FACE TO FACE: Seize the day and Bridgette’s doing just that – Bahamas Tribune

Posted: August 25, 2021 at 1:46 am


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By FELICITY DARVILLE

A WOMAN of many talents, Bridgette Bell Bastian has found after decades of using those talents to help others, that all along, they existed for her to help herself most of all.

Its a beautiful thing to help others, and Bridgette gets immense satisfaction from that. But it wasnt until her husband, Vaklev and other loved ones encouraged her to value these talents more, that she began considering starting her own business. For many with a mindset like Bridgette had, they shouldnt be charging for these gifts. Deeply spiritual, Bridgette felt she was doing Gods work and found much satisfaction in making others happy. At some point, she had to realise the long hours and extreme effort she put into helping others would leave her drained and that she deserved compensation.

Today, Bridgette has successfully launched two businesses and there is a possibility even more will be born from this young woman. She is a gifted singer, artist, designer, photographer and so much more.

By profession she is a secretary of 28 years. By calling, she is a counsellor and mentor although she may have never called herself one her story made this evident.

Bridgette is enjoying how her life is unfolding. Because of this, she has chosen to share her story so that others who may be sitting on their talents, devaluing them, or not confident enough to make a business out of them, would be inspired to take a leap of faith and get even more out of life.

Maybe it was having to battle with cancer a few times in her life that made her value herself more and what she has to offer. Maybe its because she helps so many others with their cancer battle that she realised the significance of acting now. Whatever actually spurred her to make her own quantum leap, people have responded overwhelmingly and are supporting her in her business, showing her that it was a decision that was worth it.

Proverbs 18: 16 says a mans gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men... I have multiple talents and if I fail to use them, it would be displeasing to the Lord, she shared.

I loved art drawing and painting as a child. When my mother (Norma Bell) worked at various pre-schools then eventually had her own pre-school, she would give me the wonderful task of outfitting the walls with colourful ABCs. I would draw life-sized cartoon characters to go with them. I did that for years. As I got older, I began doing graphic art and photography.

She started using a programme called ProMaster back in 1993. She then learned Photoshop, Illustrator, and Indesign. She enjoys using Photoshop most because she has been able to edit her photos as well as create her many designs in the software. She began designing business cards, flyers, logos, stickers/labels, booklets, programmes, menus, brochures and signs.

Bridgette is a graduate of Bahamas Academy of Seventh-Day Adventists. After graduation, she studied Computer Information Systems at Success Training College. She gained additional professional certifications in Computer Information/ Business Administration from Sojourner Douglass College.

So, the talents were all given to me by my Heavenly Father, but none of them I went to school for, she said, explaining that she taught herself.

I started designing anything that people asked me to. I did it for years and years without charging. But everyone kept coming to me. It would take me hours and hours to get it done because I am a perfectionist.

Finally (through the advice of loved ones) I decided to charge for my services. Being one that fought with negativity, never feeling adequate or like I was worth much, I was reluctant to charge, but decided to give it a try. Someone came to me to create a programme for an event and I told them what it would cost. I was afraid but surprisingly, they said ok! I am happy I did because to date, photography and graphic design has become a source of extra income for me. I watched myself grow as I was challenged by some who asked me to create or design things for them and sometimes, I surprised myself! People began to put my work on Facebook, and others referred me by word of mouth. So without officially advertising, I got more customers and I would burn the midnight oil to fulfill the orders.

Bridgette named the business BNB Designs with the motto: If you can think or imagine it, I can create it! Her creative designs are even extending into interior home design something she may develop seriously in the future.

But Bridgette faced a series of health roadblocks that could have broken her, had it not been for her upbeat attitude and support of loved ones. She is a two-time breast cancer survivor. She first felt a lump in her breast in 2005. At that time, just in her early 30s, her doctors chose to watch the lump and for six months, and sent her home. When they finally sent her for testing, the lump was indeed malignant.

She had the first surgery to remove the tumor. After that, she took a natural, holistic approach and went to Uchee Pines Retreat, a Seventh-Day Adventist institution for natural treatment located in Alabama. She continued the healthy living regimen after the retreat.

In 2008, the cancer returned in the form of a painful, golf ball sized lump under her arm. This time, Dr Charles Diggis was her doctor, and she credits him for his exceptional care during a cancer journey that involved a total of ten surgeries to save her life, including the removal of 14 lymph nodes and a full hysterectomy, performed by Dr Charles Lorne. Dr Diggis performed all of her biopsies and some of her surgeries. For the series of chemotherapy treatments, she decided to seek care in the United States. She says Dr Krill and the staff at Mount Sinai Hospital in Miami were wonderful throughout a difficult process, but one that she overcame.

The five months she spent in the US doing chemotherapy was, in itself, a journey: My big sister, Karen, left her home to spend five months with me in the US. The friends who had promised to take me in, changed their mind the week before my first treatment. A friend of Karens put us up for a week while we figured out what to do. Joseph Evans, Jr, was our first angel, then Carlisa Waters. They both opened their homes to me, never asking me for money towards rent or food. Karen and I had to catch the bus to my treatments in the beginning. She had to bathe me, feed me, dress me... she stuck with me every step of the way. I thank all of my siblings who stuck with me and stayed positive for me even when I was in pain and depressed at times. Biggest supporter, my ride or die husband, Vaklev Bastian, would call me and encourage me every day as he patiently waited for me to come home. My mom prayed and cried for me daily. A mothers prayer is very powerful and she kept me covered.

Twelve and a half years later, Bridgette has remained cancer-free. During her trials, she would often sing the song My Redeemer Lives by Nicole C Mullen. She sang that song with such belief and passion that today, she is still called on to sing that song at various church services and special events.

There were not all good days, but I was able to keep myself above water, Bridgette explained.

I would cry whenever I needed to, but I didnt stay there. I had to get up and be like, ok, its time to fight again; lets go, bring it on! I had to tell myself that this is not a death sentence. I had to say even if I have to die, I wouldnt go down just like that... I had to fight. When things happened to me, I used to say, Lord, why me? Now I say, Lord, why not me? You outfitted me to handle this because one day, I have to be an encouragement and a testimony to someone else... So why not me?

Since then, Bridgette has found herself encouraging many others who go through the cancer journey. People would come through and be so encouraged that they would tell others about how Bridgette helped them. In this way, new friends have unfolded in her life and she has found an even higher calling.

Even through her own trials, Bridgette had a burning desire to help her mother, who was getting up in age and all her children had left the nest. She faced medical issues and she also needed repairs to her home. Bridgette decided to sell nuts. She sourced what she felt would be the freshest nuts and found unique packaging for them. She combined her graphic design skills with her products and would personalise them for special occasions. Her friend and church member, Tamara Taylor encouraged her to take her nut business to a higher level, and even helped her to garner new sales. Today, Bella Bella Gone Nuts is a hit and her product line is growing.

As she continues on a quest for self improvement and spiritual advancement, Bridgette has learned that by believing in herself, anything is possible.

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FACE TO FACE: Seize the day and Bridgette's doing just that - Bahamas Tribune

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August 25th, 2021 at 1:46 am

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