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10 Tips to STOP Giving Your Power Away Are you giving your power away to those around?

Don't let anybody mess up ur day especially when that anybody is u. : It's not just abt loving who u r. It's abt being so comfortable w/ urself that u can b abt where ur weak & it doesn't negatively effect ur .

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Why not try something new this weekend? Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and help you concentrate and sleep better! This will make you feel fresh for Monday Morning πŸ’ͺ

Throughout life people will make you mad, disrespect you and treat you bad. Let God deal with the things they do, cause hate in your heart will consume you too.

Read: The Case Against Being the "Cool" Girl(friend) - Why it Doesn't Pay to "Play the Game"

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Read: The Case Against Being the "Cool" Girl(friend) - Why it Doesn't Pay to "Play the Game"

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Great evening spent on the Level 2 at . Pictured are the winning team (who created history), from the motivation game. Losing side didn’t want their picture taken πŸ˜‚ – at Beccles Town FC

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Read: The Case Against Being the "Cool" Girl(friend) - Why it Doesn't Pay to "Play the Game"

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Know who you are. Love what you see. Understand what you enjoy. The more you know and learn to love about yourself, the more likely you will embrace your unique identity and what makes you, you. Podcast on identity:

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clean your room. drink hot chocolate. go for a walk. put your lipstick on. make that skin glow. smile to a kid. speak french even if you don’t know. take a photo of a flower. do skincare. sing your favourite song. stay naked while you draw hearts on your essay.

who said you have to do big things to be happy? who said that happiness is coming?

happiness is in you and in the little things you do in your life.

don’t wait for good things to come. DO that good things.

happiness is in you. let it out✨


My heart races yes that pure palpitation. I feel fear. Its normal. Its an alert system. Dont be afraid to be who you are and dont be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. I love you guys and I hope you had an amazing day. #williamkhumphrey #willvs #thathumanwill #humnerlife #love #selfesteem #selfexpression #healing #spirituality #fear #innerstrength #mental #yougotthis

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New hair
New mood
But nah actually I’m still all sorts of sassy and only hang out in comfies ✌️.
To don’t list today:
-Worry about things you can’t control
-Beat yourself up about someone else’s opinion of you
-Fearing change
K that’s all the Thursday motivation I’ve got
What do you want to start doing less of?
#tcmlivingwell #thursdaymotivation #selflove #selfcare #selfworth #mentalhealth #spiritjunkie #mindfulness #healing #selfhelp #positivevibes #selfesteem #lightworker #selfconfidence #bodylove #selfacceptance #selfawareness #loveandlight #personalgrowth #spiritualgrowth #confidenceiskey #bodyacceptance #positivequotes #personaldevelopment #spiritualgangster #bodyimage (at Waterloo, Ontario)

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What has been one of the most challenging things you’ve experienced or are currently experiencing?

“One of the most challenging things that I’ve ever experienced was the death of my parents. I lost my dad when I was twenty-one. He wasn’t always in my daily life, so it didn’t hit me as hard, but he was an admirable person I would have liked to have gotten to know. He was in the Vietnam War, had a few Purple Hearts, met the president, and was one of their first-class snipers, but due to that, he had mental issues by the time I grew up. He had severe PTSD and dementia in his later life. My life was more like visitation with him and my sister, Sarah. As I got older and started realizing how to understand mental illness, when I was in high school, I visited him at the nursing home where he was. It was kind of expected after a while. Just watching the mind deteriorate through dementia was pretty hard. When he passed, what hurt most was wishing I got to know him more and wishing he knew the person I would become.

“It’s going to be a year now, I was twenty-three years old, in August, my mom passed away. She was the most loving, happy, social female I’ve ever known, but she struggled with alcoholism in the closet (I would say). She wouldn’t really show it much, but if you knew, you knew. I think she just had too much love to give and that made her really sad, and she always said that her soulmate was my father. Although they never really worked out, they still had a strong relationship, and all of her relationships since him never really panned out. They were like the Bonnie and Clyde of their era. He was African American and she was white, so they hid their relationship from their parents growing up, and dealt with all the race issues in the community by raising my sister and me. One story I remember my mom told me was when she woke up and the lawn was on fire in North Haven because the neighbors didn’t like that they were together. Crazy things like that. I think my dad’s dead really affected my mom.

“Now that they’re both not here, I think my challenge is being the person that I want to be without parental guidance underneath me, telling me ‘keep going, you got it, keep pushing, you’re meant to be something great,’ all those things your parents tell you. You can hear it from your boyfriend or your best friend, but it’s not the same. So I think that’s the challenge I’m forever going to cope with, to be where I feel like I need to be, but not have that support underneath you.”

How did you lose your mother?

“It was kind of a freak accident. There are many things that went wrong that could have gone right. She actually—spooky, she was here. She was in a fight with her current boyfriend and she didn’t want to have an argument or confrontation at my grandmother’s house. So she walked and met him here. I guess they had been drinking; she had alcohol in her system. Her car was broken, so she was borrowing my uncle’s truck in which the gas gage was broken, so in order to know when you needed gas, you needed to know precisely how many miles you had driven since your last gas pump. She left this park and she was driving home on I-91, and the car broke down. She hit the guardrail after losing steering, her phone was dead—my uncle’s truck didn’t have a phone charger—she went to walk across the highway to get off exit 13, and she got hit.

“So many things could have gone right. If she was in her own vehicle, she would have had a phone charger and she probably would have had gas. If she wasn’t fighting with her boyfriend at the time, she wouldn’t have been so upset. I live right off exit 13, so I’m thinking ‘was she trying to get to my house? Where was she going?’ That was a really, really weird day because when she was messaging me about how emotionally upset she was, she was also just diagnosed with cancer. She was telling me how scared she was to go to chemo the next day. She didn’t tell me or my sister that she had cancer for months. I guess she was diagnosed in March, but she had just opened up to the family about it. That day, hours before, she was telling me that she was so scared, praying to God, praying to my dad, and said she felt like she was going to die. It was really interesting foreshadowing that she was casting on her life, like really manifested that.

“The whole day was weird. I’m assuming when she was at the park, I was in the middle of a workout, and I cut my workout short because I was feeling so sick at the gym. I was avidly working out at that time, so it wasn’t anything new. I was hydrated and it was my normal routine, but I was so sick. My friend said, ‘Let’s go for a drive,’ and we went for a drive around Wallingford, but I told her to just bring me home because I didn’t feel good. I texted my mom and told her I loved her and I was here for her. By the time of the sequence of events, she never got the message because I sent it around 10 pm and her passing was about 9:45 pm when the car accident happened. It was just a weird day all in all. To this day, I won’t upgrade my phone because I have our message thread there, and I can’t let go of that in the event that the technology doesn’t work in transferring all of my info.

“That was pretty rough and now I worry, just like with anyone who passes away, that I’ll forget, and not that you’ll forget someone you love. Every day, after her passing, I couldn’t function, I was crying at home, on the way to work, every time I thought about her, when I stalked her Facebook page for the first time. Now, I’m not crying anymore. I can cry, if I’ve had a couple of drinks and my emotions are in my face. You miss the routine so much at first, and then you get used to someone not being there because you’re used to your new routine. It’s just like a breakup, and I think that’s what kind of sucks. I still have my whole life to live, I’m not even thirty years old. How do I begin to tell my kids about the wonderful people that my parents were and really transfer my memories onto them? It’s really difficult.”

You mentioned that you kind of knew that you were losing your father, seeing that coming. Did he end up dying of dementia?

“Yes. He had a few strokes within a short period of time. It was actually his dementia. Then he caught pneumonia. He had a weak system and was hospitalized. They let us know he didn’t have much time, and he refused to have a tube put into his stomach to feed him and whatever he needed. That was what really told us he was going to go soon. So I drove home from college. I was here for a couple of days. We all sat by his bed, played music from the 1960s, and then waited for that call. The call came the next morning at 6 am to go see him because he’s passed. That was sad, but I really had to collect the memories I had of being a child. That one I didn’t take so hard, even when we saw his body. My mom wanted to hold his hand. I don’t know if it’s a disassociation—once someone has passed, I know their soul isn’t there anymore. Our souls are in our bodies just as a host, in my opinion, that’s all it is. I can’t hold your hand, you’re a cold body, but you’re gone.”

It’s just your shell.

“Yeah, that’s all it is. With my mom, they had a closed casket, although the option of an open casket could have been there after they fixed her up at the morgue. I absolutely refused to see her because I thought there was just no point. My sister and I showed up late to the service, maybe twenty to thirty minutes, and gave my uncles and grandmother time to see her and do whatever they had to do. It was interesting because my mom thought she wasn’t loved sometimes, but her service was from 6 to 10 pm, and I was shaking hands from 6 pm to 12 am. They had to start kicking people out and telling people they couldn’t say their good-byes. The funeral home was packed; there were lines out the building, down the street. It was huge. If only she knew. People were telling me crazy stories about elementary school. It was such a shame.”

What was it like growing up with her? I’m assuming you lived with her growing up.

“Yes. When my mom and dad divorced, I was about seven, but I still vividly remember my childhood with them together in comparison to my sister. She doesn’t really remember a lot and she’s older than me, which is interesting. They divorced and then my mom remarried, and that’s when I moved to Wallingford. My stepfather, Bob, is a great person, very reserved, but we grew up with him from when I was in fourth grade until I went to college. We had one room, that’s where my boyfriends would come over with my family, my mom, my stepdad, and my sister. Just the four of us in one house, and it was great. My stepfather was very strict. He’s Russian and the rules were unbelievable. It probably shaped me into how I am with my household rules today. My mom never remarried after she divorced my stepfather, although she had boyfriends. It was always my sister, me, and my mom; it was always the three of us. Regardless of her marrying my stepfather or whatever boyfriends she had dated, if they didn’t like my sister and me, not that they wouldn’t have, we were a package deal. She raised us, telling us ‘it’s the three of us or nothing.’ It was a strong support. She put us through dance school. We were very close. She put us through all the sports we wanted to do. She came to all the family meetings and conferences. Any time she would see somebody in the community, she would say ‘these are my daughters.’ We were always with her. When I went to college, she came up nearly twice a month or would constantly pick me up from Albany, New York, two and a half hours away, just to drive me back down so I could spend the weekend with my boyfriend in Connecticut, and then drive me back and forth to and from Albany on Sunday. I feel so bad now that I look back because she was always going to Albany. She was awesome.

“As I grew older, I was able to open my eyes and see that she was hurting inside and realized she was not the happy person I thought she was when I was a child. It’s really hard, especially when it’s your parent. My uncles would tell me, ‘Shay, she’s always been this way.’ She wasn’t depressed in a way where she would stay in bed all day or find an addiction, it wasn’t really like that. She was really social and smiley, and everyone loved her who met her. Towards her passing, she would cry every day. It was so sad.

“After she divorced my stepfather, that was right when I went to college, in 2012. In 2014, she started dating this new guy, and he was pretty cool. He really loved Kyle, the guy I’m dating now. My mom and her boyfriend got a house together in West Haven, and I lived there for a couple of years. It was another great family dynamic, but then their relationship took a turn for the worse because there were a lot of trust issues. He was pretty promiscuous. There was a lot of devious behavior, manipulation, lies, and no trust. That really broke my mom down, then my father ended up passing through all of this. Not knowing who she could trust and who was there for her was really the butterfly effect for her for her future relationships. She only dated one person after that West Haven relationship, and there was no trust anywhere to be found. She didn’t trust herself, and her self-esteem was down. She would cry every day, and it got to a point where I was life coaching my mom so often. I would be the one to raise her and give her the confidence she needed, because I was in a pretty stable position and she wasn’t. Not that I don’t believe it, but when people say ‘they’re in a better place now, blah, blah, blah,’ I hope she is, because she was pretty upset and miserable at the end of her days. It’s so sad when you see someone so sad. You want to help, but you can’t help them. You want to pick them right up, but everyone has their own demons. It’s rough when your child sees that in a parent. That’s probably why I’m working in mental health.”

It’s inspired you in some ways to move towards a career path or life’s purpose.

“Yeah. I think it sparked when I started learning more about my father. I still would like to work with the Department of Veterans Affairs because all of the mental health systems are broken. Even if it comes down to just being that one conversation a day that makes someone smile, put off whatever their plans are for another day, whether it’s harming themselves, suicidal ideation, or one more depressive thought, that’s all I want to be here for. It just comes so effortlessly when you approach people, have a conversation, and share a couple of laughs and smiles. It doesn’t have to be so much pressure, it’s just be you.”

Where do you think your mother’s sadness stemmed from? Do you know anything about her childhood?

“I was predominantly raised on my mother’s side, so I know all about her childhood. She grew up a couple of houses down from this park. She was born in New Haven and, when she was seven, they moved here and then her whole life was here. She has three brothers, my three uncles, who are such strong figures in my life, between helping me with my car or whatever needs to be done. They’re there for my sister and me. Her parents, my grandmother is Italian and my grandfather is Irish. It was an interesting household, but it was a lot of love. I still hear all of the stories about their childhood, and my mom was definitely a daddy’s girl, seeing as she didn’t have any sisters and it was all brothers. My mom and grandfather had a really, really strong connection all through growing up. Unfortunately, my grandfather passed away in 2004, and I think that was really the trigger for my mom. I really think so, because that’s when she married my stepfather in 2004, when I was in fourth grade. She was able to put together this beautiful video. She hired this videographer who put home video clips together and then for their wedding they had a projector come down and played this video for the wedding audience. It was so beautiful because he had passed just months prior. She had even considered moving her wedding date so that he could be there. I really think that was the trigger, because all the years after, she always talked to her dad: ‘Hey, Dad, I’m here; I’m struggling.’ Any pennies she would pick up from the ground she said were pennies from heaven. She really still held him so close. My uncles aren’t as open-minded with spirituality, so they would probably call her crazy, but she had a connection with him; she really did. It’s the people who don’t understand who can pass judgment unless you really understand someone who can open up spiritually, and that was my mom. She wasn’t too spiritual with crystals and all that stuff, but she felt when someone was around. She was really guided by the messages from her high power, like my grandfather, even when my father passed away.”

Tell me about the grieving process that you mentioned, that period when you got the news about your mother and you were crying and had a hard time functioning. What has that journey through grief looked and felt like for you?

“I would mainly always talk to my mom when I was driving to work. She’d be on the way to work, I’d be on the way to work, I’d give her a quick call, and we’d laugh or whatever. Or there were those good morning text messages in the group chat with my sister and me. After she passed, it was really hard to get out of bed and I knew that I had to go to work, and it would be a condition to call or talk to her before I start my day. There have been many times before parking on Edgewood, I would have to fix my make-up because I had been crying on my way to work because she wasn’t there. That slowed down a little and now I can get my thoughts together without being too emotional, but then there’s always something that hits me. It wasn’t up until recently that I was thinking of her and wanted to go on her Facebook and find a picture of her that I had, and I was sitting at work, I was so thankful that I was alone because I could not stop the tears from falling out of my eyes. It was so hard. I had to shut the office door and do my thing because they wouldn’t stop. It wasn’t memories rushing through my head. I couldn’t even scroll. I had to put my phone down, as my emotions were there and demanded to be found, and I had to let it happen.

“It was rough at first getting back into my social life because my mom was a mom to all my friends. She was always there. We have group pictures with my friends and my mom in the middle. If we would go out to a bar or something with my mom and uncles, I would tell all my friends to come. We were always all together, and they loved her. She was the mom they never had. Even growing up in Wallingford with my neighborhood friends, my mom would always be the one to bring out snacks or tell them to come in because it was cold. I’ve had friends for over fifteen years who have known her because I’ve been so close with them. Entering my social life after her passing was hard because mainly if it’s a weekend, I would have a couple of drinks and once the alcohol is in my system, one thought goes through my head, and I would be crying in the kitchen or locking myself in the bathroom. It was always dependent on how much I had to drink, but it was pretty hard putting on a face of being happy and socializing because I felt so empty. Nothing else mattered. But life is for the living, and you have to move on.

“Another really hard part of the grieving process was when we lived in West Haven, we got a puppy. We got two, but one of them was my sister’s. But this one was a Labrador retriever, and we got him as a little baby. I watched him grow into the dog he is now. After she broke up with the boyfriend in West Haven, she kept the dog. When she broke-up with him, she ended up getting an apartment and, whatever she was doing, the dog was by her side, 24/7. She brought him to my grandma’s and she brought him to my house where my dogs would be mad that there was another dog there. She brought him to the gas station. She brought him everywhere. He was this big, white and golden retriever, he might be a Labrador. He was really obedient, such a cuddler, and a very, very, very good dog. He was in the car when she pulled the car over and he watched her get hit by the car. When we got the call, or my uncles got the call or whatever, the police came to the scene, and animal control came and brought him to the pound.

“The next day, my only concern was to get this dog out of the pound. I ended up getting him out of the pound. It was pretty hard for me because my current boyfriend has a dog, and we lived with my sister, Sarah, and she had a dog. Sarah recently moved out. We had two dogs, Sarah and I both worked full-time jobs, and Kyle didn’t want to take in a third dog, especially if Sarah and I were never home. Going through everything I had with my mom, this is within a couple of weeks, my biggest problem was what do I do with this dog because I want to keep the dog. He was my mom’s and I’ve known the dog since he was a puppy. I lived with him for years. He was with my mom, every day, all day. Now, if my current boyfriend doesn’t want the dog, do I care? Should I move out and get my own apartment with the dog? Then, that brings in finances. Can I afford my own apartment? Can I afford the dog? Is it right for the dog to be in a cage all day when I’m working? That was actually the most difficult part of the grieving process, because I didn’t know what to do with this sweet animal who just lost my mom, who’s known me for years, and really to evaluate and everything came to making a decision. A decision needed to be made about everything. Am I breaking up with my boyfriend? Am I moving out? Am I taking this dog? Am I giving the dog away? What would mom want? What do I do with her things? What are we doing with her apartment? When are we packing this up? Where are we bringing it?

“All of those decisions to make between my sister and me because we don’t have a dad. Thankfully, my uncles helped us out with everything. They were able to pay for the funeral and really help us out with the finances. Everywhere you turned, there was a decision that had to be made, and I’m young. I didn’t have to go through all that with my dad because my mom was there. They divorced a while ago and his property and stuff wasn’t as hard because we weren’t so connected and intertwined. I was eating, living, breathing, and sleeping my mom. She was, and still is, my life. The detachment was hard. We ended up giving the dog to a distant family member and I still see him monthly. Once a month, I give him his flea and tick medicine because he gets a rash if he gets fleas. She’s a stay-at-home mom because she has three kids, a beautiful house, a yard, and he’s happy over there. That really wasn’t easy.

“Here I am today and August 15th will make a year. I’m doing better and the grieving is not as intense and not as demanding as it used to be, but I think about her all the time. I wonder if she hears me when I’m calling, what happens after death, maybe it’s a comfort that we humans find, saying ‘maybe they are listening,’ but maybe that’s just a comfort we need.”

You touched upon something really important that often people who are experiencing grief don’t touch upon: the dynamics through this period of emotional grieving and loss, this burden and responsibility of making decisions and having to participate and function. From some people that I’ve spoken to about this, it’s almost like your mental state switches to autopilot and you delay emotional feelings and processing to get through the decision-making process, to go through the motions, to appease everyone else around you who’s grieving and offering condolences and, after that subsides, comes in the real emotional weight of the actual loss. Did you experience an influx of support and condolences, and did that eventually subside, and how did that feel?

“Whether in person, social media, or whatever the interactions might have been, I think the majority of people who wanted to say something were the ones who attended her service. That was a smack in the face, everyone at once, and it was really hard to take in. If it was social media, and I said ‘thinking of you’ or something sweet, I would get ‘my heart is still with you’ and the support from people I really never spoke to, even in high school. My mom would bring us together, whether we hung out or not, ‘you lost your mom—my heart is with you’ kind of thing. Friends I wouldn’t see for a long time, then I would see them, and the first thing they would say is ‘hey, I’m real sorry about your mom,’ that whole thing. That really calmed down as the months went on and then it was a thing of the past.

“I still feel I have the support, and I think that’s really the bond I have with Kyle. After my father passed away, when I was 21, the next year, Kyle’s father passed away. Kyle and his father, Tim, were the way I was with my mom. They grew up together. Kyle was his only son; he has all sisters. It was one of the strongest father-son relationships I’ve seen in my life, and then he got sick and passed away. Kyle was there to support me with my father’s death and then his father died within the year, so I was there helping him with that, and then my mom died. That support and bond that I have with Kyle—we went through some trauma together, and it was the same trauma. We lost our parents, and now I don’t have any and his mom isn’t too stable right now. We really have support for each other because it’s a shared understanding. I think that my cousins and I and my sister we’ve gotten closer. Even with my uncles, in a situation like death, I think a person matures a lot, depending on the age.”

It changes you, definitely.

“Yes, definitely. I still really feel the support from everyone around me, especially the ones who knew her. That way it’s not me describing her to the best of my ability because I’m never going to get it right. You just had to know her, and then you know what I mean. I never feel there’s a lack of support, but it definitely dwindled as time went on. I think that’s the same situation, unless you’re famous like Martin Luther King or Michael Jackson, but time is going to go on. When forty years go by, there are going to be new problems that arise or whatever the case may be, but I think it’s just living in the memory.”

What has gotten you through some of the darker times during those periods? I know you mentioned your relationship with Kyle being a pillar in that process. What has given you hope, a scrap of light, or motivation to keep going when you felt overwhelmed?

“Hmm. That’s a good question. Honestly, I think it might be my thoughts and personality. My perception of life is ‘it is what it is.’ My uncle told me that life is for the living, and that really stuck with me. Life has to go on and I don’t think that I’ve gone through really depressive symptoms because everyone deals with it differently. I could have easily still been in bed, taking Xanax, and trying to figure out how to ease my anxiety. I really think it’s a mind over matter situation. Just knowing that I can talk to whoever I need to or support someone that isn’t doing so well with it. Now that it’s hitting the summer holiday, July 4th, and the one-year anniversary, my grandmother’s not doing so well. She’s having panic attacks and anxiety, and her doctors are putting her on all these medications. I’m telling her to try CBD oil, something more natural. She has identified one of her triggers as my mom no longer being here. She was her only daughter. Never mind losing your parent, but a parent that loses a child; that’s hard, especially because you don’t want your kids to die before you. That’s not the way the circle of life should work. I think supporting others that need support has really helped me get me through my dark times.

“When my sister would text me ‘I miss Mom,’ I would say ‘let’s talk about her;’ never mind just ‘me too.’ Whether we were talking or texting, I would ask her what’s your favorite memory? or what were you thinking about? Or, I’d say ‘remember this time’; and we’d laugh. Or, I’d say ‘this reminds me of mom when she ….’ When I’m thinking about her, I’ll tell whoever I’m with that I’m thinking about my mother right now, and then share a memory or two, smile, and carry on or cry if I need to cry. I do not suppress the emotion, but do tell myself that I need to keep moving forward. My mom would always tell me that she was put on this earth to put me and Sarah on this earth. She would say ‘I was born to raise you girls and to develop you into the strong individuals that you are, and you need to do that; that’s your life-fulfilling prophecy.’ Just listening to her, moving on, and trying to figure out what I’m supposed to be and where I’m supposed to be. I guess I have some peace of mind, thinking that she’s still somewhere listening to me, even if I can’t find a sign or whatever. I think that really helps me in my dark times.”

It sounds like a few things stood out from what you just said. One was feeling your way through it, not trying to repress or medicate it, but to actually feel your way through the emotions and honor them. The other was empathy. Empathizing with others who are going through something similar kind of gets you outside of yourself and you recognize that you’re not alone, and that’s very healing. The other thing is it sounds like that you absorbed a lot of her energy and everything that she instilled in you, even if you don’t see a trace of her outside of yourself, inside of you she exists.

“I hope. She was a really, really strong part of my life. I lived to make her laugh and vice versa. I would hope that for my kids one day, to teach them the positive views on life, how to rise up when you’re down, how to treat others, and how to keep smiling. My mom really helped me through college papers, and that was a really hard time for me. Showing your kid how to push forward, even though in that moment and what you’re going through seems like you’re going to die, the worse moment ever. My mom would tell me ‘Shay, look you’re already in your junior year of college, you can get through this paper. You can write this 30-page paper on Neanderthals, it’s fine.’ I think it’s the optimism that she always provided for me to keep moving forward. I want to instill that in, honestly, anyone, even my clients at work. I tell them - look at how far you’ve come, keep pushing forward, you’re talented in many ways, you’ve touched the lives around you, people care about you, and you owe that to yourself. Maybe I got that from my mom.”

What has this journey of loss, grief, and resilience taught you about yourself or life?

“I think that it’s taught me that life is going to always change, even when you’re very comfortable where you are. Anything unexpected can happen, but self-care is important through these hard times, and that’s how you grow. You kind of owe it to yourself to think about the situation over and over and over and over again because you’re probably going to be overthinking. I’m thinking about when my first boyfriend in high school broke up with me. He broke my heart, really broke my heart. I was going through an identity crisis and a small amount of self- harm. I didn’t know who I was or where I was. Looking back, if I had known that I was going to get my master’s degree, I wouldn’t be stressing that at sixteen. That’s growth. That’s life. You’re going to replay the situation a million times in your head of what could have gone differently, what you could have done, and maybe the solution you thought would have been the perfect one at that moment didn’t work out. Maybe in a few years from then, after you’ve grown, you’ll see that it was the best for you when you were young. I think life does have a plan. I think through trauma, change, and going through something that really hurts may bring you a couple of steps back, but you just have to trust the process, and that’s pretty comforting.”

It sounds like faith in the process, if not some sort of higher power or energy, and also the courage to keep going, regardless of whether it feels or seems bad, but that there’s potentially something beyond that, that you can’t see yet or have access to, the process is going to justify your pain and suffering eventually?

“Yes. I’m sure if you look back from where you are now, there has to have been some traumatic thing you’ve been through and felt that is the end all, this is it, rock, rock bottom. That’s what I would try to tell my mom, ‘you don’t know where you’re going to be next month, and this seems terrible right now, and it’s really hard for you.’ When you were in first grade, your ABCs and writing the alphabet were probably really hard for you. It was hard for you for where you were at that time and look at how much you’ve grown. You learned it, you accomplished it, and you conquered it. You can take something away every time you move forward, and you can use that to fight your next battle.”

I like that analogy, and I often use something similar. I’m not a gamer myself, but in videogames, usually you have to get to the end of whatever phase it is or whatever kind of level it is and conquer something to acquire a tool or weapon that’s going to be useful in the next level. I think life is like that as well. If you don’t conquer whatever that thing is and get that tool, you have to go back to the beginning and try again to get that because it’s almost like a key that unlocks the door to more knowledge, more capability, and more empowerment.

“I think you can easily get discouraged when you’re making the same mistakes over and over and over again because you haven’t learned that lesson or you weren’t able to figure out why you’re making the same mistake over and over again. If you keep trying and understand more or take new information per time you made the mistake, then you’re probably able to gather all of the information that you can to conquer that and move forward to learn why you’re making the same mistake, to make a different decision, and to go a different path.”

Yeah, and I think that’s important because we have a culture or belief system that says mistakes are failure, and we become self-deprecating and super critical of ourselves to the point where we’re too afraid to take chances or risks. But every mistake is an opportunity for learning and growth, like ‘oh, that didn’t work, let me try this instead.’ If we can approach it like that, we may continue to move forward, rather than isolate ourselves in a little cage. So what would you have said to your younger self when she was struggling at some of those moments, having the wisdom and knowledge you have now?

“What would I have said to my younger self?”

If she was sitting beside you right now with her baggage, her wows, and limited perspective.

“That’s creepy … Believe in your potential and do this for your future self. It’s okay to cry and it’s okay to be confused and angry, but talk about it or believe that it will get better. It’s not easy, but it becomes easier. Time after time after time, your life is worth living so keep pushing forward and you have all of these goals you want to achieve, so do that. Move forward with no regrets. Why you’re hurting is a piece of you. Don’t hate the boyfriend that broke up with you in ninth grade because he cheated on you. He’s taught you that you’re not going to take any bullshit from any other guy. Or, maybe you’re in a fight with your best friend, but this has taught you how to treat others or how to learn more about your best friend and why this person was so hurt, the words that you said, or the effect that you have on people. Try to learn something from each experience and keep pushing forward to be your better self.”

If your mother were here, sitting beside you, what would you want her to hear and know?

“That I miss her and I hope she’s here. I don’t know … the guidance that sometimes I feel I don’t have. When I feel lost, I hope she’s here with me, and I’m trying to communicate with her and show my parents that I’m the person that they want in a daughter, all of the lessons that they taught me. I want to show them that I can do it and support my sister throughout the way, be kind to people, make a change in the world, and they really inspired me, and I hope they’re together as soulmates.”

Do you think it’s possible that she received that message, on some level, that you sent?

“I think so. I have family members that have gone to mediums and they would say that my mom came through, but it’s always skeptical. My sister went to a medium and she didn’t like what she heard and it wasn’t what she expected. I think it depends on who you go to and the messages that you receive. Lately, I’ve learned a lot about synchronicities and then it’s easy to realize that things aren’t just coincidences. I’ve had a couple of occasions when I’ve felt like I was just saying something out loud or was trying to talk to my mom about this one thing and then it unfolds right in front of me. I think it’s about being patient and not saying ‘Mom, if you’re here, give me a sign,’ and then sit in silence for forty-five minutes. I think it’s waiting, for example, when you fall asleep, she comes in your dreams and tells you the message that you want to hear, even if not her, but she’s able to bring a thought into your dream that you wouldn’t have thought of when you were conscious, busy with your everyday life. It could be anything. It could be me talking to my mom, vocalizing a problem that I have, then I fall asleep and think of something new because she told me. If it were me being conscious and she said, ‘Shay, you could do this’ and I would say ‘no that’s not the best decision’ because I’m so indecisive and I wouldn’t trust myself. But, if it were my mom coming to me in a dream telling me, maybe that’s how I would trust it. I think on some level, she can hear the messages because we were so close and connected compared to reaching out to my dad, but I hope. I always think that this could be something that us humans use just to get us through, which isn’t too depressing either. Whatever helps you cope and whatever helps you get by. It is what it is. If that’s it, then so be it. Let it comfort me, thinking of my mom, hoping that she’s here because I’m not ready to let go. If she is here, that’s great.

“I have a best friend, and we’ve been friends since eighth grade, ever since I told her that she has the whitest teeth I’ve ever seen, we really kicked it off. She was really close with my mom, as well. We were recently at my grandmother’s house because my grandmother wanted to clear all of my mom’s things out before the fourth of July when we were having our family party. I left to go upstairs and Mya was in the basement, where the pool table is. Mya told me that something was there with her and she said that she told my mom, ‘Sharon, don’t show yourself right now, I can’t, I can’t take it, I can’t take it.’ I think Maya absorbs a lot of energy and it comes from her family tree; her mom is like that, as well. They’re 100 percent Polish. They’re always telling me about superstitions like ‘put something red on your suitcase’ or ‘if someone’s mean or showing you negative energy that you can’t take, take their picture and put it facing a mirror so that it will go back to them.’ All interesting kind of prophecies, per say. She said, ‘Shay, I’m hoping it was your mom, but I felt something when you left that basement, I was not alone.’ It’s small things, like maybe she’s coming through to other people if I can’t get to her or if my aura is too cloudy because I have too many conspiracies, I don’t know if that’s the right word, but you know what I mean.”

Yeah, if we’re all made of energy, right? Everything is energy. Energy can’t be destroyed or recreated, so it’s possible that it kind of changes form, but it’s still here in some way. Over the years you spend with somebody, you absorb those memories, experiences, and energy and, if you’re part of their DNA, you share a cellular structure.

“You can really tell. When I was looking at my dad when he was laying there after he passed, I’ll never forget the feeling … a shell was a perfect, perfect word to use for that. It’s not just a dead body lying there. It’s empty inside. It’s completely empty. His soul must have gone somewhere because he left whatever it was laying in that bed.”

Yes, you used the word host, which I also like. A spirit, a soul, it’s a host, our bodies are kind of our vehicles, in a sense, to do our work while we’re here.

“I remember when Kyle’s dad passed away, and we were at Yale for days, every day, making sure that we didn’t miss it. He was transferred over to Masonicare. He also passed away from pneumonia. He had esophageal cancer and was really deteriorating. When he passed away, we were in a dead sleep and my sister’s room, before she moved out, because we live in an apartment complex, her room was right by where you park the cars, and our bedroom and our window faces the back yard. I guess Kyle’s sisters were banging on the door early in the morning and my sister heard them and let them in. I woke up by his sister’s barging our door open, saying ‘Kyle, Shay, you need to get up now, you need to go to the hospital.’ This isn’t a common thing, you wouldn’t wake up like that.

“When my mom died, it was the same story. My sister came into my room early in the night and she said ‘Shay, you need to meet me downstairs right now. I need you to come here, get your clothes on, and let’s go.’ I was sleeping with Kyle so I got out of bed quietly. My uncles were there in the living room, and we sat on the couch and they said ‘your mom passed away this morning’ and it was around 3 am. All I can think about was I was so mad at myself for not tidying up the living room. You know when you go to bed, you kind of want to tidy your house a little bit. My uncles are pretty clean and I look around my living room, and it was such a mess and my uncles had never been there before. I had thought ‘if I had just tidied up before bed’ I wouldn’t be thinking this.

“Last night was the same situation, but not as upsetting. I was sleeping, my friends had gone out, Kyle included, and I stayed home with the puppy. All of a sudden, I’m being woken up, there’s two shadows in my room, one of which is my best friend, Mya, and I didn’t know, and now I know, it was my friend, Megan, Kyle was still not home, and it was 2 am. I just saw their black figures. Mya was rubbing my foot and saying ‘Shay, Shay, Shay, Shay’ and I say ‘What? What’s going on? How did you get in my house?’ She said that she just wanted to say hi, she had been drinking, and she wanted to see me, she missed me, and wanted to say hi. I kicked them out and, as I’m brushing my teeth this morning, I thought ‘wow, I haven’t been woken up out of a dead sleep since the last two times and it was horrific news coming my way.’ Wake up, wake up, you need to get up right now. It was so funny, because I thought about that this morning, and that was really interesting.”

Do you have a mantra, a quote, a song lyric, or something that someone has said to you that resonates with you that you’d like to share?

“Hmmm. I don’t know. I think ‘trust the process’ is something I really hold onto, and someone shared that with me when I was really concerned about where I was moving with my career. It was an old associate I worked with at Foot Locker when I was a kid. I wasn’t expecting to hold onto something like that, but now it really drives me sometimes. That’s definitely one of them. I’m sure I have so many.”

When you tap into your mother’s voice and memory of her, is there a particular message or something that’s resounding in your mind?

“Yeah. I think about how she told me I was made to be a strong, powerful, influential person. One of our clients we currently have one time told me that I have the ability to move mountains. I think about that, and it’s such a powerful message. I think that being able to tell someone that or having someone hear that from you really reminds me of my mom. I think that is so powerful because it can be interpreted in so many different ways. I think that’s something I like to deliver and pass on. Even telling it to yourself—you have the ability to move mountains, so you keep moving forward.”

For those who are reading or listening to this, who can relate to any number of thoughts, feelings, or experiences you’ve expressed, what would you want them to take away from this sharing?

“I would want them to take away that life can really knock you upside-down, but you deserve to go through your emotions. I feel like it’s easy to be conditioned to say don’t be angry, don’t yell, don’t scream, don’t punch a wall, don’t cry, you’re weak, especially to the males out there, but you are a human and deserve to go through your emotions, whether you’re male or female. If you want to drive to a field and scream, scream. If you want to be sad for four days, be sad for four days. If you want to cry, cry to your favorite song. But know that you deserve to be happy and you deserve to pick yourself back up. You have that ability, and do that for yourself. Allow yourself to be angry, but know that you will pick yourself back up, and it’s just as important as any of your emotions. Happiness, sadness, anger, frustration, confusion—you deserve all of them. I feel people can get mad at themselves when they’re confused or get mad at themselves when they can’t stop crying. They think ‘I’m sad, I’m supposed to be happy, I don’t want to be around these people, I’m sad, I’m sad.’ It’s okay: be sad. You can be sad. You can 100 percent be sad, cry, not want to open up to people, or open up. You also deserve very much to be happy and to keep moving forward. I think you owe that to yourself, remember that, and pick yourself back up when it’s time.”

Thank you very much for saying that. I think more and more, in the culture that we live in, we’re receiving this messaging that there’s a limited range of emotions that are cool to feel and are human. We are diagnosing, casting out, medicating, and censoring away the more difficult emotions that are also a part of the human experience that deserve just as much attention and honoring presence in our life as happiness and joy; the whole spectrum. Being an artist, you need both light and dark to create contrast and texture, interest and depth. If we were just to have light, happiness, and joy we would not have any comparison to appreciate those moments. There’s a whole range of human emotions.

“A whole range. You got to feel them. You’re human.”

Yes. Thank you for saying that. How has it felt to share these thoughts, feelings, and experiences with me today?

“Kind of like a weight lifted off my shoulders, I think. After something traumatic happens, it’s easy to keep it locked away, maybe in fear that you don’t want to re-experience the emotions that you went through. Time goes on, time to forget, time to keep going. I don’t want to feel that hurt and pain anymore, but I think the more that you share and allow yourself to revisit what you went through in the past, it opens for more healing and you can adapt and learn something more about yourself when you share it with others. Even just talking about it, even though the moment has passed; let’s talk about it. It was a significant part of your life that you went through and you were able to move forward, even if it may have taken a little while. I think sharing it today on this beautiful, hot, windy day—it felt good. It felt good to talk about my mom and my dad. They are who I am and they were great people, really great people. I was brought up with a lot of love, a lot of love, and inspiration to be the best person I can be. Thank you for helping me realize that.”

You’re welcome. Do you think it’s possible that by sharing your thoughts, experiences, and feelings with me today and knowing that this will reach a public audience, whether it’s through a book, a blog, or podcast, someone on the receiving end could benefit or gain hope or inspiration that they’re not alone?

“Yes. One hundred percent, people across all ages, including adolescents who don’t have parents or maybe have parents who aren’t supporting them or just not in their life. I hope that what someone can take away from this is believing in themselves, not overanalyzing all the relationships in their life and trying to help build a bridge or understand another person in your relationship as what it is. How you can make it grow, or how you can heal, or how you can come to peace with your hurting with relationships with other people, if that’s the case, whether they’ve passed on or you want to improve the relationship. I think it starts in you; it really does. Loving yourself, believing in yourself, knowing that you have a purpose, and letting whatever it is grow. You know?”

Right on. Thank you.

“You’re welcome.”

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