When Mantras and Bible Verses Fail

Some days the reminder that I am a single parent comes rushing through my spirit like a gust of Chicago wind. It rustles my emotions and whirlwinds my plans. While “single mother” is not synonymous with “fatherless,” most days there is an imbalance of active parent participation. A mismatched level of accountability that hovers over our co-parenting routines. I feel heavy today. Skylar needs to learn to potty. Imani needs to be pushed to balance school and to practice her basketball skills. Josiah needs to exercise more and to be told what he is doing right more times than what he is doing wrong. I just launched an online retail store that needs marketing. I have 4 dependents. None of them will be successful without me. To hold so many futures in my hands at once is exhausting. Especially on days when my super powers are running low. In the hours where my own thoughts are kryptonite. These are the moments when mantras and Bible verses fail. When my throat hurts from trying to hold back tears. When my belly jerks a little because short breaths are the cure for anxiety. Trying to think a positive thought seems like too much thought.

Feels Overwhelmed

I need a crying room right now. A place to just scream, cry an ugly cry, toss the wind back out to the world, and to have the biggest temper tantrum an adult can have. Sometimes I need space to be unreasonably emotional. I don’t have a crying room so my room will have to do. My pillow will have to muffle the yelling and the wind will have to exit quietly under the bedroom door. The soaking power of pillows beats Brawny paper towels any day! I take this moment to ALLOW MYSELF TO LOSE IT!


When I start feeling like loss is all I have I tend to lose IT. Well, I don’t really lose IT, I just throw IT down then stomp on IT until I’m ready to pick it up, dust it off, and hold on to IT again. Much like a toddler, when tantrum is over I will just have to get up and fall in agreement with the things expected of me. On the other side of this cry the situation doesn’t change. Skylar will still be pottying on Imani’s floor, Imani will still need to be yelled at to condition for basketball, Josiah will still need me as a drill sergeant if he’s ever going to exercise, and my company will still need me to network to push it forward. The before-the-breakdown me is different from the after-the-breakdown me. Releasing tears is an essential part of a spiritual detox. Though I did not consciously choose this detox my body knew it was time to rid myself of some emotions. I will probably cry on and off through the night. A good detox could take some time. I had an epiphany last week that the eyes are funnels to the brain. Everything I’m viewing is being screened through previous experiences and being sifted into my psyche as being one thing or the other. However, this is not 2002, I am not a college kid with two kids and a part-time job. I am not fighting the same battles. I am not a teen mom trying to prove to everyone that I can succeed. I am successful. I will continue to succeed.

AND just like that my mantras float back…..”Success is easy for me” “No matter what success continues for me” “I am moving forward into opportunity” “This moment in life is new and I will live it as such!”

Line up the responsibilities. Let’s rumble!

Finding Your Flow: Day 1- Finding Security


Today’s meditation was about operating with secure energy vs insecure energy. About a year ago, during a Reiki session it was revealed that I was living in fear. The person who performed the session supplied me with a mantra – “the universe will protect me.” Since then, I repeat this mantra to myself anytime fear arises in my spirit. Today’s meditation was a reminder that feeling safe allows me to overcome the fear of not knowing what will happen next in my life.


1. Observe and be with my feelings. I don’t usually want to have any feelings, therefore I deny them often. Being pregnant doesn’t allow this. This is a great time to engage in my feelings.

2. Insecure Energy. When I feel insecure I feel anxious and I throw myself into planning mode. I try to calculate the move of every significant person in my life and every dollar in my bank account. Insecurity clouds my judgement of what to do and leaves me with lots of questions.

3. Secure Energy. When I feel secure I feel confident, unstoppable, immortal even. These are the most powerful moments in my life. These are the moments where I usually have the most random idea which ends up impacting the most people.

4. Meditation is powerful. Who knew that sitting down, hushing up, and breathing could result in better health!

5. Safety is real. Safe is something I can actually be.

6. I speak up, I stand up, I walk in what I feel because I feel safe doing so.

7. The world is more safe than we have been led to believe.

8. Feeling insecure will create a fear of things that are not real.

9. I am good at reminding myself that I am safe. I am now moving into a space of maintaining feelings of security for longer periods of time.

10. Fear and security are like switches in the brain. When fear is on, security is off. When security is on, fear is off.

Poem inspired by classical composition

Poem inspired by “Debussy: Nocturne (1892)”

If Dreams Had Dance

 If dreams had a dance,

I’d call it rain;

the first movement would involve,

a she curtsy,

a he bow,

and a wink of agreement;

his arms extended in invitation,

her arms flirting back in wonder,

toes tapping like magic wands on the windshield of “voila.”

 they’d slide past roaring piano tones

like clouds tip through thunder,

calm eyes,

dim lit romantic posture,

prancing elbows;

the second movement would include,

shifty air pushed away by his pull;

she’d flail gently from the belly of a cloud,

they’d become one mist,

and two moments of cooled dew drops.

If a dance had dreams,

I’d call it nocturnes,

an evocation of night showers,

an adoration for a musical water cycle;

the third and final movement would be,

the evaporation of a key stroke;

he’d play her chords till clouds wrung empty,

the night would still,

rest would have to happened,

a beautiful new would be conjured;

alas he and she would have enjoyed it till end,

they’d retire an everlasting evening in the palm of mystery.

Steps to vulnerability pt 2

What is this term that means so much yet feels so unsafe? Vulnerability. The ability to be “vulnerable.” One of the reasons I am unable to be emotional is because I have to define everything before engaging in it. Now that I actually google the definition for the word vulnerable I am not exactly sure I want to be vulnerable. The web definitions found explain that vulnerability is the state of being exposed to the possibility of being harmed or attacked. Well, I have now scared myself out of being vulnerable. Who wants to be exposed to the possibility of attack? Knowingly? Why? For love?


First, I visit the idea of something emotional, then I define the emotion, and finally I decide to not feel the emotion. As of this moment I am feeling like I don’t want to be vulnerable at all. Maybe this is just a fancy way of saying when we seek or find relationships we let our guards down. What if letting your guard down lets a terrorist in, ya know, the love gobbling mate that shoots down your heart? “Ah ha!” Trust is a part of vulnerability. What does this even mean? I have to trust that he/she is possibly ok to let into my safe space because I desperately want to rid myself of some emotion. Is this why people want to fall in love so much? Are we all walking bottles of water just waiting for the cap to be twisting or our sides to be pierced in relief? I want to fall into someone’s arms and feel safe there. However, these feelings come once a month or on during chick flicks. How real is this yearning for these special love arms?

Step 2: If I am ever going to allow myself the comfort of vulnerability I have to trust. I cannot use definitions as a barrier between the realization of emotion and the actual feeling of the emotion. At the same time I have to find a way to evaluate my feelings without the evaluation turning me so cold.

Slam Alexandria

A promoter once said to me “when you have worked hard to put an event together, then the day of the event you look out into a packed room and realize that all of those people are there because of your hard work…there’s nothing like it!” He has never been more right. When I looked into the audience at Slam Alexandria last night I almost shed a tear! The Northern VA Fine Arts Association is an awesome organization of great people. They welcomed Slam Alexandria with smiling faces and open arms.

3pm- I was getting my hair done while handling some drama. All week I had been super excited about Slam Alexandria then opposing forces throw up potential road blocks in my energy.

4pm- I get over it as best I can for the moment. Fall asleep until my hair is complete.

5pm-a poet texts me and asks me to pick her up. My energy level begins to rise again. I am excited! I’ve double checked on the equipment for the musician, out-of-town poets were making their way up, and everything is a go!

6pm-I’m supposed to be at the venue. The poet who said she would be at the train station at 6pm is running a little behind. The band is setting up, the out-of-town poets have arrived, my special helper (Bea) has arrived and everyone is like “where is Shelly?”

Well, I know that I am usually late so I scheduled the band at 7pm therefore allowing me time to get there by 8pm for the slam. My mentor and artistic consultant Dasan Ahanu was not buying that reasoning. It’s true! I have to set myself up for success by recognizing the person that I am.

7pm-the poet arrives at the train station. I zoom over to The Athenaeum (venue). The room was filling up fast. Everybody is like “where’s Shelly?”

7:25-found parking, jogged up the street in heels, made into the building and their were barely any seats. The band was rocking out like I knew they would!

Somewhere around 8pm- East of Beautiful, the band which I am now a part of, peer pressured me into doing the song I didn’t want to do, but I DID IT! Now my band cherry has been popped and I am ready to get live on stage! I was so nervous, my mom was right in front of me, Dasan (my mentor and everything else great) was like three rows back. I enjoyed it. The energy of performing with a band is like nothing you’ve ever felt before.

The rest of the night was one amazing moment after the other. Every time I got to the mic to announce the next poet during the first round one or two people were entering the venue. We ran out of chairs. This was exactly the way I envisioned it in meditation. Part of my preparation for an awesome event is throwing that energy out to the universe and believing it will boomerang back. The creator hasn’t failed me yet. I ask for great events with great people wherein somebody will walk away wondering when this experience will happen again. For those who asked the question of when this event will happen again MARK YOUR CALENDARS April 13, 2012, live band at 7pm, slam starts at 8pm, cash prizes, cash bar. Be there!

Pura Vida,
Shelly Bell

Narcoleptic and Overweight

The Build up…

In my “Tell Me Your Secrets” video I revealed to the world that I have Narcolepsy. This is the main reason for my weight gain. Narcolepsy impairs the part of the brain that handles metabolism. I was diagnosed with Narcolepsy after a “Multiple Sleep Latency Test” which is a test where you stay up for a certain amount of time, then lay down in a dark room and they measure how fast you fall asleep. The average person falls asleep and dreams in 30 minutes to an hour. I can fall asleep and dream in 5 mins. This means that my body is falling too deep into sleep too fast. Falling a sleep is a process for most of America! For me it’s like falling into a coma.

Upon deciding to pursue my dreams I decided to quit my good paying full-time job as a teacher. This is by far the best decision I have even made in my life, however, I had to sacrifice my insurance. This means that I don’t have access to my medicine. I have been prescribed two medications Provigil and Xyrem. Provigil helps me stay awake and Xyrem helps me sleep without dreams. Provigil is the equivalent of about 8 cups of coffee in one pill. When I don’t have my medicine my body craves caffeine and in reality it is pretty much the only thing that can keep me awake. I have lots of it, at least two cups with cream and lots of sugar in order for it to really work. Xyrem is basically the date-rape drug and is not to be played around with. I have to be sitting in bed when I dilute a couple drops with water and drink the solution. According to doctors I will have to take medicine for the rest of my life unless my schedule permits me to take naps during the day.

Taking matters into my own hands…

I have gained back every inch of the 30 pounds I had lost. I am beginning to feel less agile and my clothes are a task to put on. I cannot afford my medicine without insurance so I have decided to take matters into my own hands.

1. Set a goal of losing 10 pounds a month

2. Try a variety of metabolism boosters

3. Exercise at least 30 minutes daily

4. Use 5 hour energy drinks to stay awake

5. Weigh in at the beginning of every week

6. Blog about my experience

7. Drink lots of water

8. Eat three meals a day

9. Take Metamucil daily to increase fiber intake and help keep me regular

10. Try to get to sleep early

Also in my “Tell Me Your Secrets” video I mentioned my addiction to wine and sweets. I went grocery shopping yesterday at Walmart and DID NOT BUY EITHER OF THESE! I am proud of myself. This week is the beginning of my weight loss journey once again. I lost 30 pounds last year and was able to keep it off for a year. I celebrate that. I don’t see that as failure. It took me so long to understand my body. I now know that it’s ok if I gain weight. I just have to be conscious of the health risks and know when to say “ok Shelly, this is getting ridiculous.”

DAY ONE WEEk ONE here we go!!

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Pura Vida,

Heartless Behavior…The Selfish Cousin Story


My daughter, Imani Bell, is totally in love with this group of young boys called “Mindless Behavior.” She did not inform me until the last-minute that they were coming this way and she wanted to go to the concert. There was a concert on December 30th in Greensboro, NC and on December 31st in Norfolk, VA. My daughter’s birthday is Dec. 31st. This would have been the ultimate birthday gift! On Christmas day in North Carolina I was asking my cousins if anyone was available to take her to either concert I would be willing to pay for their ticket. If anyone was available to take her to the one in Norfolk I would be willing to help pay for whatever it would take to get her there.

My cousin then begins explaining to the family in the room at the time that she is now a “wish grantor” for the “Make A Wish” Foundation and will be attending the Mindless Behavior concert on Friday in Greensboro, NC with a child is a part of the foundation. She explained that the child had a 5 months to live and her wish was to meet Mindless Behavior. I was like wow! That’s awesome that she will actually get to meet them. The conversation continued into her voicing that she wanted to take her daughter and couldn’t because as a wish grantor this is not allowed. I informed her that I would pay for her ticket if she would take my daughter to the one in Norfolk the next day. We began an exciting conversation of how we could get both her daughter and mine to the concert. She would only have to pay for one ticket because I would pay for the other. I also agreed to pay half or for all of a rental car for them. We began looking up ticket prices and rental cars. The concert in Norfolk was completely sold out.


On Imani’s birthday, she appeared to be more sad than happy. Since her birthday is during the holiday season she had her birthday sleepover a week prior to her actual birthday. She said that she felt like she wanted to do something special for her birthday. Being that she had the sleepover early it felt like there was no celebration on her actual birthday. She cried on and off all day. I explained to her that the Mindless Behavior tickets were sold out and we would do our best to try and find another one of their concerts to attend. We went out to eat with family for her birthday and chilled out together at my mom’s house for NYE. She eventually became happier once we were around family.


While Imani is somewhat depressed on her birthday my cousin and her daughter drive all the way from Durham, NC to Norfolk, VA and attend the Mindless Behavior concert without even calling us. BUT WAIT…the concert was sold out…how did this happen?

1. Friday, December 30th said cousin arrives at Mindless Behavior concert as a wish grantor for dying child

2. They spend time with Mindless Behavior before their concert.

3. My cousin says to the manager ” I know my daughter is mad at me right now because she wanted to be here.” He replies, “Well we have a concert tomorrow in Norfolk” She says “yea I know but it’s sold out” He says “If you guys come I will let you in”

My cousin said nothing to us about this. Just so happened that she told my mom a week later or we would not have known. My mom did not want to tell me because she knew I would be upset, but she did and I am. That’s fucked up.

My issue with this is…

1. I sparked the concert conversation on Christmas day. She didn’t even know of a concert in Norfolk until then.

2. I volunteered to pay for her ticket and half on a rental car therefore this was very important to my daughter.

3. If it were me I would have textd her from backstage like “Shelly! Get imani ready we are going to the Norfolk concert!”

4. I feel like it was selfish to not even call and tell us.

5. You mean to tell me she drove all the way from the state she lives in to the state that I live in to attend a concert I asked her to take my daughter to, got in for free with her daughter and couldn’t even call us? WOW!

Our family is considered to be close-knit. All I could do when my mom told me is go WOOOOW!! This affects my daughter much more than it affects me, however I realize that my family is changing. We are not as close as we used to be. Not as close as my grandmother probably hoped we’d stay after she passed. I am still like “WOW, really? that’s how we do now? O aight.”

At the end of the day that was fucked up…Imani’s feelings are hurt and so are mine, but a selfish person could careless about anyone but themselves. This most definitely causes a separation amongst us. It’s not about the concert really, it’s principality! She couldn’t even just call and tell us though? WOW! smh.

The Intimate Friends Photo Project

From the creative spirit of Shelly Bell and her favorite photographer Douglas Jacobs comes the artistic expression between two friends. This project is purely artistic and is meant to capture intimacy without regard to race, gender, nor sexual preference. Music by DJ Love Jones, Photographs by Douglas Jacobs. -created at http://animoto.com

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What makes you my friend?

My grandmother was the kind of person that welcomed everyone in as a family member. If you had ever been introduced to my grandma then you know that you can come back to any family function or stop in whenever you like to talk to her. My mother is welcoming when it comes to helping people, but she is the type that keeps people at arm’s length. She listens to their conversation and most times she trusts them until they slip up and say something that’s untrustworthy. Then theres me! I generally trust everyone whether stranger or not. I could consider myself too trusting, but it’s much more fun to lead my life unguarded. When you don’t trust people there’s always this thought of what harm they can cause. Since I’ve started Seven City I have met lots of people. I’ve met cool people, straight people, gay people, transsexual people, negative people, depressed people, mean people, rude people, selfish people, nice people, caring people, etc. You get the point! I’ve come into contact with lots of people. However, I have always been my cool, down-to-earth, talkative, tactless, intuitive, debating, questioning, unapologetically open self.

The part of me that people meet is usually the talkative intuitive down-to-earth side. Because of this I guess it is assumed that if we ever get into a disagreement I will handle them differently from other people. The truth is in my world right is right and wrong is wrong. If I’m wrong I want a friend to give it to me straight like “shelly that was some bullshit” then explain why. Reason being this is what I do. It has come to my attention lately that the people I have been spending the most time with are not necessarily my friends. It’s like Drake said “it’s way too many people here right now that I didn’t know last year, who the f**** are yall?” As time moves forward people show you who they really are. Everybody is cool until we disagree then my tactless debating questioning side comes into play and people get confused. As I get older I become more tactful and less apt to debate. I am pretty sure I will be talkative forever! As I get older I realize that I am real cool with myself and I am willing to lose friends for this purpose.

In reality, if we were friends at all you would know the cool down-to-earth Shelly is the same as the talkative debating tactless Shelly. You would know that I care about you no matter what you do. You would know that I give my all to those around me just because I think it’s the right thing to do. I am also realizing that sometimes I need to ask the question “What makes you my friend?” This is not the sandbox on the elementary school playground where making friends means we are in the same class and we play together. I reserve the right to my own sandbox and my own class of people I want to associate with. If you don’t like my sandbox then don’t play with me. My friends of 10 years or better are probably the most real relationships I have. These relationships are not affected by time, disagreements, and fickle misunderstandings. To be a friend is a lifelong thing. I have to be more careful about who I call a “friend.”

Pura Vida,

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