Dance, pray, sing

Growing Pains   

So the story continues! Last off my youngest son and I had landed in Chicago, Illinois and were preparing to de-plane and meet my birth Father for the first time in my life.

It was July of 2001 and at forty years old it had sure been a long wait for this moment. I had prayed so hard, saying my strongest prayers for this moment to arrive. When it was time to walk out into the waiting area where I was sure my Dad and family would be waiting it was then I started to feel wobbly in my legs, nervous, scared, excited and a whole range of different emotions. I started to look around at all the people waiting for their friends and loved ones in that waiting area, a sea of faces with different expressions and then I spotted him, I knew it was him, it had to be him because I saw myself, my likeness in his face. He smiled and waved and away we went directly and straight to him, his wife and my new found sister. They stood there with a sense of happiness. My sister was the one who really hugged my son and I. My Father hugged me too but there was a sort of distance and inability to really truly embrace me. His wife was the same. I cried so much but felt at that moment suddenly that I needed to contain myself because I felt it was inappropriate to unleash all my emotions. I had hoped my Dad would cry with me and I would feel the love and warmth coming from his heart outwards to mine but sadly it wasn't that way at all.  So, I stuffed it all in and got ahold of myself. My Father and his wife seemed happy to meet us but I felt the reservations of their feelings and it was somewhat uncomfortable and confusing to me. My Sister and I really hit if off, I loved her from the moment I met her. She was warm and accepting of me and my son and for that I was deeply grateful as acceptance was crucial for us at that moment in time. We had planned to spend 5 days with them and as we drove to their home I was praying hard and hoping this had been a good decision. I think I was more worried about my son, that he would not suffer any type of emotional abuse or weirdness at the hands of these people that really were strangers to us at that point.

The week rolled on and they seemed content to take us out to eat at some of their favorite places. They gave us a tour of their little town and even drove us up to Princeton so we could learn about the history of our family and the story of my Father's birth and the hardships his Mother, my GrandMother, had faced in giving birth to him. He was born out of wedlock and at that time it was very shameful to a woman and therefore there were labels attached to a pregnant woman without a husband.  My Great Grandparents, because of the shame involved, made sure my GrandMother was hidden from the public as if she didn't exist.  It was all very sad to learn. Concerning those five days, spending time trying to get to know my Father, his wife and sister was overall strained and difficult. There were a few moments of what seemed to be acceptance maybe, some laughter and light heartedness but It became apparent to me that my Father and new found step Mother were staying guarded throughout. My Sister, bless her heart, was without a doubt the apple of their eyes. Through no fault of her own, it seemed these parents needed me to know through certain conversations and the show of their great wealth that they took care of my sisters needs no matter the cost. Because I am a very understanding person, in spite of the pain I felt, I accepted that they loved my sister and she was what mattered to them. It became apparent over just those few days that my son and I were some kind of side show for them, a way to finally put to rest their curiosity about me. Maybe they needed to do some comparing? to see if I measured up to the one they raised.

I will never know and understand completely but I have a pretty good idea what our visit meant to them and I truly believe it didn't mean as much to them as it did to myself. At the end of our visit they took us, my son and I, back to the airport and we said our farewells promising to stay in touch. I didn't cry and I felt a sense of deep relief knowing we'd be home soon. There was so much to think about and I was exhausted in every way from the experience. I wasn't convinced yet that these relationships would be healthy for me or my children. As we waited to board the plane it was announced that our flight had been canceled. It was such a blow and a disappointment as I just wanted to go home and to call my Mom too. Over a few hours of waiting for another plane it was relayed to me that the flight once again was canceled and we would need to wait until the morning but they did guarantee we would be flying out first thing in the morning.

I made the decision to call my Dad and let him know the status of our situation. After telling him all the details I asked him if he could please come back and pick us up and then take us back to the airport in the morning. He quickly responded saying no, he would not pick us up. He said that when he was in the military he'd spent many nights in airports so we would need to do the same. Unbelievable and completely unexpected response. Here I was with my ten year old son, no money, no where to go but sit through the night, stay awake so no one would steal our stuff. My little son broke out in tears and then so did I. We sat there crying our eyes out just holding onto each other. I will never forget this pain and the feeling of abandonment after hoping and praying so hard that my Father would be a night in shining armour to me and my children. What a dreamer I was then, so naive. That's when I knew for sure, without a doubt, that what I was feeling, that inner knowing about how they were feeling toward us was true and correct. It was a powerful lesson in knowing how to listen to that inner voice and trust my own intuitions. The time of trusting too much and giving my heart away so easily had finally come to an end ... I grew up even more through that trauma and understood my real strength as a woman and as a survivor of many previous trauma's. If I could live my entire life of forty years without him then I could definitely move forward without him now. I left a small space in my heart for a possible relationship with my Sister. 

I recently wrote a song for my newest album called "Fatherless Child" It touches on the pain of living without a Father, the struggles of my Mother to care for me on her own. Since Mom went on to marry other abusive and irresponsible men the song talks about a Father knocking her down in a drunken rage which also did happen on many occasions in front of my young eyes. I've included the song below. My hope and prayer is always, through my music and blogging, to give an honest and open account of my experiences that I might help someone else who is struggling and hurting to know that they are not alone. Every one of us has been touched by some kind of traumatic episode or episodes in our lives. We can rise, we can heal and it's by our choices. If we're going to be all that we can be and fulfill our purpose here on earth then I believe we must choose to rise and to walk a path that will strengthen and confirm our worthiness. Some need counsel to fully understand what happened to them, some need religion to assess the damages but however you find your way there should be no judgement just simply find your way to your best life and try to forgive those that weren't strong enough to do right by you.  I also believe that my Creator was paving the way for my soul mate, Fabian. I'm still leading up to that lol!  I had so many things in my life that first needed healing and closure and it was manifesting big time. I look back now and see it all so clearly. 

You deserve happiness and joy and you are worthy! 

A Ray of Hope  

It was January of 2001 and I was thinking with great intensity on what my New Year‘s resolutions would be! As I sit here writing this it is now officially January 2021. Exactly twenty years ago I was doing the same thing I do every year and that is setting goals and looking ahead as that has always been very important to me. Sometimes I drive myself crazy making goals and dreaming up idea‘s on how to accomplish things. At that point in my life, January 2001, I really wanted to reach for the stars, I wanted to do everything! My heart was light and I had released so much sadness and pain. In this new year I made up my mind I would try to locate my real biological Father.  I’d never had a Father and I wanted to know this person who helped make me. I didn’t know if he would reject me but I was willing to take the chance in order to have a real Dad. Maybe he had changed his mind on not wanting to know me and just maybe he might be happy to embrace me I thought. I knew he lived in Illinois, my Mother always shared small things here and there about him. He left my Mother seven months pregnant at 17 years old, she was scared and in shock that he left us so abruptly. Mom loved him and she was proud to be married to him. He was 19 and serving in the Marine corp. Sadly, he determined that the whole thing was a mistake, Mom and me. He never looked back, didn’t want anything to do with Mom or I. Never took responsibility, never offered a dime to help us. I knew all of these things but still in my heart I knew I needed to find him and to know once and for all if he might admit his mistakes. I had prayed he did indeed want to know me and love me as his Daughter. Once again, having lived my life in the most positive way, I was applying that mind set to this challenging situation. I looked through the internet phone book for the state of Illinois searching for his name.  I worked hard on narrowing all the names down to the specific area where Mom said she thought he was still living. It is so funny to me now that I think of it, I was going through the list of phone numbers calling one by one and sounding like the little baby bird in P.D. Eastman‘s book “Are you my Mother“ but in this case “Are you my Father?“  On each call I would introduce myself and say I was looking for my Father and gave his name. On the fifth call I made a woman answered and I gave my rehearsed speech. To my shock and surprise she said “Shelley”?? I said yes it’s me. The woman immediately began hollering for my Dad "it’s Shelley!!!'  and within a minute my Father was saying hello to me. I choked up a bit and had to really control my emotions, It was a bit awkward but we managed to talk a bit. I told him I had been trying to find him. I learned that the woman who answered was his wife and I discovered that I had a half sister. After talking back and forth for a few minutes he asked if we could meet and I of course said yes. Once I hung up the phone I cried for a long time. I felt a sense of relief although I knew better then to get too excited, I tried not to have any expectations so I wouldn’t be disappointed. By July I had made flight arrangements for my youngest son and I and away we flew to Illinois to meet my Dad for the first time. I held so much hope in my heart that I would be loved by my Father, I longed for this meeting and imagined myself falling into his arms and crying uncontrollably with joy. I wanted to believe this union would produce an incredible testimony of a Father and Daughters love. I had thought maybe my Father leaving us was weighing heavy on his heart, maybe he wanted to fix this broken bridge between us. My heart and my mind were full of so many mixed emotions and thoughts. When the plane landed at Chicago O’Hare I was nervous and already starting to cry. I tried so hard to contain myself but I just couldn’t. My sweet son was so precious and concerned towards me. He was just ten years old but he was born an old soul and had always been incredibly and deeply sensitive to my feelings and that of others around him. He held my hand tightly, reassuring me. I thanked God for the love and understanding of my youngest son, for what was happening, and I had such high hopes he and my other beautiful children would gain a Grandpa that day. (To be continued)

Dreams that heal  

The year 2000 brought many wonderful blessings! I was seeing more and more light at the end of a very long, dark tunnel. I was feeling better, my back was healing and I was gaining strength on so many levels. I worked extremely hard to pay off all of my debt! I held my own private ceremony as I cut up my credit cards and vowed never to put myself through that again. In previous years my ex-husband had separated himself from any responsibility of mine or my children’s needs so it became second nature to use credit cards when my pay check couldn’t stretch enough to cover needs. Even if it was hard to survive from here on out I would not depend on credit cards to save me anymore. It was so deeply freeing and liberating. I surrendered myself to the journey ahead, i embraced the unknown with trust like a child. I was having vivid dreams, incredible dreams that came with messages of healing. Creator was speaking directly to me through my dreams. The still small voice of my Creator that spoke to my heart at the time in my life I needed to hear it the most was now speaking to me in another way, in the dream world. In one of these incredible sleep visions I found myself in the deepest and darkest part of the ocean. The waves were huge, over taking me, crashing over me without mercy. I could barely keep my head above the water or hold my breath long enough to brace myself for the next swell. I could not see anything, no lights from a distant shore, absolutely nothing but darkness and water. I called out for God and begged for help when suddenly a large, firm platform of some type came up underneath me. It stopped at the surface of the water as I rested upon it securely, safe from the massive, powerful waves. I looked around on all sides, trying to determine what I was sitting on. I thought the Almighty had sent Johah’s whale to save me. Yes, it just had to be a whale! The massive object started to move slow and steady through the water remaining at the surface as I rested upon it. I felt so safe as it moved along that I laid back and relaxed my weary body. I stopped worrying about what it was, whale or some kind of creature. Although I was curious it didn’t really seem to matter. I stared up at a beautiful starry night sky and I felt a peace I had never known. I could feel a cool breeze, I could hear the sound of the water. I didn’t know where I would end up but I felt it was a lesson in trusting that I would be delivered from this danger that could have easily taken my life. I’m not sure how much time had gone by but eventually I sat up and straight ahead of me and my mysterious traveling platform was a shore line lit up by bright lights. It was at that moment it was confirmed and I understood that I was being saved and carried to safety. I anxiously and eagerly anticipated my arrival to more shallow waters and sure enough at the shore, in about a four foot depth of this sea, I was released there. I waded effortlessly to reach the sand and as I went I turned around to look behind and try to see I if I could catch a glimpse of this unknown savior that had rescued me. What I saw brought me to my knee’s and as long as I live I will never forget what my eyes witnessed. I saw a hand larger then life, palm turned up. A gentle hand slowly retreating back into the dark waters of the ocean, slowly it disappeared as quietly as it came up beneath me. I knew at that moment the very hand of God had saved me. My Creator was showing me and confirming to me through this dream that He would not forsake me. He was reminding me that through every storm He had been there and would continue to be the strong hand that would hold and guide and save me. I felt this so deep in my heart, it was a silent sort of knowing that this was the message. I woke up at that point and I cried, I was so grateful. What a wonderful blessing to know that the Creator of the Universe took the time to show His love for me, that I was worthy of saving, that I was loved and my existence was important. It was life changing for me. I’ve had dreams all of my life as far back as I can remember. I was two years old when I started having flying dreams, I would rise up into the air and fly, I went places. At five years old I started having out of body dreams. Sometimes I would watch myself sleep and I would travel and come back to myself again. I’ve never tried to analyze this or think too hard on it, I have accepted it as a gift and try to learn from all the experiences. Going back to the year 2000 when I was given this dream of the Creators strong, saving hand I had many more dreams that followed and I accepted them all with gratitude. I knew it was leading me to a new and better life where I could finally be healed, I felt good things were coming. I had hope and prayed a soul mate would be revealed in the near future but for that I would have to be patient. After all I had been through waiting would be quite okay. (To be continued) 

Show me Love   

So many things happened between 1998 and 2000, too many to count. I worked hard to recover from my back injury, going to acupuncture twice a week and physical therapy. I needed to depend on disibility to survive, to feed my youngest son and pay my rent. I sold my prized Ovation guitar to pay bills, I cried over that one. I spent a lot of time at home learning how to use a computer. I didn't grow up with computers and if it wasn't for my kids I probably wouldn't have known where to find the power button.  I found that I really enjoyed it which actually led to my decision to study web design for my job reassignment. Those few years before I would meet Fabian were happy, sad, interesting, tragic, enlightening and educational on so many levels. I went through a huge range of emotional highs and lows. I was living in Southern California at the time where I was born and raised. I had so much to workout within my own heart, mind and soul but for the first time in my life I felt deeply that I could have a life filled with peace and not violence going forward. I sat by the ocean on many days, listening to music through my headphones, praying, talking to God and the Universe. Sometimes I could hear and feel Gods comforting, still small voice reminding me that all would be good soon. With tears streaming down my face it brought relief to hear that voice and with faith I received it and I believed it.  I needed to be healed not only from two broken marriages but also from a deeply painful and abusive childhood. For the first time in my adult life I was looking directly at the outcome of the damage, the choices I made and why. I grieved for not having a Father who cared about me and whom I had never met or known. I knew I needed to forgive my Mother for the abuse and neglect, for her drinking and bad choices of men. I was separated from my two older children most of the time due to my ex husband and his wife. They were so cruel to me and always made sure to punish me using my children. Most of all, and most importantly, they hurt and injured the hearts and spirits of my children. I can still see the damage on them from so many years ago and for that, even to this day, I struggle with forgiving them but I am still trying.  I find it easier to forgive those that have hurt me when I look at the bigger picture of where they've been in their own lives and what issues plague them which are causes for abusing others. I also carried anger towards myself for allowing myself to become a victim, for allowing my children to be victimised by selfish people. I didn't know how to stand up for them or myself back then, I was controlled by fear. After all, that was my expected normal.  So, those few years after my second divorce were painful but an extremely crucial time of self discovery and healing from my past. I still couldn't play my guitar, I felt my voice was silenced and I couldn't bring myself to sing. There was plenty of inspiration for songs, songs about heartbreak and love gone wrong and songs about no good ex's but nothing came. I was okay with it because I thought maybe this is what needed to happen for the time being. When my Mother went through Alcoholics Anonymous In the 1980's I went with her on many occasions to support her through her recovery. In those meeting's the Serenity Prayer was recited at the end of each session. That prayer stuck with me through the years and this was the time in my life I needed it more then ever. I found myself saying that prayer almost everyday. It meant so much to me to finally realize what the words of this prayer truly meant. There were things, situations, etc that I had no control over but there were those things I could change and situations where I did have power. This prayer provided a bridge, a way for me to begin my journey to wholeness and to enlightenment. I needed to embrace all that I could change and make right and accept all that I could not and be grateful. I wanted to forgive myself, I needed to forgive myself. All that had happened in the past I couldn't change and I couldn't go back. Moving forward I learned I had choices and I could shape and guide my destiny through good decisions, faith and positive thinking. It was during this time of realization that through self love and forgiving of self that shame began to leave my body. In 2009 I was writing music for an album of mine called Full Circle. I thought back to this time, of how I felt with so many deep emotions, how lost I felt and how I was searching for answers and healing. I was at the ocean shore again during a visit with my Mother when I wrote a song for that album called Show Me Love as I relived that time. I have learned and believe that we can use the pain of our past and the lessons learned from it to help others, to give support and encouragement to those who may be going through or have experienced similar things. I am not afraid of truth rather I am empowered by it. It is with great joy now, in this present time, that I offer myself to you as a Sister, a Mother, a GrandMother and friend to aid in what ever way I can in your journey to wellness. You are welcome to listen and download the song Show Me Love below <3 (to be continued) 

The Joy and Pain of Transformation ...  

That year of 1998! That was one of the best years of my life besides the birth of my babies. I don’t think anything in this world could hold more gratitude in my heart other then my children but yeah 1998 was transforming. I was stretched and tested in every way imaginable. 

I was finally living in my own small, humble little home with my eleven year old, youngest son. My two older children were living with their dad and getting ready for college. I could breathe again, joy and strength were slowly returning. I was a manager at Ralphs grocery store, a great union job. I also worked part time at a nearby salon as I was blessed to have my cosmetology license. I was making ends meet and I was independent for the first time in 18 years! I‘d forgotten what it felt like to be single, on my own. On the flip side of joy and relief I was deeply sad at times. I felt like a failure, I worked so hard at my jobs and there was this underlying faith and hope that I held onto that all would be okay eventually. I was tortured by my ex‘s and debt collectors. I worried for my children, I cried a lot that year, I cried myself to sleep on many nights that year. 

I left my church that I‘d been so involved in. I was part of the worship team, I wrote music, attended bible studies and children’s youth group. Once I filed for divorce against my violent, drug addict, alcoholic husband the church leaders frowned on me. They basically threw me under the bus. They removed me from any leadership position. They were ashamed of me for filing for divorce. I was supposed to pray for the abusive husband they said. I could have remained at that church to further be victimized but I knew this was my moment, my chance to claim victory. I would no longer accept being a victim to anyone or anything. So I left the church and I vowed never to look back. The God that I serve spoke to my heart and said *Shelley, that is not Me“ I said *Okay Lord, show me who you really are, I am listening“ and He did. I may have left what I felt was a cult but I wasn‘t about to turn my back on God almighty! 

I began to fast and pray off and on, and so It was decided in the heavens I would suffer a terrible back injury at work that same year. The Universe was beginning to direct my path according to all my prayers and tears offered up. At that point I found myself single, one young son still at home, in the blink of an eye without a job and in excruciating pain on a daily basis. I was in physical therapy weekly leading up to 2001 for my back. In between all that was happening I worked so hard with much love to care for and to do all the things I needed to do for my sweet son. I was learning how to accept things I couldn’t change, I was relaxing in the absolute peace I found in my home and in my soul. No more violence, no more unpredictable crazy behavior from my abuser. Soon I would be ready for retraining for another job. I would eventually opt to take computer training courses and Iearn website design. I put my guitar and singing away. I couldn’t bring myself to play or sing. For me that was disturbing since my whole life had been centered around music. But I couldn’t do what I could not feel. My life was changing rapidly and through all the challenges I was growing and learning new things. I looked deeply into the face of why I married the men I chose. I started to come to terms with the choices I made and why, based on what I thought was normal.  I bared my soul before God and asked for forgiveness for my part in all of it and for healing for my broken heart and soul. In my prayers I told my Creator that I had hoped for a soul mate but I did not know how to choose anyone healthy. My picker was broken. I said *Lord, if there‘s anyone out there for me you will need to choose them and show me“ and so, in good time He did .... (to be continued) ❤️🙏🏽

The Beginning of Awareness  

The year was 1997,  during that summer and five years before I would meet Fabian, that my personal evolution of change and the awakening in my heart and mind would finally take hold. Up to that point l had spent so many years trying to evolve, trying to find myself. I searched to discover ways to heal my broken and damaged heart through church, through prayer, meditation, music, counseling and people who I thought were friends. I was so young, in my twenty’s, still repeating all the crazy dysfunctional behaviors I learned when I was growing up. I was having children from the age of 21-28 years old and giving it my all to provide them with the love and security I never had. I grew up in Hawthorne, Ca. The oldest of 5 children. All of us kids having different Fathers. My Mother did the very best she could to make sure we were fed and clothed. We didn’t have much but Mom worked two and three jobs to ensure we were taken care of. In her way she loved us all and she made many sacrifices to show that love to us. Mom also drank, she was a functional alcoholic for awhile before finally getting deeply involved in AA and did recover fully. Mom worked for an Aerospace Company as an executive secretary and she was good! She was very intelligent. She also worked at the corner bar as a side job to make ends meet, as I reference in the song “Full Circle” that I wrote for my Cd called Full Circle. Sadly, I was a victim of child abuse and violence from my early childhood due to the questionable men Mom brought home and several did marry. Abuse had become a pattern of acceptance and what I knew as normal and continued on as I grew up into adulthood and on into two very sad and failed marriages. Two marriages where domestic violence and emotional abuse were part of my daily life. Deep down in my soul I knew this was not normal, it just couldn’t be. I believed that somehow I could break this generational trauma, I needed to make the right choices and I felt strongly that someday I would rise up like a roaring lion and step into the life that was actually meant for me to live. A life where I laughed more, where i wasn’t afraid anymore, a life where my children would be safe and happy and that they would forgive me for the mistakes I made and that I could forgive myself. It was during that summer of 1997 at the age of 37 years old that I finally gathered up enough courage to stand and fight for myself and my children; I got off the crazy ride and got down on my knees the for the next four years and I prayed with all my might for a way out and for deliverance, for my poor children and myself to be delivered from the past. I needed a chance to start over again and this time do things the right way. I knew I had failed miserably at trying to be normal and I was tired. If I was ever going to be in another relationship again I knew I would not be capable of choosing an emotionally healthy and loving man. I believed that my Creator would have to choose for me so I left that up to Him with deep faith, fasting and prayers. God spoke to my heart and as I took those first steps towards filing a restraining order against my abuser Creator showed me the way and I knew i would need to be brave and to have courage for what was ahead. It became like the parting of the Red Sea as I made my escape in order to enter the promised land. This is a short summary of things that took place so many years ago. Some things are extremely difficult for me to write about because they haunt me to this day. Once we’ve addressed trauma and are able to move forward it’s best not to relive it or give power to it. I’m strong now and I see what is good to share so I can help others who might be struggling or suffering with some of these same issues I experienced. I understand now Gods incredible timing and how my Creator was paving the way to heal a life of pain and to usher in what would turn out to be the most beautiful, magical and blessed future for my life. My soul mate, my twin flame, Fabian Fontenelle, my night in shining armor would soon arrive. And so he did on September 15, 2001! To be continued in my next blog  ... ❤️🙏🏽 = (Love & Gratitude)

Connecting hearts ....  

 I said I would share our story, going back to the beginning of when Fabian and I met. That’s when both of our lives changed forever in the most beautiful way. And so I will, blog by blog, tell my story, our story.  I prayed for my soul mate so many years ago and Creator heard me. It didn’t come without a price or without pain. Any blessing I’ve ever received in my life has not come without challenges, lessons and enlightenment. The light does not exist without the darkness.  

How often do we spend time with people, friends, family and yet do not know their story of all the experiences, joys, and heartaches they’ve suffered? We barely touch the surface if at all sometimes. Then one day we share some life event and the other person says “ hey I went through that too”. Or “omg I never knew”.  Then, ultimately, hearts and souls connect.  

I want to share our journey with you all, thus far, so you know who we truly are, where we’ve been and how each one of us are all connected by very similar experiences.   

In my next blog I’ll begin with the year 1997;  five years before I met my sweetheart Fabian ❤️ 🙏🏽 = (Love & Gratitude) 

Welcome!  

Hello family! I received an absolutely eye opening and inspirational newsletter this morning from a dear friend. It made me think and brought me to a new and important focus in my own life. I’ve been too preoccupied with things that deplete my heart & soul. Easy to do at times. I’ve needed to remember the importance of putting my energy and time into those things that not only bring growth and joy to myself but that also inspire those around me. The newsletter took me all the way back to almost 20 years ago, when Fabian and I decided to take a step of faith and make music and dancing as our means to survival. So many years ago we both quit our jobs and embarked on this journey together! In my next Blog post I will take you to that place in our lives as I recount those moments that ultimately led to where we are today. It will be an ongoing blog basically of sharing our lives and our journey with you all. All the joy and the pain. Stay tuned, ❤️ 🙏🏽 = (Love & Gratitude)