“So what if it’s messy?”

One of my favorite scientists, Neil de Grasse Tyson was talking recently about how adults tend to stifle the creativity and innovation in their children. He was relating the story of a mother and her kid walking in the rain. The kid was dressed to the nines in raincoat and galoshes. Neil was observing them from a distance, hoping the mother would let the child splash in a puddle. But she didn’t. According to Neil, “In that moment, a bit of curiosity was extinguished. ” This statement has stuck with me. How many of us are guilty of extinguishing curiosity just like that mom? If we see curiosity as the foundation of creativity, stifling it is doing a disservice to our children. Sadly, not just parents, but established institutions like schools are doing more to extinguish creativity than promote it.

Neil has also asserted that children are “natural-born scientists”. I couldn’t agree more. Recently, I posted a pic in a mom’s forum showing how messy my kids had one room of the house. Comments ranged from “I can relate” to judgey diatribes like “train your kids better” and competitive jabs like “my kids would never do that.”

But the comment that stood out the most for me was one where another mom said she was seeing “happy kids and a loving home”. Yet another sweet soul chimed, “Enjoy them while they are young.” That was a lightbulb moment for me. It made me realize how much undue importance we sometimes assign to having a neat house. There is creativity in chaos.

I have always been messy myself but over the years I have stifled it somewhat because I got the impression that “being organized is better”. Now I seem to be on the brink of developing self-imposed OCD because I cannot stand messy surroundings. However, most days, I’m too exhausted to care. Such was the day captured in the snapshot I posted in the mom’s group. Some truly OCD moms may have been appalled but I think I’m over that. Honestly, you will not be able to survive as a parent with OCD: some thing’s gotta give. I let my kids get as messy as they want but they’ve got to learn to be a bit more organized too. Their response is usually, “Aww mom, why we gotta pack away when we gonna be playing with the same toys tomorrow?” I tell you, these kids have me whipped.

But they’re forcing me to shift priorities. After all, if you look at nature, nothing is really perfectly organized. There is mess, chaos, irregularities everywhere. This is the root of creation itself. There is order in disorder and vice versa. Leaves will fall how they will and mess up your yard. Mountain edges will be uneven and of varying heights. People, too, will be different. As the French say, Vive la différence! So what if it’s messy? Gotta deal.

Orgasm during labour

The other day I discovered a phenomenon known as orgasm during labour, also known as “orgasmic birth”. I have posted some links below this article for you to read more.  I felt kind of sad after reading about it actually because I wish I had experienced it. I felt cheated and robbed and wondered why I wasn’t made aware of this before. But would it have made a difference? I think the fear of childbirth is so ingrained in our psyches mainly due to those horrible Hollywood portrayals we see, that we grow to fear it rather than welcome it. Plus there is that embedded fear of the unknown. But if some woman had come up to me and said, “Hey, Vanessa. Did you know that childbirth could be intensely pleasurable and you could even achieve orgasm?” I would have listened in rapt attention. Why don’t we know this?  Why aren’t more women experiencing it? That’s why I’m determined to get the word out.

Another article I read referred to it as the medical community’s “dirty little secret”. Seriously? Why should experiencing an orgasm during labour be considered “dirty”? If you ask me, it’s a well-deserved reward after 9 months of pregnancy.

Becoming a mother is a wondrous event, yet for some it is viewed more as a punishment. Perhaps this is because the sex which led to conception in the first place is seen as “dirty”. I think this is where the problem starts. As long as life is created, how can that be “dirty”? It speaks to an inherent shame and self-disgust some of us may have with ourselves but of which we may not even be aware. This spawns unwarranted criticism and judgement not only of others but of oneself. Bitter people view the pregnant woman as “fat” or “disgusting”. Yet for me, there is nothing more beautiful than a pregnant woman. It’s a different kind of sexy, like a mother-goddess personification. Yet, there is no shortage of critics. I have even heard women opting for C-sections because they don’t want to get their “vagina stretched out”. Yet, these assertions are absurd as reality will show. Here is where I will share a bit of personal information in the name of education. The female body is designed for childbirth and afterwards, the vagina returns to its normal elasticity, which some women like me, find to be even tauter than before. Apart from pushing the baby out, the contractions of labour function like really intense Kegels that helped to maintain muscle tone after delivery, so there is no question of remaining “stretched out” no matter how many times you deliver (well, in my case, I only had 2, the 2nd was an emergency C-section). But to think that childbirth permanently damages the vagina in some way is just ignorance and absurd nonsense from those who don’t know any better. If it’s one part of the female body that can take a thrashing, it’s the vagina. In fact, I support the assertion that we should be asking if someone has “got vagina” rather than “balls”: have you seen how fragile testicles are compared to lady bits? But I digress….  There is absolutely no reason for a woman not to return to normal after childbirth, if there were, we might have fewer humans on earth.

Females are actually told to wait at least 6 weeks after vaginal birth to have sex again, but I was impatient and within 2 weeks of my first delivery, I was back at it and my orgasms were actually more intense than ever. Now that’s what I call a full recovery. So I had a very good experience with regards to “bouncing back” sexually. Anyhow, during delivery, I think I came close to experiencing orgasm. After all, the child is pressing on all the same parts you use during sex and releasing a flood of oxytocin to your brain which is the same hormone released during conception. In fact, the day after delivery, I became aware of the extreme sensitivity of my inner clitoral area whenever I had to take a leak. It was like somebody had taken a knife and made a straight cut right down the center of my inner clitoral path, just like you might carve a piece of filet mignon, let’s say. Talk about pain! It was torture to pee, yet underlying the pain was this feeling you get when you have had a thwarted climax. It was like you were supposed to come, but didn’t and like a big orgasm was just trapped there, waiting. It was FRUSTRATING, to say the least. I’m sure you know the feeling…

However, when you have a bunch of nurses barking orders and confining you to one position only during delivery, it is hard to think of the joy of the experience. Surely, it was painful, like really really heavy menstrual cramps. That was not good. In fact, I passed out a few times. But truth be told, even though I may have had what it is considered a “normal” vaginal delivery, it was not natural in any way. My water was broken artificially, I was injected with an epidural and God knows what other drugs those nurses pumped into my system to get labour going because I was not even fully conscious to experience my first delivery.  My labour also lasted 15 hours and I was exhausted and not feeling in control, like I had hoped.

This is why I feel that in order for women to experience orgasm during labour there has to be a radical shift in the way medical personnel conduct deliveries. In fact, right now, I think it might only be possible if the woman opts for a home-birth or hires a traditional midwife or doula to assist with the birthing experience. I remember that this is what I had initially wanted, a water-delivery to be precise, where you sit in a tub filled with warm water to give birth. I think this would have helped a lot. I even checked out a local “progressive” birthing centre called “Mamatoto”. However, they were not covered by insurance and as it was my first birth, I was warned that there would be risks and it would be better if I checked into a formal hospital. So, the fear-mongering started early.

I think that women are subliminally and actively trained to view childbirth as this negative, awful experience and this is where the problem starts. That’s not how it’s supposed to be. Women have given birth successfully for centuries, before hospitals were invented. The female body was designed for this. Any complications during pregnancy could be traced back to poor diet, illness or lack of maternal care. But I see no reason for a normal, healthy female not to be able to achieve a pleasurable birth. Yet, hospitals seem determined to make it a stressful time. They rush the process and are more focused on “getting the baby out” rather than allowing the mother to savour this precious experience. I have even read how the natural sweet-scented coating called “vernix” that covers the baby after birth is unceremoniously wiped away by hospital personnel. This heavenly cream acts as a moisturizer and protects the baby from pathogens in the few days after birth, yet some view it as “scornful”, which it is anything but. So much ignorance abounds, and don’t get me started on the placenta…

We need to get back to the traditional methods of child delivery. Allow the woman to stand, squat, soak in a tub, be mistress of that moment, as she should be. Imagine many women abstain from childbirth because they fear the pain! That shouldn’t be. Pregnancy and childbirth is one of the most natural things for a female. Sure, it can be painful, but when has anything pleasurable not been preceded by pain? Instead of seeing the pain as a friend, we are taught to fear it.

This fear induces stress and it is scientific fact that whatever the mother is experiencing during pregnancy transfers to her baby and affects the developing brain of the fetus. I think that labor has been unnecessarily stressful for all of us, babies, mothers and fathers alike, and it has led me to believe that the undue stress of childhood could play a crucial role in the development of post-partum depression as well as maladapted personalities. Perhaps if birthing were seen more as an empowering time for the female, we would have happier, calmer babies who grow up into happier, healthier adults. It is no surprise then that depression is on the rise in modern times and I feel like if we go back to the source: childbirth and even conception, we may get some clues as to why personalities are turning out the way they are. But I’ll leave that story for another time.

To learn more, check out these links:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_P9KZrLYII&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR3BcsBodph1jAPxEbCQwMVZJ75nrtawDThN1r3HyjU8fGw6AYHA9y-6e_A

 

https://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/parenting/pregnancy/what-its-like-to-have-an-orgasmic-birth/news-story/919a50b98f4f167f2c59874943615357

 

https://www.madeformums.com/pregnancy/how-to-make-your-labour-and-birth-orgasmic/?fbclid=IwAR3yJygmk9T_jGiwZIMtfyJx6XliXCKWuI2P2QMct12ttMZDNkGudhgWlB8

 

What makes someone interesting?

What makes a person interesting? The other day I saw a Facebook meme which read “Too many attractive people, not enough interesting ones”. My reply was, “Well, if you can be both, better yet!” 🙂

Many of us casually throw around the term “interesting”, but do we stop to think about what it really means? Today in my “Organisational Behaviour” (Human Resource Management class), I got a better idea of what it means to be an interesting person.

We learnt that Self-Perception basically comprises 4 “Selves” (the Social Self, Self-enhancement, Self-verification and Self-evaluation) plus 3 C’s. For the purpose of my article, I will focus on the latter: Complexity, Consistency and Clarity.

Complexity, especially, could be said to be what adds the interesting or “wow factor” to a person’s personality. Complexity can be defined as “the degree to which we perceive that we have multiple selves”. For instance, someone could see themselves as a scientist but also as a humanitarian and an artist. When these “selves” are not related, they add “depth” or dimension to a person’s character.

This explains why we see certain people as “shallow” or lacking in substance if their roles are too simplistic. Which brings me to another point: is there any advantage to lacking in complexity or having a simple character? From my experience, I would say, yes, there definitely is.

In my case, I suffer from being too complex, which is also an issue related to clarity: I have too many interests and I don’t know which one(s) to choose: part of me loves being a teacher but I also want to be a fashion designer; another part of me wants to make movies; then, there’s the introverted part of me that wants to be a stay-at-home mum and write books but another part of me wants to be an entertainer and do stand-up comedy and karaoke. Then there’s the “me” that wants to be a UN ambassador who gets to speak 10 languages and save the world. I get exhausted just thinking about it! Even without these multiple selves that exist in my mind, there are actual roles I play in real life that are inescapable: I am a mother, wife, daughter, friend, student and teacher, to name a few.

I have always envied those who have clearly-defined roles and know exactly what they want out of life. Don’t get me wrong, I know exactly what I like doing, however, it is impractical to pursue such a vast array of interests and this often leaves me feeling incomplete and unfulfilled. It also results in inconsistency in my actions as well as self-concept. Indecision is torture. Which is why I think that simple people are happier and lead more rewarding lives, which reminds me of the saying “ignorance is bliss”.

However, the point was also made during my class that having “multiple selves” could serve as a buffer to disappointment and loss. Having “all our eggs in one basket”, so to speak, could have devastating consequences. Therefore, it is probably not a good idea to narrow our self-definition too rigidly. Life is about exploring possibilities, however, it is also essential to know when and how to set boundaries. Thus, complexity is desirable, to an extent….

By and large, women have been seen as more complex creatures than men. The very same complexity which acts as a “pull factor” could also be a strong “push factor” or turn-off. This is because complexity tends to go hand-in-hand with a high degree of neuroticism and disagreeableness. Gender biases reveal that women who display these traits are labelled as “psychotic: (think Harlequinn) whereas a similarly complex male might be deemed as desirable (think dark brooding heroes like Heathcliff, Mr. Rochester or Mr. Darcy…the examples abound).

Many jokes make fun of women’s notorious indecisiveness when it comes to choosing what to wear or to eat. By contrast, men are seen as far simpler creatures. They usually show up on time and go straight for what they want when shopping. While men may have a one-tracked mind, they suck at multi-tasking, seen as a strength in women. Interestingly, whereas this one-tracked mind may get men places at work, it is not very useful in the hectic chaos that is family life (which is probably why men tend to leave organisational behaviour/ management in the home to women.)

Most men are also fairly simplistic when it comes to the pursuit of physical pleasures, that is, they can separate sex from emotions, unlike women, who tend to tangle the two. This could explain why it’s possible for men to have affairs while still being in love with their wives. Perhaps they were lacking only in the physical department. However, if their wives could provide them with both sexual and intellectual interest, such men would be unlikely to stray. But does interest diminish over time, no matter how interesting a person is? Perhaps it is not that the person becomes less interesting but the interest of their partner wanes due to familiarity. Thus, it may be said that the simple newness of a relationship could render another person extremely interesting. Of course, this has a limited shelf life. To be interesting is one thing, but to keep and maintain interest is another thing entirely. Which could explain the obsessive “selfie culture” we see nowadays. We are a society of attention-seekers, not realizing that this very exposure renders us less interesting over time.

Thus, to conclude this interesting topic, on which I could go on and on, I will just post a friendly reminder: “Familiarity breeds contempt”. It may also breed closeness. But perhaps it is better to maintain an aura of mystery and a sense of independence, even when married. Just saying.

 

Why can’t we let bygones be bygones?

For the longest while, humans’ apparent inability to let go of the past has fascinated me. The picture above shows two of my favorite men. I really like them and admire them because of their hard work and determination over the years which has paid off in their eminent successes. Both Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mel Gibson (hereafter referred to as “Arnie” and “Mel”) were not born into wealth and indeed had a lot of challenges growing up (like most of us) which I won’t go into here. However, unlike most of us, they have managed to turn around their misfortunes into huge fortunes.

Yet, ask any other random person on the street what they think about them and you might be met with uncaged vitriol. Why? Because despite each having illustrious careers spanning over 4 decades, all that the public seems to remember about Arnie and Mel is a single act of indiscretion on their part, one having to do with infidelity and the other with alcoholic rage (details of which I also won’t get into here either).

Mind you, these two men are celebrities, so is it that we think they are some kind of gods, immune to frailties like the rest of us? I have watched with deep consternation over the years as the public seems eager to pick apart the private lives of celebrities as though they’re thirsty for blood. What is this lynch mentality that pervades our modern “civilization”? Has it been etched into our DNA from savage days of yore when we witnessed public executions as depicted in “Braveheart” (one of Mel’s mega-hits)?

I am trying to understand why, as human beings, we cannot allow other people to just be human beings? What is this desire to taint the successes of a person and to revel in their misery? As Shakespeare famously wrote, “The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones.

Such a sad reality. Why are we so eager to remember the one thing that went wrong and forget the millions of things that went right? Are we by nature, a pessimistic race, or has society made us so? Are we so accustomed to focusing on the negative that the positive seems insignificant? Or is it a matter of jealousy? Does our “survival instinct” dictate that we tear others apart to make ourselves look better? We’ve probably all heard by now that “Blowing out another’s candle won’t make yours shine any brighter” yet very few seem to believe that as evidenced by the dirty rumor-mongering that we witness daily and the “trolling” that’s rampant on social media websites.

Celluloid magazines make their livelihoods by selling scandals; a healthy relationship is “too boring”. Princess Diana was literally chased to death; the public mourned at her funeral yet they lapped up every juicy detail about the troubles in her marriage. In the end, she was really alone. When everyone seems to enjoy your dysfunctional relationship, to whom or what do you turn for comfort?

Some people deliberately create scandals to draw attention to themselves. Dysfunction becomes the norm. But should it? I have often wondered about the price of fame and I’ve concluded that if it comes with loss of my peace, I don’t want it. But we have a local saying here in Trinidad, “You cyah play mas and ‘fraid powder” which in this context basically means that, if you’re going to be seen and heard by the world, you’ll have to accept the consequences that come with it.

I still don’t feel like I want fame but I do feel like I have a message to deliver and I cannot do so if I remain hidden. But I’ve realized over the years that no matter how much good you do, there will always be people who try to pull you down. The trick is, to be stronger than that.

And maybe, if we, as a society can stand together collectively and stop the rumor mills by refusing to buy scandalous magazines and newspapers, maybe we could get somewhere because people’s entire reputations and lives are destroyed when things get blown out of proportion.

I always use 2 rules of thumb when deciding what I should repeat:

  1. Before you speak, THINK- is it True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary, Kind?
  2. If I didn’t see it with my own eyes and hear it with my own ears, I shouldn’t repeat it with my big mouth..

The above have helped me to keep silent on many occasions, after all, “Silence IS golden.

Many times, in fact, EVERY time, we don’t really know what’s going on in people’s personal lives or their hearts and minds. It’s always better to be kind because we never know what someone is going through. It helps to remember that they’re human, just like the rest of us. It helps to remember that we all make mistakes. And it also helps to remember that everyone deserves a second chance. After all, what would we like in their situation? That’s right. Forgiveness. We’d all like a chance to move on from the past. To start afresh. So why keep holding other people to their past? If they keep repeating the same mistakes, well, that’s another story.

The fact that I admire Arnie and Mel does not mean I condone their transgressions; it just means that I look past that and choose to admire all the other brilliant things that they’ve done instead. It is also clear that they have both been making sincere efforts to improve themselves as individuals (which we should all be doing too). Mel has been intoxicant-free for over a decade and I think that Arnie makes a fine “governator” and has the potential to do more good in the world. See, there’s hope for all of us.

So instead of seeing negatives, how about we focus on the positives for a change? Change starts with you. As Gandhi, messenger of peace said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Who knows?

I don’t judge anyone because who knows what I would have done

Had I grown up in a home where my father beat my mother everyday

And spent all his money on rum

Who knows whether I could have concentrated on books

With hunger in my belly and belt stains on my back

Who knows if I could have made it to school everyday

With five + siblings to care for and no sleep to go on

Who knows if I could have resisted the only man who said he loved me

But put another baby in my belly

Who knows if I could have stopped myself

From feeling so shameful and unworthy

Who knows if I could have resisted taking a hit

Just to make the pain go away

So when I see others on the streets begging for a scrap

Of attention or anything,

Just to be human

I don’t judge them because

Who knows?

If things were a little different

I could be them

Or I could be dead.

What every parent wants

This is the first in a series of posts about EMPATHY as I think that the lack thereof causes all of the problems in our lives. (You’ll understand as we go along).

The thought occurred to me the other day: all that any parent ever wants for their daughter is to see her end up with a guy who will treat her well. I imagine that nothing could bring a sense of relief than to see your child with the right partner. Conversely, nothing could bring more distress than to know your child is being mistreated or mishandled.

Parents have more control over their own sons than they do over other people’s sons, which is why parents of boys have a particularly important role to play in grooming them to be suitable partner. As the parent of 2 boys myself, it is a role I take especially seriously. Sure, nothing is wrong with being single too, but IN THE EVENT that they do find a partner, I’m putting all my energies into making sure they treat that future person the way that they should be treated.

I live in Trinidad and I must say that it is disheartening to see so many Trini men falling short in this regard (of being a suitable partner). Divorce or unhappy relationships seem to be more the norm than happy, stable ones. I posted a question on Fb recently, “How did you know your spouse was the one?” I have hundreds of contacts and only a handful replied.

Why? Seems that only a handful are happily married while the majority are either single or divorced. Is this an exception or the rule? A quick general survey of other people’s friends shows that single people are the norm these days. Which leads me to ponder: Are happy marriages going extinct?

What is a happy marriage anyway? Obviously, it is NOT a happily-ever-after fairytale scenario because in today’s real-world situations, nothing is problem-free. However, when a couple can work out their problems and not let it get in the way of their love and respect for one another, this is what I would define as “a happy relationship”. Of course, happiness is relative but certain universals apply. And the #1 quality I would recommend that a person look for in a future partner is true empathy or consideration. How do you know? Well, you must give the relationship time and it will reveal itself. This is why it is not a good idea to rush into a relationship or ignore red flags. In a recent study, it was found that how a person treats wait staff or those he feels is “beneath” him is a big sign of whether the relationship will work.

Perhaps the paucity of happy relationships is universal and not just localized to Trinidad. A common theme in most facebook posts is that single women everywhere are lamenting the dearth (not death, but that, too) of good men. Why should this be? I believe it’s because the parents of boys are falling short. Empathy is the greatest quality we should instil in our children: the idea of, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

A man who has empathy would not expect the kitchen to be his wife’s domain, but instead, would eagerly assist in any and every aspect of household duties. He would actively participate in co-parenting and will not leave all the multi-tasking, household decision-making, planning and events-management up to her. There will be no division among “male” and “female” tasks and he would never ever find excuse to raise his hand or his voice to her. He would understand that pornography is just fantasy and that real fulfiling relationships are not just physical but multidimensional and take more time, effort and care, but are totally worth it.

In other words, simple consideration is lacking in our men today. Men of overprotective mothers are being primed to be narcissists and have an “it’s all about me” mentality.

I recently read about the horrific case of Chris and Shanann Watts. To all appearances, they seemed like the perfect couple: he was handsome, she was pretty and they had two gorgeous young girls. Then, without warning, he wiped them all off the face of the earth. Yep. Everyone’s who’s heard about this case is still stunned. Psychologists said he showed strong signs of “narcisisstic personality disorder”, or the belief that he was entitled to do whatever he wanted to get whatever he wanted. He lived a lie for years, portraying the image of the perfect husband and father, reluctantly going along with his wife’s wishes in order to maintain that image. Then it all exploded. I am baffled. He cannot even explain himself properly. I am mortified: this could be anyone.

What can we do but pray for the safety of our children sometimes? So much is outside of our control. Men who abuse, who harass women, we should ask them: if they wouldn’t want someone to treat their own daughter like that, why would they do it to someone else’s daughter?

Maybe it’s too late for some, that’s why I say, START EARLY. Take the kids to temple, get them interested in charities. Let them know that the world does not revolve around them. I’m a firm believer of, “Spare the rod, spoil the child” philosophy so I use the figurative “rod” a LOT. However, balance is necessary too, because you don’t want your child to be afraid of you. Rather, you want them to feel free to confide in you and discuss just about anything. Bottled-up feelings leads to bottled-up aggression, which is never good, as we have seen.

Parenting is a tough job. It’s definitely not easy. I cannot stress this enough. But it’s definitely one of the most rewarding jobs, when done right. It is not something that should take second place to our 8-4 jobs. Parenting IS the PRIORITY once you become a parent. Why? Because you are moulding future generations and the fate of our planet depends on you. This is no exaggeration. Good luck.

FOR THE SUICIDAL

AN OPEN LETTER TO ANYONE CONTEMPLATING SUICIDE
If you really wanted to commit suicide, you’d do it. There are ample opportunities everyday to be by yourself… To be alone….To imbibe something…inhale something…inject something…To jump. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve counted the ways.
With human life being so fragile, it must be easier to die than to live. Yes, opportunities abound. Yet, you’re still here, aren’t you? The fact that you’re still alive is a testament of your WILL TO LIVE.
Now, take a moment and congratulate yourself on still being here. Yes, truly give yourself a pat on the back.
Savor the sensation of what it means to be ALIVE. While giving yourself a nice long pat, relish the experience of skin-on-skin contact… Feels nice, doesn’t it?
Death would mean that you would never know what it’s like to be TOUCHED again..Do you really want that? Take care of yourself, Love yourself, Touch yourself.. Nothing wrong with that.
Now, look around you…what do you SEE? Would you like being able to see everything yet not being able to DO anything about it? That’s what happens when you’re DEAD.
The five senses do more than just give us sensation…They remind us of what it feels like to be ALIVE. They’re useless after you’re dead.
Think about that for a moment.
Be mindful, be present, in the moment NOW. Think about all those who LOVE you. How do you think they would feel without you?
What about you? How would YOU feel without THEM? Would you like NEVER being able to see them, to feel them, to hear them, to speak to them, to touch them… ever again? How would you feel knowing you could never do anything to help them or to show them affection again? Take a moment, let that sink in a while…
From now on, take every opportunity to show how your loved ones how much they mean to you. Never let a day go by without showering appreciation and love, because guess what, they’re gone too soon, too.
I can’t imagine what could have brought you to this point. But I can understand how you feel. So tired, just tired of it all. You just want it all to end, don’t you? Or do you? Do you really want your life to end or do you just want the pain to end? What’s the difference? Fair question.
Sometimes the line between pain and life gets so blurred that we can’t tell the difference. But what if I told you ,you have all the control over what you feel and what you do? Yes, it’s all up to you. But hear me out, first, please.
Why haven’t you done it yet? No, you’re not a coward. In fact, it takes great STRENGTH to go on living in a world full of challenges, that seems to knock you down more than it lifts you up. But you’re still here aren’t you? Think deeply about the reason(s) WHY.
You are a being with PURPOSE. If you haven’t found it yet, don’t worry: you’ll find it. Purpose is never lost: it’s still there, just waiting for you to discover it; it’s true: it’s never too late.
A few years ago, you never dreamed you’d be where you are now, did you? Maybe you don’t want to be where you are. But hang on, things CHANGE. Time has proven that again and again, many times over. Nothing stays the same. Not even your pain. Give it time. Time is a great healer.
You may quit your job, break up with your significant other…But you could always get your job back or make back up with someone or find new love… Life is full of INFINITE possibilities… You can take a rest and wake up…But death.. Death is FINITE. You can’t take it back. Think about that for a moment.
Do you think that your journey is done? That you have nothing left to offer this world? The fact that you can still THINK is a blessing. Can you direct your thoughts to a higher purpose? Even if just for a moment…direct your thoughts to something other than dying.
Do you think that you were put here on earth to die? Yes, we must all die eventually but is it really your time yet? In the meantime, there are lots of things to do… ANYTHING, other than dying.
What else can you give? If nothing else, maybe you can radiate LOVE. Give love to every living being and see how that feels. Just give love and wait patiently until your time has come. Try it for a while and see.
If you want to die so much, at least you have something to look forward to. For death will surely come and when it does, you’d be ready to receive it with open arms..No?
In the meantime, live your most fulfilling life possible. And don’t forget to smile.. Smile as much as you can, whenever you can. Even if you don’t feel like smiling. Why?
Life is short, life is silly and it ends all too soon. Don’t rush it: Maybe you’ll see that it’s not so bad. The fact that you never know what’s going to happen next is enough to give life a fair chance. Stay alive, LIVE if only to see what happens next. That is enough.You are enough. I’ve said enough. May you know peace in this life and the next.
Thank you.

My Vegan Journey

My journey to becoming vegan is an interesting one. It’s like I just woke up one day and saw the light. I suddenly started really caring about why all this unnecessary killing of animals is taking place…Like I had been in a stupor all along.

This was quite recently (24/11/18) but I had been preparing for it for quite some time. Like drugs, it’s difficult to quit meat cold-turkey (no pun intended). Something about meat gets infiltrated into your system and it takes a while to get it out (no pun there either). It’s a mental process that begins with you first accepting the idea in your mind that, yes, despite the challenges, I AM GOING TO DO THIS.

My diet has never heavily consisted of meat anyway and Hindus have always naturally been vegetarian so it was something I’ve always strived for. I have also found that I have actually been able to save money by eschewing (not chewing lol) or not buying meat. However, veganism takes it one step further by omitting milk and eggs and I admit that this has been challenging. Why no milk and eggs? Because even more torture is involved for the poor animals (look it up.Just google “Erin Janus”..Her videos changed my life.) You could also google Dr. Melanie Joy from whom I first heard the term “carnism”.  Both these ladies make very interesting points that stuck with me:

#1. Why is it NOT ok to kill your pet but OK to kill other animals? I mean, is this like George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ where some animals are ‘more equal than others’? (Melanie Joy)

#2. How is it that we can feel compassion for a chicken or other animal trying to cross the road but then drive a few blocks down and order Chicken Mc nuggets? (Erin Janus)

#3. If we were really meant to eat animals, why is it so difficult for us to kill them with our bare hands and chow down on them raw the way other natural predators do? (another experimental video I saw).

Of course there are countless other reasons, but I won’t get into them here. Just watch the videos.

Anyhow, I am not here to morally lecture anyone as I believe that everyone has a choice. I’m just trying to share what my journey has been like. A significant day for me was the day of my first class party after going vegan. This was in my First-Aid class when the teacher was planning meals and I announced “I’m vegan”. It actually felt very strange to hear myself say that because I had never owned it before. Everyone looked at me strangely and I must have felt as strange as they felt.

Part of me was also feeling like they must be thinking I’m such a pain because I’m making such a fuss about what to eat. In the past, I would go along with whatever food was convenient for everyone else because I just didn’t want to make a fuss or stand out. I could kind of relate to the video below:

But now, owning my “veganship” felt like the thing to do. Like a recovering alcoholic, I think that giving up meat requires active acknowledgement of your new way of life. Sure, there may be challenges, but you must be prepared to stick with it. When you announce it, you are making a vow to yourself and others that is harder to break than if you keep it secret.

I am aware that some meat-eaters may find that vegetarians/ vegans are just being “difficult”. I’ve also read where they dislike us because we bring up a secret shame inside them. Whatever it is, I believe that we should love everyone, whether they are meat-eaters or vegans. I also believe that we should love all creatures, as we love ourselves.

I am aware that in times of dire need, no other product might be available but meat but I am also aware that this is modern times, and we have lots of choices on the shelves. Hell, I may be trying “tofurkey” next, thanks to Laura Clery (in the vid above).

When I first decided to go vegan, I found the lack of vegan food choices in the groceries to be offputting and really irritating. Tofu seems to be a scarce commodity in my country (Trinidad) for some reason; Pricesmart does not stock it at all, nor do they have rennet-free cheese.. Like, why is rennet still even used when you can make cheese without it and it tastes even better? Neither do they have eggless cakes.. I’m considering a boycott.

In other groceries, everything else that’s vegan is really pricey, like the vegan chicken, fish and sausages. But I think if you’re going to go vegan, why remind yourself of all those labels that include meat-sounding names? Just go vegan.

But seriously, how is it that meat is so plentiful while vegan meals are so hard to source?  It’s like we are subliminally brainwashed to want meat and to be desensitized to the violence and gore that accompanies meat-eating. I don’t understand how it could be more convenient to slit the throat of an animal, gut it and chop it up into a hundred tiny pieces than to simple pick a fruit or vegetable?

Yes, I saw the movie “Alive” (1993) and it haunts me to this day. But I also acknowledge that those guys in the Andes had no choice but to feast on the corpses of their fellowmen. Nobody should give them wrong for doing what is necessary to survive. But look around you…Unless you live in a cave or the Andes, do you really need meat in order to survive?

Why do we recoil in horror at scenes of cannibalism or Ed Gein skinning people alive and using them as leather when we do the same to animals every day? Someone else made a point that something is inherently wrong with the meat industry. Imagine if the tables were turned and animals chopped us up for dinner, milked our females to make cheese then melted that cheese made from breastmilk over meat patties made from human meat… That would be horrifying, wouldn’t it? Then why is it OK for us to do that to other living creatures? I really don’t know.

Plus butchers have always scared me instinctively: if you could stand up and butcher animals all day without batting an eyelid, I don’t think I’d feel too safe around you if you had a knife or chopper in your hand. But it’s not only butchers doing it, I’ve seen ordinary housewives buying whole hog heads, chopping up animals, and just wiping the blood off their hands and faces like it was nothing. Like, horror thrillers have nothing on them. I used to eat meat before but could never bring myself to kill the animal or chop it up for myself. Anyhow, I guess we do what is necessary to survive.

However, in today’s world, I’ve come to the conclusion, that meat-eating is not necessary to survive (at least, not for me). As someone of East-Indian descent, I’ve also faced unique challenges since East-Indian diet heavily favors starches and oils; however, I’m looking to be vegan AND healthy too and I don’t like flour, soya and potatoes that much.

So I’ve been forced to get even more creative in the kitchen but it hasn’t been that hard.  (I’ll be sharing some recipes soon). And I’ve noticed something even better: due to all the healthy fibres found in vegan food, I feel full, yet somehow lighter and even more energetic than before. Can I keep it up? Only time will tell. But this has been my journey thus far and I’m glad to share it with you. Do share also if you have had similar experiences, any tips, etc. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

 

 

 

Why we need others, Part 2.

If you do something special and no one notices, does it still feel special?

By my own admission, I’m somewhat of a loner, preferring lots of alone time to meeting others. While I’m perfectly capable of talking and sustaining a conversation for hours, I prefer lots of self-talk. No, I’m not crazy and I don’t talk to myself aloud (at least, not all the time!) LOL.

I guess I’m also very laidback and low-key. For a woman, I’m very weird and tend to forget a lot of things, like dates and accomplishments. Reviewing social media has made me realize that there’s a lot of things I’ve never highlighted about myself or realized were that important.

I graduated with a B.A,  First Class Honours in English and French (in 2001) before I joined Facebook (in 2007); I’m not even sure if Fb was around then but if it was, I might have posted about it and gotten lots of likes and probably felt even better about it. But while I was proud, this was a relatively quiet moment without a lot of fanfare except for my university graduation ceremony, which came and went like just any other day in my life.

My point is, I’ve never really made such a big deal about anything in my life and now, after having spent some time on Fb, it BOTHERS me. It has me questioning things like, is something wrong with me? Am I guilty of taking things for granted? Should I be showing more appreciation not just to others but also to myself?

 

Recently, I read a post where a teacher was marking 15 years of service. It made me realize that last year (2017) made it 16 years since I’ve been in the teaching service as a secondary school teacher but it never occurred to me that I should celebrate a teaching anniversary every year or make that into a special experience. To me, it was just like I was passing time. It was a very stressful period of my life and I was like I was so focused on surviving that I forgot to enjoy the experience. To compound matters, I didn’t come from a family who was keen on any celebrations and neither was my husband.

Now I’m thinking, we should really treat every day and every moment as a celebration. But at the same time, we should not seek attention from others to validate how important or special that experience is. As I type this, I realize that this is much easier said than done. By human nature, we are attention-seekers. Facebook strives on this basic fact of human psychology and this is why it’s so successful. Experts even agree that the instant gratification gained from likes on Fb is comparable to a “hit” by drugs. Indeed, it is highly addictive. So what if no one noticed all the special things we did, would it matter or would it feel pointless?

At heart, we are inclined to share everything about ourselves with others. We seek approval and this is natural. But sometimes, it gets out of hand. When we go to the gym, do we really need to show off a picture of our body on Instagram or other social media in order to feel gratified or can we feel happy in ourselves just knowing that we are fit?

I think those who don’t care whether others notice what they look like are rather in the minority if non-existent. Indeed, activities like bodybuilding competitions and Carnival are centred around the idea that people are innate exhibitionists. We want others to notice us, especially if we look good. Is anything wrong with that? Perhaps, perhaps not. I suppose the answer would depend on the individual.

But if I were to express what I think, I’d say we need to re-evaluate our motivations for doing certain things. Because if we do it for others and not for ourselves, it will lead to ultimate disappointment.

But, we are social creatures and this is easier said than done. We seek out others to share experiences with; who likes going to a movie or party alone? Come on, be honest. If you’re honest, you’ll admit that the best experiences are shared experiences. Because as much as I like being alone, it’s better when I have someone who can relate to what I’ve been through and share in my pain, joy, sorrow, whatever.

While I like being alone, it’s also nice knowing you are not alone. I think though, maybe, at the end of the day, I’m scared of people. I’m scared of needing them too much and so I tend to push them away. I want to feel comfortable in my own skin and safe in the knowledge that I can make it on my own.

But that’s the most fearful question of all: can we really make it on our own? And if yes, how far will we get? Seems to me that without that extra boost, encouragement or support from others in our lives, we aren’t likely to get very far.

And that scares the bollocks out of me. Because I hate needing people. But I guess it’s unavoidable, isn’t it? After all, if I didn’t need others, I’d have no one to read this and honestly, that wouldn’t feel very special at all….

To Hustle or Not to Hustle?

The term “hustle” is thrown around rather loosely these days. But who or what is a hustler? Traditional definitions of the word held a negative connotation, such as a person who cons others out of money. Nowadays, the definition has morphed into something more positive, even desirable with countless memes proclaiming “Proud to be a Hustler”, among other things.

So, apparently, by modern standards, a hustler is someone who knows not only how to make a living but who takes it further and makes a shitload of money. More conservative definitions see a hustler as someone who is just able to endure the daily grind and traffic jam to and from work and survives all the rushing around or “hustle” necessitated by life.

Modern hustling apparently involves a fast-paced lifestyle punctuated by regular bouts of insomnia because our nerves are constantly on edge for the “next big thing”. Contentment may not be a word in the dictionary of a hustler but AMBITION is, in big bold letters.

For most of us nowadays, our lives are characterized by relentless drive and hustle followed by self-doubt because we never feel that our “good enough” is ever good enough especially when trying to keep up with the Joneses. While hustling can signify the positive traits necessary to survive in today’s world, it is not always a desirable quality because comparisons and competitiveness also go hand-in-hand with a hustling lifestyle. We rush around barely stopping to catch our breaths, then we wonder why our stress-levels are so high?

Perhaps if we stopped to re-evaluate our definition of “hustling”, we might be able to break the cycle. First of all, we need to determine, what we are hustling for, then why we are hustling and is it worth it? If money is your number one answer, then you will never be satisfied because there’s never enough of it. If we are hustling for fame and recognition, we are heading to disappointment because that never lasts; if we want to just help ourselves, that’s all well and good, but if we also want to help others, then perhaps that might be the greatest reason for hustling.

So, it all boils down to: what’s your motivation for the hustle? Is it to impress others or to impress yourself? And how many of us actually hustle for God?

While hustling may be inescapable, we might also ask ourselves do we need to hustle at all? Maybe if we slow down, we would actually be able to think outside the box and realize that there are so many other ways to live life other than following the crowd.

Every day when I encounter bumper-to-bumper traffic dropping my kids off to school, I can’t help but think that many of us are slaves to a system and don’t even realize it. We think we are being strong and independent by hustling when in reality, we are just following the dictates and rules set out by someone else/ society.

To me, the most successful hustlers don’t hustle at all. Paradoxical as it might seem, it’s true. People like Richard Branson and Oprah are super-successful but give off such a relaxing vibe. They are the kinds of people I don’t mind emulating not because of their enormous wealth (though that would be nice too) but because they have managed to build their own empire by standing out from the crowd. In my opinion, the true hustler does not work for anyone else but fixes his own schedule and lives life on his own terms. While everyone is stuck in traffic heading in one direction, the supreme hustler, the one I call “the master of life”, is heading in the next direction.

It takes a lot of guts and oomph to stand out from the crowd. It also involves following your heart and not allowing others to dictate what you do. Most of all, it involves enjoying what you do/ doing what you love so that your life does not feel like hustle at all and work is no longer work.

To me, hustling has always implied a certain degree of rushing, stress and panic. At the start of this new year 2018, the thought hit me that I’ve been hustling my whole life and for what? Seems like since I was born, I’ve been in a constant state of anxiety and panic. Why? Because I’ve always been a perfectionist and high-achiever and having critical parents couple with the relentless schooling system does not make it any easier. So many demands and expectations are placed on your head not only by others, but self-imposed. If you’re not careful, you could find yourself burnt out before age 40 as I have felt.

When this realization hit me like a ton of bricks, I took a step back and said to myself, if I do not slow down, I might find myself with a host of diseases by the time I get to middle-age in my 50s. High blood pressure, obesity, stroke, etc. are all lifestyle diseases as a consequence of all this hustling.

It is not necessary to cut short our 8 hours of sleep per night; it is not necessary to work overtime; it is not necessary to miss out on all the activities we enjoy simply because we have “so much to do”. In my opinion, hustling does not have to be hustling. We can do relaxed hustling, can’t we? As oxymoronic as that sounds, it’s possible. I always find that I’m more productive after a good rest, any way.