Wednesday, November 23, 2016

My Father's Death: A Crash Course in Life Skills

Last week Monday, I watched my father die in front of my eyes. He gestured towards me, and then reached to embrace my mother, then he was gone.

There are no words to explain how this feels.

People send their condolences, but unless they have been in the situation, they have no idea. In the space of a week I have gone from being a 30-year-old who continuously complained about "adulting", to a 30-year-old who has come to accept that this is life, and life is meant to be lived. I googled everything I could to help me work through this grief, after all, I’m a millennial and that’s what we do.

Every article spoke of what people “don’t tell you”, how to cope, that it is okay to cry, it is okay to be vulnerable. But no article identified how it affects the grieving child’s life, from their outlook on social circles to basic day to day tasks. In short, it changes absolutely everything.

Basic day to day tasks now just get done, there is no longer room for hesitation. Should I call the office now and organise the appointment? YES. Procrastination has become a thing of the past. There were times dishes would pile up in the sink and would get done later, no more, it is now or never.

Patience has become allotted to situations where patience is a necessity. No longer do I sit back and let people have meaningless conversations via instant messaging, plaguing me with excuses as to what, why, how and when. Most times they see a read message and a polite end to the conversation.

Friendships have changed. I have removed myself from those whose paths are no longer in sync with mine. I have gained a keen insight (Thanks a lot Dad) and I am finally able to see many for who they are. There is no hate nor animosity, it is a simple realization that not everyone is meant to walk this path of life together.

I have learned that life is to be lived and I am going to put down my phone. Yes, I will get the necessary business done, work, bills and all that good stuff. But whatever held me back from going on that trip, saying what I felt and standing up for myself died with my father.

Finally, I can honestly say that I can say NO. It was not something I learnt. It just happened. The loss changed my perspective without me even realizing it until I saw myself react or not react to situations and people and I know now that it is OK.

Natasha M. Lake

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Hey I'm Mixed

Being mixed today is celebrated on social media. When you meet people for the first time they ask "What are you?" . I have been mistaken for a Spaniard, Hispanic, Indian, Turk, Greek etc. No one ever guesses what I am correctly, there are too many cultures and races to bring up and that is fine. It makes it easier to not belong to any group in particular, and just be who I am.

Growing up I have witnessed a change in society, the broader acceptance of interacial people and couples. I was lucky enough to grow up in a home that sheltered me from racism. It never dawned on me my mother was "White" and my father was "Black". To this day people tell me I am only a quarter this and a quarter that and etc etc etc..... eventually I just hear music where their statements are being voiced, at the end of the day does it really matter? To me it does not. I am mixed, and there is nothing else to it.

Growing up at home being more black or white did not make a difference. The issue never came up at the dinner table. My father never said "I got bad customer service today because I was black!". My father has said however " There are ignorant, illiterate people that we unfortunately have to deal with". I have seen them and experienced it from a young age, and learned to turn a blind eye upon them.

At six years old , while at school I was physically pushed from the playhouse at break time because I was " not like us." The same child who did that shouted loudly in the playground that a Japanese classmate had drank blood from an Ostrich in the woods behind our school."  My second encounter was at twelve years old where I was told to go and sit with the other white person because " I did not belong here." That hit me for six, since when was I JUST white??

One day I was walking to school, and a man dressed in business attire walked towards me. I said good morning, and he spat in my face, cursed me and told me to go back to my mother country along with numerous expletives which do not deserve to be broadcasted. When I was nineteen a friend of my mother's said to me " But you are not at all what I expected, you could be one of us!" They quickly received the Trinidadian 'Steups'... nothing more, out of respect for my mother.

Fast forward years later, depending upon the ignorant social group I am either too white or too black. I have encountered the ignorants who disagree with interracial relationships quite often....which no longer deserves a response, because really who cares? It is far more damning to see close mindedness so aptly demonstrated through distrustful stares and unsolicited opinion than for me to hold hands with a black or white man.

People have tried to school me on my "blackness" which I find ridiculous, just because I was raised predominantly under my mother's so called" white" values does not mean you have to school me on being black, because NEWSFLASH I am everything, not just one particular race. What is even more hilarious is that my mother at times appears terribly distressed because she believes I know nothing about my European heritage.

The gist of it is. It's PEOPLE that make it and issue, and not just any sort of person, but the IGNORANT kind. Labels come from ignorance, unsolicited opinions come from those who feel they need an audience.At the end of the day we all bleed the same way. Every event that occurred re racism was brought by someone who was too blinkered,ignorant per lack of education and self absorbed to see past their own two feet.

The good part is though, it just shows how much we have to combat, and daily I see.. with social media and hashtags such as swirl, mixed love, etc. how far we have come.

Ignorance will never be fully erased, but ignoring it and looking past it is a wonderful way to start.

                                                              My family circa 2008

Chikungunya Life

All Trinidadians will know by now the hell that is Chikungunya. It is worse than most mosquito borne viruses. It's like an irritating ex boyfriend who continues to try  and contact you after you explicitly said you never wanted to see his face again, let alone hear anything that reminds you that he is breathing.

Social Media has been flooded with every possible remedy for the virus. Most popular is the paw paw leaf. That is to be crushed and the juice drank to restore blood platelets.

It works so well, it was a dream come true. In desperation I didn't even follow the instructions. I blended it with water and ate it by the spoonful. Apparently not very good for you, but within five minutes of taking it I could feel a surge of energy I had not felt in days. 

They say the effects can last from months to years after the virus, but the bonus is once you get it, you will be Chikungunya free for the rest of your life. I never thought I would say it, but I would prefer another Chikv bout again. Six weeks post Chikv and every time I wean myself off of medication thinking I am fine, I wake up two days medication free and can barely walk. My feet cannot fit into my shoes, and heels... HA HA HA they are just there to look pretty, not be worn.

Another Chikv side effect that is severely overlooked and downplayed. Decreased dexterity. Weaning off medication means a return to atrocious handwriting that is equally as painful, almost impossible task and dropping things, and realizing you have dropped them a few moments later. Normally accompanied by stares and remarks, especially when it happens on Independence Square at lunch time. Now when I drop things I just exclaim "OPA!!!" and laugh, isn't much else that can be done now is there?

Another frustration: I cannot walk at my usual pace. All those people I would mentally blast for walking like they were on a Sunday stroll. Well God really decided to show me. Now I hobble, and when medication is at its best, still walk not even half the pace I was used to. Crossing the roads in Port of Spain is the worst. Drivers "cussin" because I cannot get across the road quickly enough, which has led to many middle fingers and expletives on my part out of sheer frustration and pain.

But, it isn't all bad. Recently as I walked gingerly across the road a taxi driver poked his head out and said " Take yuh time dahlin, I know how that Chickv does be". I slowly retreated , as I had been mentally prepping myself  for another cuss out.

But the frustrations still stand. Not wanting to be dependent on medication but not being able to fully function without them is a hell of a thing.

So here is to a post weaning day, where all my plans have been shot to hell.

 Thank goodness for Netflix.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

No One is Perfect.

So it is 9:00pm and Joel Osteen is on television. Talking about bringing greatness out of a great mess. As of recent I have fallen for his preaching more so than before.

He has become my morning companion while I get ready to go work, He makes me happy and renews my vigour and faith each morning when I would much prefer to bury my head under a pillow and wake up in an alternate dimension, where all is "right" in the universe. Where there is no need to face that which became a world of disillusion and a stage for masqueraders of promise, attempting to hide insecurity, ignorance and pride behind the strut of a peacock.

 Jumping to another messenger, this is the reason I came to Blogger tonight.

Rev Run's wisdom caught my attention on Instagram today. Mainly because it is the truth. Striving to live like this may lead to labels such as self righteous but at the end of the day, its a blessing to hear that. To be exposed to the slander, Learning more and more that the gossip, while it is human nature, is a reflection (the majority of the time) of the speaker. Speaking love and happiness actually does bring more of it, and the more you call it, the more revelations of toxicity arise. 

It is a benefit, an opportunity to live, experience and see past black and white.

As his caption said " Try to be nice.. It'll enhance your life tremendously."

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Goodbye Smoking! Hello Love

 On September 9th 2014, I bought a pack of cigarette and I have not opened them since.

I had tried everything from the patch, to e cigarettes, the gum etc. Nothing had worked. Somehow this did.
Let me give you a little background  to my smoking history.

When I was a teenager, a friend came over and exclaimed that my house smelt like a cinema. I was baffled until I realized he was not speaking about a popcorn smell, but cigarette smoke. I could not have cared less, growing up smoking was part of the household. My mother, father, brother and grandmother smoked. Ashtrays were party of our crockery. I knew each brand and what each person smoked.

Benson and Hedges Special Filter
Benson and Hedges Lights
Silk Cut
Du Maurier
Du Maurier Menthol

When I joined the smoking club, my mother had quit and so had my father. Early morning I would go to the corner and buy a single cigarette and ease into my day.

When I turned 19 and came home, I was an overt chimney. The guy I was dating was demonstrably displeased, which had no effect and prompted the response of "You don't like it? Sorry about that" while lighting another one. My girlfriend who is a pharmacist tried to discourage me by telling me I would put on weight. I ignored her... Models smoke to curb their appetite, No? Fast forward some years. Soon I was accustomed to heckling when i took a break in between shifts to light up on the sidewalk with a cup of coffee. The lines bounced off me. "You're too pretty to smoke!" or the recurring "Don't you love yourself?" Sometimes depending on the frame of mind I was in a smart retort would be thrown back, especially when they became too persistent.

Fast forward again. Both parents smoke free, brother and wife smoke free and grandmother passed away to a smoking related illness (may she RIP). Yes I was still smoking. Chest pain and shortness of breath from twenty six years old and no sign of quitting. Ignorant much? Extremely so.

Last month, I don't know what overcame me. Prayers I am sure played a major role. I just decided that was it without giving myself time to doubt. I glued myself to YouTube and watched all the smoking videos, I printed out some pictures and placed them in a diary, and listed all the benefits of quitting in a timeline. It worked.

Today I can breathe fully. I can actually run without feeling as though my lungs are about to burst yet be knotted at the same time. Sometimes I do have a craving, now maybe once every 2-3 weeks if so much.

But the most beautiful thing of all is now I realise, I love myself, and before I did not.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Would You Sleep With The Devil

Sleeping with the Devil?

Thanks I'll try it.

I really don't give a f**k what you think. Why? Why not? Do you even know who the devil is?

I refuse the red skinned imp with horns and a pitchfork. I don't need the brainwashing storybooks. I have seen the devil in real life. Slept with the devil, dined with the devil, even showered with the devil.

The devil isn't a man. The devil is in me. The Devil is that nagging doubt in the back of your mind. The "you cannot do it' chorus.

So while everyone cowers in fear at the sound of "Devil" like those wizards in the Harry Potter books. I will lace up my bustier, strap my garter to my stockings, and ride the hell out of it.

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

Turn negative energy into positive energy.

Embrace it.