Random: Battling Insecurity by Shanelle Gabriel


Shhhhh… Okay, it’s taken me a while to admit this aloudI've been dealing with a LOT of insecurity over the last few years. Yes, boo, YEARS! What I thought was me protecting myself, my finances, my life, was really fear. I was scared to create because "someone didn't invite me to a writing retreat _x_ years ago, so I must be whack." I was scared to consider a new business because "I'm comfortable where I am, and what if I get sick again?" I dated a guy I wasn't REALLY that excited about because "well, even though he's not what I really want in a partner, he's consistent." I had all of these negative and limiting thoughts about myself that was very much reflected in how I treated every aspect of my life. Feeling like something was wrong, broken, I got a therapist to help me process the thoughts that seemed to only come when I was in my car driving home or when I was home alone on a Friday night. I began to think about the ideas I had about myself, things I would NEVER tell someone else, mostly forged from solitary, specific moments (many of which could have been taken out of context or were told to me by people who have no control of my success). And after I finally began the process of unraveling this tightly wound up ball of insecurity, a shift happened...

First, it was Milan, Italy. Someone who heard me years ago made it her business to book me for the Fast Company Magazine's European Innovation Festival. She gave me the seemingly impossible task of creating 5 poems on the spot inspired by the tech and health-based panels the two days of the event. For someone fighting an "am I good enough?" bug, this was a visit from an exterminator. While failing would have made the bug reproduce and infest my mind even more, but my desire to go to Italy for the first time made me risk it. And low and behold, I rose to the occasion each time! I actually liked what I wrote, and I can't remember the last time I was so proud of myself. (Check it out at www.youtube.com/shanellegabriel. Anywho, it’s bananas that I had to go abroad to kick-off the thought that I was, well, I am fly.

I remember meeting my mentor-in-my-head Andre 3000 a while back. To have him confess that he hadn’t released any of his music because he wasn’t in love with what he was creating should have foreshadowed where I’ve been the last few years. Almost 15 years ago, I created poems and songs, not because I was the baddest mamajama that picked up a black pen, but because I just wanted to share. I created as my world unfolded. I was hungry, I was happy, and living my best artistic life. What changed? My emotional life. Losing my mom, my faith in God, so many no’s, being hospitalized on the road, terrible dating experiences, and watching others’ lives pushed me into a place where I no longer knew what I was supposed to be doing. It made me second-guess what my life was supposed to be. The words “supposed to’s” can kill any dream and any vision.

Knowing all of this, where am I now? I’m still fighting to embody the following premises:

  1. God doesn’t give you talents that He doesn’t want you to use.

  2. Comparison is how you miss the blessings laying at your feet waiting to be picked up

  3. Don’t believe IG (so many people flaunt things on their profile that they only have access to on the day of the shoot. Ex. rented cars, borrowed clothes, their husband/wife, etc.)

  4. Do your thang because you love it. If they love it too, that works. Lead with your passion, not your head.

  5. There are numerous “experts’ who are in actuality NOT experts who are living life, making money, touring, writing books, and living their best life. Why do you think you, with all of your talent, experience, skills, ambition, and natural ability, think YOU CAN’T WIN??? COME ON NOW!

I just felt like sharing that with you all. I know someone else is going through this as they figure out their life goals and next steps. I’m still figuring it out, but I feel in a much better place than I was before to make it happen.

Peace y’all!

NaPoWriMo Day 1: Naked by Shanelle Gabriel

He told me my hips 

were worth more than my ass

My teeth

More than my lips 

My brows

more than the spirals 

That shelter my scalp

My hands 

On his body worth more than 

My ability to glide fingers 

Across his heart

I asked him what price was he willing to pay

He smiled 

Like a careful curator

In possession of priceless collections 

Always surrounded by beautiful things 

That never stay

I ask him what was my naked body worth

And he said nothing if not next to mine

Listen to my latest release: “Prove Me Wrong (Pessimistic)” by Shanelle Gabriel

Hey family!

If you REALLY follow me, you might have heard this song. Well, it’s now on iTunes, Spotify, and more! If you feel unlucky when it comes to love, hopefully this capture what dating someone new can feel like.

Check it out on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/prove-me-wrong-pessimistic/1454881897?i=1454881898

Check it out on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/7AlzlsdKERHfBTuxXc5ubf?si=BoERR9gwRh-jAEiA2b9kSg

Prove Me Wrong SINGLE.png

New Poem: Education vs. Reality by Shanelle Gabriel

One of the most common questions

Students ask me

Next to can I use the bathroom 

Or is this required 


Like “Ms. Shanelle, tell me. Is this stuff we actually need”

Now ask a math teacher they’ll sing of the 

Pythagorim theory

And that length times width times height 

Helps you decorate your apartment right

“nah miss. I can eyeball and tell if a couch can fit.”

Ask a Social studies teacher

They’ll say study the past because it’s bound to repeat

“But the market crashed mad times and we still put our faith in Wall Street”

Ask a Science teacher 

And they’ll say you need to understand biology

“My momma taught me the birds and the bees. 

We don’t grow our own food

My block has like one tree

Is it really important to learn about life cycles

And plant cells versus the cells in me”

I have to laugh

Because these are the students with a 0.3

1.0 and 1.5 GPA

They have a point

What can I say

I know I’m speaking to the students 

Who feel textbooks might as well be bars

Who feel trapped between bending to the system

and being who they are

Who in any other world would be academic stars

But they’ve been assigned to my makeshift class

So I ask 

Well what to you want to learn?

Nastasia pauses

Cracks the silence with her gum

Then they chime in at once


What’s real to a 16 year old?

Only the things they’ve seen

So they ask how to get an apartment 

The difference between credit and debit cards

They ask if blacks back then were ONLY slaves

Never heard of Black Wall Street

Never heard the history of their community 

That Flatbush was once a battleground 

Not just for Bloods and Crips

Or Deceps 

They ask for help with resumes

And Nia who stays 

On her phone doesn’t know there’s a way

To sync her life to her calendar to aid her in not being late

Teaching them reality 

Fuses what we believe they need 

With the world they see

Doesn’t confuse culturally responsive

With cultural relevancy

Doesn’t confuse learning students using actual facts

With “I want to relate to my students so I take a hip hop dance class”

True story

An educator told me that

I spend the first week asking them who they are

While sharing who I am

Try to merge the world they know

What when they need to understand 

Show them the skill they have

Can transfer in and out the class

Like Ricky’s ability to make people laugh

Will be the same thing that closes deals

And believe it or not 

Grace’s eye rolls relate to her ability

To call it as she sees it

To keep everyone accountable

And I swear Mark could talk the 

The devil back into heaven 

While he doesn’t his future as a lawyer planned

The reality is 

We think they have so much to offer later

When they have all these neglected tools right now

The reality is learning goes both ways

Our young people have so much to tap into 

We just need to take the time to learn how

“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.


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 


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



(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


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

Follow on IG:


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.


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.




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


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!


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