Have you ever…….

1 . Have you ever been stone walled? I think this comparable to water boarding.,…..not that I have ever experienced the latter.

2. Have you ever grieved from pain or a loss so much so that you don’t eat, can’t sleep and can’t find the energy to do necessary things like bathe, cut your fingernails and wash you hair? And have you ever felt joy……joy that warms and tingles, a joy you can’t find sufficient words to describe? 

3. Have you ever prayed for something and gotten it? Did you want it?

4. Have you ever planned something really big and exciting ……then it fell through because you got sick or it rained, or the car broke down? What then?

5. Have you ever had a really difficult conversation?  How many?

6. Have you ever forgiven someone you swore you never would?

7. Have you ever made an irreversible error?

8. How many times have you ever said words you regret?

9. Have you ever given someone what they deserve? How did you feel afterwards?

10. Have you ever felt you NEEDED a move, more clothes, a piece of jewelry, a new job, a new relationship, and then you get it only to find out you are still needy and still broken?

11. Have you ever had something to say, and feel if you don’t say it you will burst? Follow up to #5

12. Have you ever stalked anyone? Or tried to read or read your boyfriend/husband’s/ wife/girlfriend’s text messages?

13. Have you ever fallen asleep during prayers?

14. Have you ever spat on anyone……not deliberately, maybe with food in your mouth?ūüôą

15. Have you ever had a time when you were relieved to know you were not alone……..or glad to know you have a ‘big daddy’?

16. Ever heard one side of a story and totally believed it and then when you hear the other side you believed it too?  I am always intrigued by evidence and cross examination, Proverbs 18 v 17 speaks to this very issue.

17. Ever had a job that was your worst nightmare, until it became the best thing to ever happen to you and then vice versa?

18. Ever had a lover with whom it wasn’t love at first sight, and then you find yourself hopelessly in love with them?

19. Ever had a friend, a really good trusted and respected friend and then you end up marrying them or one small straw breaks the camels back?

20. Heard about Ponzi schemes and scamming, and wonder how the victims can be so stupid until you meet one of the perpetrators…… or it happened to you. Have you ever been scammed?

21. Ever swore you would never do something and then the next minute you find yourself doing exactly it?

22. Have you ever heard someone’s story………and once it’s done you remove all the adjectives you had used to describe them and just think of them as human…..a person, just like you are?

23. Have you ever done a marathon? Use your imagination……..not just running, maybe talking too, or crying etc……

24. I met an Iranian taxi driver who I would rank on the top of my list for ‘Gentlemen of all Gents’……..have you too, been victim of the ‘single story’, to borrow a phrase from Chimamanda Adichie.

25. Have you ever slept for 24 straight hours? If not, what’s your record? 

26. Have you ever felt you have/had too much of any one thing? 


My Bucket List

For some strange reason I revisited my bucket list this morning………two years to the date of conception.

This is what made my list back then and is still on my list today.

1. To make a snow man- well I told you about that already.

2. Live in God’s will and in peace- harder than I imagined, but I am working on it. Every day I am tempted and tried………..but “Resist the Devil and he will flee from you”

3. Visit Keukenhof and Amsterdam……since the ‘Boy and the Dyke’ and those childhood books with windmills and tulips I have been in love. Makes me wonder if that’s why the Universe transpired to send me to Alberta too….for I was also in love with the meadows and those red barns. But I may just have to settle for the tulip festival in Ottawa.

4. ¬†The Berlin Wall and more of Germany including the camps …….some may say I have German Ancestry. I may or may not, but the Germans really did land in my neck of the woods.

5. Golden Gate, Lombard Street, Alcatraz, the Street Cars ( Maya Angelou was the first black female conductress)………only hope this is not another Vancouver experience.

6. Boston and New Orleans…..history and soul food. Not a bad combination.

7. Ride the Bullet Train……hope they run above ground.

8. Ski in Switzerland………I don’t know why this is still on my list, for I have changed my mind about learning to ski……..cant ski if you are scared of the ski lift in the first instance.

9. ¬†The Great Pyramids………

10. Happy Family Life……..and a Happy Home even if I remain free, single and childless. I am way more than my circumstances.

Parts of a whole

I didn’t know where I was going, and I knew only one person. As you can imagine that is scary in and of itself…… I must say off bat, I could never have survived it thus far without my connections. Luckily, I had made sure no bridges were burnt.

At first, I was drowning in fear. How cold could it get? Could I figure it all out……where do I buy food? Where is the hairdresser, could I afford one? As I watched the train filled with commuters each morning and the cars going to and fro each day, I wondered if or how long it would take me? Where will I work? What will that be like? I literally was immobilized with fear and for those first few days I stayed inside, afraid of outside.

As the days passed, I got emboldened…….. enough to visit the mall and then I took the train. I started going to church and then I got a job- those two things changed everything. Aha moment……that’s how someone new, integrates and pass the days; but still, there was never a day I didn’t think of home.

Home for me is more than just a place, it’s where sunshine and warmth is, in more ways than one. It’s where my umbilical cord is, it is familiar turf…….I knew the places to avoid, how long to stay out, best places to eat, where to shop, how to get home, the genuine people, who to ignore, when and what to speak. Home means family and I don’t just mean the biological ones. They say……in prosperity your friends know you, but in adversity you know your friends. That was so true for me, because it was the transition that helped me to sift through the sands of friendship.

So now I have to make a new home…..especially because I don’t know when I will get to go home. The feelings that come from knowing that are raw and intense, there are so many things I long to do. Like just sit under a mango tree or go to a melon garden and eat to my heart’s content, listen to the storytellers who congregate in our thatch kitchen or under the ackee trees, go to 3 T’s and be entertained, visit Dee and get a belly full of laughter, hang with Fulhood and Blacks on the farm, visit Maria, Dawn and Millicia, jumping in the car to just go, visiting the sick and attending funerals, attending church and graduation ceremonies, shopping online to my hearts content, wearing the same clothes year round……….

Be that as it may, being away has been good albeit difficult, a paradox I know. I have to learn to control my life better and figure it all out, alone………..find things to do to that gives me joy, discover new passions, build financial austerity, find a new community not to replace the old one but to supplement and help me grow. Church has helped in this regard. I have signed up for seminars, courses and retreats, done bible studies and have had many many conversations……walking together and otherwise. I have been invited to lunches and dinners, given a ride to and from the grocery stores, picked up and dropped off on cold winter mornings and evenings, invited out to banquets and special events, offered furniture and clothes, taken to parks and fun activities………no we do not, we cannot make it alone.

I have had to put my foot forward too, had to reach out for it……I had to learn how to want/need something. I have learnt, re-learnt and reinforce many other things too.

1. Big splashy, shiny things, big events and big occasions are good to look forward to and does give joy, but don’t rely on those solely for joy. Joy must be found in the Small everyday moments that we CREATE, most notably when you serve others.

2. Not everyone who smiles and say hello is a friend, although it might feel that way in a cold and lonely setting. Take your time to figure things and people out. Its easier to stick to your own in a foreign land, that is good and bad. Good as you always keep a piece of home at heart, but bad as you miss the benefits of diversity. You may not learn or grow.

3. Learn to say No…….be selective, you cannot accept every single invitation, follow your gut.

4. Forgive people, the bigger the transgression, even better. The person who receives your forgiveness will almost never hurt you again.

5. Do not look back, keep looking forward. Looking back is good only to inform you on the future. According to Sheryl Sandberg, when Option A is not an option anymore…….kick the shit out of Option B and even C.

6.  If someone, anyone even someone who is family, cannot find the time to say hello, well I wouldn’t waste any time on that person. Leave them be.

7. We are not only to be givers but also takers……give someone else the opportunity to give to you.

8.  No one is indispensable……..you are secondary in neither person’s life………..even your parents. No one loves you more than God, not even your parents.

9. Timing is everything…..the right time will come and more often than not it is not immediately. Take time to clarify and prepare.

10.  To quote a line from my favorite gospel song “never be too busy, to help a brother carry his load”.

11. God will give you new seasons, friends and opportunities but sometimes you have to be willing to make space for them. Learn to de-clutter…….and as Oprah says ” nothing happens until you decide” that’s what free will is all about.

12. Know thyself and be thyself……..if you don’t, then every shadow, doubt and situation will kick your butt. Don’t be like ‘ the man, the little boy and the donkey’.

13. Prayer is real and it works…….I don’t know about coincidences. Oh and there are many different types and forms of prayers.

14. You can form friendships without ever seeing someone in person, it’s trust that informs relationships. Love and connection are not spatially determined or time bound either. 

15. A friend of mine told me this years ago, “bloom where you are planted”………. sometimes you have no choice.

16. You control your actions and reactions…..people do not have super-human powers, neither is blaming the Devil a good excuse.

17. Do not let others have to ask you for an explanation, preempt them and the sooner the better. Apologizing and speaking the truth on your mind are forms of therapy. And in that same breath, do not assume your assumptions are right…….just ask.

18. Be kind to self, forgive self, love self ……..start with self. Learn to laugh too.

19. No one is too broken to become whole again……..the world is replete with examples of people who have risen from ashes, who have been rescued from coal mines, and climbed out of dungeons.

20. Hope must never die………and we cannot live without faith. Suffering has a purpose.

21. Make the most of an opportunity, make the most of a day, even if it costs you a little more time and some more money…….do it. Everything is a cost benefit analysis.

22. The decisions we have to make are hardly clear cut…..you will always be weighing and measuring various options and scenarios, consequences and trade-offs……get over it that’s just how it is. Ask for help if you have to.

23. If you want to test your friendships…..stay together for a week or a month maybe.

24.  Change is hard and we resist it……out of fear for the unknown. But change is also good, and the best part is if God leads you to it, just trust him. He can do way more than we can imagine or conceive (Ephesians 3 v 20) and he loves us. Furthermore in no time you will find a new normal. Just be deliberate and intentional in keeping the beautiful things in your life constant…..because if you are not careful those will change too. 

To be human………

A complex being………with a heart. The heart is treacherous…..who can know It? That’s the rhetorical question Jeremiah asked.

We are body, mind and spirit……just like the Trinity……that’s what Glennon said.

We all want to know we did okay and that we are okay ……that’s what I heard Oprah say.

Life is a stage, we are all actors………..that’s Shakespeare’s account.

Don’t compare your insides to other peoples outside…..I read that from Anne Lamontt

So who are we? What does it mean to be human?

Well if I am to follow the above,

A human has a heart that is unreliable. We all have a body and a soul too……..we all want to be validated, and we all have individual plays which coincide at times in some strange acts on varying stages.

We all compare, compete even; we feel fear, apprehension, shame, make mistakes, feel pain and fail. But at the same time we can find happy, feel joy and peace, love and trust, satisfaction and fulfillment in between. We all need faith, family and friends, purpose, meaning and counsel and to know we are not alone.

We are all born as blank slates, but with the capacity to build courage, learn empathy and gratitude, be kind and creative, humble and serve others. We also learn prejudice, to deceive and exploit, steal and hate. I went for a massage today and my therapist told me I am twisted…… I said yes, and not just physically. We burst out in laughter.

We all have things we wish to forget, utterances we want to take back, things we wish we had done or didn’t do…….but it’s all in the mix of keeping us human and humble. ¬†It thus, goes without saying that we all NEED a Saviour. And we have one, for our Creator did not make one person who he doesn’t love and one person who Jesus did not die for.

We are all born with potential, blessed with varying gifts. “It’s our job to figure it out” that’s what Oprah said. Hard work for some, easy as cheese for others…….but according to Mark Zukerberg, it’s so much easier if we have “the freedom to fail”. I think of a high school friend who was a song bird, it was easy for her to find her true north……..and she has blessed the world with her awesome gift…….but it’s not always so easy for the rest of us to discover our God-given potential.

If you want more insight into just how human we all are……read John Ortberg’s…………………………. ‘Everybody is normal, until you get to know them’……. and ‘The Me I want to Be’

“I am sorry”…….”Thank You”

Sheryl Sandberg in ‘Option B’, spoke to the fact that there was a point during her period of acute grief when she was apologizing for everything to everyone…..As I read that, It reminded me of a recent experience with a friend. She had the courage to ask me what I was sorry for, on one occasion when I said “I am sorry” out of context. It then struck me that I involuntarily and regularly apologize out of turn, out of place and for no apparent reason……I had to fix that.

As I ruminated, I realized too that I tend to say “thank you” in the same way and its not that I don’t know better……..but I seem to live in a world of gratitude and apology overkill. I grew up with my grandmother constantly telling us “manners carry yuh thru the worl”……., although at the time I had no idea what she meant by that.  I took that to heart undoubtedly, as I found and still do, that in the instances when I don’t say ” thank you, please, hello, excuse me, you are welcome, good morning…..” its because I choose to be impolite, stubborn and rude. And it doesn’t feel good.

My thoughts on the matter were punctuated by questions such as… Are there specific/appropriate instances for saying ” I am sorry or thank You?” When we say “I am sorry” because we feel overly dependent, or feel that we are a burden…….. is it rational?

Are these just relics of the past? And why does it become a platitude or why do they lose value if they are repeated too often? But then why are you frowned upon when they are not said at all?

Are there cultural differences and rules? Thus are ” no worries, sounds good, for sure, sounds like a plan, et al ” suitable alternatives?

As I introspect, I think of Paul and what he said at Romans 13 v 8………….and I got my answers……for love is one of the most nebular terms I know and is the underpinning of  trust and respect on which relationships are built. So isn’t it the irony of all ironies………that in our very impersonal, idealistic, selfish and individualistic world Facebook, Twitter, Snap Chat, Instagram etc…are such big successes? And why do we need numerous research to tell us how to create employee engagement and grow sales when those are the very simple, honest-to-goodness things our grandmothers taught us?



The Barbecue

My friend is a real host………I am captivated by her skills. There was so much warmth, mirth, kindness and sincerity from the welcome and smiles at the front door to the open door policy and the decorated back porch. This has so resonated with me that for the first time in my life, I feel I should, could host a barbecue too.

You see this family is Christian and if I am to paraphrase JJ John……people want to become a christian or not become a christian for one of two reasons, they either met a christian or they haven’t met one. I believe that the way they host is exactly what is expected of us from Hebrews 13 v 2, and also is what Jesus meant at Luke 14 v 12-14 when he said ………” I was a stranger and you welcomed me….”and most certainly what Peter was referring to at 1 Peter 4 v 9. 

I first heard the term ‘barbecue’ at high school. Each year this was a major fundraising event. Truth be told, since that time I have been trying to figure out if it is a noun or a verb or a little bit of both. On this particular occasion, I got my answer- for there was barbecuing at the barbecue. With that in mind, I have decided that when I visit home I will host a barbecue………or should I say a jerk (dunno).

So as I mentally think of my guest list and literally created a menu. ……..pickles, cheese, onions, chips, mustard and mayo included and then it occurred to me that I cannot host this at home without some fish, Red Stripe Beer, log wood and coal……And what about dessert? ‘Corn pone’, drops, grater cake too??????Barbecue J’can style…….not even the term ‘barbecue’ is HOMOgeneous…..now don’t get me started on that prefix.  Then my dear friend at home, informed me that we should host a barbecue when I come home (no, she didn’t know of my little plan)………..so there you go I have a venue.

I won’t be able to replicate the eclectic mix of cultures as my friend did, we are not so diverse at home. For at hers there were continents in one place……. But I know for sure we can find the numbers, the sunshine, the games, stories, laughter and some music……… for you see when you host anything in paradise there must be music.

Mood Swings

Sometimes my mind is a blank slate……and other times it feels like a minefield.

Its raining…….the most rain I have seen here, but still not the most rain I have seen in my short life. Its called a storm, but my description would be its just continuous rainfall. Its amazing how we can always find words to narrate an occurrence. According to Jodi Picoult, ‘we cannot extricate the storyteller from the story’….I need to always remember that. It is the same with pain, isn’t it? And incomes, and how much junk we hoard…..I may see it as excessive, whilst for another person its just enough.

Sometimes I love my decisions……and other times I am just swimming in regret.¬†Decisions are not to be hastily made, neither should we think that they impact only us or are felt only in the short term. ¬†We invariably pull others into our circle and they have long-reaching implications. Maybe if I had known this sooner I would have made different decisions, but then no choice is without consequence. That said, I love who I am, (I am still a WIP however) and I love the path I am on.

Some days don’t have enough hours……..and other days well…….they just can’t end.Paul said in Philippians 4 v 11-13 that he knows how to be when there is plenty and he also knows how to be when in need. Who among us doesn’t know what boredom, monotony, drudgery and a whole lot of times on our hands mean (and we may not been imprisoned). I hope we also know what it is to not have enough time to ‘scratch your head’. Which do I prefer? Do I have to choose? One thing I can say for sure, and its that we need both…….as much as we need day and night………

Sometimes I feel full of faith……and then the next minute I can’t define faith.¬†I think faith looks a lot like courage and patience, humility and obedience and love at any given time. I like to think too that peace in the storm, creates a lot of faith……….and that faith is definitely not hope. Faith is about now, hope is futuristic. So does that mean that faith is sight?? Not quite……Look at Hebrews 11 v 1……and lets reflect on those bible heroes in that same chapter.

Some days I just want to talk and talk and talk……….other days I want solitary confinement.

Some days I am happy to be here…………………other days I just want to go home.

Some days I want my mother…………………..other days I am really glad to be an adult.¬†