Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Finding balance; the Daily Om

The Pursuit of Conscious Wholeness

Striking the right balance between our physical and spiritual aspects is oneof the most challenging aspects of existence. We are dual beings by nature,spiritual entities bound to earth by physical bodies. In our lifetimes, we are charged with the duty of nurturing and tending both with equal devotion and love. Yet while both aspects of the self are deserving of honor and respect, there is a tendency for people who are more spiritually focused to ignore, avoid, or dismiss their bodies. Similarly, many individuals are entirely ensconced in the carnal realm and pay no attention to the needs of the soul. In both cases, an adjustment is in order. We are whole only to the degree that we embrace both sides of our beings.

If the soul is the inward manifestation of our consciousness, the body is the living, breathing expression of that consciousness. The physical self provides the home in which the spiritual self takes root and flourishes. Just as we must tend to the seed of the soul to ensure that it grows strong, so, too, must we care for the protective shell that is the body to make certain it is capable of playing its role in our development. Though there will no doubt be times in our lives when we feel more comfortable focusing on the spiritual self or the physical self, denying the fundamental importance of one or the other can lead to ill health, emotional distress, and a sense of incompleteness. Both facets of the human experience play a vital role in our well-being.

The body and the soul are the yin and yang of our current reality. They are, at this point of human evolution, irreparably bound together, and many spiritual teachers agree that the body is one of the greatest vehicles through which to access the soul. In fact, many believe that our spirit has chosen to be embodied as an essential part of our spiritual development.

Consequently, it is the responsibility of each person on the planet to forge a marriage between the two, so that these disparate aspects bring out the best in each other, creating a vibrant, dynamic, and workable whole.

Why did I get fat?

1. Because I ate all those calories...
2. Because I didn't burn them off..
3. Because I knew how to burn the excess when I was good and ready
4. Because somewhere along the way, I just stopped really looking in the mirror
5. Because I used food for comforting a multitude of sins and distresses (going out for drinks to de-stress after work instead of hitting the gym.
6. Because everytime I got back into shape, I stopped doing what I needed to do to stay there
7. Because age and high metabolism was on my side and I didn't change when they became my arch enemies
8. Because I have been lazy and I keep on putting it off
9. Because smoking reduced my lung capacity and my ability to burn
10. Because I am the queen of excuses
11. Because I have been using my wieght like a beard and hiding behind it
12. Because I was holding on to other things in my life that long needed letting go

And why I am finally getting it under control?

1. Because I am finally out of excuses
2. Because the baggage that was weighing me down is out of my life, so there is no point in keeping my weight as a souvenir of all the shit I have been through.
3. Because I deserve to be fit and healthy and not have fat bog down my self-confidence
4. Because I am blessed to have so many chances while others cannot even move
5. Because today may just be the best there will be.

Small steps, mercies and victories for a long journey.

Adam Lambert's "No Boundaries" is now my daily motivational song.

Everyday, I have to remember to "Fight and never walk away."

When love speaks an awful truth

My dearly beloved told me some cold hard truth over the weekend. I cried for two days straight. I was hurt. But you know what? He was right and even more importantly, he spoke out of love.

Sometimes it's hard hearing bad stuff from a partner- even more so than any other loved one because of how vulnerable you are in love, but you even though you know what's at stake, it's good to hear it out loud.

So it was obvious that I had put on too much weight. My clothes weren't fitting and my joints ached under the added weight. Dude loves me yes, but I should have known that all the perfumes in Arabia wouldn't be enough to entice a man indefinitely. Yes, he knew he married me overweight.. but he was fine with me at that weight. Turns out that his 300lb benchmark was too liberal for me. I guess 190 is his cut off. I past 190 some 5lbs ago.

I cried myself to sleep and cried upon waking and every time he looked at or spoke to me. I felt fat and ugly in his eyes. I was hurt at first. Then furious. He married me overweight. I am a stay at home wife who works on occasion. I am struggling with making my transition over here. I am a newlywed. He has long hours. He is a damn chef for crying out loud! Food is a high point of my day. I dont live in a walking city. I am limited by my immobility. We couldn't afford much outside of food. It's the first time in my adult life that I am without a car. I haven't even been behind a wheel in 6months.

Who's fault is it anyway?

I can hear you saying" Sister I was warning you about all that cooking."

Sadly though, it wasn't just the cooking. It was the junk food binges. The laziness. The excuses. Hiding under tent blouses and dresses. The functional depression. The excuses.

I stayed away from clothing stores, even for things on sale because I did not want to face the reality. I started working out, got sick and binged my way everyday through a three week period. I gained 8lbs. Turns out those 8lbs were my husband's cut-off point.

I can't kill him. He took a day off on Monday when he realized that his comments on my general physical appearance had crushed my spirit. He has been cooking healthier options for me and actually getting up 45mins earlier to work out with me to my videos for the past few weeks.

Small victories
1. He took me to the Museum and shopping for a few pieces to fill my empty wardrobe. I got two belts to put around my waist to show that I actually have a wasitline underneath my very maternity looking clothes. I desperately needed new pants but refused to buy a UK size 18, which was the only size that fit me without making me look voluptuously vulgar.

2. I am six days smoke free. I still get the urge to smoke but I chew the nicotine gum instead. I have some cigarettes on my coffee table that I look at daily but never smoke. There is something empowering about having it in front of me and CHOOSING not to. It actually feels better than not having any cigarettes in the apartment at all.

I know I have a very long way to go, but I am going to celebrate where I am right now. Right now, I am taking on a daily fight to be healthier in smaller but cumulative ways. I walk more, eat more veggies and fruits (even packing them in ziploc bags and taking with me when I leave the house), try to eat less at meals, and I am trying to move away from Food as Reward. We are now looking at ways of incorporating activity into our lives and making weekends about having new experiences together as opposed to just being about eating something new.

So what's the next big reward?

1. When I lose 15lbs, we are going paintablling.
2. We are going to go to the water park (practically free since he gets access as a company benefit
3. Beach once per week (free ride and free beach).

Every 15lbs will qualify me for a new EXPERIENCE. Each reward must be very low budget but high in activity and fun. The defining factor is that if the "souvenir" is digestible, it doesn't qualify.

"In the Moment" by Tony Horton (Beachbody)

When I first started acting in the mid 1980s, I worked with an acting coach by the name of Darryl Hickman. Darryl introduced me to an acting technique and life philosophy he called "Being In The Moment." He felt that to be a good actor, you needed to stop acting or pretending, and start listening. The words you'd hear from another actor had to be felt on a deep, emotional level. Its effect on the actor needed to be real, not pretended. He'd say that poorly trained actors rehearse scenes with preconceived attitudes and/or fake emotions. If the stage direction in a script says a wife and husband are yelling, it doesn't mean that the actors needed to think and act angrily. His method taught actors to learn their lines and let things happen organically. He felt that good acting happened when two or more people in a scene reacted to the events around them, as opposed to acting with some kind of a preconceived interpretation of a script. This was a very scary undertaking because it forced actors to trust a process that constantly left them open and vulnerable.

I tell you this because far too often I see people in the "real world" try to present themselves in a light that they think others want to see them. We have found a way to protect ourselves by putting on an act. Many of us aren't real in the real world. We're acting for others. The second we wake, we start writing the script, and act our way right up to the point before we fall asleep. It's because we're afraid to "live in the moment." Living in the moment sometimes means appearing imperfect and vulnerable. We think we're better off if we present ourselves as busy, smart, important, brash, tough, or cool. Most often, this kind of showmanship doesn't allow us to really be us. The crazy thing is that most people aren't even aware that they're doing it. Boasting, bragging, excuses, and little white lies are all part of the act. We get so used to acting this way that it feels normal. It's a way of protecting our fragile egos because we're afraid to appear human. It's only in the quiet times alone that this acting routine we present to the world feels empty and wrong.

What does any of this have to do with health and fitness? Everything! Being, living, and working out in the moment allow you to release the ego and the act, so you can react and enjoy the reality of the moment. My beach workout today is a perfect example of letting go of the act (loaded with expectations) and allowing my body to listen. It turned out that my main job today was to show up and pay attention, moment to moment. Were my reps down today? Yes. Was my form less than par? Yes. Was my range of motion compromised due to the cold and damp weather? Yes. Was my strength diminished from the week before? Indeed. Did the workout, the way it played out, deter me? No! Did it mess with my ego at first? A little. C'est la vie. It is, so therefore I accept it. The acceptance of each moment as it's happening makes it easier to come back another day, and coming back another day is the most important part of fitness.

How you act (or don't act) through the process of getting fit is equally important. There's a fine line between a humble person who works hard and is proud of their results and someone else who shouts from the rooftops pleading for others to notice them. This "look at me" routine is part of the ego-fest that can jeopardize your long-term health and fitness, because it's based more on your need to be seen and less on your desire to be healthy. Turn off the act; be in the moment; listen to what's really happening; stop looking for approval; and believe that your own health, fitness, and quality of life are far more important than the dog and pony show of scales, tape measures, “after” photos, and how you want to be perceived by others who could care less.

Tony H.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Right before it gets better, it gets worse

That's how life is isn't it? The darkest hour falls before daybreak? Things get bleak before they get clear. You get sicker then better.

This is a whole lotta change- more than I think I even realize sometimes and harder than I could have perceived.

But alas, we hang in there for yet another day.

Friday, March 26, 2010

When a man isn't enough

I am bawling my eyes and heart out. He is in and out of sleep. He's tired. I'm having a meltdown. He understands. Simply so. I need to plough further, dig deeper, talk longer. Wash, rinse, repeat. He summarizes in three sentences and falls back asleep. I feel worse.

I am getting angry. I want to break something. Anything. Everything. Even my vows. It lasts for 6 seconds. Then I get sad again. The twat starts to snore. I sniffle.

If I had a car I would jump in it and drive to Rootical Flava or Montego Bay. But I don't have a car and even if I did, I still wouldn't be able to drive far enough to reach Jamaica.

I am homesick, worksick, soulsistasick all in one.

I just have too much damn time on my hands and not enough to do with it. If we were married longer and we more financially stable, I would have a baby. That is what people do when they have time to fill.

I need a car. Hands down. Sedentariness is killing me. I have had a car ever since I was 22 and now, the lack of mobility has gotten to me, dropping the weight of an anvil on my shoulders almost overnight.

I could do more, see more, enjoy more if I were not immobile. This is not a country to live without a car. Surely you can exist without one, but "live," no.

I need estrogen. Only estrogen can really deal with estrogen. Only estrogen can allow you to bawl your eyes out and then feel better in 10 minutes flat. Testosterone only manages to turn a 10 minute meltdown into a weekend long affair.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Stronger Woman in Me

This is a celebration of the road ahead... and the reasons for doing it.

I have a new personal anthem:
"Love me more"
To be honest though, it's not entirely new. I used it to walk away from The Past. and now I am adapting it as theme to get past my personal challenges. It is what my decision to be fully present and accounted for is all about.

It's on my fridge and my bathroom window. It's in my heart.

I bought a few packs of nicotine gum. Cold turkey may be good for salads but not for me.

I have decided to give up cigarettes for a few reasons:
1. I had planned to eventually (and made several attempts)
2. I am compromising my health (physical, mental and spiritual)
3. I have to at least try to love me more than any addiction
4. It restricts my ability to workout and enjoy my workout

I must say that they make a huge difference... and they are pretty cheap here. They work out to less than $4 per pack.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Enjoy Life

I rode with a Pakistani taxi driver who kept on saying "ENjoy Life" to me the other day. He spoke very little English. He asked me if I would love to hear music and I said "Yes." His reply? Bobbing his head from side to side and smiling, his eyes met mine in the rearview mirror. "Enjoy life."

We talked in the muddy waters lurking in between speakers of different languages about where I came from. "Not Kenya, Jamaica, West" the last two rang a bell. His conclusion: "Enjoy Life."

I had reached my destination. "Shukaran," I said in Arabic.

"Enjoy Life," was his reply.

He wasn't the last taxi driver to use the verb "enjoy" frequently with me. I took note. Here it is, that a barely functional second language English speaker is telling me one of the most profound messages of the universe in my first language without even knowing it. Isn't that how God speaks?

So, on this day, acknowledging that though I am very far from where I want to be, I am going to be an active participant in the ride and "Enjoy life" as it unveils daily, and a la minute.

Aha! Moments are present continuous.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The facts...

I am a girl.

My name is K

I heart music.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Woman in the mirror (be present and accounted for)

Stop it right now.

Stop thinking about how fit and fabulous you were.

Look at who you are now.

Be present.

Stay present.

You are smart. Beautiful. Brave. Kind. Happy. Alive. Well.

Realize what is compromising those things.

Inactivity. Lack of self- expression. Reclusiveness. Food. Insecurity. Fear.

Do you realize that you are wonderful as you are?

Do you realize that the fact that you think so deeply about where you are in relation to where you want to go makes you more likely to get there?

I know you. You WILL get there.

Find peace in the journey.

Life is about balance. Finding Qi. Centre. Grounding. It takes TIME. Give yourself time. Celebrate small victories.

Stop giving yourself such a hard time.

Tough love doesn't always work.

You have accomplished so much.

Stop worrying so much.



Love until it hurts and forget about broken hearts.

Dance. Since it's illegal to do it it in public here, close the curtains, turn up the music and dance like no one is watching. Not even you.

Let go.

Be free.





A la minuit.


Feed your body well.

Cry when you feel like, but make sure you cry hard and for no longer than 10 minutes. Then laugh. Louder than you cried.

It's OK to be sad sometimes. Fuck flower power. Just find balance.

Eat well.

Pray lots.

Love without end.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

When in Rome... Learn Arabic

I have decided that I am going to take the plunge and learn the language. It seems to be a requirement for most of the jobs in my field anyway and since we will be here for a while, I might as well think of it as an investment in our future.

It's certainly not cheap.

Classes are roughly 350USD, but this could be the difference between getting regular income and not.

I would also like to take classes in French but that will have to wait.

This is the time to learn new things.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The week that was

ESC and I hosted a JERK-Que in the park (my Jamaican spin on a BBQ) on Friday. This meant a week of planning and prep work, shopping in the market, seasoning meats, baking bread and cooking. It was a potluck, other people took dishes, drinks and misc items so we didn't have to shoulder the cost of feeding a multitude. I made jerk seasoning from scratch. ESC filleted fish and marinated lamb chops in rosemary and garlic.

The weather was good. We ate, played word games and stayed until night.

Now I am back on my weight loss journey.

I have been walking daily, incorporating exercise into my daily existence. I will get back to weight training soon.

My knees have been crying out with the excess weight so I have to be careful and being in the dessert is making my asthma act up but I am still forcing myself to do something. Our fridge and cupboards are filled with healthy choices and I am refusing to call the KFC or Hardees delivery numbers. In fact, just tonight, I posted a sign on my door "NO fast food delivery."

I am not craving the fas food as I did a couple weeks ago. I seemed to have gone on a nonstop binge after I got sick and couldn't compete in our own Biggest Loser competition.

There is a new round that just started and I need to get into it. I need the accountability.

ESC is waking up half hour earlier in the mornings to excercise to keep his blood pressure up so I will have the company. He is on a 40 day to a flat stomach routine.

We went to the health store and got us some good vitamins and I got a green tea supplement to give me the energy to move around as well as boost my metabolism.

I have been drinking more water too.

My body is actually craving the excercise and the outdoors.

I think I will start to use the gym upstairs for weightlifting and go walking with my St. Lucian friend in the mornings.

I know my days of smoking are numbered. I can feel it. My lung capacity is so severely affected by smoking and I am just tired of always being sick.

I need to get a bathroom scale and some hand weights for walking.

Today I started going to my backlog of photos that need editing in a bid to be more productive. I started with my most recent shoot and started working my way backwards. I am realizing that maybe I should focus solely on printing and selling current photos in my portfolio instead of pushing paid sessions.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Eulogizing Life

Too often, all that needs to be said, never gets said until life ends and the buzzer goes off indicating the end of the match. If I learned anything from my Aunt Cover who died at 31, it's that life is too unpredictable to take for granted. We have no control about when we go, but we are fully responsible for what we do while we have breath.

I don't know when my time will come. It may be at the ripe old age off 109, with my skin so wrinkled that I become a black and white photographer's dream. I may face death earlier. And so may you. But what do we do with the in-between?

For the 4 years I have been writing this blog, I have found a voice that I struggled all my life to hear. You have helped me to create an authentic space where I can express and challenge myself without judgement and self-consciousness. You have read quietly and actively participated in my monologue and in so doing, you have validated my expression. You have showed up to the theatre, some repeatedly over the years, with eager anticipation for a performance that you can connect with. Sometimes you came just to make certain that I was alive and well and that the show was still going on.

For your time, I thank you. Your time is the most sacred and invaluable gift you have, and that you have shared it with me, humbles me.

Let me say, to you... everyone who has come by, to those who follow openly and in secret, those who find inspiration and channel those positive vibes, those with whom I have made friendships through blogging, I thank you.

Please remember to share your gratitude with others who have made an impact on your lives. You just never know when they will no longer be around.

Life may not always be happy or long, but it should by in all ways, be meaningful.

Live your best life. You only get one shot.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Optimism vs Pessimism

I am not an optimist. Neither am I a pessimist. I consider myself, for all intents and purposes, a realist. I fall smack in the middle of two extreme ways of seeing the world.

Sometimes, it's easy to forget that life is what you make it. No need for flower power optimism. It's not about the glass being half empty or full. It's about having water to drink in the first place or being alive to be thirsty. Being grateful is a huge blessing. The world owes us nothing.

It means that expectations are lowered and nothing is taken for granted. It doesn't mean expecting the worse, it means accepting what is. It's so easy to get caught up and be hot and bothered about the way things and people aren't and in doing so, we lose the point. It's all about what is- without condescension and without embellishment. You can be broke but happy, sad but grateful and lost but found. Why? Because happiness, peace and contentment lie in just accepting what is without accepting defeat.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

The turning of the tide

I have a complimentary photo shoot on Tue. I re-scheduled from tomorrow because I want to borrow a reflector from a friend of mine and play around with it until I get better at using it. I may even buy one for myself and just sign up to eat sardines and veggies for the rest of the month. Hmnn- that may not be such a bad idea. I find I spend too much money on food monthly anyway. I need to balance my budget and make way for delights other than gastronomic.

But there is good news. I have been getting callbacks- at least in the rough. Someone who saw me MC at the boat party calls me about MCing a sports competition; my resume is finally being picked up by Middle Eastern recruiters; a client promises to send out an email to pass on the word about my photography.

None of these things has been definitive, but I am grateful to even be considered at this point. My confidence was waining when I got so many "Nos" but even worse than hearing "No, you suck" is hearing nothing at all. Multiply those variables times the nearly 200 applications sent out. I even got turned down for entry level marketing jobs and ignored for jobs as a receptionist. So right now, I am just delighted that people are even giving me some consideration.

I knew in my spirit that March would see me earning an income. I even wrote it down on our finance spreadsheet. Yes. I actually make spreadsheets for personal finances. That is how I manage to keep on top of things. Thank heavens the wind is now blowing in my favour.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Broken-hearted melody

He invaded my dreams again last night.

My husband saw my face and said "Tell me."
"What do you see?" I asked. By that time, the tears were welling up inside my eyes.
"Something is bothering you."
"I dreamt about him again."
"Are you unhappy?"
"He never made me happy."
"Are you lonely?"
"No. I read about these things. Apparently, they are normal, I just hate it when it happens. It's always the same dream with different circumstances."
"Tell me," I held his face while the tears flowed from my eyes.
"I love you. I need you in my life, for now, for always and I understand."

You must be wondering why on earth would I tell my husband about such things... for the very reason I did: To not give any undue power to The Past over my Present. Sometimes, that which remains hidden has the potential to unseat you from everything you have worked to achieve. This is why I tell ESC about it and why I blog about it.

The Past and I were really really good friends and I stopped talking to him abruptly. There were conversations I wished we could have had but never saw the point. I felt I had nothing more to say to him. I had said so much, begged so much done so much, given so much , taken so much, hurt so much, cried so much, waited so much that there wasn't much else left inside me. He had used up his tokens and left his account in the negative. There was no place to merge friendship in our reality. Almost everything had changed, except for those which should have, which sadly remained the same. I just decided it was time to love me more. I had wasted 7 years holding out hope for a dream that had no wings to fly on.I moved on. Consciously putting one foot in front of the other until my heart and body were thousands of miles away from his self-indulgent harm.

I look at his picture after these dreams and wonder what on earth did I see in him. I thought he was so handsome. So bright. So smart. So caring. All I see now is the angst and distress in his eyes. He is clearly troubled. The torment in his eyes belie the smile on his lips. But that's his problem. And hers. Of course there another woman. Isn't there always in these stories? His subordinate, who he hired and got fired for. They belong together, partners in selfishness and evil manipulation. If I know anything about myself, is that I really, honestly, truly deserve better.

Thank heavens I had the guts to walk in that light.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Hair colour to spice things up

Since I started wearing my hair in dreadlocks, I count on hair colour to add a little zest to my look every now and then. Actually, in the Island Behind God's Back, I would colour probably every couple months. I haven't coloured since I left Jamaica and I was feeling the drudgery. But they don't have the colours I am used to using... so it took me a while. Certainly I could have gone to a hairdresser who knows afro hair but expensive hair care is not in my budget.

So today... I walked to the mall and took the bull by the horn. Two boxes of the permanent kind and a box of burgundy henna. I must say that the colour on that damn L'Oreal box was deceptive. The damn thing darkened my hair into a shade of drudgery that is beyond description. I drew for the henna. It's in my hair now, plastered on every lock underneath my garbage bag plastic cap. All I can say about it is that I hope it turns out more burgundy than what it looks like now.

Even so, I am going to continue to use henna to colour my hair. It is a natural and safer way to add colour. One thing's for certain, it smells like a fresh bunch of bitter bush. The price we pay for vanity.
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