Last night I dropped a battery operated candle and it shattered all over the kitchen floor.
I stared at the tiny pieces of glass that varied in size. The larger pieces would be a bit easier to pick up. And while I knew they’d hurt if we stepped on them, I knew it would be the smaller pieces, the ones harder to see, that could potentially cause more damage if we didn’t pick them up.
No matter what I did, I knew there was no way I could put it back together.
Braylon wanted to know if it was me or Emeryn who broke it, and I told him that wasn’t sure, but it was ok, we could get a new one. It wasn’t one of a kind and it could be replaced.
When you lose someone you love, it can feel like your world has shattered into what feels like a million pieces.
No matter what you do, you know there is no way you can truly put it back together. At least not the version that existed with them in it as the way that you imagined.
You can’t just get a new one. They are one of a kind and cannot be replaced.
Grief is an interesting emotion. It can look quite different day to day and from person to person. There’s the obvious moments that you expect it to hurt, like birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and other big moments.
Then, there’s the little moments day to day, where you’re in the kitchen making a pizza and start telling a story about how when you were little, you and your sister would have Nana put sauce on a plate for us to dip the cheese into for a little snack. And, for some odd reason you called the mushrooms that she put on Papa’s pizza alligator food and you don’t know whether to laugh or cry, or do a little of both.
I can’t believe it’s been 30 years since you made me a big sister.
Not a day goes by where I am not grateful for everything that you taught me and continue to teach me.
Things often get moved to tomorrow or next week or a different month. I’m trying to get better at making sure that I’m not moving the “things” that truly matter… because you think you have all the time in the world… until you don’t.
We will take time to celebrate you today, but know that it won’t be accompanied by dry eyes.
Getting back in a groove after taking six days off really gave me a run for my money. 🥴
And right around the corner, we’re starting a whole new chapter with pre-k, fall sports and more. 📚⚽️⚾️
Today, I did a virtual workout with some pretty special people, and I surprised myself, in a good way, at what I’m capable of from both a mental and physical aspect. 💪🏼😅
These days, my workouts are often 30 minutes or less, usually interrupted and done at home, which is most definitely not preferred. However, given what a “typical” day with Braylon and Emeryn entails… that offers some next level “working out” 🥵
BUT, (isn’t there always a but) I wouldn’t be able to do half (or more) of what I do if it weren’t for what I’ve become capable of overtime by making time to move in a way that essentially provides me to be training for a better quality of life. 🙏🏼
Here’s to showing up, keeping it real and being inspired by so many people in my life… and if I’m lucky, maybe inspiring a few.
25% of the sales from the “Keep it Real” bracelet go towards It’s A Girl’s Life. 25% of the sales from the “Inspire” bracelet go towards Buy From a Black Woman. “Show Up” is a Little Words Project – WNBA collabo. ❤
It’s more common, and I suppose human nature, to be more reactive than proactive. To make decisions based off on our own lived experiences. To not feel compelled to speak up for something unless it benefits us or someone close to us.
I’d like to think that the vast majority of people don’t like having decisions made for them. Even when someone would prefer to have someone else make a decision, whether it’s the color you’re going to paint your walls, what you’ll have for dinner tonight, who you can or cannot marry or what you can or can not do with your body, I think many would at least believe they should have the right to be able to choose.
You can try and walk a mile in someone else’s shoes but you can’t walk a mile in their heart, soul, mind and body.
We can debate with strangers and friends, believe what we want to believe from the flood of misinformation, facts and data, science backed evidence and let our own bias take over. If we’re not willing to step outside of our comfort zone, have difficult conversations and find ways to take real and meaningful action we will not ALL be free. Holding ourselves and others accountable can seem impossible and make us lose hope.
Change remains constant. Some changes remain solely in the hands of each individual human being, but many do not.
Today I’m fearful, but also hopeful for the future of these two. I’ve been spending a lot of time reflecting, along with working towards better informing myself, on what I can do to ensure they, along with those who historically have not, can have a future where we see more equality, safety and better systems for all.
Pregnancy is wild. Birth is wild. Motherhood is wild.
Not to say that whatever adventures that you embark on in this crazy beautiful thing that we call life aren’t wild, I’m just currently spending just about every waking and sleeping minute with these things on my mind.
All along, I had it in my head that I would not go the full 40 weeks. I had Braylon at 37 weeks, and was convinced that his little buddy would show up right around the same time OR on his birthday, 3/26 (which I was really hoping wouldn’t happen)
I waited a little longer than I probably should have the first time around, but I credited that to being a beginner. I thought for sure, I would do better this time, but of course that didn’t happen. In my “defense” things really did escalate kind of quickly!
I woke up on 3/14 around 5am and something told me that “today was the day”. I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions for what felt like forever, but this one felt a little different.
Mondays always feel a little hectic work wise, but I got on another level and was like, “oh, no, this is REALLY happening” I feel like I sent about a million emails that day and the whole day was a blur… especially afterwards, once I realized that I was working during labor.
Around 6:45pm, I put Braylon in the bath and started to time the contractions on the app (this is SO helpful btw) that I used last time.
At some point, while he was in the bath, I completely lost it. I looked at him, and I was just so overcome by emotions (and probably hormones) and realized he’s not my little baby anymore. Also, I think it finally hit me that baby girl was going to be joining us by the end of the night or at least by the next day.
In short, and without oversharing more than anyone probably cares to hear, we got to the hospital a little after 9:30pm, and Emeryn joined us less than an hour after arriving.
I had planned on getting an epidural, but I was already fully dilated when I arrived and it was GO time.
I’m incredibly grateful for the wonderful staff at the hospital, and also for the fact that I was able to do Pure Barre and 305 regularly throughout my entire pregnancy. Having done the Pre+Postnatal Coaching certification through Girls Gone Strong also took my knowledge to a different level, and I really felt like I had been training, both mentally and physically, for the big day!
I taught my first Pure Barre class on October 16, 2011 in Charleston, SC, and it’s safe to say that I had no idea where it was going to take me.
I had taken my first class a year and half before in Charlotte, NC. Even after just one class, I knew there was something special, even though at the time, I couldn’t quite pinpoint what it was.
I went to Teacher Training in August 2011, not fully knowing what I was in for, but was ecstatic to say the least. I had moved to Charleston less than a year before, not really knowing anyone, to start a new job that I was thrilled about.
Three months prior to Training, I had lost my sister. That, along with the work hard play hard nature of my full time job, I knew I needed something to balance things out a bit to keep me on track both mentally and physically.
It’s probably safe to say that I started teaching for somewhat “selfish” reasons. However, I knew I wanted to make a positive impact on the lives of others, in the way that so many individuals in the dance and fitness industry had done for me.
I may have begun thinking I would be the one doing the inspiring, but I’ve been continuously blown away by the people I meet and get to teach (and work with) who inspire me. Yes, GET to teach, as this is one beautifully rewarding (but a hell of a lot of work) thing to call a job.
Over the years, I stepped into different roles within the world of Pure Barre, eventually taking it on full time.
The Teacher role, still has, and always will be, what keeps me going on. Without the Teachers the show does not go on. Without our Clients, the show does not go on. We need each other. We show up for one another.
I’ve been staring at this screen for quite some time. Each year as this day approaches, I wonder what will come to mind, and what I could possibly write that could be much different than the previous year. Regardless, I know nothing will ever fill the void of her absence.
Do I sit with the grief and sadness? Should the day be filled with tears or laughter? Do I celebrate her life and the time we had together? Do I swipe through old photos and reflect on the eighteen and half years she was here? Do I think about everything that has happened in the past ten years since she’s been gone? What could I possibly do to honor the person that she was and all that she would have become?
I’ve grown to realize that whether you have someone in your life for 18 days, 18 weeks, 18 months, 18 years or 80 years, the power of the impact that the person has on you is not always dictated by the duration they are here with you physically. There are events in life, especially the ones involving those leaving and entering this world, where we are transformed as individuals. When we part ways with someone as they depart our lives, in any aspect, our very essence is often transformed. And when we bring new life into this world, we are in a sense reborn as a new version of ourself.
Over the years, I knew that it would not necessarily get easier, and at times, things would actually seem even more heavy. Seeing friends and family members, or even complete strangers move through their own loss and heartbreak would reignite the feelings and emotions. Always wanting to empathize and be there for them, but also recognizing that each person moves through things differently. And then, all the other loved ones I’d say goodbye to and navigate not having them here.
Not having Samantha here for the big moments, like holidays and birthdays hurts, but more often it’s the ordinary moments when I miss her the most. With everything that has happened over the past decade, one of the most difficult things has been experiencing life with Braylon without Samantha. I think of the bond they would have. I see so much of her in so many things that Braylon says and does.
If you knew her, you know “how lucky we are to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard”. If you didn’t, here’s a portion of what I wrote ten years ago to try and capture just a tiny piece of all that she was and will forever be:
“If Samantha wanted to do something, she would find a way. Being told she couldn’t, wouldn’t or shouldn’t was not an option. In a paper she wrote this past year at Worcester State she mentioned, “Some fears are worth taking the risk, meaning they can make you happier if you face them.” Samantha was not afraid to face her fears. That is, if she even had any. I can’t recall a time in which she was scared to try something new or was hesitant to take a risk.
As a young child, Samantha had her infamous “funny face” that would always bring joy to those who were with her. Over the years, she continued to find ways to make people laugh through her crazy ideas and creative mind. To some, she may have appeared as shy. Always remaining humble about the things she was good at, often left people pleasantly surprised to see Samantha’s talents and achievements. I remember when she decided to quit both dance and piano, because she would rather write her own songs and make up her own dances. Why should she have someone else tell her how it needed to be done when she could pave the way for herself? Always excelling academically, she also was a very skilled artist. I couldn’t believe how beautiful her drawings were, and that was just like Samantha to brush it off as if it was no big deal.
Most recently, she decided she wanted to join the Nursing Program at Worcester State ensuring she could assist in bettering the lives of others. Her plans and dreams didn’t stop here, she tossed around the idea of opening a business together one day, because then we could do things our way – not having to answer to anyone else. Again, this was just like Samantha – she always had her own plan in mind.
Samantha has made me a better person. I’ve learned more about life from her than I could ever imagine. I know we all have our own stories with Samantha – stories of laughter and tears, successes and failures. All of these memories captured a special moment in time and now tell the story of the beautiful woman that Samantha has become. I will never forget any one of these moments and I ask that you all don’t either.
Because Samantha lives on through all of us and I know she’s somewhere laughing at all of us, with that beautiful smile, thinking we’re foolish for crying. Because that is the way of Samantha – not allowing any time for being sad because she’s too busy living life to the absolute fullest and planning the next adventure.”
How could change not be necessary, when the systems and structures in our country were built by people to protect the people that looked and thought like them?
How could change not be necessary, when entire industries profit at the harm and expense of entire groups of individuals?
If it’s a learned behavior, then you can unlearn or learn a new one.
If it’s an entire way of thinking learned over years and years, then day by day one can continue to evolve and learn an entirely new way.
It isn’t always about “not knowing any better” People know what happens when you question and challenge people who hold power and authority.
“That’s just the way it was back then”? That’s just the way it was back then because that’s how it was built and meant to be, and was passed on from generation to generation.
Change isn’t often easy. It’s often met with resistance and failure despite persistence and determination. Change often comes with a lot of give and take, and the unwillingness to risk or lose so others can be seen, heard and valued.
Change means unfamiliarity and uncertainty. It’s scary and messy, but it is constant.
Our mental and physical self changes every day. As kids we can’t wait to grow up and get older. As adults we reminisce on the way things used to be, but often still yearn for the future where things will be better and in turn, spend little time living in the present.
We are sold products and services to help do anything possible to fight the aging process and prevent our bodies from changing.
People can change because of pressure, shame, blame and guilt, but lasting change seems to happen when it comes from a much more positive place of inspiration, one with hope, vulnerability and empathy.
Something is ignited from within. Maybe it’s a single instance or a series of events. It may be from an incredibly low place, a breaking point, perhaps at a crossroads, where something gives that extra nudge to make the change.
The day before, I was non-stop from 6am-10pm, which isn’t uncommon for me, but guess it finally caught up. 😴
I always feel guilty about complaining because I know there’s SO many people that have it so much worse. I’m not necessarily referring to their situations with work, partners, children and society… but, what’s going on in their head – the sometimes dangerous expectations they set for themselves, accompanied by all the thoughts that they have. 🧠
“So, stop killing yourself by trying to carry the weight of the world. Instead, carry the weight of the present moment. All it demands is we be brave, be honest, be compassionate, and be kind. And these actions are always available to us. If you can do them in each moment, you have won, not just a better life, but a better world.” 🌎
On a lighter note, “A good conversation always involves a certain amount of complaining. I like to bond over mutual hatreds and petty grievances.” – Lisa Kleypas 🤣🥂
Last year, I tried to find ways to slow down when I felt like I was going 100mph. To find piece of mind amidst all of the things that were out of my control. To lean on my people when I felt like falling apart. Learning how to ask for help rather than convince myself I could do it all myself. Trying to find patience as I realized I brought a mini version of myself into this world, and he’s already learned how to push me to my limits.
Perhaps, most importantly, becoming more comfortable with being uncomfortable. Asking more questions, having difficult conversations and taking it upon myself to educate myself in new ways. Knowing the work is never done, and that the power lies in my own hands to stay informed and make a change.
Recognizing my privilege, specifically my white privilege, and rethinking everything that I was ever taught or told.
Once again, as I find myself rambling, knowing I won’t quite get it just right, the scale tips more towards saying something rather than remaining silent.
By not saying anything, you often say a whole lot.
There are more days than not where I feel like I’m going to snap. And for most of those moments, I can almost always look back, and admit that it wasn’t that serious. Then, come the feelings of guilt, knowing how grateful I should be (and am) and telling myself that next time will be different. 🥴
And here I am. An hour or so ago, I quickly got Braylon out of the house (only after ordering curbside pickup of ice cream – I even got a second one “to go” for tomorrow), hopped in the car and immediately put on the remainder of the most recent “Unlocking Us” episode that I hadn’t finished yet. 🍦🔐
I (and for many people I talk to, especially women) have GOT to find the time to reset. For everyone whose home became their work, and you spend all sleeping and most waking hours there… yikes. I had already been working from home, but there’s obviously something quite different about this version, with the heightened stress, uncertainty and continued regulations for the “outside world” 🏡
Speaking of outside. Being outside has become such an outlet, even if it’s in my own backyard or walking around the neighborhood. As the colder weather approaches, I know I can’t let that go, especially with there being no end in sight for being able to have in person time look anything even slightly like what it used to. ☃️🎉
So, eat the ice cream. Listen to the podcast that makes you laugh until you cry, then makes you actually cry. Move your body. Get outside. Scream… or do nothing at all, and just breathe.💥🧘🏻
Do what works for you. When you can. How you can. Where you can. 🗓
And most importantly, remember your why…and what keeps you going. 💞