‘When me was a girl’

When I was a girl, times were different…..and it’s not that long ago, well relatively speaking. We were poor, but I didn’t know, we were happy children.

I remember the day I nearly lost my index finger when Puckshon a chop di coconut, as me couldn’t wait to eat the coconut jelly!!!  I have the mark to this day.

I remember Pinky…..I don’t know who bought her for me, but she was my first doll. A friend of mine went a step further and made a school uniform for hers!!

I remember the board floor in the ‘hall’ had to be polished and we would shine it with the coconut brush and when that fails you use popsie bush……I cannot forget Mommy’s kerosene oil stove and we didn’t have wet mop either.

I remember how after we wake and come outside in the mornings, house don’t see us again until we ‘bade’ off a evening time. You remember walking on house cloth?

I remember the black iron that we used to rub on tuna and in sand before we put it on the ironing board. But no black residue was left on white clothes.

I remember reading by lamp light and me still don’t have bad eye sight ( knocking on wood)

I remember the hook in the thatch kitchen roof (kreng kreng), where the pork and the tripe would go after we slaughtered the pig. That was some good smoked meat.

I remember milking the goat, for everyone’s coffee and my mint tea. Maybe that’s why me hate tea.

I remember having nuff ackee trees, sweet sop and soursop, mangoes, pears, guinep, naseberry. A fruit was always in season. Many are gone due to old age and hurricanes.

I remember outside bathroom and pit latrines (still have them home)

You remember Jew wata fi go tie out the goat…..and me hope a no me one used to get note fi go a shop.

I remember the rooster from next door; he would chase after you like any bad dog.

I remember walking all the way to Lincel; to go to Godfrey the shoemaker..

I remember Goelyn, Miss P, Rudolph and Cherry and my Uncle named Foot.

I remember Oneil had a birthday party and I gave him a set of knife and fork for his gift. 😬

For my first shoes and socks race, my shoes didn’t have any lace….but me never have any other shoes.

I remember Maas David, Mass Edwud, Mass Khan, Miss Edna and her grandson ‘Molligator’…….they were my grandmother’s friends.

I remember romping the whole evening before the Common Entrance Exams-hop scotch, dandy shandy, jacks, hide and seek, chiney skip and jump with rope made from elastic bands or the plastic ring in the ‘backle stopper’. Yuh used to ‘chink’ marble fi kuschu???

I remember my mother’s cassava press, she still has it today and the pressing comb…..

You remember going to cut rosemary bush fi sweep yard, and the Malta fi beat cassava and caffie??

You used to love when rain fall and you a go home from school? I remember making paper boats for the puddles and taking off our shoes to splash in the dutty wata.

I remember when I first smell the stench of asphalt and saw a smooth drum roller….

I remember going to Aunty Hazel every evening, and playing ‘site and box weh’ with Allison, Janice and Marlon….

I remember cricket matches at Lowkas, …..will never forget the speed of a ball bowled by Gorry and Geetel and the raw talent of the Heron brothers.

I remember I always had motion sickness when I travelled….

I remember ‘wine and toosey’……….”wine and toosey show me England”

I remember my teachers from ‘basic’ school and my Sunday school teacher too. I remember how I hated going to get my blessing from Rev Lindo,  and the beating I would get each time I didn’t go….

I remember when Miss Chubby made school bags from khaki material.

You use to plait grass head too? And carry water in kerosene tin from the nearest water tank……..you remember hand cart and buggy????

I remember being asked to say times table for Grade Six when I was in Grade Two.

I remember I had to go home for lunch…..which ranged from fried eggs (hate it to this day), ‘ mouly’ bammy, boiled cho cho, and ‘bebige’, banana and rice porridge.

I remember playing ‘dutty’ pot and dolly house and a long time me have a sweet tooth, me used to tief out the sugar…..

I remember week before September morning, and we had to tek wash out.

I remember me and Janice teaching the croton trees and beating off every leaf. 😬😬children live what they learn.

I remember how much me used to hate shell peanut,  pick off pimento and shell red peas and guango. To this day me don’t like guango season.

I remember going to hill to look wood… and picking up ‘Breng breng’ a evening time. And who can forget blowing the fire…..or else run out of the kitchen smoke. And my grandmother with her tobacco in the pipe…..I had to put fire coal in that pipe to light it.

I remember mango season, boiled mango and stew pitayta…. also roast dumpling, suck-suck, and donkey jawbone? Do kids still have colic?

Me caan figet cut book and cut pencil……short khaki pants and ‘scatter spur’

I remember everybody walked to everywhere….. man now that me think about it, those kids from Ridge and Fairfield were very healthy.

I remember when grater cake and coconut drops bake and you can’t stop scrape the pot bottom. You remember bammy sham, grated coconut with sugar and hog berry.

And I will never forget when a day fi wash hair…..and the ugliest dresses that came with frills and lace….

I never forget the first time me go spend Christmas holiday and get two different meat on my plate one time…I thought it was ostentatious.

You remember buck toe, when macka juk yuh, bees or cow itch sting yuh and when wasp bite yuh

And Christmas time, when you get one full bottle of soda for you and you alone.

Who used to bathe with ‘sweet soap’? And what really did cause sore foot dem times deh? You did ever ketch lice?

Me used to hate Christmas concert at church…….

Me remember Miss Rosie get ‘inna spirit’ at church, and how Miss Ivy service caaan done, man yuh hungry so till.

And who can forget milk powder and Nutri Bun……

We used to wash we foot clean fi walk barefoot…….

And when you go next door go pungin, three and four of you had to eat out of one basin…..

Yuh used to go a bush go look radwood and eat tomato, cucumber and lime with salt……..

I will never forget, ‘Home Sweet Home’, ‘kitchen bitch’ and boil sweetsop. Lawd sah me did hate boiled sweetsop….. 😖😖😖😖

Some people had underwear with elastic in the waist only and never forget that the chink only come out in public….

 

At the Table…….

I recently became aware of a ministry called ‘Comfort Food’…..it is prayerfully and sacrificially providing meals with love, to others who are experiencing a need at a particular time. What a novel way to show God’s love to others!!!! Food can heal wounds and pause war.  This was proven at the Christmas Truce of 1914.

So it led me to start thinking about the power of food…….

  1. Jesus’s ministry involved a lot of food. He fed 5000 and he turned water into wine. He ate with his disciples at the Last Supper, he dined with Zaccheous and Matthew at their houses, and when he visited Mary and Martha….food was mentioned in the account. It seems like it is easier to get the point across and to have one’s ears when they are fed; after all you ‘cant teach a hungry man morals’. Providing food is the hospitable thing to do too……however, we must not gloss over the fact that he gave equal importance to spiritual food. Martha was scolded for shunning the more important things and the Devil was rebuked at Matthew 4 v 4.
  2. When our new minister at home insisted on having fellowship after each Sunday morning service it was met with resistance…… Everyone wanted to eat but no one wanted to provide. He insisted, he persisted……. I moved to another church and fellowship is a big part of the Sunday morning service, and this is for over 500 persons each Sunday. It works like a charm………..Now I am not sure what effect it has on the gathering but I do not discount the benefits to be derived.
  3. I knew a wife who sold the family dining table……now as far as I know the family that eats together, stays together. You see it often in the movies….and who remembers Soul Food??? I get the impression too, that part of the coping mechanism of the segregated South in the USA was the family gatherings- around food. No one can dispute that those delectable southern meals- the corn bread, gravies and stews are filled with a whole lot of love, heart and feeling. Around any table with food, is a safe haven for many discussions, decisions and reconciliation.
  4. Dim Sum got me thinking about the power of the dining table. Spanish, Lebanese, Chinese, Indian and Jamaican and spanning the religious spectrum- Christian, Hindu, Jewish and non-religious all met without acrimony to partake. There was respect for preference in food as well as effort to ensure each was satisfied and comfortable. There was tolerance and awe for those who ate animal brains, turtles, half-egg half-chicken, worm burgers, big-ass ants, dogs and donkeys and then we were regaled too with stories about using urine and snake blood as medicine. The conversation then morphed into a lesson on Hindu marriages and sacrilege; business proposals and strategies were not far behind…..Food truly relaxes the mood and opens the heart…..
  5. We have our own theories about food too. The may to a man’s heart is through his stomach……. so much so that we have some very weird beliefs as it relates to stew peas and keeping your ‘man’…..I don’t believe it works at all. In fact, I think its just nasty but belief kills and it cures.
  6. Preparing food, experimenting with menus, exotic dishes and just making tasty food………….who can deny the therapeutic effects. And if you don’t like the kitchen there is BlueApron.com and a billion dollar industry around frozen meals or you can always find a husband who loves to cook. Also, if eating is just a means of surviving for you, no problem with that either. I mean, you don’t have to be a food connoisseur or a chef to enjoy the benefits of the table….
  7. Dining etiquette, or in Jamaican vernacular ‘table manners’, that is a very essential skill to hone. Last time I checked, sitting at the table is where that is taught.  For my grandmother used to tell me, ‘manners carry you through the world’. This is not only about where to put your elbows or handbags, how to eat soup, and which cutlery to use at what time…….it’s also about talking in turn and being on time, saying please and thank you and waiting your turn. It’s about not being greedy or selfish, learning contentment and not practicing gluttony.

Food is the staff of life, but it is also so much more……

Happiness 

Before I started a gratitude journal, I thought about how I would find five things each day for which I am grateful. It’s way easier to find five, ten maybe even twenty things to complain about……..but I am finding that I just have to think long and hard enough and they come to me, they are right there, they are never far way- much like God……..

So this morning as I thought about my list, it occurred to me that my mother is living a very happy life without me being around her. That was my biggest worry when I decided to leave her. I really get it now when others say worry and fear are twin sisters that just drain and rob us of strength. I also get it, that no one is responsible for another person’s happiness.

My mother’s happiness comes from her giving of her self and her resources to those around her, every day. Whatever she reaps or gets, she distributes………Whenever there is a death or sickness, she visits……… whatever she cooks, she shares……. she entertains and hosts……… she cares for children………she lends money………she introduces people…………she is involved in her church……… she forgives………she visits other congregations………she exercises………..It occurred to me that maybe nothing much has changed to her happiness quotient since I left, maybe just a little sadness at first. My mom is a master of letting go and not worrying about things she cannot control. What a beautiful gift for me.

I have found thus, that whatever we give we get back tenfold so we should be givers and not takers. You cannot participate in the cause and excuse yourself from the effect (Gary Zukav). So if you give insults, inflict pain, hurts someone- you feel worse than the recipient and it will come back to you. The same with love, kindness, encouragement, and forgiveness etc, the more you give the happier you feel and you reap those same rewards. I know this because when I do something good, especially if it’s unexpected I get euphoric, I am happy. I also know because the Bible tells me at Matthew 7 v 12….

Question then is, what makes me happy?

1. When I start my day the right way, with scripture reading/meditation/prayer or all three.

2. When I do not break my routine…..I leave the house at a specific time, eat my breakfast, have my conversations, leave work on time, go to church on Sundays, walk or go to the gym and just have time to do whatever I choose.

3. When I do something good for someone else, and not out of guilt, under duress or reluctantly. A lady told me she was at the grocery store and a gent asked her for money as he was hungry. She said, she took him inside and bought him food…….you think that would make her feel good right? She did some good right? Of course she did, but she said she didn’t feel good, because she knew the reason she did that, was because she didn’t think he was telling the truth, she didn’t trust him. So you see that was on her, even if he was deceiving her. Our intentions therefore makes the action, do it from the right place and with the right motive.

4. When I fulfill a promise….

5. When I am not hungry or thirsty.

6. When I exercise and get a good night’s rest

7.When breathe fresh air, go on vacations, and am grateful

8. When I de-clutter- bad habits, toxic people and when I spring clean. But most of all when I make decisions that elevate my self-worth rather than people-please. In short, when I do not betray myself.

9. When I am healthy and my mother, other family members and friends are okay

10. In and around nature

11. When I am debt free or have a low debt ratio. I have acid reflux when I over-spend.

12. When I forgive…..

13. Praying, and answered prayer……… even No, especially No sometimes.

14. When I receive a gift or commendation…….

In summary I have recognized: 

1. Happiness comes when there is mind, body, spirit balance.

2. Nothing in the material or tangible realm contributes to my happiness.

3. Happiness is proportional to genuine giving, to yourself and others.

4. Only me myself and I can make me happy, no other earthly being can.

5. Happiness comes and goes, it’s not a permanent state.

6. Happiness results from connection.

Friendships

For a long time, I had a very closed view on the topic.

I didn’t know your spouse should be your very good friend if not your best friend. Didn’t think you could be friends with your parents , siblings, aunts, uncles or your boss. But who was I kidding? God is our Father and calls us into a friendship with him………I was of the view too that some relationships were etched in stone and cement- that’s true but only for the one between us and God through Jesus. Paul said it aptly, at Romans 8 v 35-39. Now that I am enlightened, I thus do my best not to sacrifice my friendships on the altar of expediency, pride or complacency.

I have been blessed with some great friendships- I won’t go as far as to say I don’t deserve them (I may not) but I believe I do, because I make a great friend too. I will add this caveat however, I may not be the most friendly person you ever meet. My mom has many friends and they have been friends for many moons now. She doesn’t lose her friends, only to death and migration as far as I can see. I think I inherited that condition from her, if that’s at all possible.  Only difference is I have way more male friends than her. But I may be compensating for the friendship I wish I had with my dad.

My journey has taught me that friendship is about giving, giving, giving. Giving of your love and support, giving advice, giving your time, giving your ears, giving of your favourite things……especially when you don’t feel like doing it. And for me, real giving is not about sharing what I don’t want, or for what I can get in return. I use 2 Corinthians 9 v 7 as my giving guide. I once heard Oprah say this, “if it isn’t right, your whole body feels it”.  Friendship is about that, and intuition and also freedom; each person must have wings to fly and we can’t fly if our wings are too heavy. I need friends but I have lost some friends too,  we all do along the way. De-cluttering is not just about cleaning out our closets ………

My friendships and the decisions I make regarding same, are supposed to honour me and the other party. If I am to compromise, I must do so willingly and lovingly………Of course, you may at times disappoint and annoy each other, but there should be enough empathy between friends to ensure that in those times you can talk about the issues TO each other and not around or above each other. Gossiping is inimical to a friendship, so too silence; although at times silence is golden.

Friendships may be diverse. I share different political views, religious affiliation, socio-economic background, generational gap, ethnicity and educational achievement with my friends. I learn from them and they from me. But I must confess, I avoid discussing religion and politics with friends who share opposing views. Oh I get too riled up about that and I really really can become the worst of myself.

Each friendship serves a different purpose and strike varying chords but each is special and important to me. I don’t have a best friend (actually I think I do, but there is a non-disclosure clause), I have many great friends. Most of my exotic experiences have been courtesy of friends and I treasure them for a lifetime. Most of my challenging experiences have been due to friendships too….I didn’t welcome them but I am grateful for them. I know for sure my life is on this trajectory because of the friends I chose, or who chose me. I give credit to the Giver of friendships for giving me just who I needed at the right times. Reminds me of Psalms 32 v 8….

There are four horsemen of the apocalypse for friendship (these are taken from the four horsemen of the apocalypse for Marriage by Dr. Gottman). Contempt, Defensiveness, Criticism and Stonewalling. That said, I believe each friendship has an unwritten contract and it’s each person’s job to know what the terms and conditions are. Once you do, then respect them.


 

 

Thy Neighbour (Ms Good Deeds #2)

This is a follow-up to Ms Good Deeds…..

The other morning as I was traipsing down the hallway out to the busstop minding my business (without my blinders on) when I saw a Caucasian gent waving frantically from outside- for some attention obviously. I stopped, and then turned to see what he wanted. Upon opening the door to speak to him, he produced his drivers license as ‘proof’ that he lived in the building. He said he had locked himself out and needed to get back up to his quarters. My mind immediately went into protect mode, although I had only a minute to make the decision about whether to believe him and then let him in. I thought about this many things during that minute.

i. Is he a stalker trying to get to a fearful female in the building?

ii.What if he is a serial-killer or worst yet a terrorist?

iii. How could he have left his key and the doors cant be closed without a key?

iv. An ID can have the address and you don’t reside in the building- that’s normal right?? you could have moved since you got the ID….and after all where I am from most people don’t have their correct address on their D.L anyway.

v. Why show me proof before I even say a word or ask for proof? 

Skepticism and suspicion aside, I let him in. But my inner turmoil began in earnest. I was so conflicted that I was literally shaking as I entered the bus. “Do you know you may be endangering unsuspecting people?  What about your own personal effects? Cameras are surely there to see who enter and exit right? Will you end up in prison for just doing something kind or plain stupid? I cant begin to tell you how disturbed I was. I had to start berating myself for being so paranoid. I couldn’t believe it. Is that how your environment affects your judgement? Or is it because I watch too many episodes on Investigation Discovery (ID)? All in all,  everything seemed okay the evening as I came back in, and then and only then did I relax. I however started thinking about the perils of not ‘knowing thy neighbour’. Yes, it is certainly in line with the program on ID of that same name.

I was at a certain location the other day and a friend fell ill- just normal feel bad it seems with a little vertigo. It woke me up to two facts- first, I have no idea how to deal with those crises, and secondly that fear of litigation immobilizes us and removes our humanity. So I thought rubbing alcohol……, because that’s what my mother would do….none anywhere. I saw a doctor’s office and rushed in to ask for some or anything that could help.  I was told there was none and nothing……Long and short story, she eventually got to a doctor herself and felt better.  But did I believe the employee at the doctor’s office? Nooooooo……but I can’t say I blame her. Risk of and fear of litigation is a real thing- do not expose yourself unnecessarily. It just led me to think how these laws that we create can mess with God’s law- especially the one about loving your neighbour.

I have a few faces I am familiar with…..from the bus stop. Familiar only, as we don’t acknowledge each other as we arrive or as we wait….this is weird for me although I conform. I am ashamed of myself to say this, but it is true. There is this one female (teenager) who on more than one occasion, begs bus fare. The first two times she asked I said no, I really didn’t have any change. The third time I gave her a dollar………..the fourth time I confronted her. I got a ‘cock and bull’ story which may or may not be true- I really haven’t sorted out what poverty or desperation look like here, but being a cynic, “me don’t believe her”. I think there is something else going on here, but me cant prove it so me don’t seh nothing more. Anyway, since that confrontation I haven’t really seen her at the bus stop again, but I see her on the bus at times. The thing is I have been approached by others too with bus fare requests- I guess that’s why the City has a ‘Donate a Ride’ system. Maybe I should contribute to that………after all my neighbour doesn’t always live in my building or next door.

 

Contemporary vs Traditional

There are some things I believe and others I don’t.

I don’t believe I have to get married in a white dress or wearing Jimmy Choo (thankfully I can’t afford the latter). Quite frankly, I would love to know if I can wear a sari to my wedding with sandals, but my husband to be-  Of course I need him in his suit. I love men in suits 😁😁. Well there are no rules….. right!!!

I don’t believe I should solicit a male. That’s the man’s role, and furthermore I don’t believe men manage the dynamics well when a woman initiates. Of course, I do not buy into the notion (however much statistics abound) that men are few and far between, I choose not to. There are lies, damm lies and then statistics!!! Right !!!! Maybe all of this is to my detriment but let’s see.

I have many great male friends, I believe men make great friends for females. Thus,  I believe ohh sorry I know, that the men in our lives have to be trained- be it husbands, sons, fathers, brothers…..however, word of caution from a man himself. Don’t draw the noose too tight, give him some room to roam and kick up some dust!!!!

I believe that church dress is different from every other dress. So for me, my mode of dress for church is about honouring my creator with my best dress. I cast no stones at others who do not feel likewise, that’s a pledge I made to myself. It matters not if I am the church pariah, to my own self I will be true.

I don’t think I would mind much being a housewife. Of course, we always want what we don’t have and I say that as an educated woman who has always worked.  I too have some writers bias here, as I have never been a housewife and I don’t like housewifely chores. That said, one of my favourite movies, Kramer Vs Kramer showed me just how invaluable a role the housewife plays, ingratitude aside. I am not sure if the movie is the reason I am enamored with this idea.

I recently heard too, former USA VP Joe Biden echo similar sentiments, when he said  “everything works, if the marriage is working”, and the marriage works in my head (of course I am not married) if each person knows their role, sign up for this role and then plays that particular role.  Of course, it follows that I do believe too that a woman has specific roles in the house and in the family, whether you are a working woman or not- again I must declare, I AM NOT MARRIED. I simply subscribe to biblical principles, and maybe psycho- analyze too much.  But that aside, I grew up in a household in which I saw, in no uncertain terms, how a female ‘spoils’ a man. The latter of course is an extreme.

I hate to read my books on devices. I am a hard cover, paperback, page-flipping type of girl, so it really pains me that I have to use the Kindle. Now I am traditional not inflexible. Of course,  I have to consider the cost of books, space and storage, as well as their bulkiness especially when you travel. It pains me at times but such is the nature of the beast, me prefer my ‘natural showers’ too but me have to do otherwise.

I recently received a message from twitter asking me if I know how to tweet..🤣🤣🤣, oh I don’t believe in living my life through social media either. Now don’t get me wrong I have nothing against social media, as I would be a fool to do so. I have also derived many benefits from using it in the limited way I do. I don’t even want to think what my life would have been like without that privilege, so yes I am grateful for having this new tool for communicating. However, I also recognize the pitfalls. The thing is like a vacuum that sucks in humans- it can become a drug of choice. So I have resolved to use correct spelling, correct grammar and whole sentences when I use it (even when me a write patois). No sir, I am not into using letters to represent words (except lol, Gm and Smh) cut me some slack here, and I don’t see how we can communicate using abbreviations. I know I am old-fashioned when as I still prefer to talk rather than text……sometimes at least.

By the way, do you think it is a coincidence that I live at ‘ The Traditions’ 😏😏😏😏😏. I don’t believe in those either.

Antidotes

I read somewhere today, not sure where, as we have so many sources from which  information come at us these days. I get overwhelmed. I had an uncle who a mentally unstable guy once described as someone who reads everything, even what is written in the dirt. So you know reading runs in the family..but that’s a whole different ball game.

I read somewhere today that letting go of anger, bitterness and resentment or in other words practicing forgiveness, being contented and humble, and practice some kindness no doubt can actually help with the prevention of cancer. Incidentally, today at church the sermon was about laughter, the gift of laughter and the fact that laughter is good medicine, of course when used in beneficial ways. So I got to thinking, do we have the remedies to a lot of our problems right at our finger tips, evenly shared amongst all of us, freely given and cheap as dust.

Think about it……

Forgiveness- the giver always feel better than the recipient. Try it if you don’t believe me.

Love – for God and your Neighbour- God is love and love covers a multitude of sins

Feed your enemies- heap burning coals on their heads

Turn the other cheek- self- explanatory

Do only what you want done to you- you will understand this one when you need a favour.

Do not judge or condemn- two, all three sides to a story

Be quick to listen and slow to speak- we have two ears and one mouth for a reason!!

Do not avenge yourselves- revenge is sweet but God’s venegenace is sweeter

Drink water- eight glasses a day they say and most of us have access to clean water in abundance…..

Sleep, Laughter and Gratitude.

Ellen G. White’s NEW START prescription (God’s 8 rules for health) sums it perfectly. N- Nutrition, E-exercise W- water, S- sunshine, T- temperance, A- air, R- Rest and T- trust in God.