Thursday, June 28, 2012

Strange Angels


Angel Comments

This morning an old friend sent me a picture that read "Sometimes God sends us an Angel disguised as a friend". It was needed, and it started my day off pretty well.


Though people may scoff, everyone has a glimmer in them that shines for angels, and they are around, not necessarily in the form of over 7ft, emanating light and peace or brandishing a sword like Archangel Michael, but sometimes in everyday people.


A few weeks ago I was walking through the capital, Port-Of-Spain, and lo and behold the heavens opened.I mean OPENED, thunder, lightning...the whole nine yards! Toting an overnight bag, handbag and heels, I opted not to chastise myself for being careless and forgetting and umbrella, but to get wet. As I stood in the pouring rain waiting to cross the road, quite aware by the puzzled looks on drivers faces that I must really look like an utter nutcase, inside I was thoroughly enjoying myself. However after 2 minutes I realised I was drenched.
rain_umbrella

Suddenly I realised the rain wasn't falling on me any more, to my left was a young gentleman, probably 5ft 3in, who without asking had tiptoed and used his umbrella to shelter me. I smiled and thanked him, he smiled back and responded "I know you are enjoying it, but now you need some shelter". We both waited for the signal to cross, and when we got to the other side, I thanked him again as we were going in opposite directions, he smiled and turned in my direction, walking with me to the Terminal, dropped me off and went on to his destination.


While I was in the bathroom wringing my top, and drying off, my face was aching. I realised that I had been smiling since that umbrella was lifted above my head. He was definitely an angel in disguise.


Practice Random Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Take off the Armour.

When I was 10 years old my father walked into the living room and found me crying. I hadn't been to school as circumstances had not permitted me to do so in a while (keep track of 'A Journey of Little Footsteps' for the reason why) and when he asked me what happened and I explained why I was 'unhappy' he told me I had no reason to be unhappy and to stop crying.


That scenario never left my mind and without realising it, I assumed a tough character,which as I have gotten older, I have realised I need to modify.


Events have taught me that at times having a tough character is fine, but there are some things you cannot deal with on your own, simply because you cannot. You need a support system at times to carry you through, and at times though its tough, having an experience that can shake you to your core is an eye opener to those who truly are there for you, love you and support you.


I walked around literally zoned out for a good few days, I felt detached, no love for the world, myself or anyone around me, yes it sounds selfish but one gets to the point where they completely shut down and are unable to function, fleeting moments arose where I would think 'I want to participate, I want to smile' but for the life of me nothing could make my body act out the thoughts. I felt anger towards myself, for not being able to shake out of the 'funk' I was in. Never before had I felt so isolated from the world, backed into a corner, my anger towards myself for not being able to snap out of it the turned to observation of others, for years I had been brought up in a manner to make sure everyone was happy and satisfied, that they would always have a shoulder to cry on once I was around. Looking around me I felt as though I had no one to turn to, and that I had been left to my own devices, essentially in my mind being tough had failed me miserably, I felt alone and I didn't want to be alone, I wanted someone to hold me while I battled silently.


I did have people to turn too, but became so depressed I couldn't see a way out. My parents called, I did not want to talk, my two best friends called, I did not want to talk to them either, because every time the discussion arose, emotions would come flowing from nowhere and the tears would flow, tears of anger and sorrow. I was blessed to have family and 3 key people around me who were able and willing to take the time to let me release when I could, who didn't look at me as though I was insane when I spoke of therapy, and basically were able to re socialize me after what was probably to date a significant traumatising experience that continuously haunts me.


If going through anything like this, from my experience just a few things to take note of:


You can't deal with it alone, surround yourself with people who know you best and are able to fully deal with the situation and you. Be around someone who can sit with you while you cry till there are no more tears, who can sit there and let you express your emotions, even sit next to you and lend a shoulder or hold your hand while you are still fighting to actually break your silence.


Its not your fault, do not blame yourself for the situation, no one can predict what is going to happen.


If you are a person of faith, talk to God because you cannot do it alone, rescinding control is the first step to overcoming any barriers put in your way.


When  you are able to fully comprehend and reflect what you have been through (when all the thoughts stop swimming in your head like a mixture of paint) or even before that, if you are in a state that you can see for yourself you need to talk it out or seek counselling, go for it.


Remove yourself from any situation where you feel uncomfortable and surround yourself with love.


Heal yourself first.


There comes a point in time where as humans we need to realise we cannot do it alone.So if you have the 'tough'  exterior and attitude, drop it, its ok to do so, because mostly 99% of the time on the inside there isn't as much toughness as you would like those around you to think.


Many times we go around on auto-pilot, being strong for everyone around you, but being incapable of being truly strong for yourself. It sounds selfish but STOP! There is only so much one person can handle, you are not Superman or Wonderwoman.


Its not a case of completely removing compassion and becoming self absorbed, but its a case of knowing when enough is enough and you must take care of yourself.


If you are anything like me, taking a spin on it like this may help...There is no way you can really be there for anyone else, lend support, strength and love, unless you love yourself first.


If you are held back by the fact that you may lose friends and partners because you have to sort yourself first, move ahead regardless, because if you lose those around you when you are taking a step back and not extending yourself as much as you normally do and they are aware you are doing it for yourself to grow and heal, then they weren't genuine to begin with.


Plain and Simple.


There is a link attached giving the symptoms of depression, covering both men and women.


http://www.helpguide.org/mental/depression_women.htm


Its important to remember, you are not alone. When you smile, someone's spirit lifts, even if you do not see it directly.


Lady in Training.



 By the age of 3 I was in a leotard and tutu learning ballet. By the time I was seven I was doing every possible extra-curricular activity available.Tap, Modern Dance, Country Dancing, Tennis, Swimming, Piano...you name it I was doing it. I was being moulded into the 'perfect' young lady.




Lets see how that worked out.


In my early teens I kept up appearances. I studied hard, didn't 'duck' school (Play hooky). I became incensed when someone earned a higher grade than I did. When high school was over, as expected I left the graduation ceremony laden with certificates and Trophies, with family beaming, proud that all their hard work and sacrifice had paid off.


I remember my mother being particularly put out at the beginning of the ceremony. We had all come in the late afternoon. Uniforms ironed, not a hair out of place trying to look 'cool' by keeping the recommended distance from our parents. A classmate came running up to me and stated "But you take all de trophies!". My mother was upset, she wanted me to be surprised. I couldn't have been bothered. All I was thinking of was getting in and out of the ceremony as quickly as possible so I could #1 Have a cigarette #2 See my then boyfriend.


Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your perspective, in 2012 the two things I was yearning for during the graduation ceremony are still at the top of my list at the end of a hard day. Though other things have to get done they still reign supreme.


There is no doubt that the 'lady' I was training to be, did not turn out as planned.  Academically wise the zeal to rank higher than others never left, but the drive and application changed. I became lazy, aware that I had been blessed with natural 'smarts', and knowing that I could get away with retaining the minimum by one read put me in a comfort zone (not very ladylike, or smart!)


 By A Levels, when my mother commented on how tanned I was, I would say "We play cricket in the courtyard between classes." In actual fact I was going to one class from 7:30am till 9:00 am, and then heading off to the closest beach, roughly 10 minutes away from school. While I should have been applying myself in class, I was applying Hawaiian Tropic Tanning Oil and lounging in nature.                                                      






Today, its acceptable for a 'lady' to use tanning oil :). This may be perhaps one of the traits I inherited from my mother. As a child I could never understand how my mother could just lie in the sun and do nothing. With the sea there ready to be explored, how could she just cook. Today, I always have some form of tanning lotion in my handbag, and on my last trip to the beach though I did go in the water, I spent roughly 95% of the time cooking myself. So much so that, much to the entertainment of others I looked a maraschino cherry by the evening, and was burnt beyond belief (won't be using that tanning oil again....that's for SURE).


That's one lady point so far...lets keep count.


Speaking: According to my mother, I don't speak properly. I have picked up Trinidadian traits. She regularly asks me to spell  'the', as at times I forget myself and use the colloquial 'de'. I speak 'lazily', however, I am well aware in certain scenarios, speaking properly is extremely important. Therefore, I can reward myself with another lady point.....So i'm on two points so far.


This point may be nullified: Cursing is NOT ladylike. My mouth though not as bad as it once was, maybe looked at as a sailor in training. I stand firm at times against the view that people who use expletives are uneducated. Keeping my 2 points as I have cut down and will probably continue to do so.




Table Etiquette: Using a knife and fork properly is important. No elbows on the table, not speaking with your mouth full, waiting till everyone is finished before leaving the table (Yes at 25 years old I still ask to be excused if others are still eating ......and i'm ready to smoke). There is nothing more unattractive than sitting at a table, whether it be breakfast, lunch or dinner and hearing the person next to you chew sloppily, or to hold a conversation and see half chewed food rolling around. I am proud to say I am NOT one of those young women who sits at a table and begins to dig their teeth with their fingernails to remove food. Lady Point 3.


Dress: This is an area that is major War at times between my mother and I. Admittedly I love fashion, I love to play dress up, to the point where I can be seen going into my mum's wardrobe for something. I love wearing what my grandmother called 'wooly caps' on my head. This is where the battle begins, while I may have stilettos and dresses lined up ready to be worn. I also have a pair of jeans that I refuse to get rid of. They are ripped in every possible place..seen and unseen, and I still wear them! They are comfortable and sometimes comfort is key above all. I admit, I have fallen into the category of showing butt cleavage...not intentionally though (that definitely kills a lady point).




Hair: A ladies hair is her crowning glory. My hair is so processed its a shame. Once full of curls, now through relaxer and weaving (hair extensions), my hair doesn't fit the ladylike criteria, its always in a bun, or being taken out to be put back into a bun or knot. But hey...its NEAT most of the time. As a teenager I was asked whether I ever brushed my hair, and was told "It's ok, you're pretty". I started brushing my hair after that. Not sure whether the lady point can be awarded in this scenario.


        


Make up: I LOVE MAKEUP! But do I wear it every single day. Not the full works. There is nothing worse than seeing a beautiful young woman walking down the road who looks as though she has pasted on a mask. Living in a tropical climate, it needs to be considered that ladies sweat. YES THEY DO! As far as i'm concerned there is no sense in ensuring you buy a foundation that is supposed to look natural and then walking around with a neck that is two to three shades darker. Admittedly in the past I have been lazy and not put my 'face on' and then cursed myself for not putting it on when I'm out for fear of looking a 'mess'. But I can proudly say that when I'm in make up mode, I'm in MAKE UP MODE.. So I just got a lady point :D


While there are other external things that present the look of a lady, a lady comes from the inside! Perhaps a reason why at times I may be wayward with jeans, hair brushing etc. Attitude is the most important criteria for being a lady. Composure, elegance and grace start on the inside. This can only be achieved through appreciating the fact that you are a woman and representing it with you chin up and shoulders back proudly.


I may smoke, use expletives, not always brush my hair perfectly, go out without make up on, but my goal is not to fit the societal standard, nor is it to 'buck the system' as my mother tends to say I attempt to do. Being an individual is important. This isn't a promotion of not taking care of the physical, but its to say that you don't have to fit the conventional criteria to be a lady, but one must also know there is a time and place for everything.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Journey of Little Footsteps: Introduction

Nothing happens by chance. For years that has been drilled into my head. Every person whose feet touch Mother Earth have been sent here on a journey, no one is truly aware of the direction their life will take. There is no way to know what lies behind each occurrence which is merely another door either being opened or closed.


In 1992, my feet touched down to Mother Earth in the twin island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. As a child there was nothing more I could have possibly wanted. I had been given the opportunity to live in the Tropics, away from the cold,rain and muggy humidity of summer. I will never forget that moment, although only 5 years old it is still vivid in my mind. The air smelled different, the humidity assaulted my lungs and the tarmac at Piarco International Airport was soft and squishy under my sandals.


                                            


The next memory that sticks out from that same evening, was the long drive from the airport to 'South'. A far cry from that which I was used to, buildings were sparse, and the street lights were a dull yellow amber. Pulling into our new 'home'  sealed the deal, lots of space to run around, a swimming pool and a view that as a child I could not appreciate ,as I do now.


                                       


There was no way to have known that which would follow. That 20 years later, as a family unit we would still be in the Caribbean, that we would be tried and tested. As time progressed I would learn that all that glitters isn't gold. That fanfare fades and at times we may truly become victims of circumstance.


With that said, as a brief introduction to a series that will be continued. This must be said: There is no doubt that a journey was laid out and we followed through. Some of our journeys ended here, for others it is still being mapped out.


Welcome to my world.