Time For Change.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – MLK Jr.

 

My heart is so incredibly heavy, and my anxiety is at an all time high. Everything is changing, evolving and manifesting at such a rapid rate that it’s hard for me to keep up and thoroughly process it all.

I’m so proud to be a part of the revolution that’s occurring, one that is far overdue. I’m so proud of my friends of all colors for standing up and saying “enough is enough.” I support, love and cherish each of you wholeheartedly.

I vow to help this fight in any and every way possible, but I’m not going to lie, this is all really overwhelming. Most of the time I can’t even process my own thoughts and feelings, much less those of the whole nation.

I first want to say “I’m sorry” to every POC … every race, gender and ethnicity. I’ve always prided myself on being someone who loves everyone, someone who doesn’t see others by the color of their skin but instead by the beauty of their soul. I look to the inside to get to know someone before coming to any conclusions.

Now, I’m not saying I’m perfect by any means ( I know I’m far from it), but I’ve tried really hard my entire life to be a genuinely good person. Yet despite all of my good intentions, I’ve failed to act upon my anger and outrage of racism, injustice and the needless loss of human life.

To be honest, I think my reservations have been due to the fact that I didn’t think anyone would care what I had to say on the matter. I tried to walk the fine line of not acting like I knew it all while also not condoning these outrageous murders.

Let’s face it, I’m a very white girl.

I grew up in a tiny Texas town where there were literally no Black people, no Hispanic people, no Asian people … just Caucasians. I was never taught racism or given preconceived notions about people of others races, and for that I’m truly grateful to my family.

I was always taught to love everyone regardless of race, religion or politics. However, I think my upbringing also somewhat hindered my understanding of how truly oppressed POC were and still are to this day.

This is no excuse, just fact.

I’m sorry for not truly understanding your struggles, your pain, the fear you face every time you leave your home. I’m sorry that I haven’t used my voice, the privilege I’ve been given just because of the color of my skin, to speak up and fight for you … to fight with you.

I’m sorry that my limited understanding of your hardships may have seemed like ignorance or indifference. I am not indifferent, I am not okay with what is happening and I am using my voice, my platform, to say to you “I HEAR YOU, I LOVE YOU, I WILL FIGHT WITH AND FOR YOU.” 

I truly believe that every human being struggles with something. My struggle isn’t one that can be physically seen but instead is a constant war raging in my mind. Others struggle with addiction, body image, self-love, family issues, and the list goes on and on.

However, I see your pain. I hear your voices. I stand with you. I stand beside you. I am here to love, to support and to fight.

My anxiety has caused me to struggle with this whole situation. It tells me I need to have all the answers before I speak up, before I raise my voice, but I will no longer let the unknown hold me back from screaming my outrage on these matters any longer.

I will not let fear of others’ opinions stop me from expressing myself, from using my rights as an American to fight for justice. I will not allow public judgement to keep me from standing up for my friends and all those that I love.

Listen to me when I say, “YOU ARE IMPORTANT. YOU ARE LOVED. YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. YOU ARE WORTHY. YOU ARE HEARD.”

To all of my friends and family in law enforcement, this is not a bashing of you as an individual. I love you, I respect you, I pray for your safety and I’m thankful for the sacrifices you make each and every day. I don’t believe you are all the same, I know your hearts. I do believe that you are sincere in your efforts to help others.

Unfortunately, this is a pattern that’s repeated far too often. We all, not just law enforcement, have to do better. We have to unite and stand together against hate. Every human being, regardless of race or career, has the choice to do good or bad. It’s not about profiling a specific group but instead bringing awareness to all of the injustices that occur every day.

To all of my white friends and family, understand this … silence is now just as condemning as the violence and oppression itself. If we truly love all of God’s children, then we need to use our voice and our privilege we were given the day we were born white.

No, not every white person is racist, not every black person is a thug, not every hispanic person is illegal … we are all beautiful and created equally in the eyes of God. However, our society, our history, has made it so that a white skin tone gets you a louder voice. It gives you the benefit of the doubt. It offers you a safety that POC are not always given.

I pray that we all listen to our POC friends, that we hear what they are saying and instead of being offended, we try to understand their pain. POC are not saying that because you’re white you’re a racist. They’re saying it’s time to start standing up for the oppressed, to start fighting a system that’s been corrupt for far too long.

They’re asking us to speak up, to use our voices for positive change.

I don’t know about you, but one of my lifelong goals has always been to leave a positive impact on the world, to leave this world better than how I found it. This is our chance. This is our moment.

Are we going to stand up for what is right? Are we going to help our brothers and sisters who are asking for and more than willing to accept our support? Or are we simply going to turn off the news, stay off social media and act like the problem doesn’t exist?

To all of my readers, followers, friends and Anxious Minds … please tell me how I can help. Let me know how I can assist in cultivating the change our nation so desperately needs. Educate me, explain to me, show me. As much as I love y’all, I feel as though I still have so much to learn.

I truly pray that we each take some time to research, reflect and process what is happening right now in our world. This is a pivotal moment in our history. This is a change that is long overdue.

This revolution will make history as the time when we unified as a nation and said “no more.” I’m tired of the hate, injustice, inequality, racism, bashing, negativity and senselessly spilled blood.

It’s time we stop talking about it and start taking action. I am with you. I hear you. I will fight with you.

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantell 💋

Your Death Gave Me Life.

“There are moments which mark your life. Moments when you realize nothing will ever be the same and time is divided into two parts, before this, and after this…” – Unknown

 

It amazes me that 12 years have passed since that tragic day. I still remember every single detail in my mind. I remember spending that hot Summer day with my (then) boyfriend, simply enjoying the beautiful weather.

I remember my Mother answering the phone and the look of sheer terror in her eyes as she approached me. I remember feeling like something was horribly wrong but not being able to figure out what it was.

I remember hearing those words, “Jacob has passed away in an accident” and immediately falling to the floor. I remember feeling completely numb and overcome with grief. How was a 14 year old teenager suppose to understand the magnitude of what had happened?

I kept telling myself “get it together,” but all I could manage to do was crawl to the bathroom on my hands and knees. I couldn’t hear, couldn’t see, couldn’t function. I was in such shock at what I’d been told. We were kids. We were suppose to live forever not die a few weeks before our Freshman year of High School.

I remember laying on the bathroom floor for what seemed like eternity. My family continuously tried to comfort me, but nothing could take away the immense pain I felt. My best friend was gone, and I didn’t even get to say goodbye.

I remember picking up the phone and calling all of my friends. Each phone call ended the same, in heartache and grief. None of us could understand why God chose you, why you had to be the one to leave us.

I remember bits and pieces of the following days. Our school was encouraging everyone to see the counselors they provided to help us “process our grief,” but I refused. Instead, I decided to work through things on my own, a process that I’m still working on to this day.

I remember going to the funeral home to visit you one last time. Walking through that door is an image forever burned in my mind. I remember seeing your hat, the one you always wore, sticking up a little bit as I walked down the isle to you. It was a strange relief to know you’d be buried wearing something you loved so much.

I remember seeing your face, so peaceful, as if you were merely sleeping. I kept praying I’d wake up from this terrible nightmare, but I never did. I took a moment and placed your “friends” necklace in your hand. To this day I still have the matching “best” necklace that I wear to remember you.

I remember writing a poem for your funeral, determined to write the best poem ever. I remember walking in to the auditorium, my final chance to say goodbye to you. There were so many people there because you were so incredibly loved.

Each of us took an orange rose (our school color), and one by one we placed the roses in your casket. I stayed strong the entire time until I got up to read your poem. Suddenly, the fact that I’d never see you again hit me like a ton of bricks. Somehow I managed to get through it.

We placed you gently in the ground at your burial and took a moment to grieve together. I never knew that walking away from that cemetery would change everything. I never knew that your death would ultimately give me life.

I’m sure many of you are confused by that statement, but hear me out. Losing Jacob truly showed me how precious life is. It taught me that our teenage thoughts were completely wrong, we weren’t invincible after all.

Experiencing the death of a best friend at such a vulnerable, tender age made me appreciate the small things. I took my time and friendship with you for granted in so many ways. To this day, I try my hardest to be a good friend and value those around me.

Your death encouraged me to fiercely pursue music. The last time we were together you were teaching me the guitar so I vowed to continue on that path. I went on to write many songs about you and how you changed my life.

Your death increased my desire to take care of others and lead me to care for the sick and dying as a nurse. It gave me the courage to hold the hand of someone passing into the afterlife. It gave me the strength to support their family in such a trying time because I knew what it felt like to lose a loved one.

Your death put my faith to the test, but it ultimately strengthened my relationship with God. In the months following, I was so angry that He took you from me too soon. Yet, over the years I began to realize that we each have a purpose, and I guess you had already completed yours in a short time.

Your death made me create closer bonds to the people in my life. I learned that no one lives forever and tomorrow may never come. I learned to love hard in all relationships. I learned to move forward in life with an open heart and to accept people for who they are.

I learned that although being a good person doesn’t make you invincible, it does make you memorable. Not only were you incredibly good at everything you did, but you always had a smile on your face…a smile that was contagious and unforgettable.

Your death taught me to be the light that this world so desperately needs. It taught me to count my blessings instead of my shortcomings. It taught me to give back to others and expect nothing in return. It encouraged me to carry on your legacy of making the world a better place.

So while you were taken from this world 12 years ago, your legacy remains alive and well. On this day each year, I hear stories and see posts about you. Even after all this time we still miss you, we still think about you, and we still remember the beautiful person you were.

While this day never gets easier, it does continue to enlighten me. Each year I’m amazed at the discovery of another emotion, another layer of my feelings towards your death. I’m amazed by the fact that time continues to pass so quickly. I guess the process of healing is truly never ending.

I’ll never fully understand why you had to leave us, and although I can’t comprehend your passing, I’ll forever cherish your life. I’ll cherish all of the many wonderful memories we made and the best friend I was fortunate to have, if only for 14 years.

I know there will still be days ahead full of sadness, tears and pain because true heartache never fully goes away. However, I want to say “thank you” for inspiring me to be the person I am today. Your death gave me life. Keep watching over me my guardian angel…until we meet again.

 

XOXO,
Myka Shantell 💋

 

 

*RIP – Jacob Aaron Skinner
(September 21, 1990 – July 25, 2005)

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The Day I Lost my Best Friend.

“We talk about them, because we’re proud. We talk about them, because they deserve to be remembered. We talk about them, because even though they are not physically with us, they are never far from our mind. We talk about them, because they are part of us, a part that we could never ignore or disown. We talk about them, because we love them still and always will. Forever. Nothing will change that.”- Scribbles & Crumbs

 

Eleven years ago today was the worst day of my life. July 25, 2005 my entire world changed. I endured something that no one, especially not a 14 year old, should ever have to go through. This was the terrible day my best friend passed away.

Jacob and I had known each other our entire lives. In Petrolia, TX (my small hometown) everyone knows everyone. You start Kindergarten with the same people that you graduate High School with, and you end up forming bonds that last a lifetime.

Jacob was always a stand out. If he wasn’t leading his various sports teams or playing music in the band, you could be sure to find him hanging out with his friends. He was such a shining star, always bringing happiness to everyone around him.

I have so many memories with him that I hold dear. I remember sharing headphones on bus rides to athletic games and him being my first “official” boyfriend in 3rd grade. I remember him asking me to homecoming and being terrified of my dad when he came by to give me my homecoming mum.

Honestly, you couldn’t help but love Jacob. He was good at every single thing he attempted from athletics to music and everything in between. Sure he could be a hellion from time to time, but he’d flash that sweet smile and your anger would melt away.

I regret not knowing how special our friendship was back then. I definitely took my time with him for granted. You never expect to lose a friend so suddenly at such a young age, but I wish I’d hugged him a little tighter and told him “I love you” a little more often.

My absolute favorite memory of Jacob was the last day we spent together. He’d come to my house with his guitar, and he was teaching me how to play. After a while we took a break, and he started to play and sing Broken Road by Rascall Flatts.

I looked over in amazement because Jacob NEVER sang in front of people. I hopped on my piano and started to play along with him. My mom was secretly watching out of the kitchen, surprised to hear him singing aloud.

We played music for a bit and then had one of our random talks about life before he left my house. Little did I know that was the last time I’d ever see my dear friend. The next day I got a phone call from him, and I honestly can’t remember what we talked about. Just knowing we spoke brings me comfort.

To this day I can’t hear Broken Road without thinking of him and bursting into tears. That single moment in time is one of my most cherished memories.

This day 11 years ago, I was sitting at home with my boyfriend (at the time). I remember the phone ringing and my mom seeming panicked. I couldn’t figure out what was going on, but I had a bad feeling in my gut.

She got off the phone and told me that a kid had been injured in Charlie, TX (a small town next to mine). She wasn’t sure about the details, but she said we’d know more in a moment. The phone rang again, and my stomach dropped when she told me it was Jacob.

I fell to the floor completely unable to move as tears started flowing from my eyes . I honestly couldn’t comprehend what had just happened. I eventually managed to crawl to the bathroom because I felt so sick to my stomach.

My mom and boyfriend were trying to console me. They frantically tried to figure out what they could do to help, but nothing could make me feel better. One of my best friends was gone.

The next few days were a total blur. I remember getting phone calls from friends asking if it was true. I could hardly utter the word “yes” to them. I was completely numb and pissed at God. How could He let this happen?

Jacob was such a wonderful person with a beautiful soul, and I couldn’t understand why God chose to take him from us. People told me time would help me heal, but honestly it still hurts just as much 11 years later.

Nothing can prepare you for a moment like this, and no one can say anything to make you feel better. The pain and devastation are so powerful that you really don’t know if you’ll survive.

Unfortunately, this moment in my life caused me to have issues with getting close to others…issues that I still struggle with.

As time has passed, I realize just how blessed I am to have had a friend like Jacob. He taught me so many things that I never really understood until my adult years. His passing was so tragic, but it taught me to cherish the people in my life.

As teenagers we felt invincible. We thought nothing could happen to us and that we were guaranteed this long life. I learned really quick just how wrong we were. No one is guaranteed tomorrow, the next hour, the next minute.

I found peace with Jacob’s passing as I began to realize how many people he touched. Every year on July 25th I’m able to read everyone’s memories of him. It fills my heart with joy to know he was so loved, and that he is still remembered after all this time.

My point in writing this is to write a tribute to my dear friend, and to remind everyone that nothing in life is promised. Take the time to hug your friends, say “I love you,” and thank God for everything you have.

I know I’m not the only one that has experienced loss, but I can say that no experience is the same. Everyone handles grief differently, and it’s taken me 11 years to somewhat accept what happened that day.

Every day I’m reminded of him in some way. Sometimes it’s a song that he used to listen to, somedays it’s a memory that pops in my mind, and somedays it’s simply looking through old pictures.

Jacob was one of my best friends. He meant more to me than I even realized, and I can’t wait for the day that I get to see him again. I have no doubt that he continues to watch over me and visit me in my dreams.

I know he is happy in Heaven, smiling down on all of us who miss him. While I continue to struggle with the fact that he’s not physically here, I find peace knowing he’s never left my side.

If you have important people in your life don’t take one moment for granted. Don’t be afraid to tell them how you feel because you might not get the chance. Nothing is worse than regret.

I’m so excited for my welcome home party Jacob will have for me one day in Heaven. I know he’ll be shining that irresistible smile and embrace me with open arms. Until that day, I’ll continue to live my life to the fullest for him.

Jacob, I love you my dear friend…always and forever. You’re forever in my heart, always on my mind. And as we all said when we lost him, “Live, Laugh, Love because tomorrow my never come…”

 

XOXO,
Myka Shantell 💋

 

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