule.

As I stated before when it comes to going through a person’s belongings it is important to go through EVERY sheet of paper, pants  & jacket pockets, and address book!

**SideNote: I have something special coming up involving an address book tomorrow.  You don’t want to miss it!

I came across two envelopes with United States Army on the cover.  One of them had never been opened, but the other one had a large dark ring on it.  I was hoping that the contents on the inside of the damage envelope were okay.  I’m not sure what melted on the photo, but it was definitely an Archivist’s nightmare.  A damaged primary document, that happened to be a certificate and a photo.  I’m sure I could request another document but I don’t think I need to at the present moment.  I looked for a familiar face in the photo.

Guess Who?!

U.S. Army Photo
U.S. Army Photo (1970)

Hi Dad!  I’m pretty sure I make that same face when the sun is in my eyes, or when I’m not understanding something.

I shared this photo during my weekly Periscope show, “Let’s Talk About Grief” for #GriefTalkTuesday.  The show has been extremely therapeutic and it’s another way to unpack grief.  If you want to catch last night’s episode you can view it by clicking here. I’m excited to see the project grow, and new viewers every week on the show.

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow for my special announcement.

P.S.  I’ve been receiving rave reviews about the first book in the Adventures of Alleykats series.  Do you own it?  No!  What are you waiting on?  You can purchase it now.  If you own it, please be so kind to leave a review.  It truly means a lot, and I thank you for your continued support!

Tomorrow may be too LATE!

Tomorrow may be too LATE!

Hump Day! Today is the day I recap “Let’s Talk About Grief.”  A weekly show that I do on Periscope for #GriefTalkTuesday and it almost didn’t happen.

Yesterday, was a regular day.  I was scrolling through Instagram early in the morning and I came across a photo that seemed quite odd.  I was about to reach out to my friend in Houston and ask if everything was okay, and then I logged into Facebook.  The first status I read ended with the words, #RIPZin.  The same friend that I was about to text, was gone.  He passed away in a fatal car accident in Colorado over the weekend. The first thing I thought was, I JUST TALKED TO HIM A WEEK AGO!   How could this be?  I was heartbroken.   This was the first time in my life that I experienced losing a friend.

When I moved to Houston a couple of years ago I didn’t know many people. One of the people I connected with was Brotha Zin. The first night I met him he was dj’ing an after party.  It was my last night working for a local jazz festival, and I wanted to hear my song.  I wanted to hear D’Angelo or Guy.  Don’t give me that look.  Yes, I go to parties and request 90s R&B.  Don’t be judging. Lol. Zin was sitting on an ottoman cranking out the good vibes, and while requesting my music I lost my balance.  The ottoman he was had WHEELS! He attempted to catch me, but I fell on him and we went rolling on that ottoman towards the window.  We crashed…HARD! I had the bruises to prove it.  That story never gets old.  Our friendship began there.

I remember the conversations we had in 2012/2013 about him starting a radio station, and I talked about writing a children’s book.  He would say, “Peace Sis, we gotta keep building.” He started All Real Radio, and I published the first book in my children’s book series.  On this day I can say, we did it!

We were supposed to connect while I was in Houston during Labor Day Weekend, and he was supposed to interview me on his show.  Well, he left early to go to New Orleans, and I didn’t return to Houston after that weekend.  As far as the interview.  I put it off, I told him, I need a minute, I’m not ready, maybe next week, or tomorrow.  Why was I waiting?  That tomorrow will never come, and I have to take the lesson that comes from it. I can say one thing, if Zin feared anything I didn’t know it.  Stop waiting.  Stop putting things off until tomorrow.  Just do it!

He was always positive, and ready to spread the good word. An activist, hip-hop head, visionary, and a man that loved his Queen and his two daughters!  That’s how I will remember him.  Our last conversation was about his interview with David Banner. I was so proud of him. Man, he was more than a friend.  He was my brother in the struggle. Just trying to spread love, light,  and knowledge. You will never be forgotten Anthony “Zin” Mills. You are apart of my “Final 48 Project” story.

Peace.

Archives 101: Miles is Maintenance – What my father taught me!

Archives 101: Miles is Maintenance – What my father taught me!

Yesterday I hopped on Periscope for #GriefTalkTuesday and talked about what happened on Christmas Day.

It was great to get on there to talk about my frustrations and laugh with new/old scope buddies! We had fun! You can view the original video on Periscope (@SteeleLens) or view the video (without the hearts and commentary 😔) below.


P.S. One of my fave scopers hopped on the scope to talk about my book. Way Cool!

Stitch by Stitch: Granny’s Quilts, Nostalgic Lessons & Love…

Stitch by Stitch: Granny’s Quilts, Nostalgic Lessons & Love…

My sister and I spent last weekend laughing and joking about the good ole days.  I would call her when I had a new discovery while looking through my dad’s “archives.”  The way my dad’s archives is set up, we were screaming and laughing the entire time.

One of the highlights of going through his stuff is the family history, until I came across this quilt (featured photo, bottom quilt).  There was a laundry basket that was full of my stuff that I left behind when I moved away from home in 2008.  I began to unpack the basket. There were many items that I could donate to a local shelter, until I got to the bottom.  Folded neatly was the quilt.  My sister had been looking for this quilt for almost 20 years.  It was in our possession the entire time.

I used to believe that the quilts made by my grandmothers had super powers.  Seriously, I mean there was no way to explain it otherwise.  When I was in high school, my sister was home visiting and received a phone call that her apartment building was on fire, and that it was a total loss.  I can remember where we were when she received the phone call; in the living room at home.  There’s just some things you never forget.  My parents and I went with my sister to see if there was anything that could be salvaged from the blaze.  We walked into her 3rd floor apartment and I must say it was a depressing site.  My sister would have to start over from scratch, and my heart truly ached for her.  It’s never easy starting over.  It was definitely a total loss, but there were a few items that were untouched: vacuum cleaner, Aunt Jemima cookie jar, and grandma’s quilt.  Can you believe that quilt was in mint condition? (See featured photo, top patch work quilt).  There’s something about those quilts made with love from our grandmothers.  I would know.   A small quilt also made by our grandma was wrapped around my waist when I had my grease fire at my place.  Those super powers must be prayers.

I’m enjoying going through my dad’s stuff, and continuing to unlock so many memories.  I would say that’s something to be #SteeleThankful for.

 

Archives 101: Rebellious Nerd 2.0

Archives 101: Rebellious Nerd 2.0

I’m continuing to unpack my grief,  and dedicated to sharing my findings on Periscope and my other social media outlets.

My first post on this site is the story of my emotional rollercoaster with education.  If you want to read the original post, click here.

Within the post I talked about my frustration and bitterness when it came to the decisions that were made after high school.  Briefly, I mentioned a story about my dad writing a check for what happened to be my final semester at that college.  Well, I stated before that I’ve been going through my dad’s papers for the past couple of weeks.  Even though he was quite organized, his papers would always produce a surprise.

I was looking through old bills and bank statements, just in case there was another family photo accidentally wrapped in the papers.  I didn’t find any pictures in the thick stack of bank statements, I found something else; a check.

Years ago, banks would return the check to the source after the check was cleared.  I honestly don’t remember this because I didn’t write many checks, but my sister remembered this practice.

I picked up the check, and glanced at the writing for at least 10 seconds.  Every space of that check was occupied, and immediately sent me back to the place where the check was written.  The check was written at the Accounting Clerk’s window, and I was standing on the left side of my dad.  The three sheets of paper that accompanied the check was my class schedule and bill for that semester (featured photo from Periscope). The same semester, I decided months later that I was NEVER returning to that school as a student.  The check represented a shift in my relationship with my dad, and my education.

Clearly my dad believed in me.  My dad believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself.  Sadly, I still didn’t care that semester.  I was so unhappy, and I took his help for granted.  It happens in life sometimes, others around you are rooting for you before you begin to cheer for yourself.  I had to realize he did that to secure a better life for me, not for him.  The next semester I decided to go to a new school, and I didn’t ask him for the help to pay the bill.  I wanted to prove to myself and him that I could do it.  My goal was to move beyond the guilt and disappointment.  I’m not here to apologize for my past, life happens and hopefully we learn a thing or two from it.

You have to want better for yourself.  That’s exactly what I had to tell myself.  The only way to move out of your current situation is to work harder.  Finding the check reminds me that I need to work harder to get to the next level.  I would have never rediscovered my passion if it wasn’t for him writing this check.  Keep Pushing!

 

Archives 101: I…Hoard

Archives 101: I…Hoard

If you have been hanging around the site and my social media accounts for the last week I have been talking about unpacking my journey with grief.  No, it’s not Tuesday, but I spent my #GriefTalkTuesday talking with others about grief, and continuing to go through my dad’s stuff that was in storage.

Okay so I realized something.  Well, I honestly saw the pattern years ago but I finally owned it this week.  I hoard.  I hoard PAPERS!  I love words on paper, on a screen, but especially on paper.  Words strategically placed can tell a story, a very POWERFUL story.  You get those words together with dates, and you can build a timeline.  That’s exactly what I’ve been doing all week.  Piecing together a timeline to show my family’s history.

So, I get it honestly.  My dad kept EVERYTHING!  Organized for his easy access.  I think, anyways.  In one box there were childhood photos, old bills, the purchase agreement for his truck, instruction manuals, and land deeds.  I’ll explain the land deeds later, because it requires its own post!

I always knew that my grandfather was a visionary, but the more I unpack my dad’s “archives” I realize how much of a leader my grandfather truly was.  Your leadership skills are proven when you are absent, and your team is still great!

I found this gem (featured photo).  I knew that my dad always tried to plan ahead.  Well, he clearly got that from my grandparents, especially my grandfather.  If you’ve been rockin’ with me for a minute you would know how I feel about life insurance.  It’s important.  Scratch that, it’s VERY IMPORTANT.  This policy is proof that my grandfather was always thinking about the future.  Twenty cents a week to insure your child!  Imagine insuring over five at that time.  It was worth it, I’m sure!

Maybe I need to retire the word “hoard.”  I need to focus on what does my personal archives say about myself and my legacy.  What story will be told after I’m gone?  I understand that life is truly the hyphen punctuation (you know life is the dash) in every journey.  I decided a couple of years to focus more on the future, but taking it one day at a time.  As we are working towards closing out 2015, let’s plan to do more for ourselves, and our legacies.  Create, Protect, and Preserve!

“Archives 101 – No Papers Left Behind” Recap

“Archives 101 – No Papers Left Behind” Recap

Yesterday was Tuesday right? I’m an Archivist that not only writes short stories, but I document journeys with grief too. On Tuesday’s I do a segment on Periscope called, #GriefTalkTuesday

Well, I dropped a few nuggets in last night’s session:
“Archives 101 – No Papers Left Behind”
1. Everyone grieves differently
2. When getting rid of a loved one’s things, what do you keep or toss?
3. Look thoroughly before you toss!

#3 is extremely important because #1 and #2 is up to you, but I suggest everyone take the time and do #3. Do you know what type of treasures you can find from looking? My dad had bills, and miscellaneous notes thrown in a box. First time looking at this stuff in over two years. My mom said to me, “You take them with you, and shred after you’re done going through the box.” My sister instructs, “Don’t throw anything anyway, dad’s filing system is different from ours. There may be photos in there.”
The funny thing is my dad and I have a similar style of filing, from what I’ve observed! Don’t you dare JUDGE! Lol.

My sister was RIGHT! This jewel was hiding amongst old bills! It’s not an original, but it’s a great copy. In this photo I’m pointing at my dad.
Date: Circa Spring/Summer 1951

Periscope Photo - Granny & Kids
Periscope Photo – Granny & Kids

Take your time, grieve, search, and find!

Xoxo,

Fave Archivist

Let’s Talk About Grief, Episode #2

Let’s Talk About Grief, Episode #2

What are the top 3 statements you received while grieving that you DID NOT want to hear? We’re going to talk about it today on Periscope at 6:00 pm Eastern. Follow Steele Lens on Periscope/Twitter for the Live Broadcast or to catch the Replay!