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Tag: Grief

What I learned from LAUGHING through my PAIN…

What I learned from LAUGHING through my PAIN…

Life happens.  We can all agree with that.

Honestly my dad used to always warn about those unfavorable moments as an adult.  Those moments when you watch your credit score plummet from 700+ to about 500.  Or, when you have to gather yourself after a serious accident sets you back.  What about the time that you had to sit out of graduate school for a year because of a mistake that you didn’t correct in enough time.  Wait, I almost forgot one,  the event of losing a parent before they were able to witness the wins in your 30s.

Over the past month I’ve been reminded of the moments that I spent with my father after my serious burns accident.  The posts that I shared on social media were rooted in laughter.  My dad was one of the funniest guys that I’ve ever known.  I’m not just saying that because he was dad.  He was absolutely hilarious.  The days that I spent with him during that journey of my life were unforgettable.  He encouraged me in his own little way to laugh through my pain.  He reminded me that things would get better.

They did.

Everything is a process.  No one can tell you how to cope with certain things that happen in your life.  For example, no one can tell you how to grieve.  I’ve had plenty of people ask me how did you keep pushing after the everything you’ve been through.

Laughter.

I find laughter in every situation.  I can remember at my dad’s funeral.  I was sitting at the end of the pew with my head down, and all of a sudden I heard the choir singing.  You would think that I would be moved to tears, because they were singing a song of encouragement.  I don’t remember the lyrics because the A and B selection was so terrible that it took everything in me not to burst into tears from laughing.

One thing that I’ve learned within the last seven years is the way that I respond to certain situations in my life can inspire others.

SAY WHAT?!

Yes, my response to those dark moments in my life was encouraging someone else.

You mean someone was watching me?

**NEWS FLASH: THERE IS ALWAYS SOMEONE WATCHING YOU!**

I thought I told you that before?!

Well, this weekend I was reminded of how I impact the lives of those around me that witnessed my highs and my lowest of lows.

On Sunday, I was asked about my hope during a photoshoot. What do I hope to accomplish with the documentary projects, children’s book series, and this platform of being the girl behind the lens.

 

Photography by JGrant 

 

I said to inspire and encourage laughter on a daily basis.

Hopefully, whatever I’ve been through can inspire someone else to be better.  That’s my mindset everyday when I’m assisting the young people in my community.  What are some of the mistakes that I can prevent them from making.  They are my motivation, and it doesn’t hurt that they put a smile on my face every day.

When I look back over those moments that should have destroyed me, I find one common denominator: laughter.

No matter the situation; find the sunshine.

On this first day of Spring, embrace it with all the laughter you have.

Don’t allow any dark moment to cloud your future.

Time to bloom…

XOXO,

RJ

 

 

Day 1: Freedom – #SteeleThankful Challenge

Day 1: Freedom – #SteeleThankful Challenge

I enjoy my freedom. The freedom to go and come as I please. It’s truly something that I cherish above a lot of things. What happens when your freedom is threatened?

I allowed my mind to be attached to things because those things represented someone that was no longer around. This storage space was occupied for over 3 years with items that belonged to my father, and quite frankly it was hard to let go. 

Not anymore. Holding on to the items wasn’t going to bring him back, and was the key to my freedom. This chapter of my life is now complete. So, on this day, I announce to the world that the shackles of unpacking my grief have been broken. 

Freedom.

What are you #SteeleThankful for?

Steele Thankful 2016

Life is the Dash…

Life is the Dash…

“Here today, gone tomorrow…”

I remember hearing that a lot growing up.  Now, I’m looking around and realizing, gosh my elders were right.

Last week was quite an emotional week.  I talked about “Blue Monday,” got through Monday, went to the gym on Tuesday morning, hopped online as usual and began reading a story about a possible homicide-suicide that occurred in the next town over from my hometown.  When I initially read the story the names had not been released.  Later on in the afternoon I received a text from a friend, and I politely told him, “Yeah, I read the story, but no names, yet.”  I guess he thought R.J. CLICK THE LINK.  Well, I didn’t click the link, so he decided to do a screenshot (screen grab, whatever) to show me that the names had been released.  It was someone I knew.  In fact, I spoke with this person about a month ago, and some of you were able to witness it.

It was Denise.

98.3 The Coast

I sat in silence for 30 minutes after reading her name in that text message.  She was tragically killed by her husband, and leaves behind three young children.  Even though we never met in person, she had a huge impact on my life.  It’s amazing the effect that people can have on you in such a short amount of time.  During our interview last month on the air I promised I would include her and Jonny as characters in an upcoming book in the series.  I promise not to disappoint.

I did say that it was an emotional week right?

I wanted the passing of Prince to be a hoax.  I remember waking up Friday morning thinking it was still a dream.  Can we agree that Prince was amazing?  He was musical genius, but what really stands out to me is that Prince was an UNAPOLOGETIC BLACK MAN.  He didn’t mind telling you what he thought, and never apologized for it.  He worked tirelessly behind the scenes for the rights of his people.  He was a cheerful giver of his time, knowledge, and resources.

You never know what someone is dealing with, or how much time they have on this earth.  Life is the dash.  We are gifted this life on this earth, and we must determine how we choose to live it.  The outpour of love for both Denise and Prince last week was mind blowing.  There was no need to question how much they were loved.

My takeaway from last week was that we all need to start giving people their flowers while they are living.  I can only hope that they were shown the love that was displayed last week while they were living in the dash.

I decided to go over my grammy’s house on Saturday morning since I was in town filming for The Final 48 Project.  I spent two hours with her, and it was honestly one of the best visits we’ve EVER had.  She told me that what I was doing with the “Final 48 Project” is what God birthed in me, and I have to keep pressing forward.

I went over there to check on her, and received a mighty Word.  That visit with her is something that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

What are you doing with the dash?  It’s Monday.  Another opportunity to push towards the purpose that God has birthed in you.

“We are gathered here today.  To get through this thing called, life.”  ~ Prince

Xoxo,

R.J.

A case of the Mondays…”Blue Monday!” 💙

A case of the Mondays…”Blue Monday!” 💙

Oh Monday. My Monday. Your Monday. Our Monday.
It’s still a Monday.

Have you ever heard of “Blue Monday” by Annie Lee?  She’s an amazing international artist that unfortunately passed away in November of 2014. She was definitely full of that #BlackGirlMagic

I’ll get back to “Blue Monday” in a moment.

Ever have one of those days when something was feeling off? Or, you didn’t want to get out of bed? That’s what Blue Monday feels like. Gathering all of your strength to take on the tasks of the day, but hours later you are sitting on the side of the bed STUCK.

Blue Monday is only one day. When I think of experiencing a Blue Monday I think about the grief of all things, (bills, baggage, losing a loved one).

You know everything takes time, and the only way to overcome it is to take it one day at a time.

At times I can get wrapped up in my past mistakes, and often think about oh man will I be able to pay this big bill next month. If I believe and put forth some effort. I believe all of my debts will be paid in full. Very soon. That’s faith right? I know. I know. R.J. you are always talking about faith. A little faith will get you VERY FAR. TRUST ME!

No need to worry about tomorrow, or dwell on yesterday. They are either long gone or haven’t arrived yet. We stress ourselves out about situations that we have no control over, and hence it can turn into a Blue Monday. Unable to gather any strength to get out of bed.

On Monday’s (or Sunday evening) we fall in a funk, and feeling down about returning to life on Monday. Well, I’m here to tell you there’s always going to be A Monday and you must find another way to look at its arrival.

You have a choice to enter the new week with a positive mindset and turn the Blue/Moody Monday into a Motivational Monday!

Let’s get excited about new partnerships, relationships, and ventures on this new day. There’s so much to see, and do. No need to waste our time on the blues of past Monday’s.

Go be great!

XOXO,

R.J.

#FaveArchivist

 

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: 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!

 

Day 4 – “Peace” #SteeleThankful Challenge (30 days of thanks)

Day 4 – “Peace” #SteeleThankful Challenge (30 days of thanks)

PEACE.  Go ahead, say it aloud 3 times.  **Peace…Peace…Peace**

Did that feel good?  There’s nothing like that feeling of peace.  The peace of finishing your last exam in your academic career.  Submitting that final paper before the semester is over.  Paying all of your bills on time.  Making your last debt payment.  Reclaiming your power after an abusive relationship, or being able to say a final goodbye.

I’m thankful for the calm after the storm.  The featured image is a black and white photo of me holding my dad’s hand.  I took the photo 48 hours before he passed away, and the peace that comes from looking at this photo everyday is so soothing.  I absolutely miss him every day, but I find peace in knowing that his soul is at peace.

 

What are you #SteeleThankful for?  Join the conversation on Facebook.

Every “Mourning” is different…

Every “Mourning” is different…

On my last scope I briefly talked about “mourning stationary.” The black border around this letter written in 1899 symbolizes a phase of grief. If the border was thicker it meant that the loss of a loved one just happened. The border helps the receiver of the letter know the emotional state the writer. Wonder why we don’t do that today…

Original Document can be found at the American War Museum archives. Formerly the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, VA.

Let’s Talk About Grief, Episode 1

Let’s Talk About Grief, Episode 1

Hello Transparency,
I’m ready to tackle you. I just completed my first broadcast talking about grief. Looking forward to doing it again next week. Shaking the nervous bugs from my shoulder! Lol. Check it out below.

https://www.periscope.tv/SteeleLens/1YqGoYNrnAyxv?%3Ausername=steelelens&

 

P.S. I’ll try to “katch” it but if not, you have until 6:00 pm Eastern time tomorrow to view it! Enjoy!