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

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“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

You Are Too Alive (Suicide Prevention)

You roll over in the morning, your eyes aflutter with distant dreams of the previous night. You breathe in your first breath of air into your lungs, readying them for the hours to come. And it is beautiful, whether you know it or not.

If you open your blinds, daylight falls through the slits and cracks and onto your face, warming your skin to the touch.  Beautiful without having to try.

As you go downstairs, your mother greets you with the same, lovely smile she has greeted you for years. Only, it seems to grow lovelier with her age. She wants to know how you slept. She wants to know if you believe that the test in 4th period will be easy, and you tell her of course because you can’t let her down. And she smiles and smiles, and she is beautiful.

At school, your friends greet you with their cynical commentary and obnoxious laughter, but you love every minute of it because without them school days would drag by. You see the way their smiles form in the depths of their cheeks and glide across their lips like it is the most natural way in the world. And they are beautiful, even in the times of gossip and sorrow.

Your favorite class period is spent in the auditorium, rambunctious chatter echoing through the acoustics and you fall more in love with the lights above your head every time you step in place. For one small moment you wish you didn’t have to spend any more time rehearsing the same damn lines over and over, but you couldn’t. you wouldn’t. trade the moment for anything in the world. Your monologue protrudes through the room, with beautiful written all over it.

And the hallways. Cramped and crowded and noisy and smells of puberty. Regardless, the carpet welcomes your steps, and people stop to wave hello to you, even when your hands are filled with binders and papers and note cards and snacks you forgot to put away at the bell. You walk it now with the routine of friends always by your side. And the hallway is beautiful in itself, because it knows all of your secrets. All of the jumping, stressing, running, rushing, sobbing, hollering, skipping, talking, scolding. It sees the parts of you that aren’t always beautiful.

Class never receives a dull moment when you consistently raise your hand. If you know that x equals a number, or that the inventor of electricity was a genius. Even on your worse days, they rely on you for answers that only you can begin. You’re beautiful. Class is beautiful. It is all beautiful.

You come home to a house smelling from top to bottom with scents of dinner. You sit down with your family. Dad who had a rough day. Mom who continues to smile. And your siblings who always crack down their inspiring comedies. And from third person you see everyone laughing and conversing on politics. From the inside you can’t wait to fall asleep, but on the outside it is beautiful.

You make it to your room and stuff yourself in with the thick comforter and thin sheets. They envelope you as if they were made to fit your weary body. And you sigh the sigh of relief and wondering. And as you turn off your lights, your mind, your body, your beauty radiates with excitement for awakening tomorrow morning.

But what if you didn’t?

What if you decided that whatever going through your mind had become enough for you to handle?

You didn’t roll over the next morning, because of the previous night’s endeavors. The fresh air in your lungs never was gifted to you, and the world loses some beauty.

You never stood up to open your blinds. Your skin remains cold, instead of warmed with the brilliance of the sun, and the world loses some beauty.

Your mother was smiling as she usually does. Humming to herself a song of great love. But she never heard your feet touch the wood of the floor this morning. So she goes to check on you. She never gets over what she finds. And her smile never returned, and the world loses some beauty.

At school, your friends wait for you. When you don’t show by the first sound of the bell, they figure that you had car trouble. You’ll be there soon. You’ll be back in time for lunch, for the latest gossip. You’ll be there. But you won’t be. And the world loses some beauty.

Your favorite class in the auditorium is silent, because now, your siblings have been removed from school for the day, and word has spread about the terrible thing you have done. And your director is hiding behind her desk. And the students arent rambunctious. They don’t dance. They don’t sing. They don’t laugh. They cry. They cry a lot.The lights are off, and the stage remains solemn. Other students are coming to this class to find the last piece of you that you left. They’re trying to piece it together.  But they can’t, and the world loses some beauty.

The hallways remain as cramped and crowded as they always are, but they are moving slowly. There are whispers about you from classmates who barely knew you. Is this true? They wouldn’t dare do such a thing. But you did. And your friends don’t walk the normal routine, because it is impossible to be normal anymore without you here. They picture at any moment for you to run around the corner and catch up with them, to skip and holler and converse. But you won’t be joining them. And the world loses some beauty.

Class is dull. Because rather than the smiling person who always sat, there is a desk that reeks of emptiness. Your teacher refuses to teach, because who else would raise their hand? And the world loses some beauty.

At home, there is no dinner. There is no table-talk. There is no smiling Mom. Your dad comes home early, and for the first time ever, he cries. He cries so hard. And the dogs wander about, wondering when you’re going to prance through the door. Your siblings don’t say anymore jokes, because they can’t comprehend that you’re gone. And the world loses some beauty.

Tonight, no one enters your room. They don’t want to remember. They want it locked up forever, your comforter becoming incredibly lonely with every passing day that you don’t return to envelope in. They miss you. And the world loses some beauty.
Live.

Because you are so alive. With the sun radiating onto your skin, or enjoying every moment your life has to offer. You should embrace everything life hands you, despite whether or not it is deemed as worthy of your appreciation. 

Don’t waste. 

Don’t take anything for granted, because one day it could very well be gone.

You were given this book of life to continue reading and writing, editing and loving. Just because a writer comes to a dead end, never does it mean that they must stop. You pave the rest of your path, and start from scratch.

Life is beautiful, if only you open your eyes to notice. 

So stay.

Finish writing the book of your life.

You are too alive to do anything different.
Until next time,

Tay❤

#stopthestigma #suicideawareness