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  • tesscharlestci

Changes

Updated: Jan 30

Fear, routine, finances and any myriad of REAL things can hold us back from healing ourselves and living the life we deserve. So many suffer in silence, sometimes not even knowing they are suffering because the longer you sit in **it the less it stinks. 


A friend of mine confided recently that she can’t see herself taking the desperately NEEDED time off to attempt to heal herself properly, because of finances and childcare, however, her body has been degrading for years now, with only pain management as a reprieve. Her business is creative, much needed and lucrative, but she may be making a detour into something that requires less strain on her already weary body, but also becomes more of a job needing a lot less creativity, passion or feeling of accomplishment. 


If she could heal, could she stay active in her current business AND have energy to grow it both laterally and upward? Would she have more and different energy to give to her children and personal life? 

Sometimes, we just are who we are, and sometimes, who we think we are is just a collection of symptoms of stress and sickness over long periods of time. 


For me, I had a tumultuous awakening.

In 2021, there was a boom in all industries, as the world had just gotten the go ahead to frolic and spiligate after being in lock down, after lock down. People were overcome with the grief and shock of tragic death waves.

They saw their lives go up in smoke. 

We were forced into reassessing our personal lives and values, and facing make or break issues head on with with spouses, offspring, friends and employers, with not everyone making it to other side. Everyone wanted to travel and leave those woes and trauma behind, if even only for a few days.


Needless to say, our tourism was BOOMING! Overrun with visitors, this left hotels, restaurants, excursion companies etc scrambling to restaff and retrain to accommodate, while balancing the hard switch from “STOP!!”, to “Go and GO HARD”. 

For entertainers, our rosters were bursting at the seams and we all went into overdrive, taking every single gig and inquiry on every single night, and sometimes during the day.

The need for money back in our bank accounts, paying off loans and debts accrued during the pandemic, new opportunities and the overall need to feel financially safe again was the motivation no doubt. The hustle got us all. 


Personally, even when down to my last dollar in the pandemic, a good Samaritan would appear, an opportunity would present itself, or I would make one of my own; do ya’ll remember me pan handling to pay my dog bills?

God had proven over and over to be an on time God. However, between social media, news and general Henny Pennyism’s, that looming feeling of lack and questioning of what’s next, was still winning over our emotions and therefore informing many of our actions.

In early 2021, I was blessed enough to have two admin jobs and begin entertaining again full time. 

The bad part is, by the END of 2021, I was exhausted and sick. 


I had taken the vaccine, and all that had done was ensure I was plagued with every ailment I had ever gotten since I was born -  within the span of a few months. 

I had asthma attacks I hadn’t had since a child, a dislocated knee I had managed well was suddenly debilitating and excruciating back issues were a thing. For a little razzle dazzle, I began bleeding into my stomach, passing out at work, and suffering from burns to my oesophagus and vocal chords because of severe acid reflux. But wait, there’s more! I was diagnosed with PCOS, which helped aid in my constant state of exhaustion, irritability, weight gain, lack of focus, painful and heavy periods & PMS symptoms and my expanding beauty bill because of the amount of waxing I had to do. The hair growth was.....man. 


Anyway, to top it all off, my eyesight began to be affected, my brain was always overcast and cloudy, I was constantly inflamed, stiff and woke up each morning with my limbs numb. Eating food was now a sparsely completed chore that I didn’t enjoy, yet I still kept gaining weight.I was defeated. Mentally, I felt overwhelmed, anxious, insecure, paranoid, aggravated, scared, lonely, and confused, and as for my personal life, I felt underappreciated. 

I was dying. 


Now I know, just from my mother’s everlasting ailments, that people can live with and manage conditions, finding reprieve here and there, but I doubt I am one of those people. 

So instead of surviving to die, I took action to live.


I started small because I KNOW stress was playing a huge part in my deterioration. 

I left my first admin job. 

The second admin job followed shortly after a customer broke me with a depraving rant because of something insignificant in her luxurious life, while I was hanging from a ledge fighting for mine. 

I gave notice, I did what I could and I eased out.


It wasn’t enough. 

Remember the vocal chord burning? Not being able to eat properly? The exhaustion? That weight gain, the overall pain? Yeah, it didn’t go away. 


So one day, in my therapist’s office, I mentioned my long-time yearning to go to Jamaica and just heal. While I was born and raised in Turks and Caicos, I’ve always felt that yahd was home to my spirit and the calling was clear. 

That spirit, was inside me saying “30 days, Jamaica, no meat, no processed food, no entitled guests, no social climbing acquaintances, no dogs, no responsibilities, no work, no requirements, no stress”. Just healing movement and spiritual stillness. My therapist immediately gave me the validation I needed to book the trip and so it was done.

  After the banks gave me the finger to purchase a home, I took that as a sign to blow the 50k I had almost killed myself to save in 6 months.

I googled, Yoga retreat in Jamaica and this place called Go Natural came up. 

I looked through the site, and booked it for 30 nights, to begin in a week’s time. 


Short of being paralyzed with fear, I wrote emails to all my clients informing them I would be gone from middle February through March, and then asked my brother if he could watch the children. 


I left. 


Not knowing if my clients would understand or care, with this being the busiest time we had seen in years, and with hospitality being akin to American politics in it’s brutality, I still left. 

To my great appreciation, my dilemma was met with well wishes and open doors of welcome when ready.



On February 21st, I landed in the land of wood and water and took my 5 hour journey through the capital, through the junction and to Long Bay, Portland, where I would restart my life. 

I arrived, exhausted and in the dead of night to an unfamiliar place, with two strangers - my taxi driver and the security officer who guided me to my villa. The security pointed me to my room where I took off my shoes, laid on the bed and let the waves put me to sleep. 


This was my first journal entry.

 

“What better day to start than 22.2.22.


I woke up in Portland, Jamaica, to the most majestic view. I walked out of my chilly wooden villa and faced God’s Glory at its best. 


The sound of the waves crashing against the cliff I am perched upon was beautiful in itself. However, as I pulled the curtains and exited the dewy sliding doors, the vibrance and electricity of colours opened my mouth for silence to escape. The green grass against the hues of blue water with the white crashing waves on black rocks was just…………* exhilarating exhale*. 

I love feeling. 

I love feeling the earth. 

It’s majesty.

It’s life. It breathes and laughs and cries just like us. Giving us it’s fruits abound, shelter and abundance. 

I’m not out to change the world, but I wish it would change itself. I just want to care for the world, the garden and all it’s fruits it gives freely. I love you earth.”


These were my first thoughts on my new journey of life. 


Then I went to find food. 


We had a schedule;

7am Yoga

8am Breakfast

11am Snack

1pm Lunch

3pm Snack

5 pm Yoga

6pm Dinner

7pm Meditation


For the first two weeks of the retreat, I struggled to make all of the yoga sessions but I tried my best. My body hurt in the best way possible, feeling my breaths melt away stress and tenseness in my joints, my bones and my flesh. 

Relaxing myself, being told to listen to my body and allow it to move when it needed too and be still when it needed to. 

Shorts and a top with no bra on, cornrows and feet flat to the ground, no disapproving eyes or smirks, just kindness. 

The ocean sprays made me sticky and the calming breeze made me sleepy. 

I slept so much that some days the chefs and housekeepers would just knock on my door and rest my food down in the living room area until I wanted it. 

When I was awake, I marvelled at the difference in the every day occurrence of the sun, sea and wind. I would also find myself thinking about ………EVERYTHING. 

Clearly.

No more fog. 

No more anxiety, no pressure to accomplish the big dreams that inhabited my brain nor struggle to fight the obstacles in my way, just thinking….and feeling…..and allowing my thoughts to inhabit their spaces and float on by or reoccur if they wanted to.


The best thing that could have happened at this retreat was how horrible the internet service was. 

I was so annoyed at first. I had plans to write songs, do a business plan and all the other stupid shit people and social media tells you to do when you have free time. 

But all things converged for my good. 


After yoga and breakfast, the only thought I would have was whether I would lay in the hammocks outside, the chairs on the porch, go directly in the bed or sit down on the benches – either way, I was going to sleep. 

I journaled - before I went to sleep. 

I freestyle - before I drop sleep. 

I listened to music - before I drop sleep. 

I went into deep thought - which put me right to sleep. 

Bade my skin, took my vitamins (sometimes) and made friends and in between alladat? I slept. 


Then and only then, I came to know what REST was. 

I was so grateful. 

I was grateful even for the bugs that would take up the food if I left it too long. Grinning at them like snow white in the forest, like “here friends, we can share” Lol.



Having fresh, healthy, flavourful meals prepared for and brought to you daily? PARTICULARLY as a woman? Life changing. 

Do we have any true idea of how much time we spend preparing food, listening to motivational clips, planning out activities, strategizing for work, buying clothes, being caretakers, on social media, being upset, doubting ourselves, fitting in? 

I had no idea until I had the time to actually clear my brain and think. 


Speaking of clearing. 

I found it weird that I had had minimal bowel movements for 13 days, barely anything. But, I let it ride, because this was my moment with nature and it would do what it needed to do.

On day 14 & 15, the bathroom and I spent some quality time with each other. At least 6 times each day. No pain, no gripes, no straining, no burning, no discomfort, just release. It’s said that you never really clear out your intestines, and I believe on our regular diet this is true, but you see day 14 and 15? I got new pipes that day baybeh. 

From then on, it was regular and smooth sailing. No odour WHATSOEVER. 

NONE. 

I was flabbergasted. 


On day 18, I had more energy than I had ever remembered having in my entire life. By this time, I could see and feel immense changes in my body and mind. My mobility had improved, I wasn’t waking up numb, I was breathing deeper and fuller breaths, I enjoyed my food, my hair growth has slowed down from waxing weekly to not even having to tweeze in three weeks, my skin, while purging, it was clearing. Every sense was heightened, my smell, my hearing, my sight in particular. 

And the greatest part of it all started to set in. Because I had time to remove all the stresses, meaningless worries and societal expectations from my life in a real way? Even in that short time, I started to see who I was as a person. 


As an entertainer, people tend to tell you who you are. By describing you as the things they like or dislike, by the things you do in the public eye or don’t, by how hot you are at the moment, by how you make them feel. And we absorb that. 

There is truth to it, but living in a small place, always on stage even in the grocery store, you wonder, who would I be if nobody knew my name?


The workers at the retreat and others from outside all know me as Chrystal, not TESS. Most have never seen me in anything more glamourous than a pair of yoga shorts and a black top with no bra on, face greasy and hair row down – and they loved me. We exchanged stories of compartments of our lives, and I welcomed the opportunity to listen more than I was expected to talk. 

They invited me off property to their homes and cooked for me. They brought me cane when I couldn’t find any cane man on the road. They snuck me extra treats, they confided in me about some personal issues as well as some issues they had at the retreat. They resepcted me and enjoyed my company. My essence. Just me. 

I am a good person. I am fun to be around. People want to take care of me, they appreciate my candor, and I feel free no matter where I am, who I am with, what I look like, or what I have. I’m me.

I’m also the get things done girl cuz baybeh, by this time, there were a few hiccups with guests and staff alike and I quickly got them altogether by way of email and texts and a trip to town. We got upgraded facilities and better resources within a few days and I got myself some free local travel. By the last week I was doing orientation with new guests lmao, I love me. 


By the final seven days I was energized and tired of being on property, and finally stopped telling all my new found friends NO I’m not going anywhere. 

I went out with the last group of ladies from the Carolinas that came through the retreat, and what a time we had. 

The last portion of my full rejuvenation was a trip to a waterfall. I began with my knee brace on, hobbling about on smooth river stones, watching in awe as the tour guide, a wee young man, held my body weight and guided me through the toughest parts, while jumping from stone to stone, wading through the water with such ease and skill as if he was literally born in the river. 


I decided to take some time for myself and stop at a ledge pool, and sat right in the rush of the water. 

I allowed it to beat up my back and knees and just sat there enjoying my solitude while the rest of the group went ahead to get to the top and largest part of the waterfall. 

They eventually came back and I stood up to join them and trek back up the river. Upon standing, I realized I was different. I was filled with strength and confidence in the place of fear of my knees buckling and the stiffness and pain that came with them. 

I took off my knee brace that day and climbed back up out of the waterfall ALONE and did not have to use that brace again until the following year. A Miracle. 


In the last few days, I was ready to come back home and eager to see how I would upkeep the changes to my body I had made.

I landed and purged.

Bottled seasonings, meat products, processed foods, old clothes, new clothes, shoes, linens, jewellery, scents - anything that did not feel in alignment with where I was at THAT moment, I let go of, old or new. Sentimental or not. I let it go.


I began the process of living the way I wanted to, that I deserved. 

That also meant demanding better from my landlord at the time to ensure where I lived was cleansed and comfortable. Immediately after which, my friend Sessilly said she saw a dwelling that allowed dogs. This in itself was a fateful move, the BEST thing that could have happened. I still have not enough breath in my body to thank her, but thank you Sessy. 


This healing journey brought me so much closer to myself, to God and Nature. Enabling me to decipher more of what is real and empowering me to pray for and manifest what I need in my reality despite my environment. 


For some, our environment, because it is our comfort and our safe place - we often miss the fact that it’s our biggest daunting barrier to being our most healthy, productive or authentic selves. 


Our cultural norms of pigtail, lard and salt. Finishing all ya food. Meat with every meal. So many meals. So many BEEG meals. Hiding our traumas. Limited or no movement. Lack of encouragement in hobbies, competition or sports after school age. Lack of pride in our skin, shape and abilities. Lack of information. Encouraging too many religious norms and not enough spiritual ones. Working to achieve everyone else’s dream while convincing ourselves it’s ours. Ignoring our gut. Judging and allowing ourselves to be judged. Deathly loyalty. 

I could go on til Cryce come. 


These things dampen our spirit and cause us stress that manifests in impaired bodily functions and overall discomfort. 

I want to encourage us all to not be afraid to change our environment, because it may change your life. 

It did for me. 


Arite, later dahlin. 


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Kimberlymaleika
Feb 03

This was truly an amazing read and at the right time for me. Thank you for sharing

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Tiers Hall
Tiers Hall
Feb 01

I truly enjoyed this read. As an extrovert personality we are often stuck in the standards of society only daring to be who we truly are ins mall doses but you my dear Tess were always to big for the spaces you are in. You were meant to inspire to uplift, your very being is not safe, is not stuck in some structure but to be lived out in the most colorful creativity your heart can stand. You are not a singer, a writer or any ONE thing. You are a movement, a way of life, a culture, a spirit that is just meant to BE! I. love you and I am so proud of you! This feels lik…

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Tess Charles
Tess Charles
Feb 02
Replying to

This is so true, means so much! Thanks my love, I've always appreciated your support!!!! Thank you, love to you and yours!!!


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JustJerry
JustJerry
Jan 30

Amazing read Tess! Definitely encouraging! now i know you a lil better lol👏🏾👏🏾

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Tess Charles
Tess Charles
Jan 31
Replying to

Thanks darling! Yes, there is much to learn about the Queen :)

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Lady Livi
Lady Livi
Jan 30

Im so proud of you Tess. You are one of the bravest women I’ve ever met and your journey is so inspiring and so deep. This is amazing written, you are so talented and I can’t wait to get to know more about you through your writing 💙

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Tess Charles
Tess Charles
Jan 31
Replying to

Thank you my love! I appreciate you.

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Sonia Fulford Missick
Sonia Fulford Missick
Jan 29

Oh, my dear Tess, reading your beautiful piece made my heart smile and giggle as I traveled along that journey with you through your writing and visualized your hilarious and theatrical personality through your body language, facial expressions, and words. I know that of the many talents you were gifted with, expressing yourself through writing is your favorite, and I look forward to reading and enjoying much more of it. I am incredibly proud of you and your journey and excited about having a front seat to witness your ride to the very top!

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Tess Charles
Tess Charles
Jan 31
Replying to

The words you speak have so much depth to me, thank you my love! Appreciate and love you dearly!

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