It’s a little after 4pm and I’m sitting here in the living room swatting mosquitoes away, while I scroll thru social media and the woeful pleas of residents near and far. It’s hot today, humid really and there’s a weird buzz in the air. The energy is frenetically charged with anxiety, hope and worst of all, fear.

Outside the dump truck provided by Public Works pick up the bins they droppers off this morning for residents to throw their debris and yard waste from Irma in. And now we lay in wait for the mistress of the sea, Maria. We don’t know what to expect, we are told that it will strike St.Croix as a Category 5 Hurricane, so now know we’re in trouble. It’s now 3a and I’m still awake because…what else should I be doing? The anticipation is unnerving. It’s the not knowing that is the hardest. The last weather update says the storm has battered the Leeward Islands especially Dominica. We are directly in her path and she’s projected to make landfall early Wednesday morning.

We are boarded up, prepared, praying and hoping for the best, but deep in our soul we are preparing for the worst. Our sister islands, St.Thomas & St.John have already taken quite a beating. The road to recovery is long road and arduous, regardless we will continue to do our best to help. It seems we are headed down the same path, so now we just stand here #VIStrong and wait.

If you can, please send up prayers and postivity for all of us in the Caribbean and see you all on the other side.

 

Follow:

#GrowingUpCrucian meant that we were taught about hurricane preparedness. I remember during hurricane season you could find hurricane tracking maps everywhere and how to track storms was part of the curriculum in school. It was so ingrained in us in elementary and middle school that it wasn’t strange at all to mention severe weather coming our way and hearing someone ask, ‘What’s the coordinates?’ St.Croix is17°44′23″N 64°44′20″W / 17.73972°N  (in case you were wondering). Weather is never taken lightly here in the Caribbean especially as it pertains to hurricanes. We build houses to withstand the elements. We stock supplies year-round, secure hurricane shutters and if and when the time comes we batten down the hatch, hunker down, wait, pray and hope. Evacuation is not as easy as it seems for various reasons. First off we are not on the mainland, so residents cannot simply drive to the next island or another state over out of harm’s way. The only way out is by air and air travel is expensive not only in the Caribbean but to the mainland as well. Other reasons include caring for elderly and ill family members. It just isn’t as easy as packing up the car and heading north.

This hurricane season has been incredibly active, with Hurricane Harvey ravaging Houston and the Gulf coast a few weeks ago. This past Wednesday, September 6th (Happy Birthday Mom!), Hurricane Irma, tore thru the Caribbean as a Category 5 hurricane leaving a path of chaos and destruction thru Anguilla, Barbuda, St.Maarten, Tortola and the rest of the BVI as well as my home in the U.S.Virgin Islands. Irma has the distinction of being the biggest Atlantic storm ever on record. Being further south of #HurricaneIrma, my island, St.Croix, was spared, we got lots of wind and rain, with a few downed fruit trees, no power or phone service in certain areas. Our sister islands, St.Thomas, St.John and the BVI took the brunt of the storm and suffered tremendous damage. I can say for certain I am thankful to have a safe place throughout the storm and a roof over my head. Many years ago after Hurricane Hugo, my family’s fate was not quite the same as we saw half of our roof blow off and spent the night huddled in a small closet. So believe me when I say that I feel a deep, significant loss for our sister islands. How does the saying go, ‘Who feels it knows it’, trust me we know this feeling very well. You don’t know where to start, what to do, basic survival and shelter becomes your primary concern. For this reason, everyone in our local community as well as Virgin Islanders on the mainland and abroad are doing their best to help in any way they can.

 

 

FEMA is already on the ground in St.Thomas and relief efforts to provide much-needed food, clothing and supplies have been organized here on St.Croix, Puerto Rico as well as the mainland. Often times people forget about the Caribbean and consider it to be nothing more than a vacation destination, disregarding the millions of people who have lived here for generations and livelihood has now been washed away. We have also been begging the Weather Channel, as well as the big network stations including ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, and Telemundo to provide more in-depth coverage of the area instead of just passing over us directly.

I want to take a minute to thank my faraway friends, family members and everyone who’s been checking in to make sure that my family and I are safe and offering to help as best they can. To be loved and to feel the love surrounding me and my loved ones is an incredibly powerful feeling. I am also so proud of the work we are doing as a collective community to help those in need. I will do my best to share as much information as I can.

St.Croix’s very own Tim Duncan, a Hurricane Hugo survivor, has organized a relief effort, 21 US Virgin Islands Hurricane Help. Tim is also a Hurricane Hugo survivor, you can read more about his story here. Duncan’s organization has a plane leaving with supplies from San Antonio next week, you can contact them directly to drop off supplies if you’re in the area. Duncan has also started a relief fund and has already donated $250k and will match up to $1 million. I just read that his fundraising efforts so far have surpassed the $1 million mark, GO TIMMY! #VISTRONG

As I receive more information I will be sure to update this post. If you have any information that you’d like to share you can contact me here or on any of my social pages.

Together we are #CaribbeanStrong.

Financial Contributions

St.Croix Foundation
21 US Virgin Islands Relief Fund – Tim Duncan
St. Croix Foundation – Caribbean Assistance and Relief Effort (CARE)
Richard Branson/Virgin BVI COMMUNITY SUPPORT APPEAL
St. John Rescue
Caribbean Sea Adventures
USVI Hurricane IRMA Relief Fund – VI United (John P. Wheatley)
Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands
BVI Hurricane Relief Irma Fund
Convoy of Hope-BVI

Toiletries/Clothing/Medical Supplies and Non-Perishables Item Location Drop Off

St.Croix
Cane Bay Dive Shop Frederiksted and North Shore-
The Shoe Bar
Caribbean Sea Adventures
Juan Luis Hospital Nursery (needs supplies for infants and newborns)- 340- 772-7348- ask for Faye
Island Moms Rock! -#OperationBabies (will be at Kmart West until 4:00 pm today September 10th)
Seaborne Airlines- Seaplane Base (Christiansted)

Puerto Rico
Seaborne AirlineRoblex Aviation Center- Ave Jose (Tony) Santana, World Cargo Building B, Carolina, Puerto Rico, 0097

Shelters
Shelters in St.Croix are being set up to accommodate evacuees from St.Thomas and St.John, if you would like to volunteer please contact 340-626-6288.

Facebook Groups
Helping the Virgin Islands Recover
USVI Hurricane Irma Alert
BVI Abroad
What’s Going On Virgin Islands?
What’s going on St. John, US Virgin Islands
US Virgin Islands Hurricane Watchers
Eyes on the Storm Caribbean

DISCLAIMER: I am not affiliated with any organizations listed. I have done my best to reach out directly to members of these organizations to provide information about their ongoing efforts. If you are hesitant about making a financial contribution please consider donating well-needed supplies. If you would like to help and are in the Puerto Rico, Atlanta, DMV, Raleigh, Charlotte, San Antonio, Houston or Phoenix area they are several organizations and individual where you can drop off clothing, food and other supplies. Some are listed on the flyers below. This is not an exhaustive list and will continue to be updated as more information can be vetted and provided. Information has been pulled from a variety of sources to have relief resources available in one central place.

 

 

Follow:
DISCLAIMER: I am not affiliated with any organizations listed. I have done my best to reach out directly to members of these organizations to provide information about their ongoing efforts. If you are hesitant about making a financial contribution please consider donating well-needed supplies. If you would like to help and are in the Puerto Rico, Atlanta, DMV, Raleigh, Charlotte, San Antonio, Houston or Phoenix are they are several organizations and individual where you can drop off clothing, food and other supplies. Some are listed on the flyers below. This is not an exhaustive list and will continue to be updated as more information can be vetted and provided. Information has been pulled from a variety of sources to have information in one central place.

In the weeks and months leading up to #BlogHer17 I participated in most if not all the twitter chats led by the lovely Melissa Wells. I laughed a lot and I learned more. The word that I used up and til that time in regards to my attending the conference was ‘exciting’, because I was just that EXCITED AF! There was no other word to describe it. Rewind to this weekend when 2000+ bloggers and influencers descended upon the Hilton Bonnet Creek Orlando and that excitement turned to amazement. So I’ve moved on guys, I went from feeling excited to being amazed.

This was my first time attending #BlogHer17 or any blogging conference for that matter and the experience was…AMAZING (what did you expect me to say?) I have been blogging off and on for years but was never consistent though it was something I really wanted to do and thought I could excel at sharing my stories with a greater audience. Over the years I’ve paused, faltered and just plain quit. Last year I knew I wanted to really focus on my blog for the 1-7, and then the new year rolled around and apprehension set in. I spoke to my good friend Zahra of My Kawaii Life and she and I both agreed I needed something to motivate me and light a fire under my ass, that fire was #BlogHer17.

I’ve been a big fan of the BlogHer community for years and considered attending #BlogHer15 but you know…life got in the way. But this time around the stars aligned and the universe worked in my favor and provided me the opportunity to attend. The weeks leading up to the conference saw me in prep-mode, I ordered business cards, created a media kit, was more social on my social channels, I hit ‘publish’ more. Those seem like simple things but they helped me to get clear on what my blog was about, more importantly, what ‘I’ wanted it to be about and the direction that I wanted it to take. It made me set goals, think outside the box, figure out my USP and gave me the clarity to focus. Amazing right? Here are My Top 5 Highlights and the Top 4 things I Learned at #BlogHer17.

 

Highlights

1. #BlackGirlMagic meetup #1 in the hotel lobby Thursday night. Luvvie brought jollof rice y’all, and I didn’t have any foil! Can you imagine?!? An old co-worker once told me that I should always keep foil, saran wrap and a Tupperware container around because you never know what could happen and you want to be able to wrap up a to-go plate.

I also got to see Oneika of Oneika the Traveller who I haven’t seen since London 2012. It was great to reconnect, so proud of all that she’s doing right now. I finally met Danielle Faust of OK, Dani, Tyra of BarrisTourista and a few other ladies there during the jollof competition.

Oneika and I at the #BlackGirlMagic meetup Thursday night.

 

1a.) #BlackGirlMagic meetup #2 on Friday night, the lobby of the Hilton was packed with the best, brightest and fiercest black bloggers. The energy and the love there was off the charts and when we all got together and posed for a picture shouting ‘BLACK GIRL MAGIC’ everyone in the building turned around and took notice, because you know… #melanin, you can’t have all the ladies from the lands of Nubia in the same place and not expect us to shine.

 

#BlackGirlMagic Meetup #2 Friday night- The #Melanin Takeover photo credit: Danielle Faust

 

2. Listening to the G.O.A.T aka Serena Williams’ lunch keynote. She was amazing (we already know that she is though). She reminded us all that as women especially, we shouldn’t be afraid of winning, we want to be the best. And there’s nothing wrong with working hard to get where you want to be and enjoying the gifts of your hard work.

 

 

 

 

Serena reminding us all that we’ve got to play to win.

 

Luvvie at her keynote sharing her story and reminding us all to pursue our dreams.

3. Luvvie (again) who killed it at her Keynote and talked about her glow up. A lot of people think Luvvie is new to the blog game but she’s been around FOREVER in internet years and has a great following that she grew organically. Her keynote resonated with me for many reasons because she spoke about not fully committing to her blog and her business at first and still looking for a regular 9-5 but then once she had one she realized she couldn’t go back to that because she was built to work for herself. And working for yourself is hard work but the rewards are worth. When you work for yourself you have to promote yourself and she mentioned as women sometimes we shy away from that. She reminded us all that “If you don’t promote yourself no one else will.”, and she’s totally right. That lit a fire under my tail so my plan is to not only hit ‘publish’ more often, but to promote myself and the blog more as well. There’s room up here for everyone to shine y’all.

 

4. Meeting celebrity chef Carla Hall at the Best Buy booth in the expo hall. Carla’s nice, it’s not fake nice, you can tell that’s her genuine personality. She was very warm and friendly and we chatted about the Virgin Islands and our tallness. She’s awesome there’s nothing else to say than she is AMAZING! I got a copy of her new cookbook as well.

Carla Hall is Chef Bae and she’s a #tallgirl too!

5. I had the opportunity to attend the preview screening of Girls Trip movie starring, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Regina King and Tiffany Haddish. I have an unspoken rule that any movie that Queen Latifah is in that I HAVE to see, so I planned to see it upon release but was stoked to see it earlier. There was popcorn and cocktails in the screening room and we had a blast, everyone was singing, dancing and having a great time watching the film. I KNEW since The Queen was in it that it would be good but it turned out to be… (you guessed it) AMAZING! I’ll definitely be headed out to see it when it’s released on July 21st.

It made me miss hanging out with my girlfriends like we did in college, but you know life gets in the way and distance grows but no worries. I’m planning to get together with them all again soon. It’s part of my #Summer17 tour!

 

 

1. YOUR VOICE MATTERS
The days leading up to the conference I felt super prepared and then anxious and a little fearful. What could this island girl from a gem in the Caribbean Sea provide to the blogging/social influencer world that wasn’t already there? #BlogHer17 helped me realize that it was…MY VOICE. Throughout the weekend I got to connect with tons of gorgeous, smart, brave, incredible women. I learned a lot from them and the sessions I attended as well. It was like the first week at a new school with very, very cool kids, you don’t know anyone and you kinda hate that you’re alone and you’re a little scared then someone gives walks over while you’re sitting alone at the lunch table and a super cool kid comes over and sits with you. That what happened all weekend, super cool ladies and guys randomly came over to me or I to them at breakfast, lunch, in line at the bathroom, at the hotel bar, in the lobby, in the elevator, at the pool, in line at the snack bar. The immense feeling of support and community I felt all weekend was overwhelming.

 

 

 2. STRANGERS DON’T ALWAYS POSE DANGER
For little kids and seedy people in back alleys…maybe. But at a conference not so much. I met the coolest, wildest, smartest, laid back, honest, fashionable, happiest and bravest women all weekend because we just happened upon each other and sat down and said ‘Oh…hey…What do you do?”

 

Our lunch was sponsored by Walt Disney World’s World of Pandora. I met some fabulous ladies during lunch at my table.

3. SUMMER  IS THE SEASON OF FLORALS

If you know me personally or thru these internet streets you know that my love affair with floral prints is deep and true. I LOVED seeing so many beautiful floral pieces this weekend. I will say everyone came out in their best. Also, shout out to the love lady in the gold sequined gown that I shouted ‘GIRRRRRRRRRRL’ at as she strutted across the conference space. I didn’t get a pic with her but she is now and forever my style inspiration to show up and show out!

4. COMMUNITY & TRIBE ARE IMPORTANT

I met tons of people this weekend that all had their toe in the world of blogging in some way, shape or form. Bloggers, content creators, brands, sponsors, etc.. they all brought something different to the table and as a part of the BlogHer community, we’re all able to exchange ideas and get feedback as well as support from the newly formed tribe we met over the conference. We are all different but that’s what makes us all awesome, the stories and perspective we share with each other to weave a story not only for other just like us but others who don’t know anyone just like us is beyond comparable. Shout out to Hannah Elizabeth, who I didn’t actually meet until after conference but we shared an Uber to the airport after #BlogHer17 was over.

 

My new blogger babes! From top left: Rebecca of An Ernest Living, Kay of  Traveling Kay. Bottom left: Trinity of Fitness All Ways and J.Enovy of  Tall District.

 

 

 

5. EACH ONE. TEACH ONE.

I didn’t get to attend all the sessions that I planned to but the ones that I DID attend were very informative and have me ready and roaring to implement new changes to the blog, which once I get my thoughts organized you’ll be seeing a few before the end of the summer. I reviewed all the sessions that would be available prior to the conference so I picked the ones that I felt would be more beneficial to me. I want to take the time to thank the panelists of sessions I attended for being so in-depth, thorough and opening to us all. After my last session, I stayed behind to speak with the panelists Kat Kinsman, author of Life with a Bad Case of Nerves & Senior Editor of Extra Crispy,  Johanna Cook, of Momma Cooks, Jane Ko of A Taste of KoKo , Beth Lee of OMG Yummy and Yvette Marquez author of Muy Bueno Cookbooks who led the#BrandSwitchUp workshop. The session they led was great but being able to stay after and having the opportunity to speak with them one and one and bounce ideas around with them was priceless. I know I’ve made lifelong connections not only with them but with other bloggers at the conference as well.

 

So all in all, did I enjoy myself? Yes. Was it worth it? Yes. Did you connect with anyone? HELL YES! I can’t wait for next year. Tell me, have you ever been to a blogging conference? What did like/dislike about it and why? Let’s conversate in the comments.

 

Follow:

 

If you’ve been following me on social media you’ll know that I’ve mentioned how excited I was to be attending #BlogHer17 this year. I’ve been blogging in some way or another since I’ve been in undergrad. I love blogging but it was mostly random rambling and observations. I watched as others started, grew and developed their blogs and left me in the dust.

I had no organization and blogged from the seat of my pants, when and where I wanted as soon as inspiration hit. And for some, that works. It worked for me for the longest time but personally for me I knew if I was going to become serious about blogging and content creation I needed to take the steps to get there and find direction.

I started posting on this blog late Fall 2015, however, I really didn’t get ‘serious’ about it til earlier this year. I’ve been eyeing the BlogHer Conference for the past few years and felt it was just what I needed to propel me to where I wanted to be in regards to my blog and also help me find my tribe. The last two years life got in the way and I wasn’t able to attend but at the beginning of 2017, I told myself that I would attend #BlogHer17 and just like that all the stars aligned to make it possible!

So I’ll be headed to Orlando this week to connect and learn from some of the best ladies (and men) in the game. I’m crazy excited! If you follow me on twitter you’ll know I’ve overused the word ‘excited’ but I don’t care Y’all! I’m in my feelings!

I’ve never attended a blog conference before especially one as massive as #BlogHer17. I thought all I had to do was register, make hotel reservations, book a flight and show up. Technically I could do just that, but that would be selling myself short on gaining the most from a conference of this size. So I’ve been chatting with fellow attendees and deciding what needs to be done prior to the conference to ensure I have my best experience. These are my top 5 ways to prepare for a conference.

1. Business Cards
One of the most important things you’ll do at a conference is network with other bloggers as well as sponsors. You’re THIS close to some of your favorite bloggers, content creators, influencers, brands, and celebrities. What better time to rub shoulders, smize, introduce yourself and let them know about your awesome blog and/or business? Business cards are a great way to share your information and show a bit of your personality. I get all my business cards for my business from Moo. So I went right back to them when it came time to print cards for the blog. I design my cards myself and then upload the design and have Moo print then for me. Super easy. I love the quality, feel and weight of their cards.

2. Dress for success

This one had me for a loop because when I think conference. I think networking and that I should be business casual. But BlogHer is a different kind of conference and I wanted to stand out, look good and be comfortable. From my understanding, BlogHer is very much come as you are, but growing up West Indian with brought-upsey that means dress decent. And ‘decent’ is up for interpretation. I went back and forth for weeks about what I would wear. I figured dresses would be the easiest thing, I still agree that they probably are. So after being back and forth and pulling my friends into my ‘what am I gonna wear’ saga I decided to settle on a dress for Friday and a blouse and slacks for Saturday. For all the parties I’ve heard I’ll be invited to I’ve got a selection of maxi dresses and rompers to choose from.

This doesn’t have to be an arduous process. You don’t have to buy a whole new wardrobe. I just wanted to be extra and take that plunge. Make sure you’re following me on Instagram to see my OOTD posts.

3. Make Friends Beforehand

I’ve made it my mission to befriend other attendees prior to the conference via our private Facebook group and weekly Twitter chats. This way I know someone at the conference or at least can spot a familiar face in the crowd. I did the same exact thing prior to moving to London for grad school a few years ago. And the women I befriended in my uni and flat’s private Facebook group became the core of my support system when I lived in London as well as when I moved back to the U.S and we are still great friends to this day. I’ve been chatting with a few fellow bloggers and can’t wait to meet up with them in person at the conference.

4. Be Prepared

By this I mean think about what you’re really attending the conference for and what you expect to get out of it. Connections? Lessons? Swag? All of the above? Whatever it is, you need to develop a plan to get whatever it is you came for. I also suggest leaving wiggle room for plans to change and be open to other opportunities that may present itself.

Also, have your gear ready. I know most people use their laptop/tablet to take notes or a good old fashion notebook. Personally, I’m not gonna lug my MacBook Pro around a conference hall all day. I REFUSE TO. But I plan to have my iPad, my notebook, a couple pens (I picked up some new ones from MUJI), and my vlogging camera on hand. I also plan to have extra batteries, a mobile charger, a cardigan for ice cold conference rooms, extra batteries, mints, hand lotion (my hands are always dry) and Advil on hand. I got a new tote bag (FINALLY!) and I’ll just throw everything in there. Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of headaches so I rather be prepared instead of having to leave in the middle of a session to tend to it.

5. Be Flexible

Kinda weird right? But I’ve done tons of research on this conference as well as others and I decided I want to go with a super open mind. My goal is to meet as many bloggers as I can. Learn as much as possible in breakout sessions and just absorb as much of this experience as I can. Understand that things can and more than likely will change but that’s okay! Just roll with it.

And that’s it! Those are my top five tips on how I plan to survive #BlogHer17. I’ll make sure to update you guys next week on the total experience. Make sure to follow me on Instagram and Snapchat to catch a peek of conference life.

Have you ever been to a blogging conference or any other conference related to your professional field? Share your tips in the comments!

Follow:
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase using my link.

Given recent events in my local community and our nation as a whole many of us are filled fear and uncertainty. As women many of us live with an undercurrent of fear, we exist, we work, we laugh, we love and we worry. Worry about our safety, worry about our children, worry about our families. As girls and young ladies, we are given instructions to dress appropriately, not call attention to ourselves. Be quiet. That’s the instructions the patriarchy gives. Those are the rules given to us ‘girls’ they are usually vague, unclear and without remorse or understanding. They don’t take into the account who and what we have to protect ourselves from. The enemy who lie amongst us. The men and women who physically our attack and violate our temples the bodies that we call home. The enemy who lays in wait to object fear and heartbreak into our spirits by attacking everything we hold sacred: they come into our homes and rob us blind. They creep their way into our beds as children, as friends as our mates, our cars after a great night out with friends, our offices when their misogyny and fragile male ego cannot handle our command and prowess of our professional self and they feel threatened so they ravage our femininity.

 

There are too many stories amongst us time and time again that I hear. Too many that I’ve seen, lived and experienced myself. Too many stories of pain, aggression, and war committed against us just simply because we are women. Because we are considered the ‘weaker’ sex because we didn’t ‘listen’ and adhere to the instructions given to us as girls. Do you remember them? Don’t dress inappropriately. Don’t drink too much. Don’t talk back. Listen to your husband/boyfriend/partner/lover even if he beats your ass every day when he comes home drunk from a night out in front of your children. He is the king of the castle he is the breadwinner. Listen to that man even when you try to fight off his sexual advances and scream no as he rapes you, impregnates you with a baby that you did not want and are unsure of how to protect. Shut up and do the work for your misogynistic boss who uses every chance he gets to remind you to ‘know your place’. Have your ideas and vision diluted and dumb downed because your male counterparts cannot accept that you may, in fact, be smarter than them and should not only have a seat at the table but be at the head of the table leading the discussion and the charge. Accept the unwanted male gaze when strangers cat call and size you up against your will. Tell you how broad your back is, how fat your ass is and all the things they want and would do to you if given the chance. How dare you speak up and say ‘No thank you. I’m not interested.’ How dare you use your voice to defend your own honor?

Not anymore. We cannot continue to feel weak, we cannot continue to live in fear of living a life and existence we have all worked so hard to forge. It’s is our birthright not only as women but as human beings to live and express ourselves freely, love deeply and to exist in a world that provides a safe harbor for us all no matter who we may be and regardless of the choices we make.

I say all of this to say we can no longer remain weak, afraid and to live in fear. Someone once said ‘on the other side of fear is freedom’ and I agree. We have to figure out how to set ourselves free and protect ourselves. One way is thru self-care and self-defence.

I’ve always wanted to learn to shoot a gun. I was always afraid. Not quite sure why. Was it the noise? Was it knowing that with a live round in a loaded weapon I could possibly change the course of fate for myself of someone else? Was I afraid to protect myself? My family? Would it come to that? Having to defend myself and everything I love against foreign and domestic enemies? Thinking back now I believe it was a bit of everything. And that’s totally fine. I’ve been afraid of many things before and I’m sure there are many things that I’ll still be afraid of after I finish writing this post but it’s all good. Me being afraid does not stop me from stepping out of my comfort zone. Me being afraid just makes me approach things cautiously but approach nonetheless.

Last night I had the opportunity to join a great group of women from my community at a local shooting range, D & J Shooting Gallery. This gathering was organized my one of my favorite bloggers and foodies, the Tanisha Bailey-Roka aka The Crucian Contessa. Due to recent events occurring in our community, we do not feel safe.

Crucian Contessa and I

Tanisha, the Crucian Contessa and I.

 

But expressing that concern is only half the battle. We need to put our fear in front of us, form a plan to conquer it. Using her contacts Tanisha organized a Facebook group for Women’s Self Defense. It hasn’t even been a week and its numbers are steadily growing day by day, which to me shows many other women feel just like us, afraid. It also shows that those same women are ready and willing to conquer their fears and defend themselves if and when necessary. There’s power in that. Last night I met Tanisha and Dynel of Island Moms Rock along with 5 other women at the range.

 

 

 

John of D & J Shooting Gallery

John of D & J Shooting Gallery helping us get our kit sorted.

 

 

We had to pick our targets and guns. We were also giving headphones and ear plugs.

 

I went in saying I never shot a gun in my life. I went in cautious, afraid of the noise, the recoil, the fear of red hot shell casings falling down my shirt (which happened more than I care to share). I was afraid of the pain and the lack of control in my wrist brought on my bouts with both chikungunya and tenosynovitis both of which the aftermath still linger in my body. I thought that it would hinder me from learning, from shooting, from doing it right. The noise startled me. It made me hesitant. My instructor told me to disregard the noise, relax, take my stance, line up my target and squeeze my trigger…slowly. Control my thoughts. Do not give in to distractions. So I stood there, sweat beading up on my forehead, earplugs in, headphones doing their best to drown out the communion of chaotic gunfire around me, nervous. A voice in my head saying ‘You are NOT ready for this. You CAN NOT do this.’ Then I took a deep breath, stared down at my target and told myself “You are afraid, and that’s okay. You’ve been afraid before.” And then I released the trigger. I felt the power. I smelled the smoke. I felt the pain in my fingers, the burn of the shell casing on my chest. I peered at my target with one eye closed, imagining it to be something standing in the way of my safety or that of my family or friends, I shot again and again. Then I paused and walked away, switching with my partner. I had to mentally gather myself. Then I came back and did it again, and again until there were no more rounds left to shoot. That’s when I knew I had crossed over to the other side. The side where fear does not control me. I was afraid when I walked into that shooting range last night, fearing the unknown, fear of how I would do it. If I could do it at all. But I did, and I am no longer afraid, I am capable. And in that capability is where my power lies and no one can take that from me.

 

Looking my target in the eye.

 

Have you ever shot a gun or take any self-defense classes? How did it make you feel? Let me know in the comments!

Follow: