A Really Long Reflection because it's Valencia's Garden's First Birthday
A year ago today, I wrote:
July 10, 2013
Today I called Carissa and told her goodbye. I don't want to live anymore. I turned my phone off and sat alone, in a corner. I just want to be alone. My friends don't understand. No one understands. I don't even understand. The sun is shinning through the window but it doesn't make a difference. All I see is darkness. I just feel like the whole world is closing in on me. Everyone is against me. I have cried every single day since this month began. I am empty. I have nothing left to give. I am tired of fighting. I have to get out of here. I promise, I won't be here next year.
July 10, 2014
Now Playing - India Aire - The Little Things
I woke up in all smiles this morning. I knew today was the anniversary of Valencia's Garden. I was anticipating this day to come all week.
I must say, I am proud of myself for staying dedicated for an entire year. Throughout my twenties, I picked up many different hobbies but none of them ever kept my attention for long. Sure, I kept journals and wrote poems before blogging but as I reflect, I realize, it wasn't because of the blog itself that I stayed consistent... It was because writing on a daily basis became my personal therapist.
No fancy celebration was planned. I didn't need a big group of people around me to tell me congrats... Just waking up, happy, truly happy, was more than enough.
This morning, it was around 8:30 AM when I laid in the pool in the backyard of the beach house that my friends and I are vacationing in for the week. As I laid there, I looked through my old journal and found my writing from last year. I wasn't surprised when I found a month's worth of tear filled pages. I remember where I was when I wrote each and every letter. I'll never forget how much pain I felt piercing through my spirit.
If you are an avid VG reader, you know it's not like me to post such dreary writings like the screen shot above but I want anyone who may be reading this, and is in a depressed state, to understand how important it is that you hold on, no matter how heavy the burden... Persevere! You have a purpose.
Truthfully, I wasn't always as happy as I am now... That's obvious.. You can tell just by reading the screenshot right? But as I look at that year old post, I can see that I was actually being optimistic - even though my heart was shattered by family, ex-boyfriends, and even people whom I believed were my close friends, I still had hope.
If you notice, I specifically said to myself, "There is no room for hurt, the happiness is taking up too much space." Believe me when I say that I didn't quite feel that "happiness" but I had to hold on to my faith. I could not write a depressing poem or story. I had to speak positivity into myself. I knew that NO ONE and nothing else was going to be able to do that for me. It starts from within.
When I put that poem down, I started writing in my journal... That journal entry led to the act of renaming my blog from Vintage Homeless to Valencia's Garden.
I changed my blog's name to match my new mission, which was to find peace and happiness, on my own. I also came up with five words for my headline, to describe my blog's new purpose: Think, write, journey, discover, and reflect. Little did I know, these 5 words were going to help guide me throughout the next few months.
I knew in order to truly be happy I would not only have to keep a postive attitude about things, I would also have to change my habits. I began spending more and more time alone, getting to know the real me. I would go to parks and community gardens to find beauty in all things around me. The flowers became brighter, the birds became my aspiration, and I found a new love for myself.
I also took 3 months off of social networks. I did not know at the time but I was unconsciously giving myself a break from the world.
During those months away from social networks, I was blogging but it was just for me. It was my place of peace. My refuge. This was my own expression of who I was and I didn't have to worry about any likes or comments. I even turned off the commenting option. I didn't want any opinions from anyone. I just wanted to express myself. Didn't have to worry about my captions being too long.. I could write as much as I wanted. I didn't have to worry about being judged for posting more words than pictures.. When traveling, I could post every single picture that I wanted without worrying about "bleeding the feed"... I no longer had to text long passages to my friends and apologize for annoying them with all of my issues. I could write long monologues and essays, just for myself. Finally, I was free. I could write anything and not have to wait on anyone to console me. I was counseling myself. And I would never allow any post to be just a venting session. I always came up with a list of solutions for myself to follow. This is where my self-discovery grew strong.
So now you may be wondering, what made me begin to promote the blog, if I was initially just doing it for me. Well, one word will answer that: Nikki.
She texted me:
"So I woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, and decided to read your last blog... And ended up reading 10 more that I missed lol. Your really are blessed with the gift transparency. Whatever you're feeling when you write, is transferred through your pen (or keypad) and felt by the reader. You also have fluidity in your story telling which allows a reader to be easily captivated- enough that a sleepy Nicole woke up at 2am to read 1 post that her friend asked her to, but actually stayed up an additional 20 minutes because the post that followed gave her enough energy to keep reading. Those are beautiful gifts that a lot of people don't possess so remember that whenever you feel like you don't want to post.. Say positive affirmations to yourself like, "God gave me this gift to be blessed and to bless others, not to gain popularity, and that gives me joy" etc. Once you do that enough, the affirmations will become natural thoughts..."
She believed in me, maybe even more than I believed in myself at that time. And it was her words, "to bless others", that motivated me most. It was almost as if the Spirit was speaking through her, telling me that my story, my struggle, and my gifts are not for me - they are for others to be inspired by and gain strength from.
After a year, I can finally look back and say that I am grateful for being in that dark despair last year. It taught me that it is crucial that we take time to ourselves. That 3 months of not scrolling down the feed to keep up with everyone else really helped me to find me! I learned to focus on myself and my needs through the art of meditation. I discovered the voice within through the power of silence. I found joy and contentment in being by myself, distinguishing between being alone and being lonely. Being alone was a gift, which when unwrapped, showed me who I am as Valencia, without the influence of any one else in the world.
I also learned that we must use the gifts that God gives us, even if we don't understand why or how. I wasn't using my gift because I was too busy looking at how bad things were. Holding my stories in was beating me down. I had to stop dwelling and keeping things inside and start finding the beauty within each situation. One cannot expect to find the beauty in a situation if they do not face the issue, head-on, with an open mind and heart. When I began to let go and face the issues that I had with my father, mother, and grandmother... when I began to be honest with myself about my insecurities, I not only freed my heart from suffering, I showed others to do the same. That's when I realized my God-given purpose. It was easy to identify because finally, I felt fulfilled.
Living in your purpose happens naturally when you just listen to the voice within. Everything will align in your favor, just try your hardest to keep a positive outlook and stay faithful. I will be the first one to tell you that the truth is: It is hard!!!!!!!! It's a growing and learning and growing process... It doesn't have to be as arduous as we make it though. It's much easier if you find different outlets and activities to refocus and let go of your negative energy. Writing and reading replaced television and instagram for me -- because those were two things that weren't adding any value to my life, whereas reading a good book inspired me in countless ways. You have to decide that you are not going to allow any more nonsense into your physical or mental space. And it has to be a very purposeful and concious decision. I know that is definitely a reason why I am as happy as I am today. I just began to say, "No!" to the bullsh't.
Lastly, don't give up on yourself. Fight through the pain. I am a living witness to God's promise. Here I am, 12 months later, waking up to palm trees, private beaches, and peace of mind.
If I were having a party, I would raise my glass of Martinelli's in a toast, giving a speech filled with thank you's. In the spirit of this e-celebration, I wrote a few thank you notes to some folks that I felt I needed to say thank you to.. I wish I could personally thank each person who has encouraged me to continue my plight this year but it's not possible ....I am so very sincere when I say that it doesn't mean I love you any less.
God, thank you for wiping my tears and bringing me so far, within such a short year. I am grateful for every experience that I went through over the last twelve months. Through each battle, I learned that there is no limit to your grace, as long as I have faith.
Nikki, thank you for encouraging me and reminding me that failure is not an option.
Show, I walked into your room one day and you said, "Did you bring your apple juice?" That was the moment that I realized that people were reading my stories, without me even saying a word. I'll never forget that feeling. Thank you.
Stone, you sat me down and reminded me that I am a normal 20-something year old who is finding herself.. This was in Septemeber. By June, you hugged me and told me how proud of my growth you were. You specifically told me to "keep writing". Those 2 words will stay with me forever. Thank you for encouraging me. Love always.
G, if it wasn't for you telling me, "You're doing black writers this trimester.", I wouldn't have had the time to discover so many of the authors that not only influence my writing, they also influence the way I lead. Thank for realizing my potential and holding me to high expectations as a teacher, writer, woman, and friend.
Geoff, thank you for sharing so much of your wisdom with me. From the poets and novelist that I never knew about, to the how to deal with my issues, you always know exactly what to say.
KH, you never ceased to stop supporting my journey, no matter how far apart we are. Thank you.
Lacey, thank you for always reposting my posts to your followers. I know you will say, "You don't have to thank me.." But I do. You helped me to reach people that I may have never been able to reach before. I appreciate you.
Matthew, thank you for inspiring me. You were my muse, without even knowing it. One thing you told me was to just post! "Don't even proof read it! Just post it and walk away." Thank you. I gained courage from doing just that.
Shelly, you were the only one to tell me the truth about how you guys (my bffs) weren't doing the spiritual challenge. It was humbling, to say the least. I know it was hard for you to be so honest but I appreciate you for every word. You and the girls made me more independent. You all supported my writing, and only praised it when it resonated most with you, not just because I was your friend. It was always, always genuine. That's the realist thing you guys could have ever done. I love each of you for that, always.
Tieka, thank you for being the first to repost one of my blog posts. I'll never forget that. You showed me that my voice is heard.
Meekz, you always reminded me that comparison is the stealer of joy. It was you who first labeled me a butterfly. And it is you who keeps me on my toes creatively. You consistently challenge me to do more to be different from the rest. When ever you tell me that you're proud, I know you really mean it.
Carissa, thank you for reminding me of my purpose last summer when I was ready to give up. I will never forget the words, "Think of your students." You reminded me of my legacy. And even now, with every letter I type, I keep that legacy in mind. Thank you, love you.
And finally, to my readers, thank you for being apart of my journey this year. I pray that The Lord blesses you in the same way that He has blessed me with you. Each comment/email/text, I mean every word of endearment was always heartfelt and deeply appreciated.
As I embark upon a new year, I pray that I am given the opportunity to continue to let my light shine. I am grateful for this year of clarity, growth, discovery, and enlightenment. I have faith that there is so much more in store, whether good, bad, or indifferent. I am truly blessed to be able to share my journey with the world.