Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Daddy's girl

Each year I think that it would get easier but it hasn't been the case. How do you fill a father's role in 24 long years? I've had strong role models but it hasn't made missing him any easier. Today marks 24 years since his passing. Yes, it's been 24 long years since I kissed him gently on his forehead after his physicians pulled the plug. I remember that day so vividly at 7 years of age as if nothing else mattered. Not my collection of stickers or  miniature tea set and kitchen gadgets. Nor did my homework or the orphans that we were supposed to visit that Saturday with the Mother Theresa nuns walking about. NONE of that. Just being in that moment at that instant. The walls were closing in on me and I had suddenly forgotten to breathe. In, OUT...IN, OUT. OUT...IN..wait. What??? How do I do this again? I went back to that same fear I had when I got lost following someone whom I thought was my papa when we moved from our house to an apartment and I ended up following a TOTAL stranger. F*@K!!! I was scared. I overheard my half-siblings talking to my mom and the doctors but before I could make out their plan, we were quickly sent down to the cafeteria and grab some ice cream. 

My mother begged his doctors for my brothers and I to be nearby as soon as the decision was made to take him off life support.  It was a military-based hospital and minors weren't allowed in ICU. Well, that and my parents were never married so we weren't considered his children. In a country where Catholicism is the predominant religion practiced, bastard children were very much frowned upon. It actually states on my birth certificate that I am an 'Illegitimate' child. For real. I will have to retrieve it from my safe deposit box and photograph it to show you but it has no relevance now. I am my father's child whether a religious group deems it or not.  I had a little over 7 years of my life to share with him but a lifetime of getting to know the siblings that I share through his legacy.

To this day, I often wonder how much NOT having him in my life has affected my life. Some things I can definitely make the connection with his loss, others I try and take responsibility for and the rest of the time the lines get blurred and I end up praying to God that "this too, shall pass." I miss my papa dearly and no matter how many years go by without him, I know that he'll always be in my heart. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Jayna Murray: May You Rest In Peace Part 3

As I read the headline, "Life-Sentence Without Parole," I am comforted to know that Jayna can finally rest in peace. The last 10 months have been full of amazing things, except for the news that a dear friend had been violently taken away. From the first few news breaks about suspected killers to evidence pointing to the culprit being her co-worker, I was astonished about how Jayna's life was taken away. Instead of focusing on the negative, I immediately contacted fellow SASers who knew Jayna and emailed the headquarters of Lululemon.

In my 31 years, I had not expected to get so involved in a friend's death but felt the need to do something MORE than just cry and read details of how it all went down. I was highly motivated by anger and faith that there had to be a reason that all this was happening. Was it so that I can reconnect with my fellow classmates where I met Jayna (Semester at Sea)? (grateful for getting back in touch with a handful of friends) Or, maybe see how I can utilize my resources to commemorate her beautiful life? (held a candle vigil in her honor, help with the foundation, run a 5K) Maybe it's so I can revisit my love of writing and contribute to the world in that way? (picking up writing again) Maybe connect deeper with God? (my faith has grown even more) SO many things ran through my brain in the following week after my friend Leah broke the news.  A lot of AMAZING things have happened since March 11th, 2011. My love for travel, which I shared with Jayna, suddenly flared and my desire to leave the US became an obsession. I had no idea that I would meet someone that would challenge that obsession but I am grateful that he collided with my first one. I have picked up writing again, something that I had put on the shelf for a year; These are just a few of what has transpired over the course of 10 months.

The impact of Jayna's death made me anxious about growing up and achieving my dreams. Her St. Vincent Millay quote in my book still reverberates in my head. "The world stands out on either side no wider than the heart is wide; above the world is stretched the sky-no higher than the soul is high. The heart can push the SEA and LAND farther away on either hand; The soul can split the sky in two, and let the face of God shine through." -Edna St. Vincent Millay

I am not sure what the next day, month, or even year will hold but I owe a lot of my motivation to Jayna. Of all the things that have come out of this experience, I am proud to sit on the board of the Jayna Troxel Foundation and will spend the rest of my life with the motto," What Would Jayna Do?" She brought her exuberance into numerous lives in her studies, work and travels and I am proud to call her my friend. May you rest in peace my dear friend. <3

For the Washington Post article on the sentencing of Brittany Norwood, click below.

Life -Sentence Without Parole

Thursday, December 8, 2011

City of Angels here I come

My upcoming visit to the city of Angels was prompted by a phone call I received by a family member I barely even know. She sat in the hospital with my mom as she left a very startling voicemail. Her quivering voice had the sense of urgency as if the inevitable was about to go down. I felt helpless.  This was about a week ago... My boss was leaving for Paris the next day so I couldn't just up and leave. A slight panic attack suddenly sat heavily upon my chest as I talked to my drug-induced mother about her sky-rocketing blood pressure and dimming energy. My negative thoughts started to flood my brain and I couldn't stop. I was at the lobby of one of my pastor's, excited for the ugly sweater holiday party when all this was happening. I took a moment after I hung up the phone and pulled myself together.
I asked the doorman which way to go and he directed me pass the marbled floors up the elevator to the 14th floor, ugly sweater and elephant gift in hand. 
I said a little prayer to ask God what I should do with the information I just received and booked a flight to see the momma. Fast forward to today when I got a more cheerful voicemail from the momma, "Don't worry anak, I am feeling much better but I look forward to seeing you on the 15th." 
A great big sigh of relief. I can only hope that the city of angels looks out for my mom in my absence.

A psalm of David.
 1 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
 3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
   for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
   through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
   for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
   they comfort me.

Friday, September 9, 2011

9 days away until Jayna's 5K

Please consider chipping in a couple of bucks if you would like to Support the Jayna Murray Foundation that will provide scholarships for students studying the arts. Thanks so much!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A decade of Awesomeness has passed

and I am really at awe at what has transpired after embarking on the SS Universe Explorer in Vancouver, Canada. 

I am SO happy to have chosen a study abroad program that took me to 10 countries in 100 days.  Within the hundred days, I managed to maneuver around the world with just $800 in my pocket and experienced a lifetime of things that only 600 other people will understand. Not only was the timing unusual (we arrived in Kobe, Japan just days after 9/11) but the setting and classes were quite unconventional. Whether you were in Voice and Speech, Film Analysis, World Economics or Astrology class, there was always someone to relate to on a whole other level. Being nomadic and adjusting to your surroundings on a weekly basis was unsettling at first but we were all briefed upon arrival to our designated ports of call and after Japan, we became pros. 
There are too many things to recall, these are just some of them~
*Canada-Meeting my roomies for the first time and realizing later that the boy scout shirt I wore had the same den number as our cabin-Upper Deck 464
*Japan-Going to a sushi place with Davenport, Kao, and Kalina and Davenport asking a group of Japanese ladies (in Spanish) to take our picture. 
*Hong Kong-going to Aberdeen with Annie, Sharon and Wayne and negotiating with a lady to take a tour around the area and adventures in Lantau Island
*Vietnam-Exploring the Cu-chi tunnels with Colin and Jeff and eating pho in the same restaurant that Bill Clinton frequented. Being shown around by the former Miss Vietnam.
*India-Going to the beaches in Chennai and seeing a Sari commercial videotaped while Raj (my rickshaw driver) does his bobble head move at everything I ask him. He wrote me a few years ago and thanked me for the watch that I gave him to keep track of time to meet his customers.
*The Seychelles-Getting proposed to by one of the guards that watched over our ship after telling me about his houseboat, motorcycle and cooking skills. He pulled the ring out of his sock. Totes Ridics!
*South Africa-Visiting Stellenbosch and Neethlingshof wineries on horseback with Chris, Wayne, Blakeley and Shane and smuggling a small bottle of Rosenlese onto the ship.
*Brazil-between South Africa and Brazil, I turned 21 and Jared and Deep throw me in the ship's pool and almost drowning. Learning Capoeira from a 9 year old boy.
*Cuba-Sitting in a room with a translator in my ear listing to Fidel Castro talk about terrorism, CFC's in the air and the mercury in the fish that the pregnant people were eating and his favorite baseball team.

HAPPY "ITS BEEN A DECADE SINCE WE WERE ALL STUCK ON THE VOYAGE TO WHO KNOWS WHERE" Anniversary. My fondest memories were on that boa...I mean, ship with all of you SASers!!! Much ♥ to y'all!

Friday, June 24, 2011

PLAN A ready to go

LAST August, I traveled to Uganda with Forefront Church as a missions trip to teach former child soldiers, AIDS orphans, and former child laborers. The video above was taken in the L.E.A.D. Uganda house in Kampala with some of the mothers to the students I had the pleasure of meeting and teaching. To this day, it had such an impact in my life and I am going back on July 5th-Aug 9th with a NY-based sustainable fashion company called MUSHANA.

My main purpose this time to work on Product Development for the August market of the NY International Gift show but like the mission trip, I will not set up any expectations and just let things organically flow (rough skeletal organizational plan in place) and relish in the experience. Don't get me wrong, this is a JOB so I will be responsible for reporting on a day to day basis to the fabulous founder of Mushana and like the moniker suggests, "Working Under One Sun", will be my morning mantra. The dude upstairs has blessed me with so many options for the next phase in my life and I am grateful for this opportunity to be here, right now.

Plan B looked enticing but I'm glad I will be living out Plan A and keep trusting the path that was designed just for me.