Don't play with it

Death...

By 9:06 AM

I haven't posted for a while and that's because I've been doing a lot of reflective meditation. Recently, a close friend passed away. This would make it the 5th friend within a year span. This one though, was a very close one, like a little sister... And about 2 weeks before that, a college friend passed away as well. Granted she was sick, it doesn't make it easier to process. For the first few weeks, I found myself digging through the archives to find all my photos of and with her, going through our old conversations, so desperately trying to relive the good times and not to forget her. And of course, the knowledge of the growing list of "Never again" realizations made me incredibly teary eyed when I wasn't bawling down the place.

When the first death happened last year, with Tony, I asked myself why. It was one of those deaths that didn't have to happen - likewise all that consequently followed. But they did pass away regardless whether it was preventable or not.

I've found myself looking within a lot more and having more conversations with God and taking a closer look at everything happening around me. The last year has had many deaths, not all literal, but each coming with their blow to the stomach, knock the air out of your lungs affect nonetheless. Each one surprising and shocking - like I said, because you can feel something coming doesn't mean it doesn't hurt and shock you when it happens. 

This last death though happened in such a funny way that I couldn't help but laugh a little looking back at it. I just left my "dream job" to pursue my heart's desire of being an artist in February. Filed my 2 weeks' notice and by midmonth I started my life's dream of being an artist - a real one, registered business and everything. My friend passed away roughly 2 weeks after her birthday, 2 weeks into March. I remember praying to God actively to give her health and strength to make it to her birthday, but I never envisioned she would pass away after. 2 weeks into the first real month of my new career, I found myself blindly booking a ticket and hopping a plane to Guyana to bid a final farewell in body because deep down, I know it's what she would've done. That was my motivating thought throughout this whole thing, "I have to do it, it's what she would do." 

While we had our fall outs as all friendships do, she was always there for me when I needed her and vice versa. Most of our conversations started with "I love you" so that if nothing else, regardless of vexation or not, know that the love is there when heated emotions subside. She was one of the most loyal friends I've ever had, in that I knew in all certainty, once she was able, she was willing to help me out in any situation. And I too, with her. Everyone has a crazy wild friend and while I'm that person to most of my friends, she's that person for me. She always had a bold, matter of fact approach to life. She did exactly what she wanted, said exactly how she felt and, even if she had any self doubt, approached school and work 150% energy... despite being sick for most of her life. I remember her telling me when she was 16 that would die young because of it but I didn't want to accept it. Now that it's happened, looking at her life story, at the path she's left behind for others, the lives she impacted upon from professors to the student body at the University, to past workmates, to people who've just interacted with her... She didn't go too soon - she served her purpose. She lived full, and taught everyone around her to be full of life and go hard at everything you do because you don't know when that day will come when you don't get that chance anymore. 

After she passed away, I was surprised at those I heard from and those I didn't. Over the last year I've learned the hard way that most times in a crisis, you're alone, and the person you find sitting next to you most likely is not the person you'd think.

Now that she's passed away, I'm sad. However, after looking back and going through everything, she told me everything that I needed to remember. In fact, there's things that only now, I understand. 

This past year of deaths has taught me...

  • Love everyone but don't give everyone all of you.
    I found myself emotionally exhausted - a lot - due to this. Often times, especially if we're kind hearted, we find ourselves giving more than we should to others who don't appreciate it. We operate as fillers for the time they need to pass, or lesson to learn or whatever. I've learned that if I'm emotionally exhausted, that I won't even have the energy to love myself to do the things I have to do. And not everyone has to know everything about you.
  • Give your energy where it grows. People who love you back, give some of their energy to you as well. Therefore the bond leaves you feeling good and happy, not insecure and feeling like you have to try harder. If in any relationship, platonic or romantic, you feel like you're fighting for the attention or to be appreciated or competing then... that is not a healthy situation. 
  • I've learned that it being unhealthy doesn't mean the person is bad, it could simply mean, I'm doing too much. Sometimes you simply have to match the energy you've been hit with. If it's 10%, then 10%, especially if it's been happening a while because... What's the point of investing more than that? The other person is giving 10% of themselves regardless of how much you put in.
  • Don't overinvest. Time is your most expensive resource. Who you choose to spend it with is your most expensive gift. It's important to examine your company and determine how much energy is to be given into the relationship. Relationships change at times, over time, sometimes. Other times, it could simply be we did a lot more than was asked for, more than the other person is willing to do. The latter is a personal decision of choice on spending. I still believe in acts of kindness regardless of returns, but I also believe in spending my time with those who show up without me having to ask, beg, persuade them to. If they can end up in other places without being begged or persuaded, then most likely I'm not their first choice of time investment and... that's ok.
  • Take note of who shows up in your down times and up times. I saw a meme circulating on Instagram and Facebook that says "Be mindful of 3 people: Who helped you in difficult times, who put you in difficult times, who left you in difficult times." So far, I've learned this to simply mean, expect the unexpected. The people who knew most intimately about my relationship with my friend, how I felt about her being sick, how I feel about death, I haven't heard from them at all. Who I have heard from are from people who remember seeing us around, giving us a ride here and there, hung out with us once or twice, etc. Most of these people are not even people that I speak to very often or regular... and they've checked in multiple times since. This period of quiet in my life has given me a chance to regroup and refocus and reexamine my direction, my purpose and my energies.
Or simply as from this list I found by Suresh




  • 1) People who are always with you no matter what happens to you
  • 2) People who are with you only when you are happy (or celebration time)
  • 3) People who are always with you when you are in need. These people give you emotional help. They are there with you days and nights when in need.
  • 4) People who are always with you and want to see you regress (or downfall)
  • 5) People who are praying for your downfall from behind you; You don’t see them. But they are watching you.
  • 6) People who puts you in trouble. They are smarts who always know how to escape a situation to put you in the hot seat.
  • 7) People who brings you out of trouble. These people differ from #3. They suggest you what to do and may also work with you to bring you out of trouble.
  • 8) People who praise before you and bitch about you from behind. These are dual personality people who you would not even think tal bad about you. But shit happens.
  • 9) People who always hates you no matter how nice you are to them. Dont know why but they are there.
  • 10) People who think you are good and want to see you grow personally and professionally. They believe in you and they stand by you.
  • 11) People who are role models for you in some categories of life.
  • 12) People who use your relationship (with them) to get their work done. They neither like you nor hate you but you are a means to their end :)




Because someone doesn't call or check in though, doesn't mean that they don't love you. But it does mean that there's a fair chance that you're both approaching the friendship with different energies or perhaps they have major things going on in their life that they haven't shared with you. Whichever the case is, tell those you love that you love them often, see them or speak to them as often as you can with our busy adult lives, and show up if you can regardless because you never know who is feeling overwhelmed, alone or unloved...

...And always pay attention.



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He say mi haffi work, work, work, work, work...

By 10:03 AM
On work as a international west indian flavored song and what it means

About a month or so ago, I stumbled onto an interesting Facebook video by Mr. Vegas, speaking out on the situation with Dancehall music internationally. Up until that video from someone with personal expertise on the subject, I never realized there was "a situation."

Locally, everyone loves danchall music here. According to my Instagram timeline and Facebook, people overseas love dancehall. Even the people who don't like dancehall music have a few songs stuck in their head that they secretly tolerate. As silly as this is going to sound, I assumed everyone everywhere knew what dancehall was. It isn't exactly a type of music one island or country alone listens to... it's the type that's across a whole region, even the Spanish territories have dancehall influenced music, as well as sub-cultures in several countries.

His argument though was based upon the intrinsic of music - the stuff that it's essence is made of, and so accepted that we don't notice it but know exactly what he's speaking of when he says it. He said, to paraphrase, that most of the dancehall music produced today isn't marketable overseas. The essence of dancehall is dependent upon its rhythmic beats and sultry feel-good feels. When you hear it, the beat makes you want to groove. Hence why there's all those famous dancehall dances being created. He also noted that other types of music have started implementing dancehall rhythms into their own songs and being successful like - 'Cheerleader' by OMI, 'Sorry' by Justin Beiber and 'Lean on' by Major Lazer(but we expect that from one of his remixes.. after all, they're Jamaican). But still, all these folks have kept their pop style but borrowed the rhythm from dancehall music. The last big song that went internationally was his song, 'Bruk it down.'

While soca music has been evolving into something bigger and bigger - the essence of what makes it soca, the rhythm and the beat, remains in all of those songs that make it out of the region. The original sound and feeling that it gives you remains, but other influences step in. However, with dancehall, he says, dancehall has become more poetic and less about the rhythm and dancing, with a lot more borrowed hip hop and rap influences. It's hard for the folks who don't know or have never known or appreciated dancehall music to be able to understand it. (Click here to view the Mr. Vegas clip.)

This got me wondering, what if someone who is already popular with Caribbean roots, was to use their musical platform to produce something with strong Caribbean flavour... and along came Rihanna with "Work" this month. Of course I loved the song from the moment I heard it. Of course I understood what she was saying and easily learned the lines by ear. But this is me. I'm an island girl. I'm a Caribbean girl. This is what I know.

What I was curious about was to see the social media response to the song. I first heard it in a clip by one of my favourite Instagrammer 'OfficialBadGyalDyDy.' She's Jamaican, her fan base is a lot of Caribbean folks. Most of us, if not all, understood and appreciated the song. Go across into my American and UK timelines and there's a world of memes regarding 'WHAT is she SAYING before and after work work work work work.' It was hilarious.

Snippet from the video from (http://rapdose.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/drake-rihanna-the-real-jerk.jpg)

Then along came the first video which I loved. It felt very Caribbean and something that, although I've never seen, something that I could actually imagine easily. Especially if I had to paint a restaurant/liming spot scene and summarize Caribbean flavours. There's the simple restaurant setting, with the DJ at a table, girls all decked out hair and nails done in the strangest and/or sexiest outfits they could find, with somebody repping a flag, somebody rolling a joint in a corner and everyone just chill under some dim lights. What did I read? They thought it was soft porn. Why? How Caribbean people dance, people from other countries who don't know better, may be inclined to say just that. It looks like soft porn. But really? It's far from anything. It's really just a dance that sometimes runs like a game, and when the song ends, the game ends. What's the game? Silly little things like being able to wine good, fast, slow, outdo the other person, make them fall down because they can't handle the wine, little fun things like that. Whereas, I assume in those other countries, people may dance close but perhaps it's more expected for lovers or folks about to become lovers to dance like that.



All this to say, I love the song and I love the videos. And even if a lot of folks think she's singing in a foreign language, they love the song as well. Have you heard it as yet? What did you think?






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I'm about to get wibbly wobbly...!

By 9:15 AM
If you've been wondering what new artistic stuff I have been up to - wait no longer!

First batch of experiments of painting on glass/porcelain

As per usual, in my moments of boredom I look for a new medium to experiment with. For you non-artsy people, "a medium" is simply the things I use to create art be it paint, pastels, pencils, etc. Something I've always been curious about and wanted to try has been working on glass. Year before last, I was approached with the potential idea of designing glass wine bottles for wholesale production. The idea never came into fruition. I'm uncertain as to whether the guy found someone else or decided to go another route, who knows?

With these novel situations, whether it manifests or not, I'm more intrigued than daunted. Why you may ask? Because it's the introduction of an artistic idea I have yet to try and perhaps didn't even consider before the commission was brought to me. So from late 2014 to the end of 2015, I researched, I read, I experimented. By the end of the last year, I had my first set of paints that can work on glass and not wash off.

First batch of experimenting with painting on glass/porcelain

Needless to say, close friends got some of these gifted with ideas I felt they'd appreciate. (Last year was also the first time my friends ever indicated that there's stuff I do that they like and wish listed!) A friend/coworker of mine has a quote up on Skype that I didn't quite understand until that project manifested itself.

Her Skype status is a quote by Abraham Lincoln that says 'If I had 8 hours to cut down a tree, I would spend 6 hours sharpening my ax.'

What does it mean? What does it mean? I lamented wondering the sanity and logic of the status. But with time and my own reality, I was able to place it into context. I'm one of those people that hates to "practice." I want to either do it or not do it. This is the philosophy I've applied in every area of my life that I can think of. How do you prepare yourself to "Just do it?" Just doing it is the easy part, once you've done the preparation.

Experimenting with the gold paint

My perfect example would be in my college days when my Literature professor declared I could not get an A without reading my texts. I did get an A, and I was even more convinced that my method enabled me to understand a broader scope of the text faster. BUT... my method required more work. I did hours upon hours of research, reading differing opinions, arguments, theories, synopsis, anything that could've granted me some insight behind the character development and psychology, author intention and rationale and so forth. When I entered that classroom and we were on half way the book - I was done from beginning to end with quotations with page reference.

A commission birthed from the previews of the first batch.


To me that quote simply meant, prepare, prepare, prepare in advance. So I prepare and research the mistakes folks made before me. Find out the best tools to get the job done efficiently. Therefore, when I'm finally blessed with the paints in my hands, I already know what not to do and have a fair idea of how to go about it. This has been tried and true for most things so far. I actually found a medium that I actually need to practice with - the articles and videos made it look easier than reality... but that's another blog post.

Working with glass is still very different, new and challenging to me - but I like it. The surface is significantly smoother than canvas (obviously). There really is no traction though! You really have to work much slower than you'd like and be patient with your hands. Mistakes can be removed but it can get messy, so I try hard to get it right the first time or to work slow enough to have minor fixable mistakes.

Some like these were available at an event I took part in last December called 'Earth Youth Produce Market.' Since then, I've received lots of love and a few orders. If you'd like to order or speak to me directly - the fastest way currently is through my art page - Shellon (facebook.com/ShellonArt) If you're not on Facebook you can directly email me at shellonart@gmail.com or leave a comment here. (But emails and messages on my art page are much easier)

Ciao!

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Used to not be allowed in the building and now we're on the roof tops.

By 1:33 PM ,
"If I ain't going to get it, the day is going to waste"
-Big Sean, 'Sky Scrapers'
- @ Instagram - OfficialBadGyalDyDY

I overheard an interesting interaction recently between two people. One was asking the other why they continuously go to a particular place and consistently bring business there. The other person replied simply, "The more business I bring, the less I have to pay when I need stuff done."

It had me thinking that on one hand, that's smart. However, that's a great short term plan designed to keep you in the lane that requires a discount. Sure everyone likes discounts and freebies. On the flip side though, the time and effort it takes to recruit clients to a business or store just to secure a discount could be used for something else... like recruitment to your own business or dream.

That time and effort is an investment. Since the most expensive commodity that one can give is time, if you're dedicating it towards an investment... why not invest in yourself?

I thought about the conversation in terms of how I view my own life these days. Many moons ago, I had a friend named Chad (who's since passed away, God bless his soul), that tried to dispel this same knowledge onto me. He was very business driven and he'd always ask me, "Shellon, how much is one hour of your life worth?" At first, I did think it was conceited to think that way. Who am I to say I am worth X dollars per hour? I'm just a little island girl right? Let me keep my little backside quiet and work for my discount.

But as I interacted with him more and more, I understood what he meant, more so today, what he was trying to teach me. I remember once the topic of laundry came up and he told me he sends it to the laundromat. Of course, I protested. It's a simple task no? But then he explained, to send it to the laundromat takes him about $30 an hour, but in that same hour he could make $100. Should he then forfeit the $100 an hour his life is worth, for the $30? (keep in mind this was a long time ago and I don't remember all the exact figures but that was the rough message) In that hour, he still wins at success by securing $70 minimum. After applying that logic to my own life, even though I'm not in the position to make it as strict as he did (he was really focused by the time I met him and he worked for the things he accomplished - no hand outs), sometimes that hour you place the worth is actually minimum. There have been times when I may not have produced anything tangible art wise to sell, but I invested my time in planning and securing ideas that are worth more than my hourly rate. Meaning that some day, maybe, possibly, hopefully, that hourly value will increase. You will always gain something or learn something when you take time to invest in yourself. There are no losses. I'm not where I want to be, but I have faith I will get there.



If you invest in yourself, at some point, a discount would just be a nice plus, but it certainly won't be necessary. I've since decided to work hard towards my own goals, the way Chad did, so that in time, when I reap the benefits it'll be like a Big Sean song "...I started from the basement, made it to the sky scraper."

Even though Chad was actually only in my life for about a lil over a year from the point of meeting to his passing, he achieved every single goal he told me he had planned during that time frame from finances to education. He had a plan and worked his plan.

Do you have a plan for this 2016 on how you're going to conquer it?

As Chad always used to say, "I refuse to end where I started."

Don't let this 2016 end where you started.

Ciao.

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Welcome 2016

By 12:29 PM
Me and Amber Rose

I'm back after taking a short hiatus to sort through my life. All of those reading this, this means you've made it into 2016. Welcome!

The latter part of 2015 was filled with mixed feelings for me. In the early part of the year, shortly after securing my new job, I lost a friend and past classmate, Anthony. Shortly after that, I lost another, Romero. Just as things were looking up, I lost another in December, Anton. Between all of these deaths, I was hit with a phone call that a very close friend now has stage 5 kidney disease and may need a transplant.

Suffice to say, 2015 represented the best of times and the worst of times sprinkled with lessons. Today is Anton's funeral. I have yet to reconcile his parting and often find myself browsing through his Facebook page looking at past photos and memories. It was this death that I realized how trivial Facebook was to some sorts. There was no point of posting "RIP" on his wall, or mine. To what avail? It wouldn't bring back my big little brother. 

At the end of 2015, as I struggled to think of gifts for those close, I finally understood the fragility of life, the importance of prayer and the greatest gift you can give someone - that is time. All of the friends above mentioned, I had allowed life to get too busy and fall out of contact. I would peep here and there on Facebook to check in on their pages to see if all is well... but I failed to meet up and hang out or call. At least with Anthony, I saw him a little over 24 hours before his tragic accident... but still. You never know when it is going to be the last moment nor how unprepared you're going to be for it. 

Throughout 2015, I met many folks speaking of God and spirituality and trying to get me into church. By the end of 2015, after all that trauma, I finally opened up to being receptive to prayer. I finally started seeing changes in my life. I made the effort to send a message to those close more often. My friend who's very sick, is thankfully, still alive. It's hard but with life there's hope and I'm eternally grateful of each day that myself, those that I love that come to mind immediately, and those that don't, are still here with me fighting the good fight.

Aside from all the deaths, there was much internal family turmoil. However, somehow, someway, it has all worked out. I've graduated from crying in the bathroom in my office from all my worries to quietly saying a prayer of thanks for life and protection of their spirit, wherever they are in the afterlife.

Despite all the tragedies that caught me off guard, I was privileged to be able to meet lots of wonderful people that helped shaped who I am and my experiences like the staff at the dive shop that became like family. The new family formed at my current workplace. The two little fluffy bundles that have entered my home (one is in the picture above). 

I must say, getting the pups was a decision that I had to toy with for a bit since my past two had passed away. However, I must say, I have no regrets. There was one scare when my pup Snowie became very ill, very suddenly, but thankfully the vet was able to save her and she survived the ordeal. The two of them have brought great light into a dark period and have continued to be a source of happiness for everyone in my home, bringing great laughter and cheer from their many antics and strong personalities.

The funeral is happening as I type this; I'm at my desk in my office tearing up. I feel guilty for not going, but not sure if that's how I want to remember Anton. In December, one of my other little brothers from the group messaged me shortly after the death and told me that's what he'd like me to draw, Anton. I didn't know how to respond so I didn't. But I think that's what I'll do today in his memory. I think I'm finally ready.

And when I get home, I know those two bundles Amber Rose and Snowie (aka Snow Belle) will be there to topple me with love kisses and bites and remind me that despite all of this... it's ok and be thankful.

On a positive note, I am finally at a the proper starting point I desired to be with my art. In upcoming posts, I'll finally update you guys on what happened with my art while I was busy being too preoccupied with life to update here. 

2016 is a wide open road full of endless possibilities, hope, change and opportunity to love. Plan well, act well. This is the year to get your dreams started if you haven't yet. My mom insists leap years are playgrounds for what you'd like to make it.

Let's make it a great one, if not for ourselves, then for those we've lost along the way in honour of them.

What did you learn in 2015?
Ciao...
Shelli

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