Shayoon Mendeluk: Story of a Brown Woman Who Did Everything She Was Told Not to Do

My name is Shayoon Mendeluk (aka @Shayoon_), and I live on a magical island in the Meditteranean Sea, on the east coast of Spain, called Ibiza. The third most magnetic place in the world! Ibiza is known for its party scene but what many don’t know is the strong spiritual community and vibe is just as strong.

I was born in Nairobi, Kenya and have family roots from India and Pakistan. I grew up Muslim, and I have lived all over the world from Africa to Saudi Arabia, to England, and then my family settled in America. I kind of grew up in Oklahoma, from 9-18 but fast forward to after high school, I decided to move to Los Angeles on my own where I truly believe I grew up!

I went to school for fashion, business marketing and management and worked in fashion, and became a business owner at 23. I fell into the festival scene super early and went to Coachella when it was super non-commericai and was only one weekend.

brown woman
[Lengha is courtesy of Papa Don’t Preach by Shubika]


I met my husband at Coachella 2010. He says he firsts saw me dancing in a field of 100k but for myself, in my zone, he didn’t want to interrupt my flow and hoped he would see me again, and later that evening he did. I saw this gorgeous boy with no shirt on, and I was not sure what was happening. Next thing I knew there was a blanket over my head and I was whisked away to sway to the beats with the super charming Alexander Mendeluk, the creator and founder of the phenomenon Spirithoods, created the multi-million dollar overnight success in L.A. and had just launched when we met.

Long story short we had to part ways and meet up with friends and tried to meet up again after the show, but it didn’t happen, and I was sad but was like okay whatever was just a beautiful thing for a minute.

Fast forward a few months I run into him in L.A. at a bar, not once but three times until I was like fuck, okay this is destiny, I’ll give him a chance. You want to know the fucked up part of this? I was avoiding him because I was too scared to get close to someone that wasn’t of my culture and religion. I felt for some reason it just would get shut down and I should just not take this chance. Huge fearful unnecessary projection on my part.

We got super serious super quick and I started to panic a bit. I had never in my life felt the magic he made me feel. I knew he was my person, I knew he was my twin flame, my soulmate. The thing people swore existed, that fairy tale love. I was just a baby, only 23 when we met! He was 24, and we were so in love. A kind of love we said was meant to inspire others. I had no idea how to even mention this to my family.

Why? Because of the cultural and religious programming that was so deeply ingrained into me from such a young age. I was so ashamed to even have to ask him to keep our relationship quiet at first. He was such an open book and so deeply honest and full of love, who could say no to that? So, at first I did what most desi girls do and I went to my mother. Who was super cool because that’s just who she is and I am lucky. But she had a fear that my father wasn’t going to like it, and she was nervous for me to speak with him about it. I mustered up the courage to speak with him (over the phone) about it and totally dimmed the light on the real love I was feeling, again because I was living in fear. He was being cool and said invite him to come to Toronto when we will all be there for the Indian Film Awards. I was mostly in shock that he was like okay, let’s meet him, but mostly that he was inviting him during a public family holiday!


We took a flight to Toronto from L.A. and the entire time I was freaking out. What would happen? Would they accept him? I cannot believe this is really happening…I have a boyfriend (which publicly has never been known). We land and my father and uncle are waiting inside by baggage claim. This moment changed my life forever. We came down the escalators and I saw my father standing there all dapper per usual and Alexander was on the step in front of me and when the escalator hit the ground my father walked up to him with open arms and embraced him and just wept. It was like as if he knew how special he was. They embraced for a long time until I joined, and just like that everything was okay. The lesson here for me was that I never had to have this fear. I just had to be honest. I was programmed from the culture and most of the desis around me that it wasn’t okay to date, to accept outside the culture, to wander outside the religion. How could I underestimate the man who helped give me life wouldn’t just want happiness for his daughter? Even though my father was a religious, devoted cultural man, he loved and accepted my decision because, in the end, he doesn’t have ego or pride when it comes to the happiness of his daughter. My mother always supported me my whole life, and even she was in shock but so incredibly happy to see my fathers love for Alexander come so naturally and pure.

That next Coachella he proposed to me in the same spot we met, and that winter we wed on 12.12.12 in Vancouver where his father was shooting a movie. We skipped the giant desi wedding, and literally only had my parents and his parents there. We left for our honeymoon to Peru and have been together ten years now!

I get hundreds of messages, emails, DM’s asking me constantly how I did it. How I had the guts, and courage to stand up to my parents. And, since it’s been so long I forgot how intense it was at that moment to reveal the truth. But for fuck’s sake. Do we really still live in a world where our parents are so stuck in their ways and programs we fear them so much. It breaks my heart and is one of the few things that still aggravates me.

My advice to all of them is to always lead with your heart and express your love through LOVE. Don’t dim it down, don’t beat around the bush. Stand up for what you believe in and what you know is true. Do what you want for yourself! Set an example. Break the barriers and boundaries. Teach and show them the light. And then only after you’ve tried with compassion and love can the message resonate.

Living in fear causes and manifests into illness and disease. Fear is a disease. You don’t have to be pressured into a career, a relationship or any of that bullshit because your parents want that for you. It’s emotional blackmail. Do you, do what makes you happy or you will live the life you’re trying to escape forever. If you’re unhappy change your life. We make shit so complicated sometimes. But guess what? You hold the power to EVERYTHING. Your mind and body is the strongest thing you have, and when trained and used properly, can generate anything you want.


I lived in L.A. too long. It wasn’t feeding my soul. It got me diagnosed with chronic anxiety and fear. So I decided and made the choice to change my life forever. I started to move into the wellness scene and began my healing journey. Long story short, I reprogrammed my horrible programming and took the path and title as a healer. I have been trained in Reiki, prana, quantum healing hypnosis, channeling, the list goes on. After we both started to shift our world and become awake and more conscious we decided we outgrew L.A. We needed more substance. We didn’t like it anymore so we bravely packed our shit in two weeks, put it in storage, got a plane with our wolf and moved to an island with one suitcase. People often think money is the only way to make dramatic moves like that. But it’s not true. It’s your will. If you have the will and passion anything is possible!

brown woman
[Outfit is courtesy of Arpita Mehta]

In the two and a half years that I have been here in Ibiza (two without any belongings of mine because we just got it shipped from L.A.) I started a new business venture I used to dream of (literally in L.A.). I recently opened a luxury apothecary and healing center called The Lightforce Center in the old town of Ibiza. I started my own CBD collection consisting of face cream, body balms, gel caps, and oils, and I birthed the most beautiful baby boy in my home, completely naturally, and have become a huge advocate for breastfeeding, especially in public. My husband opened a social media marketing and advertising agency in Ibiza that unifies conscious creators and helps people and young entrepreneurs find their purpose.

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I found my purpose, which is to help create positive change in any and everything I do. To live a life of purity and purpose. Life is way too short to be living in fear, to not do what you love. Leave your fears, be in the present. Don’t worry about the past, or the future because they don’t fucking exist. Find your purpose. The purpose of life is to live your purpose!! Heal, grow, and then help others do the same! If you need help…hit me up!

I am Shayoon, a brown woman who married a white boy, ate her placenta, has multiple tattoos, shows her skin and is half-naked most the time if not fully, breastfeeds in public, is unapologetic and is most importantly happy because I chose this life.

The following piece has been edited post-publishing. 

By Shayoon Mendeluk

Shayoon Mendeluk is a mother, healer, and positive change influencer living in Ibiza whose aim is to help individuals heal … Read more ›

Keeping our Friendships Strong as we Get Older

I organize play dates for my children. They’re friendships remind me of when I was younger when Fridays were consistently set aside for my friends. Now, it seems play is indeed meant for childhood and work is for aging adults. We often can’t find time for ourselves, let alone our friends, who are busy working mothers like ourselves. Or we moved into unreachable corners of this globe, far away from any means of physical communication. It’s fair to say, it’s hard to stay close to friends like when we were in college. Nowadays, it’s easier to travel, but more difficult to bond with others. “My Friend” asserts that we should not end let our friendships fall by the wayside. Even with physical distance and conflicting schedules, we keep our friendships close with kind words on phone calls, regular FaceTime calls, or even encouraging social media comments. Friendship doesn’t end once we become adults.

[Read Related: Connecting my Stories With Those of my mom and Grandma]

My Friend

The turbulent sea of a ticking clock,
A constant chime of chores
Unfolded laundry, unpaid bills.
For unplanned surprises, Life’s infinite stores

An achy neck, a heavy head,
A forever strong of burdens
Fleeting as they may be
Yet as real as my scribbling pens

In this world of lonely battles
Filled with competing souls
It’s you, my friend
Your comforting words, long strolls

Your phone calls, your laughter,
You listening when I’m remiss,
Your steady support,
The source of all my bliss.

[Read Related: 4 Brown Girls Who Write-U.K. Asian Sisterhood Changing the Dynamics of Poetry]

The opinions expressed by the guest writer/blogger and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Brown Girl Magazine, Inc., or any employee thereof. Brown Girl Magazine is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the guest writer/bloggers. This work is the opinion of the blogger. It is not the intention of Brown Girl Magazine to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, or individual. If you’d like to submit a guest post, please follow the guidelines we’ve set forth here.
By Mars D. Gill

Mars D. Gill is the author of "House of Milk and Cheese" and "Letters from the Queen". She writes mainstream … Read more ›

The Futility of Trying to be ‘That Girl’

Social media has stretched a number of news headlines:

“Social media rots kids’ brains.”

“Social media is polarizing.”

Yet those most affected by social media ideals are the teenage users. Apps like Instagram and TikTok perpetuate an image of perfection that is captured in pictures and 30-second videos. As a result, many young women chase this expectation endlessly. “Her” personifies this perfection in an unattainable figure the narrator has always wished to be. These ideals deteriorate mental health, create body dysmorphia, promote a lack of self-esteem, and much more. Even so, social media is plagued by filters and editing—much of what we hope to achieve isn’t even real. Therefore, young women, much like the narrator of “Her,” strive for a reality that doesn’t even exist.

[Read Related: The Emotional Roller Coaster of Getting Your Legs Waxed for the First Time]


When she walked into my life
Her smile took up two pages of description
In a YA novel.
My arms could wrap around her waist twice
If she ever let anyone get that close
Her hair whipped winds with effortless beach waves
And a hint of natural coconut
Clothing brands were created around her
“One Size Fits All” one size to fit the girl who has it all
With comments swarning in hourglasses
But when sharp teeth nip at her collar,
She could bite back biting back
And simply smirked with juicy apple lips
Red hearts and sympathy masking condescension
“My body doesn’t take away from the beauty of yours”
“We are all equal, we are all beautiful”
A sword she wields expertly
Snipping, changing,
Aphrodite in consistent perfection
Cutting remarks with sickly sweet syrup
And an innocent, lethal wink
When she walked into my life
She led my life.
My wardrobe winter trees
Barren, chopped in half
Unsuited for the holidays
Mirrors were refracted under in my gaze
Misaligned glass was the only explanation
For unsymmetrical features
And broken hands
Still I taped them fixed
Over and over
Poking, prodding
Hoping to mold stomach fat like wet clay
Defy gravity,
Move it upward
To chest
Instead of sagging beneath a belt on the last hole
In the spring
She would stir me awake at 2 AM
“You need to be me”
Lies spilled from her tongue but
Solidified, crystallized
Fabrication spelled dichotomy
And I drifted farther out to sea
When she walked out of my life,
I was drowning.
Reliance had me capsized
Others witnessed
Furrowed brows and glances away
Like spectators of a shark attack
They can watch but the damage is done
They clung to my mangled pieces
Gravestones spelled
But I was mourning too
Today I looked back at my mirror
But glass turned into prism
Broken pieces rainbow
Colors coating clothes
She didn’t pick
Perception changing
She wasn’t perfect
Just lost at sea

[Read Related: Finding Freedom from Gender Roles Through Poetry]

The opinions expressed by the guest writer/blogger and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Brown Girl Magazine, Inc., or any employee thereof. Brown Girl Magazine is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the guest writer/bloggers. This work is the opinion of the blogger. It is not the intention of Brown Girl Magazine to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, or individual. If you’d like to submit a guest post, please follow the guidelines we’ve set forth here.
By Kashvi Ramani

Kashvi Ramani is a writer, actress, songwriter, and singer from Northern Virginia. She has been writing songs, poetry, scripts, and … Read more ›

‘A Man Sleeps in a Church:’ A Short Story by Sri Nimmagadda

Christian life crisis prayer to god. Woman Pray for god blessing to wishing have a better life. woman hands praying to god with the bible. begging for forgiveness and believe in goodness.

For BGM Literary, editor Nimarta Narang is honored to work with writer Sri Nimmagadda. In this short story, we follow a man in a gray suit who makes a stop at a church to bide his time before a job interview. Sri Nimmagadda is the Chief Program Officer at MannMukti, a nonprofit dedicated to reducing the stigma around mental health in the South Asian community through storytelling and advocacy. He lives in Los Angeles with his dog, Rani, and is passionate about authentically growing inclusion and diversity through storytelling in the entertainment industry. Editor Nimarta was extremely grateful to have Sri join the legacy of wonderful and moving authors for the literary vertical in honor of Mental Health and Awareness month. 

A man in a gray suit stands in front of a church and looks up and through the entryway with the resignation of a desiccated man taking a bitter medicine he’s absorbed for years but simply accepts as a fact of his life, however unpleasant. So, the man in the gray suit — a get-up slim but not so lean as to emit a cockish, metrosexual air, scraggly lint escaping the seams across the surface in a manner that supposes either venerability or somewhat tired desperation — thinks about what it means to take a bitter medicine, the trade-off between the instantaneous sour, bitter, wretched, and cloying and the promise of perhaps a better tomorrow, or a better tonight, or a better five-minutes-from-now. After some consideration, this man in a gray suit — an outfit that some would’ve supposed he’d purchased from Goodwill, the night before, for a painfully wrought $95.67 with tax after getting into an argument with his wife about who was going to take the kids to school in the morning and fucking Brenda skipping out on babysitting again — steps inside the church.

This man in a gray suit — armed with a briefcase, and the last and latest copy of his résumé that he’d worked on until 1:30 a.m. the night before after Max and Annabelle had long gone to sleep and his angry, exhausted wife laid restless, in their shared bed, thinking about whether she’d consult the number of the divorce lawyer she’d been recommended by one of her girlfriends in the morning before deciding she’d give her husband another shot just as she had the night before and the night before that and the night before that — paces towards the front of pews almost cautiously, as if someone were watching him, afraid to be caught in the act of being vulnerable and giving himself up to some higher power. Maybe if you go to church and the pastor or some other demure, God-fearing soul sees you, they’ll call you out — who are you? why are you here? — and you’ll realize that for as much ado as people make about the unconditionality of God’s love, they make claims to His love the way they’d claim a parking spot or a position in a queue at a grocery store. Faith, it appears to the man in the gray suit, is really about paying your dues.

So the man in a gray suit approaches the front-most pew — the communion table before him standing guard ahead of a cross. He lays his briefcase down. He sits at the pew. He closes his eyes. Please, he begs Him in his own mind. I need this.

But then this man in a gray suit considers his pathetic whimper to God, how he can’t even acknowledge God by his name, how he begs Please rather than Please God like a weak, unfaithful man who cannot bring himself to say his wife’s name when begging her for forgiveness after his own infidelity. What a mess, he thought of himself. So, he tries again.

Please, God. I need this.

The man in a gray suit considers this again and admonishes himself for his cowardice — when you pray in your head, words and phrases, and sentences and prayers, and pleas twine and intertwine and mix until the signal becomes the noise and you can’t really figure out whatever you’re trying to say. So, for a half-second, you think the only way to get it out of your head is to blow it up so that it all spills out and maybe then God will understand how you really feel — and so he tries again, and puts his prayers to air. The man in a gray suit is not used to coming to church. This is his first time coming in a couple of years. He’s going to need a couple of tries to get this thing down.

“I’m sorry,” the man in a gray suit exhales, “I’m just not used to praying.” But that’s okay. Prayer is a process, the man in a gray suit would find, and what begins feeling ridiculous, or like grasping for spiritual straws, ends up feeling akin to a dam giving way to water; unrestrained, unexploited. So the man in a gray suit — the man who’s come an hour and a half early to an interview because the early bird gets the worm, only to find himself with an hour and a half to kill and nowhere but a church to grace with his presence — prays, and he prays faithfully, and he prays well. He picks up the Bible on the shelf of the pew in front of him, flips it open to whatever page presented itself and begins to read. He closes his eyes, and at that moment he feels safe, like God’s hands envelop him, and that tomorrow will be a better day, and everything will be okay.


Somewhere along the line, this stupid fucker in a gray suit fell asleep in the middle of Galatians and missed his interview.

By Nimarta Narang

Born and raised in Bangkok, Thailand, Nimarta grew up devouring Hindi movies, coming-of-age novels and one too many psychology textbooks. … Read more ›