Goodbye Cheese – I will miss you

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I am finally saying goodbye to cheese. The thing is I love cheese. I love the taste, smell, and feel of cheese. I love it on pizza, eggs, mac and cheese, and cheesy pastas.  Oh hell, I love cheese but my allergies and sinuses don’t.

For the past year, whenever I eat cheese, I’ve have not so good reactions. It use to be it would just make my sinuses drain or clog. Then it turned into a itchy throat and a cough. Now, I throw up for days and have so much sinus pressure from the mucus I can barely stand to sit up. Last week I had pizza and later that night I was throwing up so much even after I finished my stomach was still contracting (It was like morning sickness all over again). My daughter came running in the bathing asking did I need to go to the doctor. Honestly, it felt like I did, but me being stubborn, I didn’t. Seeing the look on her face, and the pain in my stomach, let me know it was time to give up cheese. Also, since I already have year round allergies, from nature trying to kill me,  and have to take allergy meds everyday, I don’t to have to keep dealing with this too.

I know there are vegan options and I would love to find a good one without spending a lot of money going through the bad ones. So if anyone has any suggestions on vegan options, please feel free to leave them in the comments.

Why Can’t I Just Start a New Book

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Since I’ve been out of work my anxiety has been in overload and my motivation has been stuck in park. Usually I write poetry or blog posts, or take pics to motivate me. My dream is to be a travel photographer and blogger. Even though I have turned my life upside down and went all out to make my dreams come true, nothing has materialized.

One of the things that helps take my mind off the world is reading. In the last two months, I’ve read over 30 books. I usually average about 3 to 5 books a week. One thing I’ve noticed is my taste in books have changed. I usually go for romance novels but that hasn’t been satisfying me, so I switched to fantasy and mystery. Mostly books on angels and demons or assassins. When I tell you this has opened up a whole new way of enjoying books for me, man…let me tell ya. Now, I watch a lot of movies and tv shows on the subjects that’s why I gravitate to romance with books. But, reading the books allow me to immerse myself in the world and get more enjoyment out of it.

I know you are wondering where I am going with this and I’m about to tell you. I asked myself, why can’t I treat my life like a book? Why can’t I treat my interests like the books I read? Maybe I’m too focused on the things I’ve always liked and gravitated towards. Maybe it’s time to pick a new interest (book) and see where it takes me. Or just, look at a different genre, like romance with assassins…lol. Yea, I know it may sound crazy, but you know what I’m getting at. Photography will always be my number one love, but maybe I need to explore something else besides nature photography. Maybe it’s time to try a new book. OR, just maybe I’ll start writing the fantasy book I’ve been reading in my head.

Is it time for you to start a new book? Tell me about it.

 

Meet My Friend – Anxiety

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I’ve known anxiety for over half my life. We first meet in high school. At first it wasn’t so bad. She would show up every now and then and only hang for a couple of minutes. I would have little flutters when she showed up during important events (important for a teenager..lol) and as quickly as she came, she would leave. As time went on, she started hanging around longer and longer. Our interactions changed from flutters, to sweaty palms, to mini asthma attacks, crying attacks, and constant overthinking.

I’ve tried to break the bond with anxiety many times. We’ve gone months without interaction and at times years. The last couple of years we’ve really been hanging out a lot. I try to end things but she just keeps coming back. You know like the pesky little gnat that won’t stop flying around your ear. At times I’ve let her control me to the point I missed out on taking changes on things I really wanted to do. My constant overthinking had me over analyzing every situation to the point I would talk myself out of having fun, receiving and receiving love, and following my dreams.

As I’ve gotten older and placed more importance on self-love and balance, I’ve learned to handle her a lot better. I don’t let control my emotions or thoughts to the point I become paralyzed with fear. My attacks have become less frequent and my over thinking is getting better. Being out in nature has really helped with finding balance and identifying the things that contribute to anxiety attacks. I also found acknowledging and expressing my feelings during or after the attacks helps with the emotional stress.

Lately, our bond has not been as strong. I’m not saying we have completely ended our relationship, but I’ve learned how to manage and release the control she’s had over me for so many years. So, while she doesn’t visit me as frequently as she used to, I know she’s still around and now I’m more prepared to handle her visits.

Do any of you have an anxiety, and if so, how do you handle it?

 

 

 

I Welcome Advice from People without Kids!

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I had a kid later in life, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t around kids. I have nieces and nephews, god kids, and tons of little cousins. There’s literally a kid born in our family every couple of months. For some reason, even when I’m out in public, kids seem to be drawn to me and tell me just about everything. One thing I learned, being surrounded by kids, is if they trust you, they will open up to you. They will tell you about their fears, dreams, and bodily functions. Most of the time, all they want is someone to listen, give them some time, and pay just a little attention to them.

I am an observer by nature. I’m that person who sits back and watches what’s not being said. I watch for clues or gestures. When someone is talking to me, I listen to what they are not saying. I listen to their body language. This has helped me be a great aunt, cousin, and godmother. My young family members felt comfortable coming to me, even though I had no kids of my own. They said I made them feel safe and not judged. That meant so much to me. Even their parents would come to me with concerns about their kids. Not because I was this wonderful parent, but because I was a great listener and observer. I was the person who see the things they didn’t see. I was the person with whom their kids shared their thoughts and they respected me for it. And, I was a kid, so I was a kid of understand how kids think.

As a parent, I don’t know everything about my child, and I never will. I will never say what my child will or won’t do, when they are not with me, because I know kids act differently when they are not with their parents. I know my child will not tell me everything and I will never completely know what is going on with them. This is why I welcome advice from non-parents who spend time with my kids. People who observe things I may miss, because I spend so much time with them, I may overlook small things.  Those small things, may turn out to be big things. I welcome the advice because they may say something that will help me be a better parent. Maybe they have some insight as to why my child may be acting or feeling a certain way. Maybe they struggled with the same thing as a child and have guidance that could help make my life easier.

It takes a village to raise a child and in that village there are childless people. Being childless does not make your opinion invalid. Being childless does not mean you can’t identify problems or issues that arise in children or families. Most childless people I know have parented a child in some way. I will never mark someone’s opinion as invalid because they have not had kids. With any information I am given, I take what I need and leave the rest. As a parent, it is my responsibility to do what is best for my child, and sometimes what is best is to listen to someone who may not be a parent.

 

 

 

 

Healing the Village and Community

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Our village is hurting. It’s crying out for help. We are experiencing grief, depression, anxiety, and hopelessness. This leads to isolation and lack of communication. The village used to be a place where people could come to get information, education, rights of passages, and love. Now, it offers no words of encouragement, wisdom, or support.

There was a time when we all came together to do what is best for the community, for its people. To help look after each other, to feed the hungry, and support the dreams of the youth. There was a time when kids could approach the elders and get words of wisdom, but now they offer words of dread. There was a time when the hungry could go to corner store or the neighborhood grandmother and be offered food and comforting words, now he is turned away with words filled with hurt and hate. We used to look out for each other, now we turn a blind eye to the destruction of the community. We stopped communicating and now we’re deaf to the screams for help.

For so long, we’ve convinced ourselves we’re immune to the diseases and illnesses of the outside world. We’ve falsely believed depression, anxiety, and mental illness didn’t live in our homes. People laughed at the child, who showed signs of mental illness, for acting a little different. Instead of offering help, we offered ridicule. We protected the uncle, who molested the family members- telling everyone he was just being friendly. We allowed him, and others like him, to shatter the innocence and joy of youth. Instead of giving them justice, we gave them indifference. Instead of giving the one with big dreams the tools and wisdom to reach those dreams, we gave him negativity and doubt while laughing at his aspirations.

We are failing our community because we are scared to admit we need help and to get help. We’re afraid to communicate for fear of judgement and ridicule. The world we live in shames us for admitting we need help, have struggles, and for being less than perfect. We’ve built a mirage that life is always about being bigger, better, faster, flashier, more, more, more… We’ve no longer appreciate the little things in life, the small comforts, and gestures of love and hope.

The village has tried, for so long, to hide its hurt and pain behind this illusion and now it’s rearing its ugly head with a vengeance. The village is no longer able to care for and love the youth, because we don’t know how to care for and love ourselves. Love, wisdom, fun, and fellowship are no longer valued in the community. The sad part is, we know help is there, we’re just scared to seek it. How can we heal if we can’t admit we need help? How can give the youth hope for the future, when we can’t admit and get help for the hopelessness of the present? In order to heal, the village must admit it is sick. In order to heal, we must raise our voices and ask for help. Until we are able to do this, we will continue to suffer in silence.

Don’t let the storms stop your growth

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For the last couple of days, we’ve had storms here.  I feel it is a reflection of what’s been going on in my world lately. I haven’t written, in a while, because of inner storms.  I’ve had my gloomy moments when my brain is cloudy and I didn’t want to get out of bed, my lightning moments when just little things set me off and I am quick to strike back, and my thunder moments when I let things stir inside creating a rumble but never fully letting it go.

Even my daughter noticed the changes.  She tells me Mommy are you grumpy or Mommy don’t be grumpy.  One time I raised my voice and she said Mommy you yelled at me.  It wasn’t a yell, but from her perspective, it was  louder than I usually talk.

We all have storms in our life.  Some are self-created and some come from external forces.  Sometimes, these storms can catch up by surprise and turn our whole world upside down and cause us to stop and reflect on what’s really happening in our life. Sometimes, we see the storm coming but just can’t stop it.  Maybe we don’t need to stop it.  Maybe it’s coming as part of growth.  Yes, it may cause floods of tears or damage to our existing structure, but like all storms, it will pass.  Storms are a necessary part of life and sometimes they force us to make changes we don’t want to make.  But remember, a new day will come, the sun will shine again, we will adapt to our new circumstances, we will survive, and grow stronger.

 

The Dominican Republic No One Wants To Talk About

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“How was your trip to the DR,” is the question I keep getting from family and friends.  Do I tell them what they want to hear or do I tell them what I really experienced?

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit the Dominican Republic, for a retreat.  The host home, where I stayed, was beautiful.  The architecture and landscaping were amazing.  The view was breathtaking. After a couple of days of being housebound, our group decided to go to the beach, which was over an hour away.  Riding through the streets and outskirts of the city was a real eye opener and reality check.

Back story – Before I left, my co-worker and I were discussing my trip.  He is Haitian and warned me about the treatment of Haitians and darker skinned people in the DR. He also told me of how unsafe it was for women to be there.  I knew of the conflict between the Haitians and Dominicans, but I did not know it exactly how serious it really is. 

While in the city, you can’t help but notice the lack of people with darker skin.  When you did see them, they were poorly looking, standing on the corner trying to sell fruits, vegetables, or anything to make money.  As we traveled through the countryside, that’s where you saw the darker skin people.  The villages were so remote and the houses were shacks, dilapidated buildings, and huts.  I saw children walking barefoot through garbage filled yards, playing in unsafe places.  Hiding in the corner of the doorway, you saw the elderly with the look of despair on their faces.  But, it was not just the elderly who had this look, it was the young also.  My heart broke for them them.

I cannot lie, the beaches are beautiful, the tropical drinks are damn good, and the weather was amazing. Even when it rained it was relaxing and calming.  That is one expect from one of the Caribbean’s perfect vacation spots.  The brochures and movies would have you believe that it is the most welcoming and safest place on earth.  If you are on a resort, that may be true, but outside the resort is another world.

One of the ladies, in the group, was Haitian and while on the beach, men kept approaching her and asking where she was from, and not in a friendly tone.  It got to the point where she was actually scared to go to the bathroom.  At one point she almost said Haiti, but she caught herself. I and a couple of the ladies, in our group, were actually scared for her safety.

If you’ve been keeping up with world news, you know that Dominicans do not want Haitians in their country. Thousands of Haitians, born in Dominican Republic have been sent back to Haiti, killed, or denied basic rights, such as schooling, work, and healthcare.  Many Haitians have also been killed or disappeared.  It’s not just the treatment of Haitians, but the treatment and separation of darker skin Dominicans is also apparent.  My family and friends were shocked to hear about the struggles of darker skin people and the treatment of visitors, Haitians, and women, in the DR.

My trip and experience in the DR was mine and mine alone.  I can’t speak for anyone but myself.  I did enjoy my time in the DR but I also have a very different view of the country from what I’ve been feed from the media and brochures.