“Why Me?” by Shanelle Gabriel

I’ve long since realized that no matter how good (or bad) a person is, effed up stuff is going to happen. Life is a mix of pain and joy, laughter and tears... and a lot of lessons. When rain comes, it seems to always pour. Rarely do I remember just ONE small thing going wrong. It seems to snowball into a huge mountain. Naturally, when all this falls on your shoulders with no relief in sight, after a flood of curse words comes the words “Why me?” I’ll let you vent a bit; you’ve earned it. It’s natural. However, living in the “Why are things happening to me?” place does the following:

1) Relies on the idea that things are only happening to you. No, bad things in varied levels happens to everyone and effects people in different ways. Struggle cannot be quantified; your 5 difficult events don’t make my one serious event hurt any less. We are all victims of life’s bullshit.

2) Puts us in a a passive place where we feel we must sit and be inactive. Everything we go through requires a response, even if you choose to go numb. One of the best ways to manage your situation is to acknowledge your role in the event occurring and/or put your effort into next steps.

So get it out, cuss at the world or the circumstance. Then, let’s move into the “What is this trying to teach me?”space. This equates to saying “What now? What am I going to do with what I still have? What do I have access to and control of? Is there anything I can do to prevent this from happening? Was it out of my control? What did I learn about the people around me? How much support did I have and who might need to be cut (figuratively, not literally)? What are the blessings I’ve overlooked?” The more you focus on building your future while addressing the present, the shift in energy happens. Of course, this is an oversimplification of a complex process, but on the most basic of levels, getting through trauma requires a shift into regaining/redefining who you are through what you’ve been through. It may teach you where your true passions lie, what really matters in your life, and transition you into a place you never knew you were meant to be in.

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Shoutout to a fellow Lupie - Natasha S. Alford by Shanelle Gabriel

The universe wanted Natasha S. Alford (Deputy Editor at The Griot and journalist) & I to meet. Quietly, she balanced with living with Lupus while doing some AMAZING things in her career. I first met her at @CultureCon and we realized we knew a billion of the same people (cause, you know, dope people know dope people.) I had no clue when we first spoke on the phone that she’d been battling Lupus so ferociously while juggling an amazing schedule and looking like it’s all lightwork. With my 14 years of living with this illness, I forgot the fear of being stigmatized, having others come to conclusions about your ability to live a full life after a diagnosis, feeling like you don’t want to say it aloud because their fears for you may come true. I dealt with that for 2 years after I was diagnosed. Like Natasha, I was told to keep it to myself. But this weight is hard to hide... and more-so the strength we have that allows us to both LIVE and live with Lupus is too important for others us to not mention alongside our list of accomplishments. This photo was taken at this year’s gala for The Lupus Foundation of America where she was my guest (who also helped me get this FAB dress!)

This #throwbackthursday I just want to thank you Natasha for sharing her story, her strength, her wisdom, and her life with us. You are a #lupuswarrior 

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Poem: “Winter Solstice” by Shanelle Gabriel

Every December 

Creeps up like it’s wearing

Fuzzy socks on a concrete floor

Every year ends and 

Begins with concrete plans

Planted into resolutions soil

That may or may not bloom

The chill of winter

Comes from doubt 

You wonder

If you tilled the soil correctly all year

If the ground will split with your labor

The cold you feel through your thin soles shoes

Is the fear of the possibility

That you are standing in the same barren spot you were

The solstice before

What new thing will you allow to enter your life 

What old thing will you leave behind

This is the longest night

Giving you more time to dream

About the coming day 

So I ask myself what will I give away

And what will stay

When Liquor and Lupus Meet at a Party by Shanelle Gabriel

Originally posted on my blog on www.lupusnewstoday.com

“Shots! Shots! Shots! Shots!” The chant is repeated by my squad of friends at the bar. It’s my friend’s birthday and celebrations go hand in hand with alcohol. For many, it’s not a good birthday if you can walk a straight line at the end of the night. The definition of “turning up” is clinking plastic flute glasses around an overpriced bottle of rapper-endorsed liquor, dancing at whatever beat or pace the mixed drinks tell you to, and doing things that you will laugh about the next day over a post-hangover brunch. This was me in my 20s. Not anymore.

Unlike most people, I really started drinking after college. While partygoers sipped amaretto sours, I was usually too busy dancing and sweating profusely on the packed dance floor to think about fighting to get a bartender’s attention. Besides, water was free and I was a broke college student. When I graduated, I became an “adult,” which meant it was adult-like to go for a drink or two with co-workers, pair a glass of merlot with your steak, and pose with a glass of bubbly at your Pinterest-worthy picnic. The message is: “You’re grown; grown people drink.”

However, I learned early that alcohol puts my body in a climate ready and ripe for a lupus flare. It leaves me dehydrated and fatigued, and it makes some of my medications not work as effectively. My liver is already processing prescribed drugs; I’m somewhat paranoid about making it work any harder. So, where does alcohol fit in a Lupie world of medications and the need for ample hydration and rest? Do I have to turn down everything people do to turn up?

Telling someone you don’t drink is usually followed with, “Are you on antibiotics?” “What, you prefer whiskey? I have some here.” Or even a gasp and, “OMG, are you pregnant?” Telling a group of people you want to pass on a glass is equal to telling someone bragging about their amazing wedding that you just got left at the altar; it makes them feel self-conscious or judged for enjoying their day. People bond over liquor, and now it’s like you don’t want to bond with them.

I used to feel like I had to drink to make people feel comfortable, to be a part of my environment. I still feel that way at times. But at the end of the day, I really don’t need to drink to have fun as long as the music is good and my friends are present. My true friends won’t mind if I choose to drink in moderation and will gladly pour me a shot of ginger ale if it means I’ll be OK the next morning. Somehow, people think the drink makes the party, but it’s the people around me who make the celebration happen. I can have a fun time just being high on life knowing it’s a gift to not be in a hospital bed. Still want to sip a little somethin’ somethin’? Red wine has antioxidants, so that might be a healthier alternative (no more than a glass or two). Most studies, like “Alcohol and Arthritis” by the Arthritis Foundation, suggest that drinking in moderation on occasion isn’t terrible and that you ask your doctor if the general health rule of one drink a day for women, two for men, is the right one to follow.

The questions on why you aren’t drinking can be annoying, though. I have a fun trick that I use: I ask the bartender for a glass of pineapple juice mixed with cranberry juice, make sure they include a garnish, and sip it slowly. Most people assume there’s vodka in there and, boom, no questions. Cheers!

Poem: Brooklyn Gal by Shanelle Gabriel

My face always been

More smiling chick

Than resting bitch

They say my Brooklyn blood should boil

But my mother who was planted

In Caribbean soil

Would say “Did you wake up next to me?”

Meaning that’s the only time good morning

Wasn’t needed

I come from a time when

You considered unknown men

Rude for neglecting to do

Their daily head nod “Good morning beautiful”

A formality no matter if the

Compliment was fact or fiction

An interaction

Free from the catcalling inflection

Scolded for even shifting legs

For even considering sitting

When someone shuffling

Feet senior to mine

Back more worn

Walked through the train car door

My dad ordered for me at the store

Gender roles were the standard

But no one blinked twice at a tomboy

This ain’t meant to be romance

More reflection

Depiction of my Brooklyn

Where cultural differences

Feel like a lisp on my tongue

What comes

So natural

Labeled impediment

My Timbs thud

Silhouette chippin on the pavement

This uneven concrete

Be the mosaic within me

 

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(Video) Black Girl Magic by Mahogany L. Browne by Shanelle Gabriel

My good friend, Mahogany L. Browne (Poet/Curator/Author) released a beautiful book of her poem "Black Girl Magic," illustrated by Jess X Snow and published by Macmillan. She called on myself and a few other poets (Shannon Matesky, Roya Marsh, Elizabeth Acevedo, Falu, Eboni Hogan, and Imani Davis) with their own Black Girl Magic flavor to film the words of her poem.  Here it is!

FYI: You can purchase this inspiring book at Barnes & Nobles, Amazon, and wherever awesome books are sold.

 

Discussion on Crew Love by Shanelle Gabriel

When I first heard Drake's song "Crew Love" featuringThe Weeknd, I remember thinking it was a dope song and beat, but his verse was so lackluster and off the theme.

I've been thinking a lot about sexuality and what that means today. While I'm about sexual freedom and against sex-shaming, I recognize that we still live in a world that views women as things to provide pleasure, visual stimulation, and fulfillment erotic desires. I look around at the different public and personal narratives around me, from media to the women/youth I interact with on a regular basis, and I'm not sure if this movement to free us from sexual chains is totally us "reclaiming our bodies" or us subconsciously self-objectifying ourselves. It's like are we sharecroppers on this sexual plantation thinking we are tilling the land for our own needs and desires but who's still holding the control? Not to mention that we have a generation of young women entering adulthood being told they have a right to enjoy all the beauties their bodies have to offer, to put them on display, to do what they want when they want with who they want, without considering the responsibilities that come along with this freedom. Becoming a well-rounded, healthy adult includes having healthy boundaries that are set by one's own personal needs and desires, not set by societal norms. I recognize that those limits vary by person, and some are definitely able to manage more fluid and open boundaries. However, I fear that our world is normalizing abuse of self through self-medication and acceptance of sexual norms as a one-size fits all. I never preached celibacy; that would be setting myself up for Jesus to write quite a number of things in the sand under my name. But not every situation or person is meant to follow the "Just Do It" mentality promoted. There are reasons to have sex that do not leave the soul intact for many people including doing it because you're "supposed to", because it's the only way to get ahead or gain popularity, because it's the only way to feel loved or fill in gaps in your life, or because it's the only way you know how you show someone you love them. I have had sex for all the reasons above, and while I'm sure some women are perfectly fine having regular sex-capades, scratching itches as they come, and reaping the benefits, I know for myself I cannot. And there are women and young people like me who can't either, who aren't ready to, who need to figure their own identities before subscribing to the energy needed for physical relationships, and who are aware of the historical power dynamic of our patriarchal world. It is not sexual oppression to teach someone to ask in the moment when presented with the opportunity,  if this is really want all of you (not just your body) wants and needs. Is this person is worthy of your time, energy, body, and space for the moment or for a lifetime? Are they giving you the tools to make a true decision or is it all a facade for them to gain access to you? Do they assume they're automatically supposed to have access to all of you and are you okay with submitting to that? When you wake up the next day or leave a few hours after, will you say to yourself, "That was my decision, and I'm good with it. My Lyft is here!"? Will you wake up with the same pain you've been trying to dull away? I ask all of this with no judgement on the answer, just recognizing that sex isn't as simple as the world makes it seem. That while many choose to label it a strictly physical thing for all to enjoy, for their own safety & sanity, there's a need for people to all make sure they know and "love themselves before loving the crew."

 

Lyrics to my remix of Drake’s “Crew Love” by Shanelle Gabriel

Turn up the radio/ Turn it up just like before/ Every week its the same thing/ Does the record ever stop for you?/ Tell mr is this what you wanna do?/ Who you think’s controlling you?/ Cause yo body ain’t your own, no/ Your body, body ain’t your own, no/ Sista/ I ain’t tryin to shame ya/ just letting you know that your power’s in danger/ Trying to numb your pain while dudes are tryin to play ya./ Consent on your own terms/ not for the game, yea./ Mind ya mind./ They tryin to control ya shine/ Patriarchy it can be internalized/ Make your sexuality your own design/ Cause it seems like... seems like...

Like you’re loving the crew

Loving the crew

Loving the crew

You’re loving the crew

Loving the crew

Loving the crew

But do they love you? 

Your guards down/ his cards up/ he's the player and the dealer/ texting him in caps cause you mad at how he treats ya/ think you’re gonna win when he's in charge of the game/ made you think you’re special then he forgot your name/ this ain’t sexual oppression/ nothing wrong with doing you/ but it ain’t liberation if you think sex can heal you/ tryin to sleep with a star so you can be one/ left your constellation/for walks of shame with the sun/ Quote Amber and Kardashian/ hmmm/ Like they aren't the exceptions/ the average chick falls quick from recollection/ two seconds after he loses his erection./ Addicted to attention want the spotlight/ don't fight for the right to self-objectify/ don't expect to get pixie dust from these guys/ baby, Tinkerbell didn't need Peter to fly

Trying to be a 10/ getting treated like a one/ They don't call you for dates/ They call you for fun/ cause you just a game to them 

I want better for you/ you gotta want it too / I wish you could love yourself instead of loving the crew

I want better for you/ fellas are guilty too / learn to love yourself before loving the crew. 

Upcoming Show: 10/17 @ 6:30pm- Bronx, NY by Shanelle Gabriel

Performing uptown, baby! Come see me rock at Plates N Crates, the Bone Thugs N Harmony Edition THIS Thursday Oct 19th @ 6:30pm at The Living Room II (125 St Ann’s Avenue, Bronx, NY 10454). $12 cover.

 

We’re also sending off the founder of @platesncrates Malik as he moves West. 😢

 

See you there! #music #poetry #hiphop #live #livehiphop #liveband #bronx #bk #uptown #nyc

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Check out my new project: Da Compound Movement by Shanelle Gabriel

Follow on IG:

www.instagram.com/DaCompoundMovement

Does the word "fit" make you think of rail-thin women jogging in yoga pants? Or men with all muscles (and no neck) downing protein shakes? Let  Da Compound Movement reframe your ideas around fitness while sharing some laughs with cool people. Created by Shanelle Gabriel (Personal Trainer, Poet, Singer), this movement explores multiple health & lifestyle topics through social media, events, as well as an upcoming podcast that will feature entertaining guests & medical experts, light-hearted but engaging discussions, shared research, and so much more.

In the fitness world, a compound movement is defined as "an exercise that works multiple joints at once for maximal muscle recruitment, high nervous system activation, and a stimulus for growth."

Likewise, the mission of Da Compound Movement is to encourage others to maximize their quality of life, activate their own health journey, and stimulate growth in the number of people who are working to battle the rise of preventable illnesses, especially for people of color.

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Freewrite: 3 minutes by Shanelle Gabriel

I ain't got time or coin to spend on the negative/ God gon' bless me/ I don't think you heretics/ wanna be here for this/ not letting moments become mountains/ I got rivers of blessings/ you treating me like a fountain/ how I look stressing/ how I look being depressed/ when the people bothering me/ have so much less/ they mad cause I’m not/ they brag bout what they ain’t got/ I’m silent with my flyness/ dem a have ta scream and shout/ me nah paying dem attention/ the fee is too high/ they only see ceilings/ while I kiss the sky/ criticism I can take/ but the hate I can toss/ everyone gon' hate/ nickname Chris/ Rockin with Christ/ I’m gonna floss/ I be showing him off/ like He hung off my chain instead of a Cross/ Think my day getting messed up/ Your misery won't be my boss/ I got all the flavor/ yep/ that’s too much sauce/ you frown so much I think your smile got lost/ you should go somewhere and find it/ Only giving 3 minutes of my day/ yes I timed it/ After that, your position in my life gets reassignment/ my chakras are in alignment/ but you tryin to eff it up/ bringing stress to my life/ you get one swift kick to ya butt/ I said 3 minutes but I think that’s too much/ this is two hundred thirty five seconds/  ...thirty six...thirty seven/ yep that’s enough.

 

 

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Blog: "Should" doesn't exist by Shanelle Gabriel

I had a 1/3-life crisis (i.e. Right before I turned 30) after a few people close to me made me feel like I was SUPPOSED to have certain things off of my checklist for life. I was made to feel like something was wrong with me for not even having a checklist. How could I not be married with kids? When was I going to have the perfect job, the perfect amenities with the perfect life? When would I have all the things that would make me content? Ahhhhh!! There's the problem. Contentment doesn't come from checklists. It comes from within. Life, for better or for worse, exists without "shoulds." It's unpredictable like someone stealing your wallet on the train. It's also as unpredictable as the random friend who shows up, treats you to lunch and makes a horrible day a good one. Our focus on what we should have takes away from the things we do have. Throwing out my checklist helps me build on the now, enjoy present moments, and keeps me focused on the all the opportunities in front of me. "Should" doesn't exist. "Reality" does. Our goal is to make the best, improve on, and find the things that help us enjoy our reality. #quotes #wordsofwisdom #faith

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NYC: Hosting at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe tonight (8/11 @ 9:30pm) by Shanelle Gabriel

Come rock with me as I host the livest slam on tha East Coast! The Nuyorican Poets Cafe's Friday Night Slam brings poetry, competition, music, and cool people together under one roof.  I'll be hosting it, Rico Steel will play de tunes, and we get to see some dope folk perform. I'll drop a poem at the end  😊.

236 East 3rd Street bet Avenues B & C, Lower East Side, Manhattan.  

Get there early! The line is ALWAYS down the block!

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Lupie Update: New self-injectable version of Lupus Drug now approved!! by Shanelle Gabriel

Omg!!!! Yes!!! I actually did the clinical trial of this version of belimumab and it helped me. Super excited to finally hear that it's been approved! 💜👏🙌🏽 #lupus #lupie #lupuswarrior #lupusawareness #lupiechick #health

http://www.gsk.com/en-gb/media/press-releases/gsk-receives-fda-approval-for-a-new-self-injectable-formulation-of-benlysta-belimumab-for-systemic-lupus-erythematosus/

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Updates: DMV Birthday Show, New Song, Lupus Blog, and Andre 3000! by Shanelle Gabriel

Hey fam!

We are halfway through 2017. Isn't that crazy??! Here's to making the second half better than the first! 

I was in Atlanta over the weekend and was SUPER hyped to hear my Strayer University voiceover on the radio LIVE! Check my cheering self out on IG:https://instagram.com/p/BVPz3UXlMRo. Ha! 

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MY NEW SONG: "PESSIMISTIC"

I've been getting sooo much love! Check out my new song called "Pessimistic" aka Prove Me Wrong produced by the good fellas at JahRockn Productions. Please comment, download, and share! 

https://soundcloud.com/shanellegabriel/prove-me-wrong

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DMV AREA! 
JUNE 19TH - BIRTHDAY SHOW/CELEBRATION  

BUSBOYS & POETS BROOKLAND

On June 19th @ 8pm, I'll be celebrating my birthday early at my feature at Busboys & Poets Brookland  (625 Monroe St NE Washington, DC 20017) at 8:30pm. Hosted by the incomparable Caroline Malachi, we'll be listening to some poems, enjoying some wine, and having a good time celebrating me seeing another year. Let me know if you'll be there. :) 

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NYC Show:
July 2nd - TrapKaraoke: The R&B Edition  @ SOB's

This show sells out weeks in advance! It's 4th of July weekend, so come join me and my band as we headline at TrapKaraoke: The R&B Edition. Sign up to do one of your favorite songs in front of the crunkest crowd. Get tickets at www.trapkaraoke.com 


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BLOG: LEARN HOW I HELPED FURTHER LUPUS RESEARCH FROM MY HOUSE (You can too):

I'm just posted a blog at www.shanellegabriel.com/blog about my experience helping LIFT researchers to develop an at-home blood test people living with lupus can use to monitor their disease activity. It was super easy, and I get to get $75 for completing this study...or I can tell LIFT to donate the $75 to a lupus charity. You can do it too. Learn more by visiting here: bit.ly/LIFTStudy-sg

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LAST WEEK/WEEKEND AT A GLANCE

I was blessed to be in A-T-L last weekend to celebrate my step-dad's birthday. While at a separate event for my sorority, guess who I met... ANDRE 3000! I'm surprised I kept my cool; this man has been a total inspiration to me both lyrically and creatively. It was dope talking to him about his creative process and hearing that I'm not the only one hypercritical of my art. Now I can die a happy woman!

Me and 3 Stacks!

Me and 3 Stacks!

Thanks again for sharing this journey with me. Till next time, 

TAKE CARE!

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Shanelle Gabriel

HBO Def Poet/ Singer/ Activist & Lupus Advocate

www.shanellegabriel.com

www.twitter.com/ShanelleG

www.instagram.com/ShanelleGabriel

My experience helping Lupus Research : The Lift Study by Shanelle Gabriel

A few weeks ago, I posted on my website about a study I'm participating in for people with Lupus (like me!) It's called the LIFT study. DxTerity, a company developing genomic tests to better manage autoimmune diseases, is looking for Lupies to help them create an at-home blood test people living with lupus can use to monitor their disease activity. Imagine a genetic way to determine and track Lupus activity?? Less doctor visits, days off from work, and all of that. I'm in. If you have lupus and you want to learn more and to see if you qualify to help contribute to this groundbreaking research? Visit www.theliftstudy.com.

 

Here's my experience:
So I received my kit in the mail. The box was cute; one of my co-workers asked if I got a fancy gift from someone special. I said "No, still single. It's actually a medical test." That conversation ended right there. lol.


I waited until I got home to open my present from LIFT.  It included all that I needed to send my blood to the fab doctors who can't wait to check out my blood: alcohol prep, tube & its cover, two finger prickers, very detailed instructions, and a cute little band-aid. I turned my nightstand into a mini-lab.


It's been a while since I've had to purposely stick myself with anything (hello, blood thinners), so I definitely played a game of chicken with the finger pricker. Finally, I just took a deep breath and pressed it to my finger. I barely even felt it when it pricked me, and I squeezed a few drops into the little container. A few drops filled it to where it needed to be and the cover snapped it closed. The label was already on the box, so I just dropped it in, and BOOM! I was done. It took all of 5 minute, including the minute of me acting like a scaredy cat with the pricker. I loved the fact that I didn't have to go to a clinic like with trials I'd been a part of before. I just answered a few health surveys online and dropped the kit in the mail and I was done.


Lupus feels like the overlooked illness when it comes to research. I'm excited to be a part of something that could shed a light on disease activity, especially when so many doctors are scratching their head. So yea, all participants may get $75 for being a part of this, but what's most important is that we need more knowledge of what the genetic aspect of a lupus flare looks like. And I don't mind playing a game of chicken with the fingerstick in the comfort of my home if it can help me in the long run.


So once again, if you’ve been diagnosed with lupus, you can join lupus patients nationwide who are contributing to this groundbreaking research to help researchers develop an at-home blood test to monitor Lupus flares and activity. For more information about the study and to see if you qualify, please visit: www.theliftstudy.com.