It seems that this year has been a series of difficult decisions. I may have stuttered in my steps but ultimately I always had the courage to do what was/is best for me. Some how in all the mess of it, I feel like I’m getting back to me. Not that I want to be the old me but I do miss her confidence.  She knew what she wanted. And I feel similar now.

I’m moving back upstate, by next blog post I’ll be back where it all started. I mean it all started in Montego Bay, Jamaica, technically, but Poughkeepsie is home. I used to say that I’ll never go back there. Life sure does have a way of humbling you, I’ve been back twice! Never say never, I guess. I’ll still be working in NYC at least for now, so long commutes on the Metro North will be my new reality.

I won’t love the commute but besides that, I see this as the best decision. Financially it allows me to put myself in better standing, and I feel it also allows me to wholeheartedly focus on my writing. All the decisions of this year led to this opportunity. I won’t lie, I grappled with feelings of failure. And it does feel like a regrouping. But then I remembered , I came here to get a masters degree, I got it. I came here to start a career, I got promoted within 18 months. I’m leaving it all because I am not willing to compromise my health or my happiness. I refuse to participate in the rat race of it. I want to write, hopefully for a living one day but until then I want a low stress day to day living. A life of effortless ease. I’m blessed to have parents that will allow me to do that, at least for now.

Life is going to send you on twists and turns. Through it all, you have to do what you have to, for you. Its never easy to do what is necessary. I had a headache for days before I finally made my decision but immediately after I made it, I felt this weight lifted. We drive ourselves crazy wondering what if. You can spend hours or days wondering what if or you can trust your judgement and go for it. Even if it is not the right move, the experience gained will make it worth it.

A Woman in Process

I spent the better part of last week going through a roller coaster of emotion. My high was short lived and my lows stayed longer than I would have liked. But throughout those moments, it was as if life was forcing me to deal. I was forced to truly dig down deep and experience the emotions. And those of you who know me personally, know that I never shy away from a cryable moment. Growing up I used to be ashamed of my tears. Now I cry because it is a part of how I deal, it is a part of my processing.

On Tuesday, I took the day off to handle some administrative things. As I walked to do my lab test, I tried to multitask and make some calls. I’ve never truly worked a consistent 9-5 schedule or in my case, a 10-6 like I do now. It takes up the entire day, honestly when are people suppose to call doctor or do regular people things. The veteran 9-5ers say, “do it on your lunch break ” but that’s when I eat, duh!! Anyway I digress, I make some calls only to find out that I have a few outstanding medical bills. As you know I was pretty sick this past year, their were some things that my insurance at the time only partially covered.

I started to dwell on the finances of the situation. Here I am on my way to doing this thing that I have to do every six weeks to ensure that my levels are in tact then hearing about these additional medical bills. All of it was just a “you’re sick” reminder. But when I got there, they only take one vial of blood. Please pardon the visual but for almost 4 years I had to be poked and prodded for 4 or 5 tubes, every visit. I used to leave the lab drained and extremely weak. I walked out of this one with a smile. It snapped me back to being really appreciative for my progress.

Fast forward a day or two later, I learn that the house that we live in has been sold and my bestie and I have to be out basically asap. This couldn’t have happened at a worst time. I feel a rush of emotion, upset that we have to move, confused at how it happened so quickly and really sad that once we leave its only a further reminder that the owner and matriarch of this home is really gone.

I reached out to those who are usually there for me. For some reason they just weren’t there, and that’s understandable because we are all going through things. This is what I did, I went to gym, I cried, I wrote, I walked. I did all things that I needed to do for me. I’m no where near over the situation. But I’m very proud of my resolve. That only comes with time and experience. I used to look to my mom, my boyfriend, my friends or whoever at the time to get me through situations. Yes, we can rely on our loved ones for support but it’s unfair to think that in every situation, they will be there in the way we need them, every time. Instead it makes more sense to develop healthy strategies to deal. Because guess who is always there for you? You!

A Woman in Process

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People are still asking me why I don’t blog as often as I used to. My response is always paused because there are many factors. The major one is time of course. But all of the factors, time included, are really just excuses. It comes down to discipline and habitual effort. I just haven’t caught my grove or learned how to balance the many things that are taking place in my life.

I work full time again, I’m writing my first book and I have commitments to my best friend and her management company, among other things. There are many reasons why after a long day, blogging is just not what I want to do. I just really want to sleep and most days that’s exactly what I do. There is some good in that of course because I’ve mastered how to listen to my body and what I need.

However, there is a pitfall to that as well. Sometimes, will power is needed to force yourself to do something that might cause slight discomfort in the moment but is ultimately necessary for growth. My blog has taught me so much. My dream of writing a book came out of this hobby. A year ago when I started, I couldn’t have imagined the impact that it would have on my life. Back then, I wrote to you because I was in such a bad place mentally. I was frustrated with my job, frustrated about my illness and terribly unhappy with my weight.

But the transparency that developed in dishing my deepest and darkest to you, helped me to learn who I am, who I’m becoming and who I strive to be. I gained the courage to change my life completely. I left the job that made me unhappy. I stopped looking at my illness as a curse and now practice strategies that have helped me to be the healthiest I’ve been in almost four years. Telling you all about my struggle with weight not only led to remarkable weight loss but the number on the scale is minuscule compared to the healthy habits that are now apart of me.

I started to attend church again . My spiritual journey has taught me a lot about discipline. Whatever or whoever your God is, you’ll find that when you choose to live differently, you will be faced with challenges. Your former self will battle constantly with the new you. It’s takes time and strength to develop new habits.

So as I approach my blog anniversary, I’m asking you to bare with me as I transition. I’m working to ensure that this blog, the words that I thought no one would read, the words that catapulted my new way of life,  remains at the forefront of everything that I do. About a month or so ago I made a pledge to blog on Mondays and Wednesdays, that proved to be too ambitious. Hopefully I will reach a point where twice a week is something that I can maintain. But for now, I’ll see you every Monday morning. Because “motivation gets you started but habit keeps you going”
A Woman in Process

  
Last night a friend started sending my roommate and I pictures from our trip to Italy. It was completely unexpected and some how exactly what I needed in the moment. It was great to look back at a time in our lives that we shared, memories that only the three of us would have. There were pictures of the food, the countryside and even the handsome men of Italy! 

Friendship just like any other relationship takes work. They say nothing worth having comes easy. I mean you can have associates that you laugh, chuckle and sometimes go out with. Or you can have true friends that know your deep dark secrets the ones who have your back without judgement. I believe that is what we are working towards. This takes time and most certainly effort.

It’s the willingness to have those difficult conversations. It’s the willingness to at times see past yourself and your emotions. I think often times when we come into relationships, we fail to understand the other person’s perspective. We are all different. In my case, I’ve known one of these girls for fifteen years and the other for two years. Years mean nothing without constant reworking. We are all in process so it’s impossible for us to have the friendship we had even a year ago in Italy. Some areas will be stronger and some not so much. But if you are committed to that relationship no matter what it is, then you work at it.

I had to have a difficult conversation recently, I didn’t want to. But I knew it was necessary for our friendship, it was necessary for me. Historically I have been notorious for running from a situation. I decide that you’ve wronged me and that’s it, I’m out. I’m learning to express myself more, letting my loved ones know how their actions affect me while acknowledging my faults.

My network isn’t perfect but I am committed to keeping the ones that I care about close to me. It has taken me a long time to get here. Just a hint, the first step was letting go of my ego.

Your ego will have you thinking, “your shit don’t stink” please pardon the expression. But we sometimes feel that there is no way we are at fault. Nobody walking this earth is perfect, swallow your pride and build friendships, not Instagram followers or Facebook friends but lasting relationships.

A Woman in Process 

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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

 

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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

 

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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

 

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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

 

 

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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