Melissa Hevenor
Sunday July 23 , 2017
Font Size
   

Archive for the ‘Childhood cancer’ Category

A Dream Come True: The Journey To Meeting Jessie J

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

It’s been such a long time since I felt inspired to blog because my life has consisted predominately of feeling sick, going to the hospital getting treatment and coming back feeling worse during the battle for my life. Even so, overall I’m still a happy person,  I pray a lot, listen to music and use makeup to keep myself sane and inspired. I love all types of music and music has been a part of my life since I was very little in huge way. At age 5 I started taking voice lessons at the YMCA realizing very early when I was singing it didn’t matter that I was in a wheelchair. people saw my heart they didn’t assume that I wasn’t intelligent they didn’t care that couldn’t run across the playground they saw who I really was inside and not differences. Music helped me get through a world wind childhood filled with a sick mother who was a prisoner of multiple addictions. It wasn’t long before I started entering voice competitions to earn money for food and for what I called my  just in case money stash to give me a sense of security to care for me and my sister. Those circumstances put a lot of pressure on me to succeed, instead, of concentrating on that pressure, I made it a game against myself to always keep improving.

Late at night when I couldn’t sleep because I was hungry or because my mom had not returned home I would hold my hand brush in my hand and pretend to be Singing on stage with Whitney Houston as I belted it out “Saving All My Love For You” at eight years old. Whitney Houston was what I strived to be as a Singer. Fast forward to age 17 doing a voice competition in a small theater Washington D.C.I was offered a record deal. With a broken heart I turned it down because I couldn’t imagine leaving my sister and because I was a minor and my mother was too jealous to grant me the permission. My mother also could sing before drugs and alcohol destroyed her voice she could sing along with Barbra Streisand and you absolutely could not tell the difference between her voice and the record. I went into a deep depression for about a year because I wasn’t able to take that opportunity after working so hard. However, I never stopped getting good grades in school because I knew good grades and education was my only chance to do better for myself and my sister. Thank God, I had two Aunts my grandmother’s sisters who wanted me to have the world and showed me what unconditional love was. My aunt encouraged me to join the drama club when I started high school as well as choir because she saw how fearless I was on stage and how much I loved it. She used to say it may not be easy for you to get opportunity to be in front of crowds because of your differences but the world needs to see you on the stage to make a difference on a large-scale. Getting the chance to audition for Tish School of the arts in New York City was amazing and my Aunt  put money aside to save up for the train tickets and the hotel as the audition process was a  two day thing. I did my audition in front of a panel of five faculty I put my whole  heart into it, a full portfolio of how I would Direct a play by Tennessee Williams.
I was devastated when I didn’t get in until at the very last moment a professor came running out who had been on the panel and said, ” please don’t be discouraged your audition was flawless, logistically the school would be very difficult for you to manage with your wheelchair, the buildings are old elevators don’t work and the amounts of snow that we get in the winter. Of course, the rest of the panel will deny this as the reason but I could not put my head down tonight having you think it was because your audition was not good enough. There’s many amazing art schools out there just put your whole heart in that’s what matters. This was the first time I began to understand that my talent may not be enough so I started studying psychology and that’s the direction my life took. I don’t regret it at all because it prepared me for where I am now to use my intuitive/ Mediumship  skills to help people in a therapeutic way. Music was  on the front burner again as I started taking art therapy classes and realizing how much music and writing helped people with healing. Getting accepted into the University of Maryland I wanted to take dance classes as my electives. Of course, the faculty was not happy thinking I would not be able to show my skills so  how would I be graded. This time I wouldn’t take no for an answer because it was just elective classes so I learned dance notation and I could verbally tell the dancers the different routines. At the end the faculty thanked to me saying that the dancers became better dancers having to learn to truly listen to verbal instruction of the choreography.

Working as a student therapist as student Director of the suicide crisis hot line and going to school full-time in my masters program was extremely demanding so to relax at home I would watch YouTube videos of young singers when I came across Jessie J singing Big White Room. I was one of the first 100 views on that video which now has so many but I knew in that moment she would be a massive star. She had edginess of Janis Joplin the elegance of Whitney Houston and and infectious loving quality similar to the energy of Princess Diana even in the very beginning. Eventually I had to have my thyroid removed because it just stopped working once I had that surgery I was unable to sing the same way again we now know the collapse of my thyroid was probably the first sign the rare form of cancer I am now fighting that had not been diagnosed at that time. Jessie J’s passion and talent helped me  through the sadness of not being able to sing the same, even though, I could hear the music the same way and it resonated to my core, I could not reproduce the notes that I heard with the same precision.

In 2010 I lost my job as a counselor due to cutbacks and I live on savings as long as I could. When I finally lost my house in 2012 because I couldn’t make the payments, as I was packing up my belongings Jessie J’s first album who you are was playing in the background. I will never forget praying to God to give me strength and to keep happiness in my heart even through the darkness I was facing much of the time sitting alone parking  my belongings for Storage because my family had gone to heaven. The one person’s voice that was always there in the background was Jessie’s. Thankfully  had amazing friends who helped me a as much as they could but late at night when the tears would flow it was God myself and Jess.

Slowly I began  to build clientele giving intuitive readings something I had done on the side for free just to help people for years. I began to understand this was gods way of getting me on my life’s purpose to really own the gifts he had  given because I’m a very loyal person and otherwise I never would’ve quit my job to follow the path as a spiritual teacher. Having success slowly building my own business with various opportunities to do readings on stage. Most stages are not wheelchair accessible and even though, I was the entertainment often I would have to do the readings or inspirational speaking on the ground or floor in front of the stage rather than on the stage. My preparation to get ready for readings has always been listening to music beforehand, music that usually consists of pop R&B or hip hop and traveling as far as Australia to study mediumship.

The most recent challenge I’ve had to deal with for the last three years is battling cancer thank God for Technology that allows me to do readings worldwide by email or Skype in between treatment on the occasions when I’m feeling halfway normal. As usual whether I’m going into emergency surgery to remove my port because of infection, or going in for treatment Jessie J’s singing through my phone. Hearing her voice sing conquer the world even regulated my heart beat while under anesthesia.

The power of social media and an Earth Angel disguised as a Record label executive colliding with me with the help of another Earth angel who is now in heaven named Talia Castellano who taught me through her YouTube videos how to apply makeup for my public readings and inspirational speaking. Before losing her battle to childhood cancer Talia I became friends and when I was diagnosed with cancer 31/2 years ago she was my counselor even at the young age of 12.  Now I honor her by helping to carry on her legacy and finding a cure for childhood cancer because after going through this myself I’m determined no child should go through it! Working her magic from heaven she helped Jessie’s Record label  follow me and  offer to help me get tickets if JessIe performed in Florida. Not only did I get to go to Universal Studios to see her perform but was granted the opportunity to meet her.

On April 9 with 101 fever the whole night before due to an enlarged spleen from a buildup of cancer cells and an infection and pain as a result of the enlargement. I was unable to leave on the three hour car ride up to Orlando until 1230 in afternoon. After coming up with a pain medication routine and reclining the passenger seat as far back as possible we began on the journey to make the ride to Talia’s house which was about 40 minutes from Universal Studios where the concert would be that evening. Talia’s sister Mattia and mom Desiree have become part of my family and a huge support system during my own Battle with this beast known as cancer. Therefore, I wanted them to join me in this exciting Adventure of meeting Jessie J.  My friend Sandra who is my sister by choice because she’s been with me through everything losing my job losing my house losing my health traveling an hour once a week just to bring food because I couldn’t afford to buy any or because I was too sick to make it myself. Sandra is my very best friend, she knows my heart, she knows my faults, she knows my flaws, she knows my happiness, knows my sadness, she knows my abilities and my disabilities and loves me no matter what.  So she also had to be a part of this is special celebration of life through Jessie’s music.

When we arrived at the house we only have an hour before we had to leave for the concert so we quickly got out of the car and  Mattia did my makeup while Desiree Talia’s mom painted my nails. (Talia’s sister who is an amazing makeup artist like her little sister Taliajoy18 on YouTube. Although, Mattia Joyce who is also on YouTube has her own sense of style, her own sense of humor and a talent all her own while carrying on the beautiful Legacy of her little sister. ) Helping me get glammed up is something that comes very natural for Mattia and Desiree because they continue a program Talia started called Glam Wars where they go into children’s hospitals and give makeovers two little girls going through chemo and face painting to little boys going through chemo to  help them feel more confident and happy during their fight. CoverGirl provides all the makeup for the program Since Talia became an honorary Cover Girl on the Ellen  show.( To find out more about this program please go to taliaslegacy.org)

Rushing out the door we head to Universal Studios arriving early until we realize how long the customer service line was where we were supposed to pick up the passes to go to the concert. Then I find out Jessie was running late. Before long the show was about to start so meeting Jessie was delayed until after the show. I began to worry maybe we would run out of time or maybe it wouldn’t happen that is until, I reminded myself I had asked Talia to send me a sign that she would be with me in spirit. Days earlier I asked her to send me a feather representing one of her Angel feathers. Hours before the concert , Jessie posted on Instagram a picture of a hummingbird made out of paper or  Kleenex  held in someone’s hand but what stood out in the picture was the delicate beautiful feathers that were part of the hummingbird and I knew that was my sign from Talia. I sang my heart out to every song watching Jessie on the big screen because the wheelchair accessible Area was pretty far back. When the song Bang Bang came onI got a text it was the last song to start heading over where we would meet her. So we all rushed over to where we were supposed to meet her before the show. When we got there and there was a young man he said no she’s meeting you somewhere else. We followed the path through the back ways of the park and my heart began to pound as I realized how close I was to meeting her something I wanted to do for years. If I was able to get up from my wheelchair and run I would have at that moment. As we approached Jessie was seated halfway in her rental car in the passenger seat and again my brain started thinking oh she’s ready to leave she’s going to say hi and take off. This was a huge lesson for me because fear allows our mind to create a story that is so different from god’s plan. Jessie stepped out of the car walked over to me and knelt down to be at eye level with me in my wheelchair. I started to cry and I explained to her it wasn’t because she was famous it wasn’t because she was JessieJ, tears were flowing because since my family is in heaven her voice through her music is always there no matter what and to be in front of her for that reason was overwhelming. I gave her a necklace I designed that is a guitar pick that says Jessie your music helps me breathe Friends forever on the front and a music note on the back. I have a matching one that I wear all the time for inspiration and now she would have hers. Then I asked her if I could show her one more thing? Jessie replied of course you can! I apologized because I told her it was 17 minutes long, I wrote a poem using all her song titles from each of her three albums and made a video of it on YouTube. (I wrote it when I was very sick in the hospital in intensive care and the nurse told me I should be resting, it was a waste of time because Jessie would never see it. My dream was for Jessie to see the poem because I have an easier time expressing myself through writing and the poem embodied everything I wanted to say to her. Jessie sat on the ground held my hand and watched the entire thing as the tears just ran down my face as a result of the happiness that was overflowing from my heart and had to come out through my eyes. Then Jessie and I made a video that I will show the nurse tomorrow when I go to the hospital for chemo. Jessie and I had fun saying she did indeed see the poem. I showed Jessie my tattoo and explained why I have tattoos, and that the other person tattooed on my arm is Talia. Jessie said she knew who Talia was and had followed her story. This was the perfect opportunity to introduce her to Desiree and Mattia and explain why I’m so passionate about childhood cancer, since seven children die a day from childhood cancer, 46 children are diagnosed every day with childhood cancer and it is the leading cause of death for children under the age of 15 in the United States. Sadly, childhood cancer still receives the least amount of funding to find a cure getting only 4% the cancer research money to understand how pediatric cancer forms differently and come up with treatment options specific to treating childhood cancer.  Gold is the color for childhood cancer and September is childhood cancer awareness month so I gave Jessie a fuck cancer beanie with gold writing as well as shared some other ideas on how to bring awareness to pediatric cancer. I told her some secrets like who I have a crush on, I shared other private thoughts and moments for her to carry in her heart for inspiration. I wanted our time together to be one where I could give  back to her, the best of myself through writing, encouragement, laughter. and inspiration. I knew Jesse J was a special person because I can see peoples energy but she goes above and beyond she was severely jetlagged wasn’t feeling well and still made time to do a Make-A-Wish meet and greet before the concert and spent over an hour with me after the concert. I jokingly told her I was so relieved she was nice because I wouldn’t have to get my tattoo removed.

She took pictures with all of us and even invited me to see her in Miami perform so she could sing bald girls instead of bad girls in this song Bang bang! Jessie’s team was trying to arrange to get me onstage with Jess, but as usual the stage was not wheelchair accessible. It  needs to become a priority that all stages become accessible because as long as they are not there is an unspoken message silently screaming that people in wheelchairs or with differences do not belong on the stage or a  platform to be heard. I completely understand because I’ve dealt with this my whole life.  Maybe now that Jessie’s team asked for someone in a wheelchair  to be on stage it will start a small ripple that will change this unspoken discrimination. Jessie being the earth angel that she is, kept her word, I just got back from the Miami concert last night and she absolutely did sing bald girls during bang bang as well as, took the time to give me one more  hug, reassure me that she has my necklace, Tell me she loved me. And made sure Sandra and I we’re all set to get home with the chauffeur her amazing manager Cez arranged when he found out I didn’t have a car to get there. Jessie’s entire team is amazing Alisha, Jessie’s hairstylist waited patiently in the car while Jessie and I hung out. Jessie’s manager Cez made sure everything fell into place with perfection and smiled with joy as I met Jessie. They are all kindhearted legends who’s shoulders Jessie stands on to spread hope, love, empowerment, fun, and realism with the world.  Jessie and her entire team hold a special place in my heart until I see them again and one day I dream of writing a song or working on a creative project with Jessie in person or in spirit however God sees fit. I love you Jessie, Cez and Alisha forever sending you  multitudes of gratitude and carry all you in my heart.

Wheelchair Barbie-Making Big Circles in this Journey we Call The Circle of Life

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

The last couple of months have been such a roller coaster, filled with extremely high peaks and equally low valleys. Dealing with an illness is a constant battle, because each day, and sometimes, even each hour, is unpredictable. This being said, I’m so grateful for the support I have from friends who are more like family, and the community as a whole, particularly my spiritual community made up of friends/clients and everything in between. So often, people are concerned and tell me to rest or put myself first, and while I know the intention is coming from a good place, often, doing the readings is, in a way, putting myself first, because it allows me to rise above the physical experience, and connect to that ever-present love energy where perfection is not only present, but becomes attainable during the readings. The other aspect to putting myself first is the readings help to pay for transportation to get to my doctor’s appointments. The readings helps me to afford to eat healthfully. For example, Bison Bone broth which helps build my blood count and aid in a healthier digestive tract, is $11.99 a jar, and one jar is equivalent to one bowl of soup, of which it’s been recommended that I have at least on a day. While $11.99 daily, may not seem like a lot of money, the broth is the same as medicine for me and adds up very quickly. And of course, insurance will not help with the cost for the broth because it is considered a holistic approach to wellness.

The other thing that keeps me going is my effort to find a cure for childhood cancer. It is easier to attack the cousin to your illness, rather than face the need for a cure to your own illness, because the need to survive on a day-to-day basis, outweighs the need to find a long-term cure. Therefore, my plan of attack is to wear the best armor to attack the monster of cancer, as it encroaches on children who are the least deserving of a childhood filled with pain, medication and repeated hospital visits. I get strength to be victorious in my own battle from helping these littlest fighters. The month of July is extremely important to me because it tis the month that the world lost one of the most beautiful, brave, intelligent, talented warriors I have ever known, Talia Joy Castellano. One of her last Instagram posts, was a photograph of Talia;s nails and those of her mom and  her friend, Tammy, painted in  mint. So, for that reason,  Talia’s Mint Manis was started in July, to raise awareness for childhood cancer and for fundraising efforts to raise money for Glam Wars, a program that Talia started where now her mom and sister, go into children’s hospitals, and do makeovers for little girls undergoing chemo. Talia’s foundation is growing every day and making its mark against the war against childhood cancer. However, travel expenses, supplies, and various other costs add up, so in order to continue growing and spreading Talias’s Legacy, donations are a must! Please go to www.taliaslegacy.org. Go to the tab marked Glam Wars, and donate, even a dollar, to help this program. If you can’t donate, treat yourself and your loved ones, to a mint manicure, and help spread awareness about childhood cancer and Talia Joy. Currently, Talia’s Legacy foundation is selling “I Love Glam War” T-shirts. To see these awesome T-shirts, please go to taliastore.com, and check them out. Talia at her young age, taught me how to apply make-up, to appreciate the art of make-up, and inspired a passion for make-up that gave me confidence as someone in a wheelchair, and now, someone in a wheelchair with no hair. It is because of her, that I have the courage and confidence to embark on a new journey, being a representative for the amazing company, Younique Cosmetics. This brand is cruelty-free and organic in nature. The philosophy is to empower and uplift women worldwide. If you are in need of new mascara or any make-up or skin care product, please check out my new website, www.wheelchairbarbie.com, and as soon as I am a little bit more consistent with my work schedule and my physical strength improves, I will be using part of the money I make from selling and promoting Younique, to make regular donations to Talia’s Legacy and Glam Wars. For this you have my word, because the Castellanos are like family, and when you take care of family, through the circle of life, you’re taking care of yourself.

Entering the Last Year of my 30’s Invited a Birthday to Remember

Monday, May 25th, 2015

So often, we hear people complain about getting older, wrinkles or investing in anti-aging products. When, in actuality, aging is a blessing that signifies all of our triumphs, memories and the magical, crazy, beautiful, difficult roller coaster we call life. I remember entering my 29th birthday. I was nervous about preparing to say goodbye to my 20’s and embracing the 30-year mark of my life. Since that time, i’ve gone through so much that makes me not scared, but thrilled to enter the last year of the third decade of my life.  When your health is in question, it truly brings to the forefront how precious life is, and how magical the single universal gift we are each given, multiple times a day, known as breath truly is. So many children never get to experience the teen years, or turning legal at 21, much less the idea of nearing 40. I was lucky enough to have my birthday fall on a Friday, embarking on a 3-day weekend, giving even more time and liberty to celebrate a victorious year.

It started off with getting a tattoo portrait of Talia Joy Castellano. I always get my tattoos done at High Voltage in California, so I was very nervous about the idea of getting a portrait done at home, in Florida, but, after much research, I found an amazing artist named Lily, here in Ft. Lauderdale. Before entering the tattoo shop, I asked Talia for a sign if this was the right thing to do, and the first thing I noticed was there were several portraits that had the blue and pink colors of Talia’s Legacy foundation in them. Then, as I began to discuss ideas for the tattoo, one of Talia’s favorite songs by Nikki Minaj, came on, that I also took as a sign from Talia that I was in the right place. Lily, the artist, went through hundreds of pictures with me, and then visualized and chose the perfect space for the portrait, in between two of my other monumental tattoos. The first one, is the logo for my business, which now gracefully sits right above Talia, and  the second one on my wrist that symbolizes the afterlife and is a replica of the butterfly logo for Lisa  William’s business, to honor that Lisa is my mentor, and the one who helped me embrace living my purpose as a spiritual teacher, medium, and intuitive. I always wanted something between those two significant tattoos for a longtime but never knew what to get, and now the butterfly sits elegantly on what looks like Talia’s neck, which I think is pretty awesome, because on her bucket list, Talia wanted a tattoo now, symbolically, she has one that  is purple, the color for neuroblastoma. The day after the tattoo was done, I keep forgetting that it was there and when I would notice it, I could not stop looking at my arm.  Therefore, I would look down, see it, and say, “Hi, Talia,” each time. Now, I’m sure to be known in my apartment building, as the spiritual girl in the wheelchair who talks to her arm. But, that’s ok, because I’m over the moon happy and that’s what counts.

On my birthday, my bestie, Jenn, took me to the Mac store and I got to pick out two beautiful lipsticks and a eyeshadow palette with a gift certificate as a present.  I also got my cartilage pierced on the left side, to honor Talia and  Mattia Joyce Talia’s big sister. Mattia is such an inspiration as a beautiful young woman inside and out and she is so supportive of Talia’s Legacy and such a sweet friend. I was so excited to have my cartilage done reminding me of their strength and talent with makeup. I had always wanted my cartilage pierced because I thought it looked cool and now,  without hair, it is very noticeable, which I love. During this process came to the realization that getting the tattoo at this point in my fight for a cure was very empowering because it allowed me to have something done to my body that is under my control, when so much that happens with my health and to my body from being sick and in a wheelchair, that is out of  my control. The same holds true with the piercing.

I have to share with you a miraculous incident that happened during the piercing. Even though the gentleman did it with the utmost professionalism, my ear bled quite a bit. I had my spiritual prayer beads that were given to me by my spiritual teacher and guru around my neck. He asked me to remove the beads, so he could get the blood off, however, the blood had gotten on the white thread that the beads are strung onto. The beads are clear so the blood on the thread was very visible. He told me to take it home and put it in some bleach. I said I will although, that was the last thing I wanted to do, because the beads were specially blessed and prepared for me by my teacher, so I wanted to keep them in the condition that they were given to me. Before leaving the shop, I closed my eyes, took a breath, and began  praying to Jesus, Moses, Buddha, G-d, the angels, and all my loved ones in heaven including Talia, to all help restore my beads to their original condition, without the blood. When I took my necklace off at home, to see if I could clean it, there was no sign of blood. This was not only confirmation that prayers are answered, but also  reaffirmed my faith. if a blood-stained thread, can be made clean  by Divine power and love, that same Divine power can touch my body and heal it from any and all illness. Of course, to be healed has to be part of my destiny, tho the possibility for healing is there, and so as I prepare to  enter yet another treatment cycle, I hold firm that the treatment will do what it’s supposed to, giving me back the health  I once had,  and who knows? Maybe one day down the road, I will not be dependent on a wheelchair. No matter what, I will be happy and full of faith, for all that is and all that is yet to come. Tonight, I had another celebration with my two best friends, complete with a beautiful homemade cake decorated in editable make-up , so until I am well, as Talia would say, “Make-up is my wig.” no matter what the outcome, I am truly blessed to have amazing friends, lot of love, a heart full of faith, and I am thrilled to be one year closer to 40!

Marching in Search of a Cure while Finding Magic

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

While the month of March is known for the luck of the Irish, I found this March to be the luck of a lifetime. On March 16, one of my best friends, Sandra, and I headed to Orlando, Florida, to visit my friends, who are now more like family, the Castellanos. Sandra and I enjoyed the scenic drive as I told her more about Talia Joy Castellano, the sweet little angel who touched my life as I was in search of make-up tutorials, to prepare me for a large stage event. Little did I know, I would click onto a video, connecting me to a then-little girl, who would forever have a place in my heart. When Talia and I first began communicating, it was strictly about eyeliner, eyeshadow brushes, drugstore make-up vs. high-end,and things of that nature. Over time, she taught me not only about make-up, but also about life itself. In fact, as it would turn out, some of the greatest spiritual and life lessons that I live by today, were first imparted to me by taliajoy18, a make-up guru, who was in fact a spiritual guru, whether she knew it or not. Over the course of two and a half years, she taught me how to blend make-up, but also how to be proud of yourself. one of the greatest lessons we all go through is self-acceptance, and while Talia’a self-acceptance grew from battling a horrible monster known as neuroblastoma, not only did she learn to accept herself, but she also used Youtube and social media to shine like a sparkly diamond, spreading her light like a prism, embracing all colors, ethnic backgrounds and spiritual beliefs, through make-up.

I found it difficult to write this blog, because it is so hard to articulate in words the essence and beauty of Talia and her message. Then, this afternoon, I went with another best friend, to see Disney’s new version of Cinderella. That movie, in its humor, beauty and cryptic messages, gave me the inspiration to sit down and write this blog. The movie, Cinderella, addressed the lesson of self-expression and self-acceptance, and a light bulb came on in my head. Talia not only found acceptance in her circumstances, but also was able to rise above them, finding acceptance and spreading kindness. Kindness was also a repeated theme throughout Cinderella’s story, and the final ingredient in the happily ever after fairy tale was magic. Talia found her magic through make-up. In this life that we live, magic doesn’t obviously come in a bottle labeled “fairy dust.” Magic is something we have to find within ourselves and share it, through a passion that makes us happy and feel love towards ourself. Without self-love, we can not fully express who we are , and without full expression, we can not give the best of ourselves.. Therefore, because my trip to Orlando was to honor such a special person, who found her own magic, the trip itself was magical.
As we pulled up to the house, I was nervous. I wasn’t even sure why i was nervous. Perhaps, in part because of anticipation. Perhaps, in part because Talia and I had talked about me coming to visit her, several times before she passed.  Or, perhaps because I didn’t want the trip to end and I knew the minute I entered the house, the end was closer. As soon as you enter the house, you feel so much love and you understand how Talia was so extraordinary. she could not have been as confident, as talented or inspiring, if she did not have the amazing foundation of her mother, her sister and her stepfather’s shoulders to stand on. I felt as though i had been in the house so many times, recognizing all the different areas where Talia had done series
of videos. I also felt like I was coming home because Desiree, Talia’s mom had been waiting for us, and there was a delicious plate of food, with our names on them! The trip also brought up emotions for me because it had been such a long time since felt like I belonged. As we enjoyed the food, we heard stories about Talia and shared about ourselves to get to know each other even better. But, the one common factor is that we each love Talia and she had been the one who brought all of us together.
When I entered, her bedroom, I felt as though any minute she would run through the door. Her bedroom is beautiful and captures her essence perfectly, filled with tribute paintings, and portraits and, of course, and certainly not least, her make-up. the next day, as we prepared for the march, an annual fundraiser to raise money for Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital, where Talia was treated, I felt Talia with us every second as I put on my make-up, and sure enough, during a conversation about tweezers, one of Talia’s pictures fell over, a sure sign that she agreed with what we were talking about. I had planned to walk with my walker during part of the walk, but was unable to, because the pathway was too uneven, which meant that it was a team effort to push me over the course of the march. Sometimes, it was two people at once, sometimes it was Desiree who was quite familiar with a wheelchair, and sometimes it was a nice handsome gentleman, and other times, it was old and new friends lending a hand, to make sure that this member of Talia’s team was not left behind.
After the march, a group of us went to Talia’s gravesite. I have to say her headstone is by far, the most beautiful headstone I have ever seen, and it completely exemplifies what Talia was and still is. Also, there is a beautiful tree that stands guard closely to what feels like a private sanctuary. You feel nothing but peace and serenity there. I, once again, found myself emotional, not because we were at a cemetery, because as a medium, I know that Talia’s spirit is not there, but because the headstone and foot stone are so beautiful and Desiree and Mattia work endlessly to honor Talia’s memory and carry on her legacy. It made me realize how blessed she is to have such an amazing family. One can only hope, no matter how far in the future, that they are loved to such an extent that he/she is memorialized in such a way. And that brought emotions because they bring the existence of unconditional love to life. I also felt an amazing connection with the other people who were part of the team and went to the cemetery, as we all sat with our heads bowed, talking or connecting as our “No Fear, Just Faith” T-shirts were lined up around Talia’s tombstone.
After spending time there, we all went together for dinner at Talia’s favorite sushi restaurant, ordering some of her favorites. Once again, I felt her spirit as we laughed and shared stories about her extraordinary life. I also felt a huge connection with Talia’s dog, Bella. She was filled with excitement, so much love and personality. She was definitely meant to be Talia’s dog, and wanted to be in the center of everything. Just like her mother, she is tiny, but feisty. I thought I loved and respected Talia before this trip, but now the respect and love I have for her is everlasting. Her strength, happiness and talents far exceed those of most individuals twice her age. I will continue to support Talia, her legacy, and her family, until the day that the words, “childhood cancer is cured,” can be read in medical journals and shared worldwide. Until then and beyond, Talia’s Legacy will march on with a shining, magical make-up angel leading the way.

Setting Sail-in Remembrance of Talia Joy

Saturday, December 6th, 2014

This trip was special  and magical from the very beginning. There was no wheelchair-accessible van to rent to get us from South Florida, where I live, to the 3.5 hours to get to Cape Canaveral where the ship was docked, so we had to rent a regular van and borrow a transport ramp for cargo, from a local wheelchair shop. The ramp was heavy and cumbersome, as it folded in fours to make a 6-ft. size more portable. However, the dilemma still remained on how to get me into the passenger seat because it was not sturdy or safe enough for me to drive my power wheelchair up the ramp into the van. The wheelchair had to be driven by someone else into the van, and I needed assistance to get into the passenger seat of the van, which was very high in height, without a step to get into the seat. Our next-door neighbor who is a firefighter in Palm Beach county, is usually willing to lend a hand, but it just so happened that he was not at home, so my best friend ran in the rain, door-to-door, knocking on the neighbors’ doors, to see if anyone could assist helping me into the van, afraid we were going to miss the cruise. I, on the other hand, was not worried, because I knew my little angel, Talia, was going to make it happen! Then, two, beautiful, generous young men that live at the end of the street came out to help. I had met them in passing while walking the dog or at different neighborhood functions, but did not know them well. Sure enough, after they approached the van, the rain stopped briefly and a short-lived rainbow appeared. One of the young men explained that he worked from home and that he could help anytime. The two boys gently lifted me into the car. Of course, before embarking on our journey to Cape Canaveral, we had to stop at the Drive-thru Starbucks. I got a caramel macchiato, Talia’s favorite drink. Then, we were off. When we arrived, the rain stopped.

Fortunately, it was much easier getting out of the van than it was getting into it.  A nice man from the port helped Becky remove my electric wheelchair and bring it down the ramp, and out of the van, and place the ramp back safely into the car. It was easy for me to physically get out of the front seat of the van, because gravity helped me get out. We made it onto the ship at about 2:30 and the boat was set to sail at 3:00.

The boat was beautiful, and Becky and I were both filled with anticipation for what was sure to be a magical weekend. Everyone that was part of Talia’s Legacy Cruise ate in the main dining room at 5:45. It gave us a chance to get to know each other and sit as a large family in a beautifully decorated dining room. After dinner, the first night was a make-up tutorial celebration event that was kicked off by a beautiful video of Talia teaching everyone how to apply Cover Girl make-up for a night time look. Then we each got a beautiful zebra-print make-up bag, filled with make-up depending on our skin color. Therefore, I received one for very light skin and Becky received one for medium to olive skin. We also received a backpack that said “Talia Legacy Fan Cruise,” that was filled with a T-shirt, water bottle, stickers and other Talia Joy memorabilia. It was so much fun to watch the young girls, ranging anywhere from 8-18, together looking at their make-up and getting to know each other. Many of them knew each other from social media like Instagram, facebook and of course, YouTube. The host of the Talia’s Legacy event was funny and full of life.  I could feel Talia’s presence, the moment we stepped into the showroom where her event was taking place. It was also special to meet the amazing parents of these young girls who also loved Talia and supported their children, in honoring this amazing young girl.

The next morning, I woke up to rocky seas, and unfortunately, many found themselves feeling sick. I, however, like the cradle motion of a rocky boat. I was so excited because we were going to be porting in Nassau, where the famous Atlantis, the first spiritual land, existed, about 70,000 years ago before it sank underwater. Many believe that this Atlantis land is the first place where humans existed. It was thought to be a very spiritual existence, where people recognize their connection to G-d, the Creator, and had limitless possibility for spiritual evolution. It was thought to believe that technology took over, greed became prevalent, and the spiritual power present in the land was manipulated into black magic. When the darkness became prevalent, the island could not handle that lower vibration, and sank. It is believed that Abraham and his sons are the first descendants of the Atlantis people. Given all the spiritual history, I definitely wanted to go explore Nassau, and find Atlantis.

Before I got off the boat, I was able to do readings for the beautiful people in Talia’s group. One of the most magical things that happened is a young girl, accompanied by her mother, came to have a reading and Talia appeared. Talia was bubbly, excited and beautiful, with flawless make-up and her beautiful bald head. Although Talia had never met the little girl who came with her mother for the reading, she knew the little girl was a fan, and told me to tell the little girl that she visits her in her closet. It seemed like a strange message to me, but I have learned to trust what I get as a message. So I said to the girl, “Talia is here, and wants you to know that she is always with you in the closet.” As soon as I said that, the mother and girl began to cry. She said, “Oh my G-d, my make-up table is in my walk-in closet!” For those of you who may be reading this who don’t know, Talia Joy was a beautiful young lady who battled cancer for six years, and during that battle, learned to use make-up as a way to feel confident and express her personality after losing her hair. At the young age of 12, Talia bcame a Youtube sensation with her make-up tutorials, and a recognized make-up artist worldwide in her videos, which also chronicled her battle with cancer.

When I got off the boat at Nassua, where Atlantis exists, it was pouring rain, and the port was like nothing I have ever experienced. People and taxis, and vehicles, and vans, going in all directions with what seemed like no order whatsoever, as little ants all going indifferent directions. when asked about wheelchair accessible transportation, most said no, until there was an older gentleman, who said, “Yes, yes,” however when he pulled up, they pulled out a very narrow, slippery manual ramp that was very steep and I quickly responded, “Thank you, but no thank you;” realizing that it wasn’t worth putting my safety at risk going up the ramp to get into the van. then, a young gentleman stepped out from a little office, that was part of the port, and said, “I know a gentleman who has an automatic ramp that will be much safer for you. I said, “thank you. that sound s like a plan. The funny thing was it became so obvious that Talia was with us this whole time, as Becky was wearing a black “Talis’s Legacy” T-shirt, that stated “no fear, just faith” on the back, and so many of the Bahamian gentlemen were saying “Oh my G-d, no fear, just faith. Love it, praise G-d!” Then, a gentleman walked up to us and said “I’m a pastor of a church. That is great. No fear, just faith. G-d bless you.” And after patiently waiting, a large white van pulled up, with a friendly, heavy-set man with a gorgeous smile who let down an automatic ramp to lift me into the van. On the short ride over to the Atlantis Hotel, one could feel the history on the streets of Nassau, made up of cobblestone; some in need of TLC, but standing proudly, in colorful combinations of a culture built on rich history, and a feeling of community through the Bahamian hospitality. When arriving at the Atlantis Hotel, it demanded attention, and exuded prestige. Pink in color, with gorgeous landscape and fountains at its entrance. The driver let us know that it cost $45 to tour the outside of the hotel, which encompassed small cave-like structures on the grounds that were the exact location of the famous Atlantis island. However, if you went to where the tour begins after 5:00, there is no one to take the payment for the tour and you can freely explore the grounds, and it became ever so clear, which is why we had to wait as long as we did to find the right transportation, bringing us closer to the beloved 5;00 hour, that allowed for free exploration of the land. We walked through this lavish hotel filled with chandeliers made of sea horses, crystals and other sea-inspired decor, colorful carpets, and beautiful boutique-style shops lining the hallways of the hotel. On the lower level of the hotel, there was even a gorgeous art piece that encompassed different shards of crystals, a gigantic crystal sculpture, and I ran into one of the beautiful girls from Talia’s group, and took a picture with her. Then, going back up to the first level of the hotel and walking what seems like an endless corridor, until we got to the end, where you could walk outside through cave and canyon-shaped structures that were created over land that exists above the Atlantis island that is now under water. The caves were filled with glass so you could see the aquarium, or fish, swimming underwater, as you walked through. Becky and I both felt dizzy from the strong vibration of energy that existed in this area. The fish looked like they were out of a cartoon, because they all seemed to be smiling at you. There was a small paved pathway that made it easy to walk through the caves. At the edge of this walkway were the walls of the cave, and if you looked down, you could see an endless supply of crystals which were in their natural formation. To say it was breathtaking, does not even compare to the experience of seeing everything firsthand. At one point, I placed my left hand on the wall of the cave and instantly began downloading information about my previous life on the island of Atlantis, of course, before it sank. I was with my tribe of heart-centered individuals who worked in a kibbutz-like setting, to empower and support the achievement and enlightenment of society. I then heard a message from the ancestors who lived during my incarnation on Atlantis, and I was told, “Go forth in your current incarnation, knowing that we, the ancestors of Atlantis, fully support your movement of love and enlightenment, as you carry the torch in this lifetime. We supported G-d in the effort to bring you and Rebecca together, to forge through with the message of love and empowerment that existed in the fully self-actualized community over 70,000 years ago. There is nothing to fear, for now the people are ready for the high vibrational consciousness and the island will not sink.” I am still trying to process and understand this message, although its power, reverence and realization is becoming more tangible every day. Some of those who I met in Tampa, through Speaking Empire, also stood with me in this past life in Atlantis, and several who I’ve known for a long time in this lifetime, who are part of my core tribe, were also present in the visions of the past life in Atlantis. Time stood still, while Becky held my hand while downloading this amazing energy from Atlantis, and understanding the journey of present-day Atlantis. Without even realizing it, we missed our appointed Dinner Time, and were in a rush to make to back to the boat before it got late.

The second we left the caves, it began pouring rain once more, but this time in monsoon form. The driver who dropped us off, picked us up at the front of the hotel. He said, “it is believed when it rains, it is translucent blessings G-d is pouring over your head, that will continue to take form, even after the rain has stopped.” This makes perfect sense, because since the enlightened and blessed experience of Atlantis, the blessings have been non-stop. I, personally, believe we also invite blessings form G-d when we follow our intuition or take that first step, like my desire to get off the boat and see Atlantis. That is where the concept of “G-d helps those who help themselves,” comes into play. The blessings unfold after we start the movement that perpetuates them forward, through following our inner guidance, prayer and actively living in faith. It was quite funny experiencing the port in the  ”after hours,” because unlike the masses of people running around like ants, like when we first arrived, the port was like a desert land, with not a soul around. Dimly lit by street lamps, full of open space unavailable just a few hours before, we hurried back up to the ship, like wet rats, soaked from top to bottom. Then, rushed to the cabin to change into formal wear, to attend the second event in talia’s memory, known as a Glow Party. I threw on my evening dress, some of the make-up I had received the first night in Talia’s make-up bags, and tried to untangle my wet, wind-blown hair. As soon as we entered the showroom where the event was taking place, we were handed a glow necklace and adorable pink ring that lit up, as the DJ played some of Talia’s favorite dance music. I was soon greeted by Desiree, Talis’a mom, who was worried because we were not at dinner, but happy to see us at the party. We all danced as a group to Taylor Swift’s epic song, “Shake it Off.” One of the greatest gifts I received while on the ship, was reconnecting with Talia’s sister, Mattia, who I’d met in person, at Talia’s memorial service. Mattia has become even more elegant, articulate, and a powerful force in the effort to make a tremendous positive difference in this world through her own talents, while carrying with elegance and beauty, Talia’s legacy in all its glory, on her shoulders, alongside of her mother.   I was so excited to meet Tammy Delarosa, who is one of Talia’s adult best friends, and, of course, like family to Desiree and Mattia who is the genius individual behind so many of the beautiful photo shoots of Talia and Mattia, and I was filled with joy myself as Tammy took pictures of me with Mattia and Desiree holding a huge size of Talia’s honorary Cover Girl picture. It will also be a dream come true to have a photo shoot session with Tammy, and visit with Desiree and Mattia in the very near future. I got to dance with Desiree, and so many new friends, who were also fans of Talia’s. It was fun and it was a beautiful ending to an already extraordinary day.

Sunday, the last day on the ship, we docked at Coco Kay beach, a small island, with little tiki huts, and the weather was perfect, not a cloud in the sky. Though I was happy, because there was still quite a rumble in the sea. I did not get off of the boat in Coco Kay because I had scheduled readings with passengers, and then Rebecca and I sat in the sun, on the deck of the boat, doing work that needed to be complete before my next adventure to Sanibel Island and back to Tampa, for collaboration with Speaking Empire. It is amazing how much work you can complete when there is no distraction of phone, computers, chores and other daily routine “to -do” list items pulling at you. Before we knew it, it was time to get ready for our group dinner at 5:45. This time, which was casual in nature, of course, wearing a Talia T-shirt, supporting that feeling of community and respect for Talia and her family. It was nice to reconnect to our dining room table group that we met the first night, and talk to them about our adventure in Atlantis. Then, it was time for the last night’s event, a Remembrance Night in honor of Talia. This event was by far my favorite. they showed never-before-seen video of Talia, along with unseen family photos, and then, one by one, people got up and began telling their story of how they knew talia and how she made an impact on their lives. So many girls came up to speak, who had never actually met Talia, but her message of hope had saved their lives by her YouTube videos, by helping them feel beautiful when they felt lost, alone and insecure. Before I knew it, I was being encouraged to speak about my little angel, Talia. So, I shared my story of meeting her over YouTube and how she gave me encouragement to embrace the love that I had for make-up and use that love to continue inspiring people and feel good about myself, even in the face of my own limitations and physical illness. As to be expected, all of us were brought to tears that night, although somehow I managed not to cry while speaking of her, even though my voice shook the whole time. I realized I’m quite comfortable speaking in front of people. However, when talking about someone I want to honor, who has impacted me personally, I felt nervous, wanting to  make sure that my words could somehow articulate the beauty, the intelligence, multi-faceted talent, and the inspiration and reverence that is, was and forever will be, Talia Joy Castellano.