Melissa Hevenor
Thursday May 25 , 2017
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Archive for the ‘Disability rights’ 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.

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!

We’ve Come So Close but Yet so Far with Embracing Equality

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

As many of you know from following me on social media, I love what I do. I love Spirit and 99% of the time, I love my life. I have always been blessed to serve as an advocate for my fellow members who are differently-abled, or historically labelled “handicapped.” I think it is amazing how far we’ve come, when someone like myself, can be widely embraced and supported through social media or someone like Amy Purdy, an amputee, who is conquering the world one activity at a time, and making a statement in Hollywood, and still, there is so much further to go. I love the blessings and opportunities that the universe is allowing for me as I have a growing clientele who work in Hollywood and the entertainment industry, and, as to be expected, as that clientele has grown, doors have opened, inviting me to be showcased on various media platforms such as talk shows and/or television appearances. Unfortunately, the sad reality is realizing, after interviews and being watched by interested parties, the studios where the appearances would take place, are not wheelchair-accessible. This unspoken barrier in Hollywood floors my mind, when there have been television shows such as Push Girls, that center around women in wheelchairs, and other tv shows with main characters who are in wheelchairs. Although, it does explain why able-bodied actors are used to portray characters in wheelchairs.

I am certainly familiar with the stigmas that can surface in areas of art or artistry. For example, in my first two years of college, I was the first individual in a wheelchair to take choreography, Dance Notation, History of Hip-Hop, Intro and Advanced Modern Dance, and a whole group of other art-related classes that involved dance or movement. Obviously, I was not able to participate in the same way that able-bodied students were able to dance. But, I did learn how to choreograph and put dance numbers together, verbally describing the choreography to able-bodied dancers. I will never forget the first day of class. The dance professor was so closed-minded and completely irate that I refused to leave the class. She insisted that it was a waste of time, and that I would be an observer who was in the way. Fortunately, the angels and my guide helped me to win her over quickly when she realized I had a photographic memory and could verbally describe each dance step precisely. Not only did I learn a greater appreciation for the art of dance, but also on the last day of class, each classmate thanked me for teaching them how to be better dancers, through the art of listening. And the professor even choreographed a piece in my honor, called “Dancing from the Heart.” Sometimes, against all odds, you know you are placed among people for something much greater than the circumstances convey, and although I find great joy in dong my readings and being of service to Spirit, and people from all over, I know that much of the greater picture is to serve as an advocate for differently-abled people, not only by sharing my story and the obstacles I’ve overcome from a wheelchair, and in life, but also to demonstrate that someone who is physicallyh different, still can be a valuable contributor, sexy, have an active social life and bring a perspective that the average person may not.

I recently went to a popular restaurant/bar in Fort Lauderdale, where I was treated like a second-class citizen. The interior of the restaurant had no tables accommodating a wheelchair and the exterior tables that did accommodate for a wheelchair, were typically not available. After an hour wait for a wheelchair accessible table outside (in 90 degree weather), more than one waitress came over and recommended that I eat off of a metal bar stool removed from the outdoor bar. Sadly enough, not fully comprehending what the waitress was asking of me, I agreed. Until she brought a tiny, metal bar stool that I couldn’t get my wheelchair underneath, and left my friend who was accompanying me, to eat with the food on her lap. When i told her I was not comfortable eating off of a metal stool,she insisted that this is how other disabled customers were most often accommodated. When I asked her how many able-bodied customers she had made this suggestion to, she began to giggle, and miraculously, a table outside opened up, where there was not only table available, but all of a sudden, four tables were available. To top it off, when my friend ordered a $10 mimosa, it was 1/4 full, when other mimosas came in all directions to other tables, filled to the top. We found out later that for $5 more, you could have a whole bottle of champagne and orange juice, and miraculously, we were not told of this Sunday brunch option. I am always optimistic and look for the best in every situation, though this particular experience was over and beyond outrageous, and I am a firm believer that when you remain silent when an injustice occurs, you might as well be committing the injustice yourself. I still view these experiences as blessings, as they open the door to raise awareness and the vibrational consciousness of humanity. So, I will continue on my journey to make a difference with the main intention of helping society embrace the true colors of all individuals, no matter the shape, color, formation or limitations of the light that each person shines.