Happy Thursday – from Straight Up You

Posted today by a great coach I know on http://www.straightupyou.com/1/post/2013/02/happy-thursday.html

“Happy Thursday

Welp, it’s Valentines’ Day. If you’re single, you may be thinking:

F*&k this stupid holiday
Did I turn off the coffee pot?
It’s Singles Awareness Day. I’m gonna be really aware I’m single.
I’d like to be taken out for a nice piece of fish.
I wish people in relationships were banned from the Internet today.
It’s Thursday, right?

If it’s barely registering for you, great! You’ve managed to escape the media blitz. There are all kind of articles giving the uncoupled suggestions on how to deal with the holiday as a party of one. Things like: Take a bath! Get a massage! Cook dinner for a friend! Send yourself flowers! Have an anti-valentine’s day party!

Nothing wrong with these. But, they kind of all presume single people need help to get through the day. Like it’s a depressing landmark birthday ending in -0.

Here’s an alternative: Treat this like a Thursday. Any. Regular. Thursday. Your life hasn’t dramatically changed overnight. You’re no more single today than you were yesterday. Why spend any time feeling like you “should” be doing something to commemorate (or snub) this Hallmark holiday?

Listen, I’m all for love. And celebrating it. But if Feb 14th’s got your knickers in a twist, give yourself permission to not feel bad, or cynical and therefore not need to DO anything about it. If you’re like me and go to be early, it’ll be over in less than 12 hours!

Don’t make today mean anything about you. Live your life. Go to the gym. Or not. Get the panini you always get. Or not. Have a beer with friends after work. Or not! Head home and unplug your TV and computer and just read. Or watch a movie. Hit the hay and wake up thinking, “Ahhh, it’s Friday!”

You’re fabulous. You’re alive. Spring is just around the corner. And tomorrow is the weekend. YAY. :-)”

 

 

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Life from Essence

It’s so funny… a year ago when I engaged the services of a Life Coach I didn’t see this coming.  Who would know that I could become a Life Coach?

In this new space I work with individuals who are looking to make a shift in their lives (friendships, romance, work, money, family, dreams). What I do is partner with them to make it happen by providing them with tools, reflection and accountability to have them get out of their own way. This has them get past their obstacles and step into an authentic and empowered reality of their own design.

The beautiful thing about this is, I get to practice what I preach.  In order to walk with others as they get their lives together, I need to be getting my life together.  I too have a coach.  In order to work with others to get real, I too must get real.

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In the beginning of the coaching relationship we have the Essence Conversation.  It is a place where we examine our automatic ways of being, our fears, our survival mechanisms and our comfort zone – all instruments of a fear-driven life.  The foundation of coaching is partnering to design and to live an authentic life.  But in order for you to be authentic, you have to first know who you are, right?  This is part of the purpose of the conversation – to mine our essence from the hills of our lives.

Today, in celebration of who I am, I introduce to you my Essence:

JOY : a source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something or someone greatly valued or appreciated.

PRESENCE: the state or fact of being present, as with others… Stately or distinguished bearing… The impressive manner or appearance of a person.

PURPOSE: a person’s sense of resolve or determination.

MAGNET: a person or thing that has a powerful attraction.

GODDESS: a woman whose great charm and beauty arouses adoration.

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When I began this journey I was given two warnings.

1. You will struggle in essence.  Living from essence strips you naked of your armor and puts you in a place of great vulnerability.  It will make you very sensitive to rejection because what is being rejected is the authentic you.  It’s OK when our survival mechanism is rejected!  It was never really us to begin with!

2. There are people in your life who will reject you from essence.  They have been friends with your ego.  They are attached to the image they have of you.  They do not understand your journey or your struggle.  Not only will you struggle, but life around you will resist the change.

This can look like a major adjustment with struggles through emotions that get dredged up or it can be a gentle realization.  I’ve always been more of an epiphany-learner and so the consequences of this new consciousness has slammed into me like a train. I never understood either of these things until this month.  I am raw and naked and there are a few (thankfully very few) people in my life who are in resistance to the changes.

By the grace of God as I grow into someone who works with others to get their lives together, my life will be working itself together too.

The Rich Red Earth of St. Elizabeth

I saved this for last.  For a moment when the stress of real life returned in full force so that I could go back to my photos and take a deep deep breath of beautiful St. Elizabeth in snapshot.

In the cool of the morning in St. Elizabeth my cousin Mac would take me down to the Lookout.  We walked 20 minutes down and 40 minutes back up a red dirt road through the hills pregnant with crops taking pictures along the way.

Red dirt road to Lookout

We would pass the odd field, freshly ploughed and waiting for seed, smelling of bauxite (or what I would imagine bauxite to smell like) and the broken stems of plants.

Ploughed field waiting for seed

The tomato fields are bedded with straw and on one of our walks we saw a man weeding, using his machete to slide under the straw and break up running roots of creeping weed.  As they start to change colour the tomatoes are picked because once the ripening begins it is a quick run to red.

Tomato and mellon often grow side by side.

Mac and I climbed to the Lookout point around rocks and cactus flowers to see the breathtaking view of the coast of South St. Elizabeth.

Climb to our favourite spot at the Lookout

CONQUEROR

From this perch the view is AMAZING!  To the West is Treasure Beach.

Treasure Beach from Lookout

Much of the coast is uninhabited and anyone who has survived a hurricane can well imagine why.  The wind against the face of these mountains can destroy like no force of man.

To the East of the Lookout we are able to see Lover’s Leap.  The place is named for two slaves who loved each other very much but whose masters intended to separate them.  They jumped from the place marked with the lighthouse at the top of the mountain.

Lighthouse at Lover's Leap

To the South we see the far fall or steep hike down to the Caribbean Sea.

Far fall to the Caribbean

On the way to and from the Lookout we would pass friendly neighbours and their animals.  This little guy got my heart, bucking and bucking at his mom to let him near enough to get some milk.

Baby Billy getting his milk

And this dainty little one came pushing up toward me.

Curious Kid

We would also pass papaya trees,

Papaya tree loaded

gungo peas,

The Gungo Pea, also known as a Congo Pea, and closely related to the Pigeon Pea

rows of corn,

A row of corn by a tomato patch

carrots,

Carrot head just out of my shadow

rosemary,

Rosemary grown but not often used in St. Elizabeth

and thyme.

Used to cook just about everything in Jamaica, the Thyme plant is a must have in every St. Elizabeth garden.

There is always something small to snack on like the little tomatoes,

Little hands full of snacky tomatoes

and Star Apples, sticky and sweet in their tropical richness,

Star apple, not to be confused with the Carambola known as Star Fruit. Both are grown in St. Elizabeth.

and Strawberries.  Who would have thought, right?

St. Elizabeth strawberries. There are two varieties in the family garden - these are the smaller ones.

What comes to the table depends very much on the season.  In another season it would be Ortaniques (a unique orange variety), Star Fruit, Mangoes of every variety, Naseberries, Sweet Sops, oh my goodness I could go on but not without getting very hungry.

Aunty makes Bammy, a Jamaican cassava bread rich in fibre and mild in taste, to go with my lunch, a simple variation of the Jamaican national dish of Ackee and Saltfish – without the Ackee.

Handmade Bammy - I am truly blessed!

At the end of a blissful morning with a long walk to get my blood flowing, fresh air to fill my lungs, the sight and smell of crops and animals to give me a sense of peace, I sit down to a lunch of traditional Jamaican food, fresh off the land and out of the pot.

Lunch off the fat of the land

Lunch off the fat of the land

I hope you’ve lived vicariously and enjoyed my time in St. Elizabeth with me.  It won’t be long before I’m back there in another season with other fruits and learning new things.

Related Posts:

  1. First day in Kingston
  2. Journey to St. Elizabeth
  3. Flowers of St. Elizabeth
  4. Life in St. Elizabeth

Trayvon Martin, and questions we should all be asking ourselves

I invite my followers to leave their comments on this thought provoking piece of writing.

Playing with words is fun

This Trayvon Martin case is compelling on so many levels, and I think when something like this happens in our society, if we don’t use it to look for deep, societal answers beyond dissecting the African American teen and the white man who apparently felt threatened by the mere presence of the boy in his gated community, then we are missing an opportunity.
 
But to find answers, we need to ask questions of ourselves, and we need to answer them honestly, even if it hurts.
 
For example, when you first heard the story – black teenager shot dead by white neighborhood watch leader – what did your mind tell you independent of what you heard? Did you presume Trayvon to be a punk or trouble-maker, or a racially profiled young man? And did you presume George Zimmerman to be a hero? A vigilante? A racist? What did your gut imply to you?

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Life in St. Elizabeth

These are photos of the life of a St. Bess family.  It could be any family in St. Elizabeth, but it is mine.

One day I will tell you the stories of my cousins.  They are a rainbow of colour in their characters; men with strong shoulders, easy smiles and dedication to their children and women who have toiled with love and determination to feed and provide for their children side by side with their life mates or on their own in their abandonment.  One day I will share.  But not today.  Today the photographs will tell all.

Looking out on the garden from the porch

There is a lane in a village up a hill and out of the way in St. Elizabeth.  In that lane there are several houses and fields of crop between them.  One or two of these houses have electricity, brought by wires run through the hills from the village.  The electricity is very weak and flickers every time you plug in the kettle or the iron or anything really.  But there is no need for air conditioning here.  Here you smell the cool and deep inhales and exhales of the mountain spiced with rosemary, thyme and scallions.

The Mountain in the kitchen

There is a mountain in the kitchen.  The house was built into the mountain but this particular stubborn piece just would not be moved.  In the really cold mornings the mountain sweats.  In heavy rain the water seeps in.  But hey, if you can’t move it DECORATE IT!

Mid-morning snack

A piece of fruit cake and coffee.  MMMMMMM!

Water Truck

For homes without a tank the need to call for water is very real.  We sat on the porch and my cousin told me she’s so glad we don’t need to pay out for water any more!  The tank holds all they need and rain comes, thankfully, frequently enough to fill the garden tank as well as the house tanks.  The tank is filled with fresh and clean rain water and everything we eat is cooked with it, our clothes are washed with it, and we bathe and wash our hands in it.

Running the hose to the house

The freshly ploughed red earth of St. Elizabeth

Red dirt rich in bauxite and rejecting nothing is ploughed up by tractors and sowed with seed.  But there are great mysteries to farming.  For instance, the man down the street who plowed up what was once a carrot field and planted nothing but woke up one morning to a growing crop of callalloo.

Camped out on the front porch

Waiting for the kids to come home from school, I sat with my book, my pen, and my popsicle watching the breeze dance over the mountainside.

Walking home from school

Transportation is no easy thing.  Much walking is done in St. Bess as roads such as this country lane are steep and gouged out with water trails in rainy season.  Many an undercarriage has been torn up turning up this little lane.  To get to school my cousin walks to the end of the lane and takes a taxi.  Other taxis pick up primary school children like a bus and take sometimes 8 sometimes 10 little kids to school sitting on each other’s laps.

Good grades make Grandma proud

St. Elizabeth people value education and prize their educated.  Every family is proud of their doctors and their lawyers and the whole parish is proud of their esteemed such as Colin Powell, a man from Lover’s Leap.  Those who love farming will farm and those who do not must educate themselves out of it.  But there is great pride in every occupation as long as it is honest.

Little man asks his Aunty for tomatoes from the garden

Neighbours depend on each other and share their crops freely.  Little man has come to ask his Aunty for tomatoes please.

Tomatoes and cheesy chips - yum!

Driving trucks through the gate

Little boys will make toys out of anything!  This time two bucket covers are used as steering wheels and they jostle one another to “drive” through the “gate”.

Star apples get "nyamm" one by one

Little cousin and I follow a Johncrow's circling

As evening falls the sky seems to grow even bigger.  There is much peace to be had in the simplicity of St. Elizabeth.

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