Rising from the Ashes
A little over 2 months ago, on April 20th at 5:45am I woke up to the smell of smoke to find my apartment on fire. It started in the kitchen due to plastic being really close to our heating pipe. The heat melted through the plastic and inside the plastic was toilet paper. Once the paper set on fire the rest of the kitchen followed. My pops woke up first, yelling "Fire, FIRE. Donyelle! Arielle! Wake up! It’s a fire!" My brother and I got up, ran out the room but we couldn’t see anything. There was smoke everywhere! I ran back into my room to grab my phone to turn on the flashlight. The smoke was so thick I still could not see anything! I heard glass breaking in the kitchen but I only had on a nightgown so I had to make a split decision: Put on some boots and panties on.. or just run. I already had my phone in my hand so I ran!!! Ran right through the fire. My brother followed shortly after. I called 911 and the fire department took a while to come. The news was there before the fire department, but that’s neither here nor there. We all woke up and ran out in the nick of time and for that I cannot be more grateful. The most we lost was our breath for a few moments but afterwards we had each other and that was more than enough.
Let me run it back two weeks ago, I just got back from a 2 week birthday trip from Cartagena, Colombia with 4 of my friends. To my return to the States, my boyfriend threw me a surprise photoshoot birthday party! He is an Events Producer so it only made sense for him to deck my party outtttt. He did so good! He brought out my family and my friends from all walks of life. I literally had the time of my life. I felt so loved, so supported, and so thankful for it all. Exactly two weeks later the fire happened.
This fire took my life by storm. Literally. Afterwards, I felt so emotional, so vulnerable, so embarrassed. I was sad, then hurt, then angry, then numb then back to angry. A complete emotional wreck. I didn’t want to talk, I didn’t want to blog, I didn’t want to see anyone. I couldn’t even tweet. I felt so embarrassed I really didn’t even know what to say. As I scrolled through my timeline, I noticed that people were still tweeting, still living their lives, still smiling, still continuing on meanwhile it felt like my entire world stopped. My best friend, Melly, and my boyfriend helped me the day of the fire to save what ever was salvageable. They felt my pain to the core. They risked their health to dig in the ashes to help me and I’m beyond thankful to have them in my life. Beyonnnnd grateful. I love them soooo much. Oh, and my snake survived! Kilo is a true warrior.
This is hands down one of the worst experiences anybody can ever go through. I’ve lived in that apartment for 27 years. It was my home. I could not stop reflecting on the situation, playing it back over and over trying to find the lesson in it all. Trying to see where did I go wrong, where did we go wrong, and why did it have to happen to us? My family and I are good people. We don’t bother anybody. We give a lot. Why us? At first, I felt like damnnn I did not deserve no fire. My family did not deserve a fire. But that was my anger and ego talking. There was so much confusion and resentment living in my chest.
My life was in ashes. So I thought it was. I can totally be wrong but this is my perception of it all. I believe that the Universe was banging on my door, screaming, yelling, telling me to focus on what’s truly important. I tie so much value to materialistic things. I was so embarrassed to be exposed and to be seen as vulnerable for having nothing. I felt insecure about it. I felt lost. Why did I attach so much value to shit that can be replaced? Why did I add a sense of worthiness to objects that can be lost, or broken, or better yet… burn? What the lesson in all this? Did I complain a lot in life? Was I not grateful enough? I needed time and space to reflect.
I felt sick and tired of social media. I felt myself trying to numb the pain away but the exact opposite was happening. Everything was glitz and glam on there and nothing about my shit being on fire felt like glitz or glam. I didn’t want to be a part of it. So I decided to go on a social media cleanse. Turned off my notifications, put the apps in a folder far away from me to get to and lock it out of my brain. Out of sight, out of mind.
My friend, Amanda (known her since I was 5 years old) created a GoFundMe account to raise money in attempt to help my family rebuild our lives back. Donations started flying in! It was relieving and we all felt really, really thankful. But after a few days, even a few weeks, the positive - prayer - keep your head up - ima donate calls and messages started to die off. I think because I come off so strong, like I got a handle on things, a lot of my family and friends thought that I didn’t need checking up on or that I was handling the situation. When in actuality I really needed a phone call, or a hug, or a laugh.
I immediately started feeling like nobody really gives a fck. Nobody cares as much as they think they do.. or as much as I would like them to. Nobody will ever care as much as you do because the shit didn’t happen to them. It was bothering me that people who I called family, who I called friends, never checked up on me, or reposted, or donated, or reached out. I started focusing on what people didn’t do. I started growing more resentful.. and becoming more and more bitter. Instead of tweeting all of my sour emotions I started jotting them down in the Notes on my phone. I didn’t want to put it out there but then again I couldn’t ignore them and act like my angry, negative feelings didn’t exist or weren’t valid.
My social media detox was truly everything and more. I noticed my entire life began to shift. I started becoming more mindful to everything around me. I read more mindfully, I ate more mindfully, I spoke more mindfully. Beginning to live with intention was the true game changer for me.
I noticed that my tolerance for celebrity gossip or gossip period was at all time low. My tolerance for complaining and listening to anyone else complain was at an all time low. My tolerance for meaningless conversations and meet ups was at an all time low. I only wanted to do things that were fulfilling for the soul. Doing only the things that made me feel whole and good and full. If it wasn’t fulfilling I ain’t want no parts.
- When you declutter your life of all your superfluous belongings, you leave room for your real life, and discover that, indeed, less is more. You learn that most of what you owned was not actually adding anything to your life. I mean I didn’t declutter my life on purpose. It was forced upon me but if there is anything losing all of my shit taught me is how to do more, how to live more, and how to be more with less.
- How to be, how do think, how to breath, how to live in the now. Being present and moving with intention helped me see the light in every situation, every conversation, and every moment.
- Finding the balance between feeling grateful and being upset. Knowing that all of my negative feelings do exist and they are valid but choosing everyday to focus on the blessings
- Your worth is not measured in likes, comments, notes or followers; but in your ability to love, forgive, and appreciate myself and others.
- Nobody feels me. Nobody can ever truly feel your pain. People may feel sorry for me but nobody knows or feels what I’m going thru and that’s that. This is my life. And I’m the only one who feels it. And I am the only one who controls it.
- How to not be so high maintenance and finding the humility in asking for help from others.
- For the first time ever I started feeling like I already have everything I need to be successful, to be great, to be loved. It is all already in me. It isn’t in possessions. It doesn’t matter what I have or whose has my back. I had to save myself.
- You repeat the lesson until you learn it. I truly believe the Universe came banging up on my door telling me to focus on what’s truly important and to get rid of everything else.
I had to accept that my journey is my journey. Just like their journey is their journey. Minding my business, drinking my water, loving on myself was mandatory and I’m already noticing my entire world evolving. I was doing a disservice to myself watching other people have a great time on social media while not appreciating the glowing moments in my very own life of magic. (or should I say my very own magic of life… or magic for life.)
I relate to this on so many levels. I really feel like I don’t relate to anybody anymore and I know it’s because I’m spiritually leveling up. The fire has shaped me into a completely different person. The things that used to feel right started to feel so wrong. My energy, my mind, my body started rejecting the things and people that just didn’t feel right anymore. All of this reflection prepared my soul for a cleanse. I’m very much so still a spiritual activist encouraging women to live fulfilling lives through food, fitness, and travel.
I quit speaking negatively to myself, I stopped comparing myself to others, I stopped doubting myself, I stopped being lazy with my self-care routine. I went to the gym, I meditated, I signed up for 4 month unlimited hot yoga, I journaled everyday, I constantly thought about the reasons to be grateful for. I was finally ready to start over. Being more positive helped me align my mind with the true nature of my spirit. I knew that I could transform my thoughts and that would transform my feelings. Mind, body, spirit are all connected and I believed that I could do it. So I did. But the more I reflect the more I feel like I really didn’t lose anything. In fact I didn’t even lose much. Yet I gained a lot. I’m feeling more and more invulnerable, more unstoppable, and I just feel like knock me down 9 times and I’ll get up 9 times. Waddup!
My spirit animal has always been a phoenix. The irony, right? Transforming my outlook on the fire was allowing my phoenix to rise from the ashes. I changed my thinking, I changed my life. My life really didn’t stop. Maybe it just began. I had to start looking at the good in this super tragic situation. The good is having my family, having my life, having my friends, having my man. The good is having each other. The good is we have more love, more unity, more strength. The good looks like rebuilding and rebuilding is refreshing.
At first I was feeling like damn, we rebuilding everything back I’m going to have to lower my standards but naaa boy I actually raised my standards. Quality is so much more important. My quality of life is increasing. Less truly is more and this is probably what I needed to go through to move forward. And speaking of moving forwardddddd, I booked a one way ticket to Quito, Ecuador! I’m finally, finally, finally moving abroad to start my South America Tour! I’ll be working my way from Ecuador to Peru to Chile to Argentina and who knows where else! Ima keep going til the wheels fall off. I’ve been working two jobs with 0 days off and saving non-stop. This is finally coming true for me. And I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this without light and without love.
I will forever, forever be so damn grateful for my man for loving me through my emotional trauma, my storm, my fire, and my triumph. He is so damn special to me. And I also have to thank my real friends for being so supportive and encouraging throughout this entire experience. And I want to thank everybody, and I mean everybody who retweeted my link, donated, sent prayers and positive messages. We wouldn’t have been able to rebuild back so quickly if it weren’t for all of the support.
So like a Phoenix, I’m rising.