DJ Strong

     “How do you smile, when you don’t want to? How do you laugh when it’s easy to cry?” 

     I would like to share with you, a story that has completely touched my heart and soul, as I’m sure it has others as well. 

     Diweni Jituboh is a 15 year old girl who is inspiring in the most incredible ways. She’s beautiful and witty, and so beyond her years in intelligence. 

     I first heard about Diweni as I drove through town one night and saw all of these blue signs everywhere outside of the high school. I didn’t pay any attention to it until one night I saw all of my coworkers posting on Snapchat pictures in these blue and pink T-shirts. 

     What was going on? What big event had I missed that A.) We were allowed to wear something other than sweaty, black, uniforms, and B.) I wasn’t informed of.

      When my brother and mother arrived home that night, they were grinning ear to ear in their matching shirts, and I bombarded them with questions.

     My brother said that as he was walking into work that night, a woman in an SUV handed him a shirt and a bracelet and said “Put this on.” He was a little thrown off he said, as I would be too if a stranger threw me a shirt in the parking lot of my work. When he walked into the restaurant, he noticed that all of our coworkers were wearing the same, matching shirts. 

     He said that a girl who had “some big surgery” came into Cotton Patch to eat tonight, and it had been an amazing evening for everyone. 

(Picture taken from her CaringBridge)

     I’m not going to lie. I was angry that I missed it, and that I didn’t get to be apart of it and wear the cool shirts. Fortunately for me, my brother said I could have his shirt. But I had a question ringing in the back of my head as to who this girl was.

     I spent the next hours looking up the hashtags, #PRAYFORDIWENI and #DJStrong on every social media platform I own, and what I found changed my perspective on so many things about life and beauty and appreciation for the little things.

There’s a girl who grew up playing soccer. She could put David Beckham to shame. She’d like to win, but she’d rather inspire. She plays for the love of the game.

     Diweni lives, playing soccer. This game is her lifeline, and I understand what something like that means to a person. And she wasn’t just any old soccer player, this girl was good. One night during a game, Diweni sustained an injury with another player in her knee. She shook it off and finished the game, despite the throbbing in her knee. She went home, she iced it. No big deal. It would go away, right? Well, it didn’t. It didn’t go away. Diweni was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma. That’s a lot to take in as a 14 year old girl. 

(Picture taken from her CaringBridge)

     Even with all of the bad news in her life so far, Diweni still maintains her happy persona and strives to smile. I give her mega props, because I know I would be an absolute wreck. I could never handle anything even remotely similar to this. 

 (Picture taken from her CaringBridge)

     Today, Diweni’s life will change, yet again, as she goes in to have a surgery that will remove her tumor from her knee and replace it. I write this blog in hopes that you will hear this young woman’s strong story, and keep her in your thoughts throughout your day today in the midst of what ever it is that you may be doing.

You’ve been through a lot, but there’s a fire you’ve got inside.

     You may not believe in religion or prayer, and that’s okay. Please just send her and her loved ones well wishes and positive vibes, as well as the doctors that will be surrounding her during the operation. 

     Dallas Children’s Hospital is one incredible place, I know in my heart that you are in good hands.

(Pictures taken from her CaringBridge)

      As for you, Diweni, if you happen to be reading this, I do hope you know that your story touched my heart and made me sit back and think about the things I tend to take for granted in my everyday life. Here I was, mad at the fact that I didn’t get a T-shirt, when I didn’t even stop to think what the cause was even about. I think you’re incredibly strong, and all together beautiful. This isn’t what your typical freshman year of high school is like. But hopefully your years will become easier and you will be allowed to enjoy the rest of your time as a teenager without having to worry about cancer. 

     I’d like to take the time to dedicate this song to you, and hope that you find time to hear it before your operation today. You truly are a force to be reckoned with. 

https://youtu.be/bMIYCofzhF0

I know you won’t ever stop, you’ll do more than walk, you’ll fly.

     Stay strong! Keep fighting!!
Until next time,
Tay❤
P.S. Here is the link to Diweni’s GoFundMe, if you are able to donate to her cause. If not, I encourage you to please share her story and her smile to your friends and family. She needs your thoughts. 

https://www.gofundme.com/no-one-fights-alone-djstrong 

(Screenshot of Diweni’s Twitter account)

To the One Struggling on Father’s Day

   “Father, I’m gonna say thank you, even if I don’t understand. Oh, you left us alone. I guess that made me who I am.” -Demi Lovato


    I know you feel like there are pieces of you chipping off every time you log on to social media and see yet another person happily posing with their father for the camera.

     I know you feel pure anger towards every kid who gets to run home today and hug their dad.

     I know you walk by the card section in Wal-Mart and glance at the display of Father’s Day cards, and feel so empty you just want to cry.

      Let’s not even mention looking at old photographs.

     Most of all, I know you feel so many emotions today, including hatred towards yourself on multiple levels. Hatred for being you. Hatred for blaming yourself for the way your father is. Hatred for not doing more. Or even hatred for hating others for their happiness towards their fathers.

     I want you to know you aren’t alone.

     I know how it feels to even dread waking up on this holiday, knowing what the day is to hold.

     Maybe your father is no longer in the picture. Maybe your father passed away tragically. Maybe you don’t even know who your father is. Or, maybe your father is too drunk to remember your name.

     Know that you aren’t alone today.

    We’re all struggling. Why were we dealt the handful of cards that left us with or without our father? Why couldn’t we have that father with the big smile, or that father who hugs too tight, or the father who plays piano?  

     Truth be told, we could wallow all day and wonder “why this, why that?” for the rest of eternity. We will never know why things happen the way that they do.

     You have every right to be mad, or sad, or whatever emotion you want to be. Buy a Father’s Day card. Rip it up. Scream. Do what you have to do.

     The little kid inside of you breaks every time you see someone walking down the street, hand in hand with their father. Because you don’t have that. And you want more than anything to just be able to open up your phone, dial him up and say “Daddy I love you.”

     You want him to say it back. 

     Some of us want him to mean it. To genuinely mean it. But we know he never will.

     Father’s Day is a difficult day for some of us, but we aren’t alone. 

     Rather than being bitter about it, today when I see a girl post a picture of herself and her father hugging and smiling on Facebook, I will try to like it this year. I will try to smile for her.

     I know that for every post out there with someone loving on their father, there is someone who hasn’t had to go through what we have without our fathers. And that sits well within my heart. 

     It’s okay if you can’t, though. It’s okay if today is too hard for you.

     I know what that’s like.

     We know.

     So to anyone struggling this Father’s Day, or any Father’s Day, or any day without a father, know you have plenty of people who feel like you. We feel the sadness, the anger. We know the resentment and the emptiness. We know the hardships. Truth be told, I don’t know if it gets easier. But I know for sure, as humans, we become stronger and we become better as a whole. So even if it doesn’t get better, we will.

     And I think that is enough.
Until next time,
Tay❤

Escaping on The World’s Longest Lazy River?!

Bucket List

       The past few weeks of my life have not been a breeze, I can tell you that much. Stress has been a key factor in my daily life, as well as with my family. We have been so overtaken with weight on our shoulders from life and the way it works sometimes. We really needed a get away, a time where we could just relax.

     This week was Amber’s 15th birthday, and as a surprise, we decided to take her to do something a little more adventurous than your typical dinner and dessert. Who needs 15 servers clapping simultaneously as your cheeks flush with embarrassment when you can spend all day floating in the sun on the world’s longest lazy river? 

     We really ended up killing two birds with one stone, as it was a present for Amber and a time for us all to unwind and just be at peace for a while, even if it was for a few hours.

     In the midst of June in Texas, it is a blazing sauna anywhere you go outdoors. What better way to combat those high temperatures than to spend it all day at a water park? What better way to escape your issues for a few hours than to float away from them, really?

     The night before Amber’s birthday, we finally revealed where we were taking her, and what our plan was for the day. 

     BSR Cable Park is located in the far back roads of Waco, Texas. We first found out about it after seeing one of our friends on Facebook share a post about it. My mom had been dying to go ever since. If you ever have the opportunity to go, I suggest you try it out, because it’s worth the drive. The location is definitely something that threw us off. Through our last few turns before the GPS dropped us off, we went down some sketchy looking back roads. Our initial thoughts were “Great, this place is going to be some POS dump people use to trap naive kids who jump at Facebook posts.” But it was the exact opposite!

     It is a large, gated, community in the back. Once you enter the gates, you can very well see how lovely it all looks. We had planned to do everything that day, including their renowned Royal Flush slide. 

 (Taken from bsrcablepark.com)

     Upon our arrival to the park, however, we came to realize that there was a little mix up in the prices stated on the website and the prices stated in front of our eyes. You pay for each thing you wish to do, but you only have to pay once. Once you pay for one thing, you get a bracelet that shows you can ride the Royal Flush or chill in the lazy river, etc., as much as you please. Because of the off prices from what our knowledge was, we did not have enough money to do both. It was kind of a bummer, but we all decided we would float the lazy river and just make the best of what we had. Besides, we were already there, two hours away. 

     Now, this lazy river was sort of amazing in my book. The first time we went through, it took us a whole hour to make it back to the starting point. Which, actually made me pretty anxious towards the middle of the river because I don’t like not knowing where I am, or how long I’ll be there for.  However, it was gorgeous and had such a clean aura.

     After floating for an hour, we got hungry. We didn’t want to leave the river though. Fortunately for us, at BSR they have these nifty devices you can bring along in the water with you. They have cooler floats! That’s right, a float for your cooler. It has handles on the sides, so while you’re relaxing in your tube, you can just hold on to it.

     We didn’t have a cooler, so we put all of our snacks and drinks into Andrew’s duffle bag and plopped it into the cooler float. Bam. Problem solved. We no longer were withering away. Andrew also decided to bring his Bluetooth speaker with him in the cooler float, so we had our jams as well.

     Just to lay in the float and relax, I felt the weight of the world roll off my shoulders for a moment. I didn’t have to think about anything other than being there with my family and enjoying my day, so that was really nice for a change. If I could take a day and go float the river every week, I think my stress would be better maintained.

     We ended up going around the lazy river 3 times, and then walking over to the pool they have around the Royal Flush. We were all exhausted at this point from the sun and the water. Our original plan was to stay in the park from when we got there at 1, to when the park closed at 7. But at 5:30, we were burned and wanted to go home and shower off the lake water.

     We don’t get many family days, or even days where we do out-of-routine things in general. It was so nice. Of course our problems were still there waiting for us when we got home, and they still lingered in the air as we enjoyed our day at BSR. 

     Sometimes you just have to get away. So go. It doesn’t have to be far. We only went 2 hours. You could go hiking 30 minutes from your driveway, or you could go on a summer road trip 18 hours away. If you’re overwhelmed and can’t seem to catch a break in life, go. Make a break for yourself that you deserve. We all need an escape sometimes. 

     Go.
Until next time,

Tay❤

Stop Blaming Yourself, Kid

0b4309de5002c614878cb04b996d098c

“You have suffered enough. It’s time that you won.”

I’ve recently dawned on such a discovery, after spending a lot of time placing blame on myself for things certainly out of my control. This discovery is that these things have not been my fault. I had no control on any of it. I’m far from perfect, I make mistakes, but I have to stop putting the weight of the world on my shoulders for no reason.

I spend so much of my precious time ragging on myself for these things. I blame myself for the slightest inconvenience. I hate myself for it. I have so much hatred for who and what I am that I can’t even stand to glance at a passing by at a mirror. But then I realize, this was not my fault. Other people and outside forces make me feel as if it is me to blame with their insecurities. However, in moments of revelation (and deep conversations with my family and my group message) I come to know that they are so wrong. So why? Why do I still feel the need to bend over backwards to make things right when they are the ones in the wrong here? Why do I feel elephants standing on my chest? Why do I always want to flip my mirror backwards so I don’t have to take one glance at myself?

This society makes it easy to take fault for things out of our control when we’ve been brought up in a generation where self-deprecation is almost vital as a teenager. When the kindness of our hearts overtakes the height of our egos, we jump at the opportunity to make sure the people we love never have to feel one ounce of negativity, even if that means taking the blame for things we shouldn’t have to.

We have to know what we’re worth. And no, that’s not me saying to not take responsibility for your wrong doings when you have messed up or hurt somebody else. Be real. Own up to your mistakes. But we must know right from wrong. Respect yourself enough to know when you are in the wrong, and to know when someone else is doing you wrong. People in this world are messed up. They can mess you up so easily if you aren’t careful. You are worth so much more than what you give yourself. I am worth more. We all are.

My support system is incredible. I’ve been blessed in life with some amazing humans, with hearts bigger than any I’ve ever seen before. We share in our struggles together, not quite understanding why we let people walk over us the way that we do, and then go and turn around the blame on ourselves. Nobody is kind anymore. Our world is filled with people who only care about themselves, and nothing else. I’m lucky enough to know the handful of people who actually still care about others. There is a downside to caring about people in a society that doesn’t care though, because no one will reciprocate anything back to you.

My motto has always been “Don’t be bitter, just be better.” 

When the world is screwed up, and people are just absolutely horrible to be around and you can’t understand, rise above them and just do better. Be better than them. In the long run, doing and being better will get you further anyways.

The world may be screwed up, but that does not mean that you are. You are not to blame for the things out of your control. So listen to me when I say you have to stop blaming yourself. Stop. Just because there is no one to blame, doesn’t mean you have to blame you. Just because you don’t want someone you love to feel bad, does not mean you have to blame you.

Stop blaming yourself, kid.

 

Until next time,

 

Tay

Maybe

il_570xN.581857591_qhhd

“Betcha he reads, betcha she sews. Maybe she’s made me a closet of clothes! Maybe they’re strict, as straight as a line. Don’t really care, as long as they’re mine.”

-Annie 

 

I’ve had a strange attachment to the musical Annie since before I could remember. It makes sense. Little orphan, longing to belong in a family of her own. In my own way, I related to Annie on a multitude of levels. I felt abandoned by the majority of my family at a very young age, and still to this day, at 18 years old, I find myself feeling like an orphan even now. Spoiler alert, at the end of the movie, Annie gets her happily-ever-after with Daddy Warbucks, sings an epic song, and everything is great.

No matter how many times I watched the movies or sang the songs, I still woke up the next morning with a broken family.

It wasn’t easy by any means, especially growing up loving everything to do with books and movies. Everyone gets their happily-ever-after. Cinderella gets her Prince. Annie gets her family. I was set up for disappointment from the moment I opened my brain to the world of literature. Happily-ever-after happened to everyone. Perhaps I thought if I kept reading, if I kept watching, mine would eventually catch up with me.

Even at 18 years old, I dream about waking up to a happily married mother and father cooking breakfast together, smiling and laughing almost instinctively. I dream that they love my siblings and stroke their hair behind their ears to smooch the peak of their foreheads. And we all sit. And we all smile. And we all are one. I dream that I have a grandmother who didn’t leave me the second she got the chance, and instead is gentle and likes to tell jokes and smile really big, maybe even sometimes an uncle or an aunt pops up into these dreams.

It’s naive, I know. I’m aware of the childish aspects of this dream of mine. But it’s as if I can’t help it.

I don’t write this blog as a means for anyone to feel pity for me or my situation. In fact, I do almost the exact opposite. I want to open your eyes to things you may be oblivious to. Don’t take it for granted. Don’t take your family for granted, whether it be the way your mother looks at your father after he cracks the same joke for the hundredth time that day, or the way your siblings wave to your parents with pride when they spot them in a crowded room. When you complain about the way they nag on you for your grades, just remember some of us don’t have that luxury.

Despite the years gone by, I still have hope in my heart for a family one day, whether it be of my own or to watch someone else I love grow a family I can watch from the sidelines.

Maybe the truth is, we don’t all get happily-ever-after. I’ve come to the realization that if we were all happy in this world, it would be a strange world to live in. I mean, just imagine walking down the street to see everyone with a smile. We would all be the same. We have to have some people out there be unhappy. If we never knew cruelty, we would never know happiness. So in a way, it all balances out. If I have to take one for the team and be unhappy, so be it.

Still, when the dream comes to me every so often, I find peace within myself in the few moments before I completely come to in the morning, because at that point I’m not aware that it is not my reality.  Just imagine having a family filled with so much love and happiness you can hardly stand it. Unfortunately, we have to face what cards we are dealt with. And I wasn’t dealt the hand I long for at times. I can’t cry about it though. And maybe, rather than having my happily-ever-after all the time, I’ll settle for those few moments every now and then when I wake up from those dreams. I’d much rather feel the love and warmth of my dream family than never having it at all.

Besides, like Annie tends to say, the sun will come out tomorrow. 

Sometimes the sun comes out with a family, sometimes it doesn’t.

Either way, it will all be okay. It has to be okay.

 

 

Until next time,

 

Tay

 

Watch Your Mouth

“Loneliness is one hell of a drug” -Kurt Cobain

     I’ve never been the center of attention. In fact, when things get to be about me I tend to freak out a bit. Birthday parties were a stressful time as a child for me. They still are. I would much rather take the day to spend it loving someone else. I love theatre, never wanting to be on stage, but rather enjoying the presence of the techie life. I can’t stand things revolving around me.

     That being said, that doesn’t mean I enjoy being pushed to the side like I’m nothing.

     I feel that because I excuse myself from the spotlight, I am automatically cast into the wings of the world where people are put to seem as if they do not exist. But I do. I do exist.

     I feel and I breathe, and I cry and I bleed just like everyone else. And maybe I’m just a leave-able, use-able person. And maybe I’m just feeling extra sorry for myself tonight.

     People don’t understand what their actions do to others sometimes. When you toss someone to the side, you ruin them. You have ruined a part of them that will never be a whole again, no matter how small that part may seem. 

“You’re annoying.” You say. Or you cancel. Or you aren’t there for them. Or you choose someone else. Or you ignore them. Or you belittle them. Or make fun of them. “That idea is stupid.” Or even worse or them all, you leave.

     Picture them as a glass plate. Every time you do something hurtful to them, you’re causing more damage. It could be as tiny as a chip from an accidental drop, or as large as completely shattering them. Either way, they will never fit together the same again. 

     We are so hurtful without even realizing what we do is damaging. We get so caught up amongst ourselves that we forget about how we make others feel with our actions. Think about that next time you say something to someone, or throw them off as if they don’t matter. To you, it may seem like it is nothing. It may even seem like it wasn’t a big deal. But to them, it could have shattered everything that is left of their ceramic.

     At this point in my life, I have become acquainted with the idea of people not sticking around long enough or staying true to their word. It doesn’t hurt me any more. But to others, this could be completely new. This could be what feels like to the end of the world to them because they just do not understand what is happening.

     It is not them.

     Watch your mouth. Watch your hands.

     I am fragile and weak at times. I bend and I break easily. Sometimes, I don’t say things right. Or, in most cases, say things at all. I am flawed. I let people walk over me a lot more than I probably should. I will never have the balls of Meredith Grey to just come right out and say “Pick me, choose me, love me.” But of course, I’ll always wish you did.
Until next time,
Tay❤

Letting the World Change my Smile


“Smile, though your heart is aching. Smile, even though it’s breaking.” 

I am pissed.

And not in your sassy, perky, know-it-all, typical teenager way.

This is different

I’m so angry I can hardly breathe or move or hell, even write this blog.

I want to understand. No,

I need to understand.

Since when did it become okay to be so hateful to each other? Your friends. Your peers. Your loved ones. These are people. We are people. And yet we sit here and hate so much.

We hate on social media by hiding behind computer screens and the vibrant glow of our cell phones.

We hate in person by laughing and pointing, or ignoring at all costs.

We hate to mask our own self impurities by pointing out what we define as flaws in others. Because as long as there is a problem in someone else, we no longer have to address the issues within ourselves, right?

Since when did it become okay to be so cruel?

I grew up thinking that everyone on earth had the same thought process and love in their hearts as I did. Maybe that was dumb on my part. To be quite honest, I did read Peter Pan a few too many times. I’ve just always thought kindness was an instinctive response. 

And I guess because of that instinct of my own, I automatically assume that everyone else is first to show kindness as well. But they’re not. If anything, it is the last thing they feel the need to do. 

Nobody is kind anymore in this world.

(Disclosure. I know a handful. And I keep them very close to my heart.)

Humans are exhausting. Many do things for the sole purpose of benefiting themselves, or for their egotistical mindset. I never understood the world and how so many people could really do the awful things that they do.

And here I thought for a while, “It’s just petty high school drama.” But it never ends, even when your tassle is on the left side of your head.

What used to be “My best friend is talking bad about me behind my back” turns into even bigger things that take a giant toll on your heart. High school is nothing compared to the real world. In fact, the two places have nothing to do with whether or not people are shitty. They’re shitty no matter where you go.

My heart is rather worn and tired. And I’m not even to my 20’s yet. I shouldn’t have to say things like this, but I genuinely feel as if my heart cannot take anymore cruelty from the people of this world.

“You’re just a teenager, quit whining.” Says the adult, perched with one hand on their hip and their choice of alcohol in the other. “Nothing lasts forever.”

You’re right. I am a teenager. And I’m probably whining a lot right now, so you’re right about that too. But this is very real for me. People are horrid. People are mean. And I’m having a hard time understanding it. When I don’t understand something, it tends to take an even greater toll on me. And for me, who has only been around for 18 years, this is the only “forever” I’ve known. This feels like forever.

For those of you who understand what I feel, or are maybe going through it yourself, I want you to know that I applaud you for still finding the courage to crawl out of bed everyday. The world is a nasty place.

Your friends aren’t friends sometimes. And you may feel lost, and alone, but everyday you smile and show gratitude and kindness to everyone who comes your way.

That is truly the good in the world.

So, why you may be seeing a lot of bad, a lot of evil, a lot of horror and deceit, let this ring true;

No matter how shitty people may be, you can have a glimmer of hope inside of you knowing that somewhere out there, there is someone just like you who feels and hurts beside you. And that as long as there are smiles on faces and a sun in the sky, there is at least some good in the world.

I, at least, have to believe that this won’t last forever. But that doesn’t mean that people don’t suck right now. 

Or maybe it will last forever, and we will just learn how to not be so affected by it.

Whatever works, I guess.

Until next time,

Tay❤