Saturday, May 29, 2010

Just a little more (diverse) conversation

I honestly don't know what has happened in the past two years but I find myself pigeon-holed in many conversations these days. It seems like there is a limit to the conversations that I have and it's driving me crazy, Miss Daisy. I am hearing myself having the same conversations with the same people over and over, and quite frankly, I am bored with them. I think that maybe, I am having something of a New Friend Identity Crisis.

With my peeps, I can chat all day (literally) about all sorts of things. We can move from world politics to the anatomy of a good shoe in 60 seconds flat and our conversations are permeated by long comfortable intelligent silences. There is no rush to get off the phone. There is no agenda for calling or meeting. The conversation is both the means and the end.

What would I do for that.

I think I am still dealing with the fallout of not having a very active career to talk about. People meet you here and conversations go like this:

"Oh hi. Are you from Kenya?"
"No, Jamaica."
"So what do you do here.?"

Well, that was a conversation I had at church last week. I just didn't think church was another place that required me to proclaim to the world yet again that I am without a real "job."

Is this how it feels to be married for decades and not have children? It's the same thing when you are fat. People seem to be mean without even intending to be mean to people who may have insecurities about certain things.

"Wow- you have put on weight!" (Hmmm. could that be why my clothes dont fit?)
"Are you pregnant?" ( No, I am just fat but you are ugly and that cannot be fixed without surgery)
"Are you still looking for a man?" (Yes, all the men seem to be gay and taken-including yours)
"Still trying to conceive?" (Yes, but when I think of the goats you have for kids, I wonder why am I still trying)
"Still no job?" (No, but you will be the first to know when I do.)

Let me tell you what it is. I have been blessed with some STELLAR PEOPLE in my life. Family members who are also friends and friends who are family and when you have that kind of a foundation, it's hard to settle for surface relationships. I am not the deepest, brooding yogic guru, nor am I the shallowest, high maintenance gal... I am both- running up and down the continuum as I please.

I know I have to find ways to strike deeper friendships and I know that I too have some blame. Sometimes my expectations are so lowered that people get few chances to strike it rich with me. Having said that though, this is one shallow city! Pity I dont' speak Arabic so I could go out into the dessert and commune with the bedouin.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

NYTimes Article on last week's death of previous Shower Posse Leader

Vivian Blake, 54, Founder of Jamaica Drug Gang, Dies
Published: March 25, 2010

Vivian Blake, a former top leader of the Jamaican Shower Posse, which United States prosecutors say was responsible for more than 1,400 drug-related killings in this country in the 1980s, died Sunday night in Kingston, Jamaica. He was 54.

Mr. Blake died after being brought to the University Hospital of the West Indies complaining of breathing problems, said Ruel Rainford, the senior director of administration and operations. He said an autopsy was planned. Mr. Blake’s daughter, Dominique Blake, said he had been suffering from kidney failure and diabetes.

Since his release from prison in the United States 14 months ago, Mr. Blake had been living in Jamaica and writing a screenplay about his life, said his lawyer, George Soutar.

Mr. Blake, who grew up in poverty in West Kingston, earned a scholarship to St. George’s College, a private high school in Jamaica. He first traveled to New York as part of a cricket team in 1973, and stayed there, establishing the American affiliate of the Shower Posse in Brooklyn.

There are differing accounts of how the gang got its name. Many believe it was derived from a 1980 campaign speech by Edward Seaga of the Jamaican Labor Party, who promised “showers of blessings” in economic opportunity for Jamaicans. The gang was widely seen as aligned with Mr. Seaga’s party. Another version contends that the name came from the way the gang would spray its victims with bullets.

In the United States, Mr. Blake developed a marijuana and cocaine distribution network that spanned major cities from Miami to New York to Los Angeles and even reached as far as Anchorage. A warrant for his arrest was first issued in 1988 after he and other members of the gang were accused in the November 1984 killing of five people in a Miami crack house. Mr. Blake escaped arrest by hopping on a cruise ship in Miami bound for Jamaica, according to a 2008 profile of the Shower Posse on the BET series “American Gangster.”

While fighting extradition in Jamaica, Mr. Blake established a nightclub, motorbike rental agency and a loan company. Another arrest warrant was issued, and in 1999, he was extradited to Miami. As part of a deal to avoid trial, he pleaded guilty to racketeering, criminal conspiracy and drug possession while admitting his leadership role in the gang.

“But what he never admitted to was his responsibility in personally killing anybody,” said his lawyer at the time, David Rowe. “I think he always felt above the fray.” Ms. Blake said her father had shielded her and her older brother, Duane, from his activities. “It wasn’t until a couple years back that I started to learn things in detail,” she said in a telephone interview on Wednesday.

“There was not one day in my life I did not speak to him,” said Ms. Blake, who won an N.C.A.A. title in the 4-x-400-meter relay while attending Pennsylvania State University and who now directs Black Knight Investments, the loan company modeled after the one her father started, while training to make the Jamaican Olympic team. Her brother chronicled their father’s life in a 2003 book, “Shower Posse: The Most Notorious Jamaican Crime Organization.”

“We are definitely saddened, as with any death,” said Dr. Peter Phillips, a former Jamaican minister of national security, “but I think it would do Jamaica well to examine his own admissions in his establishment of high-level criminal organizations in Jamaica.”

Federal prosecutors in New York are seeking the extradition of Christopher Coke, the current Shower Posse leader, on charges of drug distribution and firearms trafficking.

Besides his two children, Mr. Blake is survived by his wife, Valerie, and four grandchildren.

Ross Sheil contributed reporting from Kingston, Jamaica.

The History of Christopher Dudus Coke Shower Posse

Smoking Baby-This 2yr Old Smokes 40 Cigarettes A Day!

Now you tell me? What are we coming to? What next?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Today's Motivation- Greyson Chance "Broken Heart"

This kid is exceptional. He is a sixth grader and he has written the music and lyrics to his own song and has posted it. Here's to fearless, non-apologetic creativity and self-expression. Out of the mouths of babes lies inspiration...

In giving, we receive

A funny thing occurred to me yesterday as I was writing in my journal- it was about my very first lesson as a substitute teacher for a remedial grade 2 class. I had no clue what I was getting myself into. I came from a family of educators, but having studied communication, I cannot say I was expertly versed in how to instruct my pupils, most of whom struggled to read and a few who couldn't recognize much beyond their names. I wanted to introduce myself to my 42 children. I thought deep and hard. Then I wrote on the board:

"I am Miss Morrison

I can be anything I want to be
All I have to do is work hard
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me"

I made each of them stand and introduce themselves and tell me what they wanted to be when they grew up and then I went over each word and made them recite it periodically in chorus. I figured I wouldn't have them long enough to successfully teach them all to read but I could motivate them and plant a seed inside them for them to see that their dreams, no matter how harsh their circumstances, could be theirs if they put in the hard work and only believed.

Who would have known that 8 years later, those same words would be an inspiration to me?

"I can be anything I want to be
All I have to do is work hard
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me"

So can you.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

If I were truly honest in this moment, I'd say....

I miss my former life.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Housework will never done

I proving that to be true over and over again. Here how. I have been a little poly (sick) for the past few days, so I have been trying to do a little here and there to tidy our cosy little space called home. All now, I can't seem to make a big enough in the "To Do" list. Don't even ask me about ironing- that is for those ambitious ones of Bri (Desperate Housewives) constitution.

How on earth did my mother manage to wash. cook and clean house the same day? And mind you, she was hand-washing diapers stained by the mineral laden dirt of Red Hills.

I have a brand new level of respect for my mother and all the older women in my lives who really tried to prepare me for this day. No preparation could be good enough to reconcile with the fact that even though I have a VERY helpful man, he is hardly around, and no matter how you spin it, housework is "woman business."

Here's why.

When you go to the residence of a nice couple and moss growing in the bathroom and the kitchen... do you not feel sorry for the man that he is stuck with such an unkempt and slovenly woman? I not talking about a little mess here and there, I talking bout a kind of dirt that takes three days of concentrated chemicals and back breaking elbow grease to budge.

I have been fantasizing ever since I was a little girl that someone would invent buttons for all domestic chores (making beds, folding socks, dusting, dishes etc). After all this time, they have found ways to clone sheep, modify plant genes and fly to Mars yet I am about to turn a ripe 30 and all now, all now, not a soul not helping out? I tell you why. Men don't care to invent those things and most of us women are too busy doing domestics to be able to invent things that actually mean something to us.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Listening to my body

My energy levels ebb and flow throughout the days. I am going to learn to maximize my workouts by doing them when I am in one of my peaks. My knees have been giving me a few cautionary tales. Kinda sucks, but you know, I just have to listen. I have to do more yoga.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Dressing rules for my unborn daughter

Whatever you do, mi child, please don't siddung (sit) and make your husband (legal or common law) look better than you. Is not a good ting. Don't get me wrong, me not talking bout weight, me talking bout how you feel bout yusself and how it reflects in how you put yusself together and how you carry that same self around.

Just yesterday, I was perusing the Jamaican papers and a business man who I used to see out solo very regularly at after work limes (schmoozing/drinks) was photographed with his dearly beloved. It was the first time me see she and trust me, I not being bitchy, I was sorry for her. I have always thought he was always well put together and I thought he must have some fancy wife (he wore his ring proudly) and didn't pick up women to my knowledge. Mi dear, her hair was frazzled, makeup non existent and her frock, frumpy while Mr. Man was looking like he was vying for the cover of GQ. Not good.

If Mrs. Dearly Beloved had pinned up her hair in a chignon (be wise, the function was at the beach) and played up her eye makeup, and worn a a dress that flattered her voluptuous curves, then I would have been happy for her, but with frizzy hair, et al, all I felt was empathy.

When you are not feeling your best, that is when you must look you most endeavourmostbest. Looking good makes you feel good, and feeling good makes you look good. Fake it till you make it or stay home.

ESC knows that even if we are just heading for the supermarket and I get out of the shower 15 mins before him, he will get dressed and turn on the TV until I shout out "Ready" 15 mins hence. I love to dress up. I love colours. He is happy to walk beside me because I "bring him off." I dress up, fat, skinny or slim. Why? It's not your weight that makes you sexy, but how you feel about yourself. You can get a hint of that innate sexiness based on how much care has been put into the appearance. Don't get me wrong, frills and face paint are not directly proportional to self esteem, it's how complementary the look is that counts.

"Married with children" doesn't have to be an unflattering mommy dress code and a voluptuous body does not have to be draped in eternal frumpiness. Find your style and rock it, no matter how your body looks. Whatever you do, don't wear everything you own at once. We save that for christmas trees.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The importance of setting attainable goals. What is your Mission Statement?

The main reason why I can look back and see some measure of success in my life is because I have written down things I wanted to accomplish and have ticked them off one by one. Up until recently, the list was longer. Do this, get that, reach there, grab that. Now, it's just about taking the steps, one at a time, to realize my most authentic and optimal self by bringing mind, body and spirit into balance. Can I tell you? That is a helluva goal on its own and it needs no company. I am also visualizing it. I see it in my meditation practice, picture it before I fall asleep at night, and repeat the affirmations, even for all to see on my bathroom mirror. I, Sheer Almshouse, have one singular goal in a world of clutter, multi-tasking and multiple births.

Looking on the goal as written above... it's more of a Mission Statement as opposed to a singular goal. It is the benchmark by which all efforts are measured and directed to reach.

I realise that we cannot focus on things in isolation. "Buying the house" may mean holding on to a toxic job. "Getting married" may mean accepting the proposal of a controlling spouse and just like how we cannot just spot reduce weight off our tummies alone, we cannot avoid the whole.

I am figuring out that once you focus on fine-tuning your personal big picture, "then all these things shall be added until you."

Easy does it

Sometimes I feel like I should do at least two workouts per day. Sometimes, when I have the energy, I do, other times I have to push myself through one. One thing for certain is that this process is forcing me to become more mindful of a lot of things.

I catch myself craving fast food when I want a quick fix. I am happy to report that I haven't seen the KFC delivery guy in at least 4 weekends- and boy was he cute! What's up with that? Subway dude is this old unattactive man and KFC dude is one of those fit for playing the role of the Old Spice guy. I guess he doesn't eat KFC.

I am taking Neem (for eczema) and Triphala (for digestion and elimination of ama) according to Ayurvedic principles. I swear there is a little Indian guru in me. I love yoga, Indian food, Ayurveda, pretty pretty (as opposed to just plain pretty). I am even practicing to shake my head while I say "Yes." But seriously, India is the source of a lot of happiness for me over here. I get fruits I know from back home that are imported from India. What is nicer that seeing sweet sop, naseberry, chiney banana and jackfruit when you are thousands of miles from home? I couldn't even get those fruits in The Island Behind God's Back and that was in the Caribbean!!!! Don't even mention fresh coconut water out of the husk and dried coconut grated right in front of you with a contraption that should have been invented in Jamaica! The coconuts are more likely from Sri Lanka and Thailand than India though.

I also like the fact that food is so much cheaper here and it is very cost effective to eat very well. I enjoy going to the market to get fresh produce and interacting with the vendors.

I have also figured out how to pacify Indian and Pakistani taxi drivers who are angry about taking me for a low fare short trip: smile and tell them I am from the West Indies and talk about cricket.

I am sooo dying to go to INdia!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Que Sera Sera is the antithesis of Carpe Diem

I have gone about my entire life siezing every blasted day... you know the metaphors- holding bulls by horns and taming dragons. It seemed like the most active, purposeful way to live. Isn't it what we tell our children? Sieze the day! Time waits on no man! Strive! Run until your heart bursts in your chest, then run some more! Aim higher, be better. More is better. Bigger is better. Louder is better. I managed to do well in the broadcast and marketing communication field with that innate fair for grandeur and the cultivation desire for seizing the heck out of days, and jobs.

Then a funny thing happened- nothing.

Without a job, I could either spend my entire days in pursuit of one (which I did for months everytime I panicked) or I could just sit, be quiet, and listen.

Hmmn. Doesn't jump at you as an active and purposeful way to live does it? You remember the "Pick your battles" anecdote? Apply it here.

I learned that once I was focused on just finding my centre and grounding mysel, I didn't have to worry about the noise that cluttered my mind. I could swim through it and find my moment of peace in it. Once I was fixed, I could walk on water. Everytime I panicked, I sent out a resume. When I am fixed, I realise I am happy, and that my life is fuller than ever before and that even though I may have a lot less, I have so much more. When I am fixed, I accept that my life and every step in it is ordered and that I will eventually reach every landmark in the journey that I was meant to... including work. Once I am fixed, I don't worry about defining myself solely by my work, but my ability to renew, change and transform, reaching higher levels of glory. Once I am fixed, getting a job for the money, influence or power is far less appealing that spending time to cultivate the being who will attract work that changes people for the better and provides harmonious relationships.

I know that may sound awfully kooky but I guess that is what we think of people and things we don't understand. Call me whatever you wish. I just know that I am moments away from a huge breakthrough in my life and I am going to pay attention to make certain that I don't miss it. I can feel it. It's a living breathing thing. It's this huge energy source of enlightenment. My life's work is just about to begin. I am gold, raw and filled with impurities. I just have to go through the fire to be purified.

"Refiner's fire, my heart's one desire
Is to be holy, set apart for you Lord
Ready to do Your will
Ready to do Your will"

I am not in control. The only thing I can control is the moment I have now and what I choose to do with it.

I choose not to panic. I choose not to be anxious. I choose not to be erratic. I choose to be silent. I choose to listen.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Better late than never

I just took me 1:15mins to complete a 30min weights circuit workout and you know what? I am darned proud of myself!!! Yes I used to be able to do it in 30 mins and perhaps on a more energetic day, I would. But this morning, my energy reserves seemed low. I went slow because I felt nauseated at the regular pace, but I finished. The race is not for the swift but for she who endures.

I am going to bathe and look pretty because I am going to have lunch at ESC's restaurant. I will have a healthy starter, grilled fish and veggies and have a fruit plate instead of cheese cake for desert. The best part is that having completed this workout, I feel like I have earned my little day out.

It is well with my soul.

Invictus (the poem)

William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be**
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

** I believe in the Reader's Licence (as in open interpretation and application) and therefore I apply my faith in my God as opposed to "whatever gods there may be"

I accept

That I am building strength but am far from being strong
That it is hard to not be able to do the things that were once easy
That it takes courage to stick to something that is difficult and doest yield quick results
That some days I fall off but I never stay off anymore
That it is OK to be a little overwhelmed every now and then
That everyday is not the same
That some days I can climb mountains and others I can just walk a mile.
That I will get reach my destination one mindful choice at a time
That anything good is hard to come by
And that anything worth keeping must be fought for.
Today and everyday is the day of salvation
I will save myself.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010


When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves
— Victor Frankl
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