Sunday, 26 February 2012

Running with scissors...

living on the edge...
Running with scissors (living on the edge) is of course, a stupid thing to do. And it is one of those nagging things, perhaps all parents have told their children to (literally) not do a gazillion times. Why? Because it carries with it an inherent risk of...bodily harm! When one does it, not only are they being foolish, but they are doing something they know, beyond a shadow, that is dangerous and reckless. So where am I going with this? Ahh…the bliss of living on the ledge edge. Case in point: I've been "running with scissors"  (metaphorically, of course) for some time now. Yes, challenging the underlying assumptions of everyday life and doing things my own way and putting convention to the side. Though I've never truly been conventional on this journey...But this one takes 'unconventional' to new heights!....incomplete

Monday, 6 February 2012

Breakfast at Robbie's...

Running is a mental
sport...and we're
all insane..
Les Brown
It's been a while since I've done one of these posts though I wish to blame it on the allure of Carnival, which ought to keep me blogging! But I've had a pretty eventful few days, and the week is just starting! Is it bad to be looking forward to next weekend already?
Friday evening I rendezvous with my best guy friend. And on Saturday I visited my favourite store in the mall (of course, it's M.A.C.) to purchase some much needed supplies and get my make-up done for the day ahead. And then it was off to the React Communications training for CK12 at the QPS Command Center. At the end of the training (6:30pm) I was beginning to feel the effects of all that 'rendezvous-ing' the previous night, so I headed straight home to recharge for the culmination of my weekend!
Dennise
(center)
On Sunday, I surprised my body with an early morning rise to meet TTRoadRunners (seasoned runners) at the 'bench' with Dennise...of course! And then it was off to Robbie's place to begin the run. By this time, I was fully awake and psyching myself up to challenge the minimum run of 3 miles. I needed to make DD proud...at least and not humiliate myself by falling flat on my face or even 'pass out cold'. Would jumping over a cliff and never showing my face on that bench help? Fortunately, none of that happened and I'm happy to report that with D's prompting and Robbie's company, I managed approximately 4.5 miles (I think)!! Robbie's breakfast run yesterday at Saddle Grove, Santa Cruz was certainly a respite from the Savannah course! Running through nature at 6:30-7:00am is harmonious. To feel that crisp breeze on your face is heavenly. And the air filled with the aroma of breakfast along the path was indeed motivation! Since I didn't have my morning mojo (before my run), my motivation was coffee and I communicated this to Robbie just before I finished the last half mile...which took me straight to the breakfast line!!
Robbie
As the runners all came in from their run, Robbie's wife Heroina served up some palatable 'trini/vzuela' breakfast! Hmmm...Delish!! With all the pleasantries and breakfast digesting it was time to consume some much needed alcohol...in preparation for Panorama Semis later that day, of course! Sangria it was...breakfast variation! Ohh wait, it was only 10am! This is breakfast in Trinidad...and welcome to the home of Carnival!!
Learie
serious bout breakfast
The highlight of my weekend ended just before 11am, for I had to prepare for the remainder of Sunday that was filled with work and play at the Savannah..I was definitely on a high (from my new 4.5 feat) and when I met up with D later during Pan, she asked how I was feeling. Perhaps, my tiredness was evident just a bit, but oddly I was feeling invincible! Yes, I always bring the crazy! And sure enough at 10pm I crashed and burned...straight into bed!! Invincible my arse!
                          
So who's up for the next Breakfast Run?? 
IT is soo much more than breakfast...much much more!!

Saturday, 14 January 2012

25 random things...

"I generally don't stick labels on myself but I don't have any problems with others doing so, partly because critics are not happy unless they've done so...Readers and critics will develop their views based on their perspective. You see a man lying by the side of the road, he's either sleeping, drunk, taking an afternoon nap or maybe even dead. It all depends on how close you look and what angle you are looking from" -Lola Shoneyin, Nigerian poet.


During the last quarter of last year, I started getting to know one of my male pals a little bit more. In our conversations I realized that there are too so much misconceptions about me…it's hilarious! And yes, most people do make snap judgments (form instantaneous, unreasonable positive/negative impressions) about others. You know, that lightning (only strikes once) so-called 'first impression'? Case in point: my male pal always reminds me of his 'first impression' of me. It's hysterical seeing him communicate it animatedly (middle finger…followed by f#?k you don't talk to me attitude that I project). I still cringe at his 'first impression' of me. Although now, he sees beyond the veils and veneers of my tough exterior and knows that it's just my defense mechanism…and as he says, it works! Because this (us becoming friends) was never an option! Ouch! That hurts.

Truth be told though, I am so not what people perceive me to be; aloof, cranky, moody, blah blah blah! Quite the opposite actually. Just ask my pal now, he'll tell you…in true comic relief. Some time ago, I was tagged on Facebook by a few friends on this new topic, "25 random things about me."  I thought it fitting to re-post that 25 here in blogosphere, so there'll be less misconceptions?
So here’s my 25…enjoy!
  1. I'm an only child. Contrary to misconceptions (and typecasting), NO I'm not spoil! Thank you very much.
  2. There's no pretense here…what you see is what you will get…unfiltered!!
  3. I was very reserved as a child, even in High School—but somewhere too, I was quite rebellious…I was actually kind of a nerd too…I think I still might be. Hahahaha
  4. Oh gosh, yes, I'm a hopeless romantic!!! And will hold out for more…much more…everything…Yes, I still believe in love.
  5. I have an inner strength and at times, don't quite understand the full scope of just what that means…like being gifted and not knowing how to use that gift.
  6. My proudest moment is becoming a Mother.
  7. My BFF is my cousin Maureen…we've been, since childhood…she is the only person who truly 'gets' me.
  8. My most embarrassing moment…walking into a post while talking to a guy in Pier 1—yikes! I was mortified!
  9. I can cook—really good—I think; well so I've told even Chinese & Italian…yum
  10. My greatest strength is my calming demeanor (in chaos) and fortitude.
  11. My greatest weakness…I trust too easily—Yeah, I always give people the benefit of the doubt...to prove themselves.
  12. My mom always remind me that—people can do as much as they want, but not as long as they like--in essence—the longest rope has an end and surely enough, if you give people a piece of rope they tend to hang themselves… 
  13. I'm all for education—not only academia—but also, educating myself daily about the world…learning more about myself-who I am and where I'm going...
  14. My pet-peeved is definitely hair on a bar of soap!! That's just disgusting!
  15. I'm very frugal...dislike being wasteful and self-indulgent.
  16. I absolutely love travelling and meeting new people. At one time I wanted to be a Flight Attendant.
  17. I never forget people...especially when they've been kind to me.
  18. I'm good at keeping a 'lime' going—yep I'm the comic relief! Wry sense of humor, but it works…
  19. In the next ten (10) years — I'll be working with exploited and at risk children…I have a tender understanding when it comes to children and detest seeing them suffering—in any way!
  20. Seven (7) words that best described me — Loyal, Eccentric, Determined, Resourceful, Bold, Stubborn, Fearless…
  21. I Love chocolate in almost everything—but mint chocolate chip is the best in ice-cream!!
  22. I was never good at Math, but I definitely know how to check my money…
  23. My perfect 'lime'—family gatherings! I love all the 'catching-up'…It's just hilarious! 
  24. Once you've hurt me—I retreat—don't hold grudges—will be cordial—but briefly..
  25. Some of my true friends are those that I've had while growing up—those from a decade and more...and some within the last few to five (5) years too. So, there you have it…there's more. 
But what's your 25??

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Rookie on the Run…

Happy New Year to all!! Hope all of your dreams will come through in 2012!! It's been a long awhile since my last entry, but I am back! For this New Year, it's all about new dreams, new plans and definitely new beginnings.. Some of my goals for this new and exciting year are to get funding for my Masters, experience a new culture and have an unforgettable global experience. In the meantime, here's what I've been up to…
------
It's been two months and counting since I started running with TTRoadRunners Club. Were it not for my passion to serve, I guess writing this piece may have been about something else instead. So there I was in the Newsday 5K last September, volunteering for my good friend Crystal-Ann Awai…capturing data, handing out water, liming, eating and meeting new people. It was during one of those moments that I had a conversation with Dennise Demming, whom I was briefly introduced to and who later informed me of a 'new running/training' group to begin in November, 2011. I immediately said yes, without much thought, though I had never really done any form of exercising (doing Tracy Anderson for 6 weeks count?), let alone running! But having a sedentary job will subconsciously cause one to say yes to something that is undoubtedly long overdue. I was absolutely out of condition!

In the past, I have always been lazy about exercising and walking leisurely for one lap around the Queens Park Savannah (once a week) was good enough. I have never quite imagined myself running, even lightly. When I began running last November with the amazing Dennise Demming as my coach, I must admit that deep down I was somewhat scared, not to begin this journey, but rather how my body lack training that discipline my entire life! But Coach Dennise made it easy for the group by starting us off every Tuesday and Thursday with a 2x2…two minutes run and then two minutes walk, all the while communicating proper breathing techniques, relaxing the arms, heel to ground and keeping the spine straight. Indeed, a lot to process while trying to recover for two minutes, but with every new Tuesday and Thursday comes a new feeling too, as the 2x2 decreased to 2x1 and then increased to half mile. However, as the weeks went by I began to feel the pleasures of actually doing something good for my body. Like drinking a pure glass of orange juice. Slowly and steadily my endurance level is building. I can feel it on every training day, even on Christmas morning (6:30 am) when I managed my first one (1) mile. A feat that happened while joining TTRoadRunners seasoned runners doing their annual leisure Christmas run around the Savannah. What a Christmas present to myself!

With every New Year come a new plan, new dreams and goals for one's life. One of my new dream and/or goal started in actuality last November. Also, while volunteering for Scotiabank Women Against Breast Cancer 5K last September, I realized that I too wanted to be part of that movement; to do something positive that says I care, for I too lost my maternal grandmother to cancer. Although, I initially started to run because I wanted to train for the Scotiabank Women Against Breast Cancer 5K later this year, coach Dennise thinks otherwise. Yes, Coach is motivating me to run my very first 5K this January month end. What a privilege it is, not only joining TTRoadRunners and having Dennise as my coach, but for her believing in me and motivating me along the Savannah course! I am greatly indebted to you. Thank you!

In 2012 this rookie is on the run…Do you dare? What are your plans for 2012??

* This post was primarily written on January 1st, 2012 for TTRoadRunners Newsletter. 

Monday, 21 November 2011

Being grateful....Week!

In an effort to stay current regarding the observation of Thanksgiving (commemorates the last major harvest of the season) happening in the U.S. (Thursday 24th November), and other countries, I find it rather appropriate to dedicate this post to things that we are grateful for…this past year, month or week; since, the history of Thanksgiving goes beyond the traditional turkey, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie…etc. Gratitude is something I think most of us tend to overlook. Sometimes, we always want more than we already have, and so we always strived to be the best in everything that we do...in order to get more. People always worry about what they don't have instead of appreciating what they do have. But why? Maybe, possessions are a lot easier to count than virtues. Somehow though when we are truly grateful and know where gratitude lies, it allows us to become our authentic selves. Think about it…
Because at the core of thanksgiving or being grateful lies an opportunity where we can actually pause, reflect and recognize just how truly blessed we are…even with the small things. Why do we wait until, "you don't know what you have until it's gone" to be appreciative? There is so much good in one's life, no matter who you are. And finding good things are possible, if you're willing to look hard enough and name the obvious. For instance, the more 'obvious' something is (sight-the fact that you can read this), the more you take it for granted. Those are the things that you should feel the most grateful for.. Simple things can trigger a feeling of gratitude too. When you're sick, don't you value being healthy more than when you are sick? Of course, because you realize how wonderful it is to just feel normal. A lot of people don't understand how good they really have it, even if they are living pay check to pay check. Seriously, people I think it's a whole lot better than not having a job and/or being homeless!
So these are the things I am most especially grateful for this past year:
I am grateful for life...the air I breathe, my health, being able to see, walk and hear..yes healthy body and Mind!
I am grateful (and Blessed!) to be a mother to beautiful Victoria...whose wise soul keeps me grounded.
I am most grateful for my mom being with and around me...without you (taking care of Vic), getting my Degree would have been an impossibility.
I'm ever grateful for my family...they are annoying all at times, and some of them I need to love from afar...generally they are good people though...I mean they did help nurture me.
I am grateful that am mentally healthy…I think?
I am grateful for my unlimited access to clean water.
I am grateful for never having to go more than 24 hours without food in my life.
I am grateful for advances in technology…the internet and being able to literally connect with the world/people...and write in this space!
I am grateful that I know that happiness is a choice…yes we choose.
I am grateful that I live in a democracy…even though the forces of power and greed are assaulting our beautiful twin isle.

I am especially grateful that I have an 'open mind' and am willing to get out of my comfort zone...and chase my dreams.
I'm grateful that there is so much beauty and joy to be had in living life…
Enjoy the beauty in your life today. Look around. Gratitude...It's everywhere.
    How about you? 

Tell me what you're grateful for in the comments section.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Love…Unexpectedly!

In creating balance (yes balance is definitely needed in everything), in my blog posts I thought it sublime to share something special with you all. Despite everything that I have been through this past year and the last few all the curve-balls thrown at me, I have discovered that I am a true hopeless romantic. No matter what, my heart is happiest when in love. I know, for the cynics I may seem somewhat naïve…almost like a teenager. But I really don't care about being crucify when it comes to affairs of the heart. Nope. Since, each of us gets our heart broken at some point in time; whether it is in a relationship or friendship. No one gets away unscathed. But what really sets us apart, I think is fortitude. When we get wounded, how many of us not only rise and dust ourselves off, but actually put oneself out there again and give another person a fair shot/chance?? Its insanity…at the highest level. So be true to thyself; we all have to be relatively insane to make this life livable bearable, right? The fact that I am writing in this space, reveals my sanity level.

In becoming older wiser, I realized what it is exactly I want in a relationship and know that I won't settle for just anything. Arrogant or bigoted? I say lessons learned. In order to give yourself and/or another a fair shot, knowing what one wants is paramount. Can you imagine, male pals that I was never interested in before...suddenly become more appealing? It's like I never really saw them until now. And I must let some of them know too, I have found that it's quite easy to weed through people who just want to 'bang' me...however, I only 'bang' who I fall in love with.. For love is so unique, so particular, so undefined and yet unexpected. It knows neither rules nor boundaries and is present whether you want it to or not. Yet, you need to love when you’re ready, not when you’re lonely.


Enjoy a poem that was written for me this past May; 
   but was released this month…

"Your beauty has no boundaries…. This is for you babe and I hope you like it….. They say a fruit doesn’t fall far from a tree; I say the tree is a picture of the greatness and inner beauty in its finest vision…. So don’t be amaze or disturbed when people look at you and stare, point fingers, judge you and hate you… Because how can they explain such beauty, grace, intelligence, People hate what they don’t understand; fear what they can’t conquer… So when you see them stand and stare give them a good look because they have not yet seen the best of you but they fear what is yet to come… They say beauty is in the eyes of the be-holder, how thrown away I am when I look at you unable to explain but yet taken I guess this is what feels like to walk on moon, to be caught by element of surprise, and that beauty doesn’t even belong to me…. Always keep your head up at all times for only you can determine who you are and what you can become (no one else) … my love i am captured by your beauty... i could write poems about your beauty and still there would be so much to say.... i hope you would allow me to get to know you so that i could experience your beauty." −BD

Thoughts??

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Friend-Shifts…when ‘friends’ hurt you

John F Kennedy once commented, "Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names." I like that finality. It's freeing. It releases you. Yes, we can forgive the person who have obviously hurt us, but never forget the wrong doing. That way you will know better and be able to steer clear from any chance for 'whatever' to happen again. Forgive, learn from it and move on. Human beings have a tendency to let one another down and the majority will always want to gain at another's expense.
This past year I've been hurt by a couple of people, whom I thought were sort kinda close to me…I think. But there's a fine line between a close friend and a true friend. I mean when you go to school with people, you definitely develop some friendships along the way. Right? You study together. Hang-out/lime together…with other friends. Call each other all the time. Look out for each other. Be a moral support. You guide them. Teach them things you thought they ought to know. You certainly won't tolerate other people ill-treating your friend and not stand up for them. Right? So you just be there for them…totally. Whatever it is, they feel comfortable enough to come to you with/for anything (is this a close or true friend?). But if you are friends with someone who give of themselves half-heartedly (50%) what you do with a pure heart (110%), then this is not a friendship. Obviously, they never saw you on the same level of friendship you saw them. It is so awful when people who are supposed to be your friend hurt you. Maybe they hurt me more out of thoughtlessness than of meanness. I don't know for sure. But a true friend would never (consciously) throw their good friend under the bus to save themselves or to look good. Not at all. A true friend knows when both are working towards the same goal and reaches within thyself and (secretly) understand that without this friend, that goal was an impossibility elusive…would not have materialized so soon. So 'fending' for yourself is not an option.

Unfortunately this happens to everyone at some point in their life though. Yes, this is a very common situation. A lot of people can relate to this from either a friendship or a relationship. It's like there is an increasing trend of such stereotypical behaviors that are being promoted…offline and online. Don't you just hate dislike when people say that they are your friend, but their actions tell you something entirely different? A true friend is always there whenever you need them the most…during rough times. When you are fracture…broken. A true friend always makes an effort to call you. A true friend always tends to see if you are okay. A true friend always shows that he or she cares about you. Perhaps, my outlook is a bit naive. Maybe I expect too much out of my friends, but I truly believe that if someone says they love and care for you, they must act like it. Not just say it. I am a firm advocate of loyalty when it comes to love, friendships, family and business. And I make a mental note to disassociate myself with those who display disloyal tendencies. I recognized too that I may be doing myself a disservice by keeping my true feelings to myself whenever a friend wrongs me, but I believe in taking the 'high road.' Yes, because Karma is serious and everyone gets what they deserve…eventually. As the Trini saying goes, "What doh miss yuh, doh pass yuh." And I understand that sometimes friendships are uncertain. When we are young everyone seems to be our friend, very much like on Facebook−many of whom we know are not friends; they are merely acquaintances that come and go. But true friends are people who we choose to become part of our family…and who chooses us in return.

I believe that you never really know people in life, even when you think you do. Friends come and go and it is a two way street. All we can really do is reach out and be our best selves and put ourselves out there. We all have a duty (to ourselves) to try at least once. If someone drifts away, it is sad, but cherish them for what you may remember. Oftentimes, we are just not meant to be friends with some people. We need to understand too, that people grow apart. Some people just bounce off each other and/or reject each other. While you may never be able to change someone, you can still be a friend from afar. Maybe. One of the Army's core values is treating others how you want to be treated. If one can't do that on either side of a friendship then you don't really have a friendship. Perhaps, some people need to first learn how to love themselves. In so doing, only then are they capable of appreciating what you do for them or understand the basis of a friendship. For even in my darkest moments when I didn't fully love myself enough, I never drag any of my friends into that vortex…into oblivion. Yes, I had to almost hit rock bottom before I finally looked inside myself. And let me tell you, learning to love myself was the best thing I have ever done in this life; trust me...to let that sun rise and see the light is heavenly…especially when surrounded by true friends.
I know I have high expectations of people and friendships, but I hold myself to the same standards. And I have learned that it's the quality of people and not quantity. Also, I have finally come to learn the difference between my true friends and just my 'acquaintances.' And I think, once you can understand and get a real feel on your circle of friends, it'll probably grow smaller.

One last thought. Have you ever wondered why is it that the one you are nice to normally won't be nice to you, but the one you are not so nice to, will actually be the one nicer to you? I've noticed too that the better you treat a person, the worse they'll treat you. Whatever the circumstances though, if your 'friend(s)' decide to betray you, just erase them completely from your life. It seems cruel, but why would anyone want to subject themselves to an indifferent friendship? Walk away. They are definitely not worthy of your quality time and friendship. Because a true friend would never resort to standing on your shoulders…killing you to save themselves. Brutally honest is sometimes the only way to go.

What are your thoughts??

Friday, 11 November 2011

Intuition…gut feelings?

I am compelled to write something additional on intuition. Since the stirrings from my 1st blog entry. Lately I find myself wondering why I sometimes tend to second-guess myself a lot on some things. Whenever this happens, I usually end up regretting it, because my gut feelings are always spot on. So what is intuition? 
I believe it is a hunch―a gut feeling inside…when you sense whether something feels right or wrong. I don't think that it is logic, fact or even opinion. It just sits around, somewhere underneath and beyond all that. Intuition is our inner voice−our own personal voice of reason−gently guiding us along. And somehow I don't think it will lead us off course; no matter what our conscious mind tells us. 

Oft-times though, most of us do not heed our intuitions…that gut feeling. I think we ignore it because we don't want it (the nagging sensation) to be true, but ladies it's a gift we must develop…and use. For intuition promotes good communication too. It will make you more sensitive to the people around you. So learn to trust your intuition (trusting the feelings). It is an extension of a woman's sixth sense (simply responds to something and gives you a feeling), and if we truly take time out to get in touch with our spirit we can develop this gift further and it will help us along the journey. Try it for yourself. Just let go. Take time out to first find your spirit (meditate)−go some place (any room in the house) where you can totally quiet empty your mind…and listen. Find peace in yourself. It is amazing! All those uncertainties will get an answer.

And gentlemen, this intuition or even finding your spirit is not exclusive to women. Oh no. With every breath, choices dominate all of our lives. How many of us really make everyday decisions by gut feelings or by reason? Obviously, our mind operates on a dual track. We have an intuitive mind and a rational mind. And there is an inner voice that accompanies every human being. We all have a simple intuition for what is good and bad for us. It speaks to the heart of our understanding of the human mind. Similarly, just as animals have bionic senses to guide them in the animal kingdom.

Intuition…many of us have had them, some of us heed them but most of us ignore them. So why do we have those hunches that seem to tell us that even the best of things aren't always what they seem? Do these feelings always turn out to be right? Sometimes we are alerted and suspect things are going wrong, but have no proof. Like when I knew deep down that a particular relationship wasn't going to work out. I just couldn't justify how or why just then. Why does the phantom's whispering in our ear, always takes us by surprise and we are left wondering…?

Have you ever wondered why we make snap judgments? Why do we form instantaneous, unreasonable positive/negative impressions of people and certain circumstances? How do we explain the lightning (only strikes once) so-called

'first impression', which often proves (in the long/short run) to be right?

Send me your thoughts.. How do you feel about all this??

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Trinidad & Tobago…a developed nation?


Courtesy Call
Arthur Snell &
Winston Dookeran
I promised myself, that I won't write about things that will overwhelm any one. You know the heavy stuff. No, there are lots of blogs dedicated to people moaning and groaning about everything beneath the sun. But this one has been nagging me, because feedback from the average person left me scratching my head. Wanna know why? Keep reading..
It's day 3 and counting since the curfew has been lifted and I am still baffled, not by this tiny bout of 'freedom' that Trinidadians are celebrating over (oblivious to the true meaning of a State of Emergency-SoE), but with what I read on October 31, 2011 in the Newsday. Just to recap for those of you who may still be unaware of a feat many large nations are still trying to accomplished! The British High Commissioner for Trinidad and Tobago, Mr. Arthur Snell (yes, Oxford-educated and all) also published on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office blogthat this country's dream of working towards and becoming a "developed country" came to fruition in the month of October. This realization and Mr. Snell reason for making such an assumption statement was because, T&T was removed from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) DAC list of developing countries; in that said month. Snell further stated that, "The premier international organization that makes a judgement on such matters considers T&T to be a developed country than Argentina, Chile and Costa Rica, countries that remain on the list."
I think this non-appearance on the OECD's DAC list seem to get a bit confusing for some people here; whose interpretation and mentality is, "we reach…we have arrived…we is a First World Nation." But let's not get beside ourselves people. In actuality and from my understanding, T&T has not been declared a developed country per se…despite all those fancy high-rise buildings in the nation's capital (had to mention that) and no, I am not trying to be a cynic or pessimistic in the slightest manner. Far from it, for I recognized that the country have made notable strides by increasing literacy rates and improving education (GATE), improving health care and reducing infant mortality rates. We have been steadily climbing with those positive indicators and more. And while we are a small nation, we must not forget that we were also able to use our resources to achieve great things too. But the theory of 'developed' speaks directly to a Eurocentric idea of what it means to be really advanced. Seriously people, think about it. How can a nation be 'undeveloped' one day and then a report makes it 'developed' the next day? Even the most narrow-minded person should be wagging their tongues with questions. But the truth is, our society usually takes things at face-value and run with it. Somehow, we never seem to stop and question any thing. The fact that some people actually think "we have arrive" says a lot..."third world thinking."  
Perhaps, to add to this misinterpretation is the United Nations (UN) Human Development Index (HDI) report for 2011, which puts Trinidad and Tobago at 62 out of 187 nations in ranking. What this means, is that we are part of the top third of countries in terms of HDI. This HDI, together with our macroeconomics stats, seems to indicate that while we may be far from the poverty of sub-Saharan Africa, we are indeed also, no where close to the peaceful and flourishing Norway…which ranked first in the HDI report. 
That said, it now sorta kinda feels like a welcome respite, that perhaps we are no longer a "third world." Somehow that always seemed a debasing description whenever I travel. As if they (First World) were mocking us. Have you experienced that typecasting of T&T being a poor and primitive country…on your travels? Yes, where we are still climbing trees and all? The nerve of some Americans 1st world people…yet we look to them for everything as if they were our God!?! But that is for another post.
Port-of-Spain
Skyline (2010)
So readers, send me your thoughts on this new development. But keep in mind though, that the above info is just statistics! As the wise saying goes, "take it with a grain of salt". Because the fact of the matter is that these reports are just stats and do not speak of the reality happening on the ground (as I type this), and do not diminish the fact that we still have much...so much more work to do to truly make our society equal and fair.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

The 80’s…Music’s Best Decade!

80s Vibe

During the last decade, most of you will remember when both digital (computer-related) and non-digital documentation and data storage situations (which resulted from the practice of abbreviating a four-digit year to two digits) ceased to crash at the stroke of midnight on December 31st, 1999, because of The Year 2000 problem (also known as the Y2K problem, the Millennium bug, the Y2K bug, or simply Y2K). The world nonetheless ushered in a new millennium. Yes, around the world and in different time zones, people were dancing to the beat of Cher’s Believe (Xenomania Mix) which was sitting atop Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart. Yes, a song filled with all the 80s elements; for music was transformed by digital technology in the 1980s, in ways that are still reverberating today. Do you remember the compact disc (CD) promised 'perfect sound forever', and led to later formats such as DVD and Blu-Ray?                                                                                                            
Yet, even today with all the 21st century sounds and gadgets the world is seemingly still craving for a decade of excess (in Pop Culture) that went twenty years earlier. Fashion Designers brought back the 80’s to life in their beautifully bright and bold colors on the runways; with shoulder pads, big hair and more accessories. So too were the music producers, bringing back synthesizer/synths music technology to new music. Singers were even sampling music from the 80's with new mixes. 
Do you remember: 
I. Kanye West's Good Life that he sampled from Michael Jackson's PYT (Pretty Young Thing).
II. Flo Rida's Right Round which was his take from Dead or Alive's You Spin Me Round 
III. Diddy's I'll Be Missing You which was a sample from The Police's Every Breath You Take 

Wens albums…My Guilty Pleasure!!
So because I love everything 80’s, I thought it might be fun to list perhaps 10-15 albums (my favourites), that I used to listen to (on Vinyl) while growing up. So here are the rules: Don't take too long to analyze it. Think of 10-15 albums that are your faves and will always stick with you. List them quickly, in no more than 10-15 minutes in the comments box. Now send the post to the same amount of friends, whether 10/15 because I'm interested in seeing their selections. Try not to go over/under the numbers. Have FUN.. For better or worse, without judgment or explanation, the first ones that come to mind:
Madonna
80s Pop Queen
1. Prince & The Revolution–Purple Rain
2. U2–The Joshua Tree
3. The Cure–Disintegration
4. Pink Floyd–The Wall
5. Duran Duran–Rio
6. Depeche Mode–Music for the Masses
7. Pet Shop Boys–Please
8. Nirvana–Unplugged
9. David Bowie–Best of Bowie
10. Madonna–Madonna
11. Michael Jackson–Thriller
12. Def Leppard–Hysteria
13. Anita Baker–Rapture
14. R.E.M.–Murmur
15. Guns 'N' Roses–Appetite for Destruction
Note: Because my audience is wide and varied, your selections are not limited to music of the 80s.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

The 'Ex' factor…friends?

Lately, I've been in conversations with many people who seem to be having drama, trouble with their relationships because of the ex-tra baggage. Whenever a topic, such as 'the ex-factor' arises in any setting, undoubtedly it'll be intense, debatable and interesting. Everyone it seems has an explanation or excuses, as to why they keep the connection open with an ex(es).
Yes, many people are divided on this affair. On one side, there are those who believe they can have a monogamous relationship while still remaining 'friends' with their former lovers. On the other side, are the people who believe this will eventually cause future problems in a current (serious) relationship.
So is there really room for the Ex?
In researching, a friend and I were talking about the Exes and the friendship(s) that was maintained long after the relationship had ended. I listened attentively to all the excuses given for humans' need to remain friends with the person(s) who broke their heart. In close examination, I am guilty of this 'crime' too. My inability to let go of, severed completely with that one person who got down into my soul and changed everything for me…is quite perplexing to say the least. When you love someone, they're inescapable. People come and go in our lives and somehow we are never the same.  I have seen this so much. But why do we always bring the 
Ex-factor into the whY (current) relationship and invite trouble? I guess, to understand such complexity of that human condition, I've had to relive all those moments of that particular relationship (too much for here). Although, things didn’t work out, ours ended surreal. We have chemistry, I really do feel that. Its intangible; something that you understand about the person, and they understand about you. It's mutual. You just can't explain it. I guess when you get close to someone, you either have chemistry or you don't. You can't fake it. And perhaps, to understand the reason why some of us make room or stay friends with the Ex, knowing there will be consequences, is probably the impact that person has made in the other's life. I don’t know for sure. But you have to understand how much more you can learn in those moments of receptivity then you could ever dream or plan. The 'X' factor―is that indefinable something, that indescribable quality that makes someone stands out. I suspect, the 'Ex' factor supports this. It explains everything…why else would you still want to be friends?
What are your thoughts on this?
Is there room for 'friendship' with the Ex?
When one resumes dating, does severing completely (with the ex) seem the only viable option to make a new relationship work?
Discuss… 

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Divali…Enlightening us all

Deya...lighting your path
I feel somewhat obligated to write something about Divali (Diwali), since I reside in a multi-cultural and multi-religious country. Divali or "The Festival of Lights" is a major observance, second only to Christmas in this tropical twin island and is quite unique. Indeed, it is celebrated on a grand scale just like Christmas (not as commercial) and has become part of traditions in our society. Divali is a time when Hindus in Trinidad and Tobago and around the world worship the female aspect of God in the form of Mother Lakshmi-the Goddess of wealth and prosperity. It is celebrated in the Hindu month of Kartik (October-November) on the darkest night of the year (remember the Celts post)
The word Divali means "a row of lights" and the origin can be found in the various legends and mythologies of Hindu scriptures.
However, the true beauty of Divali transcends the lighting of deyas and the underlying message/theme(s) of the triumph of good over evil, light overcoming darkness and enlightenment over ignorance. During this time, despite all our differences and circumstances we come together as a nation (ought to) to celebrate, and what is most visible is religious tolerance at its peak. Yes, the same religious tolerance you probably heard U.S. President Barack Obama often talked about in his campaigning speeches. We have it right here in sweet TnT.
As a young girl and even today, I feel privileged to have experienced this cross-religious harmony that is so elusive in other parts of the world. A quick visit 
(for research) to the Singh’s Divali celebrations on Ethel Street in St. James last Wednesday evening  provides the evidence of this peaceful union. In this street setting, I saw where every creed and race found equal table space to enjoy the delicacies that are synonymous with Divali. Besides, where will one see the innocence of non-Hindu children dressed in beautiful Saris and lighting the deyas? Ahh, such wonderment! Momentarily, everything else is suspended to light the path(s) of the journey ahead. All of which was punctuated of course, with solemn Indian music and tassa drumming. 
And even though this year’s celebration was thrifty compare to previous years, due to the State of Emergency, one thing is certain...The charity, love, kindheartedness and happiness that encompass Divali cannot be truly explained. No, this magic must be felt with the heart; just like the merriment of Christmas.
What were your Divali experiences growing up in TnT? 
Do you think this religious tolerance that is demonstrated during Divali here can be achieved in other parts of the world? 
Do you see just how blessed our country truly is?
Share your thoughts...


Thursday, 20 October 2011

Unmasking Halloween…

Samhain - Celts Feast 
The idea for my 2nd Post was prompted by some comments from  you readers and it is quite fitting to research this topic at present, because results from a primary research conducted revealed a misconception of some fascinating history that has gone before us and which will coincide with next week’s celebrations around the world.
Over the last two decades Trinbagonians have been celebrating Halloween by attending numerous costume parties during the last week in October. But just what are we (Trinidad and Tobago) actually celebrating? How did this unusual custom originate, and why are we even celebrating it? Is it, as some assert, a day for evil worship, or is it just a harmless vestige of some ancient pagan ritual?
It is known that this tropical twin isle of ours is affectionately called “Little New York.” A quick chitchat with the ‘man in the street’ for clarification will certainly leave you in stitches! But seriously, I am still in shock at just how ignorant some adults really are.
Blogger:What do you know about Trinidad and Tobago being called Little New York?
Man in the Street: Well, whatever New York have we bound to get it…in real time too. If them have flood we sure to flood out. If a plane crash, somehow our carrier will too. I mean, if New York sneezes we sure to catch the cold/flu.
Blogger: Have you ever attended a Halloween party here?
Man in the Street: Like I said, everything New York have we bound to get. I sure them people ain’t even understand what Halloween is about, but they dressing up like idiots. They even wearing snow boots in this hot country. Trinidadians like to follow fashion. I mean we have become so Americanise, that our true culture is almost non-existent.
Blogger: So what Halloween party you going to this year?
1st Woman in the Street: Halloween is all about evil, scary costumes and devil worshipping!
Blogger: Do you know the history of how Halloween came to be?
1st Woman in the Street: It’s about satan!
2nd Woman in the Street: Halloween is all about evil and is the darkest day in the year!
Blogger: Thank you all for your time.
So where am I going with this? Keep reading and have an open-mind. The true meaning behind Halloween is so blurred, yet some still mask-up and ignorantly partake. But to really appreciate Halloween you have to first understand that while customs and traditions may vary they are all one and the same. We may not always agree with other people’s beliefs, but be mature enough to understand. After all “learning is a change in behaviour.”  
The backstory of this now commercialise celebration deals with the Supernatural beings of the outerworld and the wandering of their souls, and even though Christian missionaries tried to obliterate it during the early centuries of the first millennium A.D. by hopelessly trying to convert the Celtic people and change their religious practices (yes, Christians believed that it was devil worshipping), they inadvertently succeeded in effecting major transformations in later centuries…which the world now disguises as Halloween following All Saints and All Souls Day respectively on November 1 and 2.
Samhain…Sacred Celtic New Year
Halloween had its beginnings in an ancient, pre-Christian Celtic festival of the dead some 2,000 years ago. The annual celebration at the time was called Samhain (pronounced Sah-ween) and literally means “Summer’s end.” It was the biggest and most significant holiday of the Celtic year. According to their calendar, the year began on a day corresponding to November 1st on our present calendar, which marked the beginning of winter. The belief at the time of Samhain, was that the ghosts of the dead were able to mingle with the living, because at Samhain the souls of those who had died during the year travelled into the otherworld. One tale says that on November 1st, the disembodied spirits of all those who had died throughout the preceding year would come back in search of living bodies to possess for the next year.
Hence, the Celtic people usually gathered to sacrifice animals, fruits, and vegetables. They also lit bonfires in honor of the dead, to aid them on their journey, and to keep them away from the living. On that day all manner of beings were abroad: ghosts, fairies, and demons--all part of the dark and dread. 
So on their New Year’s Eve night (October 31st), the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred; for the Celts believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth on this night. Here the living and the supernatural beings meet up once more…and in so doing, they are reaffirming death and its place as a part of life in an exhilarating celebration of a holy and magical evening.
 “In A.D. 1000, the church would make November 2 All Souls' Day, a day to honor the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils. Together, the three celebrations, the eve of All Saints', All Saints', and All Souls', were called Hallowmas…” now called Halloween. (Library of Congress, 1982)
Halloween…in Trinidad & Tobago
Halloween in this corner of the world is far from the sacred ritual it once represented. It is an extra-ordinary celebration filled with beautiful masks and an array of costumes to satisfy one’s fantasy of what sustains this material world we all reside in. Children in upscale neighbourhoods ‘trick or treating’ is limited to their compounds and adults use the opportunity (in disguise) as a ‘free pass’…to do something dangerous that will probably have consequences, i.e. a one night stand or drinking themselves into oblivion. The whole concept for us (the fete promoters), I have observed is a ‘free drinks’ party filled with prizes for best/scariest costumes and just having fun…
Perhaps I am guilty of that. It seems a lifetime ago when I too used to get all mask-up for this festive night. But even then I always thought how empty it felt, but is was where I needed to be at the time. Something about dressing up and pretending didn’t quite interest me for too long, yet I indulged? Ahh! Experience is really the best teacher. If only, I can go back and talk to my younger self (with what I now know…for sure), I would definitely tell her to take off that ridiculous costume…you look silly. You don’t need to subject yourself to such extremes to be cool and feel fit in. Ha Ha Ha. But that’s for another Post.
So what are your Halloween plans for this year? Will you be attending one of the curfew parties? 
Do you think the history of Halloween resonates with us or is it just another fete?

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

A Haunting October…

I've been wondering for some time now if it is good for one's sanity mental health to write in a public space, since it opens you up for criticism, scrutiny or a convenient channel for accounting for the actions of those in public offices or even pursuing matters one has little or no control over. 

Since, these are random pages from my notebook and I am, by nature a private person I shall slowly bare expose my soul. At times, the content in these pages may be brief and sobering, and other times emotional yet humorous and it is all meant to entertain. To remind us that we are not alone in this world. To put a smile on someone.  For I do laugh at myself. We have to somehow be able to do that right? 

So feel free to comment. We are all interconnected and in today's world without connectivity we certainly feel lost…abandoned and even angry that technology can (and will oft-times) fail us.

It is noted that procrastination is the thief of time. But all the stolen time since August (when I joined Blogger) could not have better prepared me for a more fittingly first post. It comes with the recent passing of Steve Jobs, CEO and co-founder of Apple Computer. As the world continues to mourn publicly for Jobs, I am silently grieving for my bestie, Sherry-Ann La Rose. Ten years ago this month, she left this world without rhyme or reason. Quite dreadfully too. I still can't seem to comprehend what really transpired on that fateful day when she was discovered murdered in the Grand Barbados Resort. Just two months shy of her 30th birthday.

I try not to imagine the graphic details of her being found by some unknown person. Try not to imagine what was really happening in that moment when she crossed over. You see, I was the closest person to Sherry-Ann. Her mother reminded me of it too, when she asked me to do the eulogy at her funeral. Strange. How strange it was for me to be standing at a podium with her embalmed body just beside me and, rambling about inconsequential things that now seem rather important.

I can't exactly remember when we became best friends. Even though, we grew up together, she was first best friends with two of my cousins. She was three years older than me when we were kids and teenagers and in those years, I suspect the gap was perhaps too wide for "holding secrets" and talking about boys. I don't know, but I remembered we were inseparable for a number of years during our naïve and reckless early 20s.
I smile now at the memory of our similarities; like the wine color lipstick that was our statement make-up and our preferred hair color of golden brown. Yet, somehow we had different preferences in boyfriends. Sherry dated Asian guys and I had a liking for tall mixed geeks. What opposites. It was the one thing we never had to worry about. The greatest privilege in our friendship I think was that we understood each other. She got me and I her. We worked, rented and got into mischief together. The bond was tight.

But then unexpectedly, I was knocked up. I had given up the dance floor for a rocking chair and singing lullabies. Talk about a 180. I think Sherry was mad at me at the time, for she didn't like my boyfriend. But I reckoned she recognised that my life was changing. Although we weren't in constant contact during my pregnancy, we stayed connected through telephone and by the occasional visits. But truth be told, I was in hiatus. I had retreated.
The last time Sherry and my family really got together was at my Cousin Maureen's wedding reception in July 2001. My daughter was five months old and Sherry and I were back to our old selves…tricksters indeed, making mischief at the wedding tables; eating out the guests' cake slices and laughing silly. Perhaps that's the beauty of true friendships; when you can grow apart for a while but whenever you do reconnect, it's like no time has passed at all. If I had to choose one memory of Sherry from my album, it will be the one from Maureen's wedding reception.
I didn't see Sherry for two months after that day, but we talked extensively about the wedding. Then one humid evening in early October she visited me. It was brief and I can't recall what we talked about, but she seemed happy, yet somewhat distracted as if her thoughts were elsewhere. For the first time I didn't read her. It was odd. The balance was off, but I ignored it. Then two weeks later I heard of her passing.

I am haunted by that last visit. I realised that it was your final goodbye. The brutality of your death still stuns me today and it comes to me at odd times throughout the day. I still have a sense of shock that it transpired at all. But they say that when you die young you will remain forever beautiful. I believe that. I have to. Someday we’ll be dancing in the heavens, but in the meantime I’ll take comfort in Steve Jobs words to the Stanford graduates of 2005: "Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart." (Stanford, 2005)
Rest in Peace Bestie. You are my sister. That much is true. A family beyond DNA. Losing you has allowed me to appreciate my other friendships and relationships even more.
                    This one's for you doll...
So how do you feel about death? Do you sometimes ignore that voice...
Our intuition? 
Have you lost someone too?
Do you believe that the month of October is truly haunting...? 
What with halloween coming up and all? 
Let me know your thoughts.