She is

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As I was walking to the gym this morning, I noticed all the parents hand in hand with their children. It’s the first day of school. It made me smile as I saw parents snapping pics and kids shying away from picture number 10, as if to say mom that’s enough!

I really thought about how amazing that feeling might be, to bring children into this world and properly care them. Growing up I didn’t really want children. I didn’t because I thought there was no way I could be as good a mother to them as my mother is to me. I felt a pressure and it scared me. She truly is an amazing woman and has remained the backbone for all of us.

I was going to hold off until her birthday in a couple of weeks to write about how amazing she is. But I can’t wait. I know everyone says this but I have the most incredible mother in the world.

You have to understand what these last 4 years or so have been like for me. At 21-22, when parents hope for their children to have finished college, moved out the house and started their lives; that’s when I was diagnosed. I turned into her baby all over again. I couldn’t get out the bed, I was completely dependent on her. In the hospital she stayed there with me, every single day. She wouldn’t leave until she had spoken with the night nurses and made sure they knew my needs.

Years removed I’m not nearly as bad but you all know I’ve had my moments. At every issue, health or otherwise, I call her. She is there faithfully and always knows what I need. When I made the recent decisions to basically revamp my life, she supported.

She knew that it wouldn’t be an easy road for me. On Saturday I called her, stressed out about everything. Fearing the idea of finding a new apartment and trying to live comfortable in what seems to be the worst of times.

I said to her “why is this happening to me, I did everything right, I have the degrees, I worked really hard. If I didn’t get sick” She stopped me right there and said “I understand that but look how far you’ve come.” She wanted me to remember my progress, she refused to have me give up or even relish in negativity.

And just like that I got up, took a shower and got on with my day. But what gets me is that, she does this for all of us. My brothers and I, with such conviction and passion. She is my source and my strength. Please understand that if I become half the woman that she is the world will be a better place. I love you mommy. Happy almost Birthday!

A Woman in Process

One of those days….

 

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Smiling on a good day isn’t hard, the struggle is finding that same resolve on a day when everything seems to be going wrong. Tuesday and even into today seem to be just that.

I woke up in a pretty decent mood. I had late meetings Monday night, so I slept in a bit on Tuesday.  When I finally got going, my roommate told me that potential buyers were coming to see the house. I didn’t love hearing that and pretty much had a breakdown in that moment. I don’t think I’ve fully dealt with all of it; her passing and them selling, it just seems to be going so quickly. All that frustration came out yesterday.

I stormed out the house vowing to never come back. But all I did was walk around the corner to get bagels. I did slam a door or two on the way out, so the world could know I was angry!

I started my new job which I love by the way. I got in, sat down and I went to adjust my seat. I hear this sound, I look down and my pants ripped. Ripped in that area that leaves nothing to the imagination. How embarrassing is it to rip your pants on Day 2. I mean ripping them in general isn’t an ideal thing but I haven’t gotten to know my coworkers yet, it’s just far too soon.

I make my way to the restroom to make sure things are okay down there. A fellow bathroom user noticed my concern and assured me I could make it through the day.

I felt better and made my way back to my desk. They day continues pretty uneventful until I feel this tickle in my throat, I start having cold and hot flashes. I’m thinking this is a cold setting in. I get pissy all over again because my colds don’t just last a few days they are weekly spectacles that usually require doctors visits and me being out of commission.

I dread the possibility of that. Today I woke feeling much of the same. I had to make some administrative calls, which are never fun. You’re on hold for 20 minutes just for somebody to say you have the wrong department.

I said, “you know what, that is it!” I’m not doing this again today. I put my gospel music on! I have a playlist called “feel better?”. I refuse to have a day like I did yesterday. Those things that happened to me were not major, in fact some are funny! But the attitude I had during them is what determined the result of that day. I let those moments get the best of me. Today regardless of how I’m feeling, I will smile!

A Woman in Process

Love Yours

 

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They’re selling the house. A three family home in Park Slope, Brooklyn sure goes for a lot of money. This entire process has really opened my eyes to the amount of wealth that is truly in the world. In a matter of weeks we’ve had people ring our doorbell and literally propose cash offers. My mouth usually drops and I tell them I’m not the owner, but I wish I was. God knows that these days I could use the money.

Even though I am more at peace with my life and I am healthier. Life isn’t perfect, I am facing challenges. Since the house is up for sale, we have to think about finding another place to live. This couldn’t have happened at a worse time because as you know I just resigned from a position that gave me a pretty decent living. I will be starting a part time job today. It is a great role but it doesn’t bring in nearly as much as I received before. I’m blessed to say that with my freelance work, it will be enough for me to be okay.

J. Cole is one of my favorite rappers and I was listening to his song “Love Yourz” as I wrote this post. In the song he profoundly states “no such thing as a life that’s better than yours” Here he is reminding us to simply appreciate life! I speak a lot on gratitude and I don’t want to be repetitive in my posts. But this is heavy on my heart. I was moments away from being sad, sacred and pissed off at the fact that I couldn’t make the financial decisions wanted. But I remembered quickly the things that I do have.

I have battled headaches for the past few days, but I’m healthier! I really feel better, if you’ve been on this journey with me, you know how remarkable that is. You know how much I have wanted to wake up and feel “normal”; now it happens all the time, like all the time!

My point is that things change quickly in life but regardless of your situation, you have to love yours. I think it starts with that overall appreciation of where you are. I know it’s hard but it’s necessary. There is nothing wrong with wanting more, in fact that is literally what ambition is but appreciation is a worthy complement.

A Woman in Process

It’s Me Again…

 

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I had a great dinner with a friend last week. We talked for hours about our current endeavors, careers etc. Towards the end of the conversation I told her that I haven’t been blogging as much as I used to. She said, “well you don’t need an outlet as much as you used to.” That really got me thinking and of course it got me writing!

I quit my job a little over a month ago, things have truly been a whirlwind ever since. I’ve dealt with highs and lows from death to success. Usually those moments would be penned, it’s only right that I give a full update of my current state of mind/life.

I lost someone very close to me. She battled cancer for years, we thought we were in the clear but it reared its ugly head as it always does and took away my little family. Many of you know I live with my best friend. I have now for almost two years. It was her, Aunt Nancy and I, our little family. I remember coming by to see the place years ago and this woman telling me it’s small but I think you’ll like it. She was referencing my room, which is small by even New York City standards but what my room lacked in size, she made up for with an abundance of her love.

This woman was an aunt to us, a mother to us, and keeper to us. She was everything and more, I remember coming home from work sometimes past midnight. She would yell from below “Venesasssaa” questioning why I was out late but also ensuring I made it home okay.  She gave us so much food that I’m now Italian by default. I miss her very much, I know Ally misses her too. And to be honest it just sucks, cancer sucks, this whole situation sucks. The thought of leaving a place we’ve called home for so long is scary. But with her no longer here, it’s not the same anyway. Nobody screams ours names from the button floor, nobody cooks for us, nobody checks on us. She was an incredible woman. I know she is looking down on us, proud for the next stage we are embarking on.

She wanted me to quit my job long before I did. She would always tell me “that job is stressing you out. It’s making you sick.” My last day, I went and spent some time with her in the hospital. I told her today was my last day, she said “good” with a power in her voice that only those close to her can appreciate.

There I was jobless, frighten but confident. I’m a firm believer that life works for you when you start working with it. Rather God works for you when you start working with him. It took incredible faith to walk away with no safety net, no health insurance, no money. Nothing but a prayer and a dream. A month later, I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been, happiness is relative but I’m at peace. I saw my orthodontist yesterday and she said I smile more, so there ya go!

Okay I’m babbling a bit, let me stop and tell you what I’ve been up to.

I’ve been writing! Okay not here, but I have. I do some freelance stuff; anything from websites to press releases. It’s so cool to do what I love everyday. I also am a personal assistant to a major player in the music world. Every week is an industry event or another great experience. It’s not all fun and games but I am grateful.

Oh not to mention, I’m a de facto assistant to my best friend, who has recently garnered great success in her career. She’s a dope artist, go check her out: allisondayka.com, that’s my shameless plug but I digress.

I still work out! I did take a little break but since last week I’ve been super consistent. I don’t eat as healthy as I used to, I’m working on it. My weight loss journey is over. I’m cognizant of the scale but the numbers don’t define me the way they used to. I just strive to be healthier everyday. My medicine has been changed twice in the last few months; my doctor feels this is something that will be happening frequently as my body continues to adjust. I think I have fully accepted my condition and I’m working with my body. There is no end goal, just the process, just creating me.

Lastly, I just accepted a part time position as an Athletic Director for Manhattan Youth, an after-school program. I’ll be developing and implementing all fitness and sports programs for the youth. I look forward to that position. I think it will allow me the opportunity to not only pay the bills but also do what I love for a large enough part of the day so that it all makes sense.

A Woman in Process

 

 

Meet Sabre’…

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“This is what I love about this woman, her journey is not about her but the Love and Passion she has for the kids and the people” – Facebook User

“Her role model, her inspiration…Alyssa loves this woman so very much, as do I and many others” – Facebook User

Who is this woman that the public so genuinely speaks of? She is, Sabre’, a former model and advocate who has now devoted her life to spreading awareness for Graves’ Disease and other Autoimmune Disorders.

Sabre’ was born and raised in Philadelphia. At age 15, while walking the streets of New York City, she was discovered; she had always had a passion for fashion and modeling, it was a dream come true!

Her life became a whirlwind of runways and magazines; working with Top Agencies, such as Ford and modeling for designers as well known as Donna Karen.

Having a grasp on life and her career going in the right direction, in a matter of months, it all came to a screeching halt. In September 2011, Sabre’ noticed that her body wasn’t responding the way it used to. She had shortness of breath, severe headaches, and hair loss; among other symptoms.

She went to a neurologist and it was thought to be just stress. But in January 2012, she was rushed to the hospital, where she stayed for 7 days, fighting for her life. Sabre’ was diagnosed with Graves Disease, an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid gland.

“The Toughest part of this disease is not knowing when you are going to have a flare up or a setback, it’s like a thief in the night, it comes with no warning signs on how it attacks the body and it can be very cruel…” she says.

Though this disease has been a journey of highs and lows, she has used her story to become an advocate for health. Her goal is to share her remarkable story with the world. “ I am trying to make a difference”, she adds.

She is doing just that! She founded, Sabre’ Inc. and is using her love of fashion to execute some of the greatest fashion shows to benefit Graves’ Disease. In just a couple weeks, she will be bringing one of those shows to New York City. The Autoimmune Metro Style Fashion Show is a charity event helping to raise awareness for Autoimmune Diseases. “This event brings together designers, models, top fashion industry reps, sponsors and vendors; all of whom want to support the consistent advocacy of Sabre”

This year’s event takes place on August 8th at the Holiday Inn Midtown. For more information, please visit http://sabreinc.org/Auto-Immune-Metro-Style-2015.html.

The show serves many missions as it allows up and coming models and designers the opportunity to showcase their talents. And the proceeds from the event will go to fund a Graves’ Disease Center, to be built in Philadelphia in 2016.

Sabre’ has impacted me as well as so many others. I suffered from Graves’ Disease and unfortunately had a full thyroidectomy because my thyroid was unresponsive to treatments. In those moments you feel alone, lost. I’ve always wondered, why me. Just like her, I struggle not knowing when I will have a flare up, not knowing when my body will fail. Sabre’ reminds us to “never give up!” She is using her greatest obstacle as an amazing triumph. She is an inspiration. I remember the first time I saw her Instagram, I said to myself, “models have Graves’ Disease too”, it is silly but I felt connected to her in that moment. I started my blog with the same intention of spreading my story and I hope to one day be at her level.

Sabre’ is providing an opportunity for us to learn, share and grow together. As she says, “I have Graves Disease. I am not dead and in my grave, so body, you don’t get to quit yet!”

Venesa Samuda

 

 

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

 

I’ve been discussing my most recent decisions with family, friends and colleagues. Being the caring, loving and most certainly opinionated people that they are; I’ve heard things that are warranted and things that I could have gone without hearing. Just in case you haven’t read my most recent post, I’ll update you a bit.

Within the last few weeks I have resigned from a city government job that provides great benefits; healthcare and otherwise. A job that provides an okay living now and possibly a quite comfortable living in the near future. I have also left a relationship with someone that I saw myself being with forever. Someone who was worthy enough for me to break the vows that I had made to myself earlier this year.

My mother asked me recently, “are you being influenced.” I said to her “sure, I don’t think anyone makes any decision without enlisting the advice of others.”

The difference for me now is that, I am only considering my feelings. I’ve spent much of my life thinking about others before taking my next steps; often so concerned about what people will think or how they will react. You know what, right now in this moment, I don’t care. I am making these decisions on my own accord and I will deal with the consequences accordingly.

Why? Because I am the only one in my body. I am the one who has to wake up most days thankful that I am alive, yes. But nervous for the ensuing headaches, the dizziness, that not too good feeling. That feeling that even though it happens most days, I never get used to it. I rely on a tiny pill for life.

I’ve enjoyed this job but most recently, I’ve felt overworked, stressed and just plain sick. What good are the health benefits if the job is a part of the reason why I’m sick?

I’ve heard more comments recently about my relationship. People weighing in on both sides. Please make no mistake about it, I love that man and I know he loves me. He is loyal, honest, caring; all the foundational things that I think quite frankly are rare in our current dating environment. I know that.

But again I ask, what good are all these things if I am not happy? There are things missing in this relationship. Things that I don’t think I can go on without. But most importantly I’m not ready for a serious relationship. That is why I made the promise to myself a few months back to stay away. I’m in this place, not finding myself but creating the woman I want to be. I am fighting for her, I refuse to loose her.

My one year loc (dreadlocks) anniversary was a few days ago. Last year when I made that decision, I heard the comments good and bad but I forged ahead because it was what I wanted.

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It is no coincidence that these decisions are running parallel to each other. I am living my life, the way I envision. I may fall, I may even loose sight but I will never give up.

A Woman in Process

Can’t Walk, Bike?

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Last Wednesday, I could not get out of bed. I was tired, lethargic, just out of it. I had the day off so I slept most of the day away. I couldn’t even make it to the gym, in fact, I hadn’t worked out since the Saturday prior. Might not seem like a big deal, but for me skipping 3 days means that my body is not where it needs to be. But we know this already. I’m going through it, as they say. I called my mommy as I always do when life seems unfair. She told me to just get up.

I did that, even though I had to literally hold on to walls as I showered. I got up. Slowly as the day progressed I felt better. Somewhere between not being able to get out of bed that day and writing you today, I have found myself across the Manhattan Bridge drenched in sweat. I remember hearing my best friend say repeatedly “just don’t stop.”

I had biked 6 miles to and from home, across that bridge. It was so hard, I don’t know where that strength came from. Since then we’ve biked a few more times, I’m totally hooked! It’s not something that comes easy for me, I’m often scared when cars get close or people for that matter. I have a long way to go but it is a fun new hobby.

What I learned that day is, when you feel like you can’t walk, you bike across the Manhattan Bridge. Biking (my new found love) like running (my old love) takes an incredible amount of endurance, just like life, you have to will yourself through those moments.

I’m the most confused I have ever been, completely vulnerable, I have made major decisions that will forever impact my journey. It took a remarkable amount of courage to leave that job and I won’t tell you that every day I feel confident about that decision but today I do.

A Woman in Process

 

Stepping Out On Faith 

  

  
I told you last week that I was unsure. I’m still unsure, confused; I wonder if I am making the right decisions. As you know my health as been a little rocky for the last few months. I’m struggling to adjust to this new medication. My moods are up and down, I feel disoriented and I get frequent headaches. I’m just not myself. I might cry out to my love ones but I don’t complain. This is all a part of my process, this part is just a little harder. 
I took a step back and realized that I have to do whatever necessary to be healthy. I want to accomplish all these amazing things but all that is void without my ability to do, just simply do.

With that in mind, I made the decision to eradicate anything in my life that was not conducive to my health. I decided to put me and my health first. I literally stepped out on faith, no safety net. I quit my job and I broke up with him. For different reasons but for the same, Me.

Because of my personality I give 100% in everything that I do even when I don’t have a 100% to give. I humbly say now that I do not have it, I can’t give it.

I’m scared of course. I don’t know how this will play out. I don’t have a job lined up. But I know that the hours I work currently don’t help, the nature of the job requires just too much for me right now. I know that I have never loved a man the way I love him. But I also know that I suffered a panic attack after our argument a few days ago. I haven’t had such anxiety in a long time. I made a promise to me that the moment it did not feel right I would walk away. 

I feel stupid for going back. I knew I wasn’t ready. It has nothing to do with him and everything to do with my current space and time. 

I’m fighting for her, the woman I know I can be. I hope I can be a leader in the workplace in the future, I hope that I can pursue my dream of being a motivation for women, I hope that I can one day have a loving and caring relationship with a man. I want all these things but me first.

A Woman in Process