My Boy!

It’s that time of the year when we string the lights, decorate the tree, bake cookies, drink too much eggnog and overeat; but before we do all of that I’d like to first acknowledge the human who gave my life added purpose. My life always had meaning but I got a swift kick in the behind to make sure I do it right 15 years ago today when my obstetrician handed me a 10 lb bundle and said, “Here he is. What’d you think?”

Honestly, my first thought wasn’t, “Oh my gosh, he’s so precious. I’m in love.” Instead, my very first thought was, “Who’s baby is this? This kid doesn’t look like me. Why is he so light?”

I quickly got over the lack of resemblance when I took a closer look at the nose. Yep, he was mine alright, that nose is unmistakable. Blake didn’t scream or cry when he first got here, instead, he just stared, he actually seemed to look around the room, observing his new surroundings. Fifteen years later and by golly he still does the same thing, I’m always in awe when I watch him carefully observe his surroundings instead of just walking right in.

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My next thoughts as I held him was “What do I do now? What I am I supposed to do with him now?” Blake seemed to read my mind as he nuzzled against my chest and started searching, he found his food supply, latched on and went to town, pulling and sucking and feeding hungrily. Damn, that shit hurt!

It’s been 15 years and Blake’s appetite has not changed. He still has a voracious, healthy appetite. The kid will eat anything.

It’s astounding how much Blake’s current persona mirrors my labor experience. I was scheduled to deliver the baby on December 4th, which I thought was kind of cool since it was rapper Jay-Z’s birthday; but Blake had other plans and arrived at 12:06 am the next day. He was not to be rushed and to this day, he still does things on his own terms and refuses to be rushed or cajoled into anything, which can be both good and bad.

My labor was fairly painless, I had a surge of pain for a few minutes, called for the epidural, which I had initially thought I wouldn’t want since I always saw myself as an Amazonian natural labor type of girl but when that indescribable pain ripped through me and I wasn’t dilated enough to push I quickly called for the epidural in order to get some kind of relief. Honestly, the only pain I felt during labor wasn’t more than about 15 minutes but it was the longest 15 minutes of my life.

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Similarly, raising Blake, luckily, has been rather painless. Yeah, there are the usual ups and downs that come with parenting but thankfully he has made it relatively easy for me. The disappointments and WTF moments have been few and far between and for that, I am eternally gratefully.

Does he make me repeat myself too much? Sure! One day I decided to count how many times I had to tell him to clean his room before he actually cleaned it and it turned out to be 8 times, all of 8 times before I had to threaten him with the wrath of God in order to get him moving.

I am in sheer disbelief at how lazy my teenager can be. Like, seriously, how hard can it be to put your clothes in the laundry basket when you take them off instead of tossing them on the floor; and how many times do I have to tell my child to make his bed before he leaves for school in the mornings and for God’s sake why won’t he hang his wet towel back in the bathroom after he has used it instead of throwing it on his unmade bed?

The kid is as loving as he is lazy so even though I bitch at him to clean up after himself I still get all the hugs and kisses and “I love you” that I can handle despite him being at that age where it isn’t considered cool to do so.

It has been a tumultuous, loving, exasperating, sweet, mind-boggling and beautiful 15 years of motherhood. Blake was sent here to get me out of my comfort zone, the one where everything I did I got it right and was so self-assured and confident about all my endeavors. Motherhood has had me second guessing every decision I have ever made. Am I doing it properly? Am I getting it right? Am I too strict or am I too lenient? Should I impose a weekend bedtime or allow him to stay up as late as he wants as long as he gets all his homework done? Should I have the password to his phone? Or should I allow him his privacy?

It’s crazy that after all these years together, I am still not sure if my parenting method is correct. I figured by the time I got to child #2, I would have had it all figured out but it is obvious that child # 2 is not happening. Growing up I always thought I was going to have a few kids of my own, at least 3 or 4, but as faith would have it that was not in the cards. However, every day I thank my lucky stars that since I only got one I am thankful it’s this one. I couldn’t have picked a more ideal kid that compliments my own personality.

Blake is not perfect but he’s perfect for me. Happy Birthday to the biggest reality check I’ve ever experienced. The kid keeps me on my toes in a such a crazy, weird yet fantastic way. Not only do I love him but I like him too.

Here’s to Big Blake! My 6′ 2 15-year-old who makes me oh so proud to be his Mom.

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Ask Me Anything – The Answers (Part 2)

I am a little late with my Reader Request Friday responses to the questions put forth by my treasured readers, two days late in fact, but I was assured by my dearest Heather over at https://www.hopelesslyheather.com that my readers would understand me not meeting my deadline, after all, it is Thanksgiving weekend.

Reader Request Friday was created by fellow blogger, the fascinating and intriguing https://www.bottomlesscoffee.007.com, who invited me to interact with my readers by encouraging them to ask me anything. I was happily overwhelmed with a lot of questions, which in the interest of brevity, I elected to answer in two parts, in case you missed part one of my answers you can find it at Ask Me Anything – The Answers (Part One)

Without further adieu, let’s get on with part two (Hey; that rhymed…Ha!).

The illustrious author, James, over at https://www.myplace3187.com asked the following:

Q 43. Do you have Netflix? Yep. Doesn’t everyone these days?

Q 44. Do you eat beef liver or pork liver? Beef liver, yes, and I quite enjoy it too.

Q 45. Do you ice skate?

About a decade ago I decided I wanted to learn how to ice skate so I actually paid for a round of ice skating lessons.

I paid for a half a dozen lessons and was in the middle of lesson #2 when I fell down so hard on the ice I couldn’t get back up. It took 3 instructors to help me back up. The pain across my lower back after that fall was so intense that I couldn’t even finish lesson # 2. It took me at least 2 weeks to properly heal and feel like myself again. The pain was so severe every time I walked I felt the fall all over again. That was it for me…I never went back to the lessons and I never got my money back either.

I quickly deleted “learning how to ice skate” off of my bucket list. Not everything is for everyone and I painfully learned that ice-skating wasn’t for this island girl. 😒

Q 46. What is the best icing for cakes?

There are so many but if I could only pick one I would say chocolate fudge icing. Yummy!

Q 47. What is the best place to get a pizza you like?

So many places especially here in NYC, which is known for having some of the best pizzas. My husband and I like to head over to Harry’s, in Battery Park, for their brick oven pizza.

Q 48. Would you love to have a vegetable garden on the roof of your building? Nope.

Q 49. What is your favorite car to drive around to show off?

I’m not much of a show-off. However, if I had to choose to drive around in a car to show off in it would be a flashy, red, 2 door sports car; something like a Ferrari, although I have never driven one myself. I would opt for one that looked like this

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My girl, River Girl, over at https://www.riversworld.live, a one of a kind travel blog I discovered here at WordPress had me thinking really hard about this one –

Q 50. You seem like a woman who has it all together. Strong, smart, independent. So what’s your deepest, darkest, irrational fear?

Firstly, River, thank you for such compliments – strong, smart and independent. I’d like to think I’m all that but we all have insecurities and unwarranted fears.

My biggest fear is that I won’t live much longer. This irrational fear surrounds dying before my son becomes an adult before I can live to see what he makes of himself before he gets married and has his own children. I would love to see the kind of woman he would choose to partner with for the rest of his life, I’d also like to see what kind of parent he would be but I’m not sure I’ll be around for it.

I am afraid of dying.

My friend (in real life), wedding photographer extraordinaire, Carmen at http://www.carmenrubiophotography.com, who I am surprised didn’t ask me something about the movies since we both share a love for the movies asked the following…

Q 51. Who (living or dead) would you like to meet and have a conversation with? And why?

I’d like to break bread with Oprah Winfrey and share some laugh out loud girl talk.

Everyone knows Oprah’s story, she came from nothing, born in poverty, she was dirt poor growing up. Talk about a self-made woman, she was fired from one of her first gigs in broadcasting and demoted yet she was able to come back from that to build a multi-million dollar production company and has been named Forbes first black multi-billionaire. Yes! Multi-billionaire, that is a billionaire (not millionaire) several times over.

It doesn’t matter how you feel about Ms. Winfrey one has to put that respect at the end of her name. She is one of the most influential people in the World. I don’t have enough words to express the sheer joy and excitement I would feel meeting and having an actual conversation with her. I bet I would leave a lasting impression too.😉

Q 52. What is your dream car?

Let’s go with the flashy, red Ferrari above. See Q & A 49.

Another real-life friend, Alicia, a couples’ therapist and published author, Alicia’s book, No More Fighting: The Relationship Book for Couples: 20 Minutes a Week to a Stronger Relationship, will be released on December 4th and can be pre-ordered on Amazon right now. You can also find more of Alicia’s words of wisdom and valuable tips for re-igniting the passion in your marriage at http://www.aliciamunoz.com.

Alicia asked the following question…

Q 53. How do you think writing your bestselling book is going to change the important relationships in your life, including your relationship with yourself?

Damn, Alicia! Could you think of a harder question…Hahaha.

Alicia, my darling, I am honored that you think I will one day write a bestseller. I love the way you believe in me, love the way you always encourage me. Let me see if I can do some justice to your question.

My relationship with myself probably won’t change much. Yes, I’d be more confident in my writing. I’d be encouraged to write more, tell more stories and I’d certainly feel more accomplished but I honestly feel like my humility and authenticity would remain the same. I like who I am and I am pretty sure I’ll remain the same. I would never be the self-acclaimed pompous author, I can’t stand those.

My relationship with my husband – I can only imagine how much greater this would be. Writing a bestseller means more disposable income for our family; which translates into more money to do whatever we want; more vacations, more adventures, even more, grand memories; our marriage would swell and expand with more happiness. It is said that money doesn’t buy happiness, but Greg and I would certainly like the chance to disprove this theory.

My relationship with my son – Like he needs another thing to live up to. Having a Mom, who is an attorney already puts a tremendous amount of pressure on him. Since the generation that follows is expected to outperform the current generation, my expectation of him would be even more than it already is. I am pretty sure me writing a bestseller would result in more tension between me and my teenager since my expectations of him would be even higher than they already are, especially regarding his academic performance.

My Mom, yes you read that correctly, my Mom who reads my blog weekly, asked the all-important question…

Q 54. If you could go back to your childhood and change anything, what would you change and why?

This has to be a trick question, right?! My childhood was perfect and I wouldn’t change anything.😁

Seriously though, my honest answer to that would be that your husband (my Dad) was way too strict, like seriously, there was no need for all that. I would make my Dad more lenient and a lot less rigid in his rearing and discipline. I am 100% sure we would have still turned out alright despite all the rules.

Q 55. My favorite Avon Lady, Heather, over at https://hopelesslyheather.com asked me what’s my favorite joke/funny story to tell.

Believe or not, I love lawyer jokes. One of my favorites goes something like this –

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Q 56. Laurie over at https://www.meditationsinmotion.com wanted to know what my favorite quote is…

Feel the fear and do it anyway!

While DM, the master of thought-provoking questions, at https://pointlessoverthinking.com asked the following –

Q 57. If you could sell years from your life with ten thousand dollars each, how many years would you sell and why?

Ha! Good one! I prefer living over money, I’m not inclined to sell any years off of my life. I figured once I’m alive and healthy I have the potential to make money.

Kimberley, my real life friend, asked the following –

Q 58. How did you find the courage and enthusiasm to continue dating as you moved closer to 40?

I met my current husband when I was 39 and I was a 42-year-old bride but it was so worth all the years of dating to finally come across my ideal and to have my feelings reciprocated; see My Guy.

Kimmie, I’m not sure if I’d call it “courage and enthusiasm”, I’m a relationship type of girl, I like being a part of a committed, monogamous relationship, more than I like being by myself so I was willing to do and give what it takes until I found someone I was compatible with. I knew deep down that “he” was out there and I never gave up on the hope of finding “him”.

The seemingly kind and sweet Charlie, our import from across the pond, over at https://charliecountryboy.com asked

Q 59. If your house was on fire what is the one item you would save?

Since you said item and not person, I guess I would grab my laptop, the very one I’m typing on right now.

While my new buddy and incredible long-distance runner PK Adams, who blogs over at https://www.eatthesky.com asked the following…

Q 60. How did you choose your career?

It’s more like my career chose me…All my life I was told that I argued like a lawyer, ever since I was a little girl. I guess I was contentious; I’m not anymore though 😉.

Wow…I’m up to question 60 and I’m still not done with all my questions yet. I guess there’ll be a part 3 to this Reader Request Fridays because this blog post is already way too long. I appreciate all the questions though and I promise to answer all of them, someday.

I’ll leave you with the colored version of my current WordPress profile picture, a photo I took last month while attending the Bruno Mars concert, which was one of the best concerts I have ever experienced. How come no one asked me to describe the best musician I have ever seen in concert? I would love to have answered that one. 😊

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Ask Me Anything – The Answers (Part One)

I am seated in a crowded airport waiting to get on my flight to JFK. I am tired and I am miserable. My flight has already been delayed more hours than I can count because of snow on the ground at home in New York. We were originally scheduled to leave at 6:15 pm, well it’s now 10:45 pm and we still have no idea when we will actually be departing. Not the most ideal situation for creativity and or writing but since I am committed to fulfilling my promise to participate in Reader Request Fridays I just pulled my laptop out of my carry-on and we shall now begin.

Thanks to all of you who took the time to ask me fun, interesting, provocative questions, some of the answers came to me quickly and easily, while others gave me food for thought. I was asked way more questions than I had anticipated, some of the questions even came from my Facebook friends and one Twitter follower, while others came from real life friends.

In the interest of brevity, I’ll be doing my Reader Request Friday responses in 2 parts, that is in 2 separate posts, I don’t want to make it too long and I especially don’t want to bore anyone so please note if you don’t see your question posted here this week, rest assured I’ll be responding to it in my next installment of Reader Request Fridays.

Without further adieu let’s get to the questions and, of course, my answers:

Reader Request Fridays was created by my fellow blogger the controversial https://bottomlesscoffee007.com, who provided me with the first set of questions to respond to:

Q1. I would like to hear the story of you growing up in the Islands.

I was born and raised in Jamaica. We were a typical middle-class family. We didn’t want for anything because my father worked hard and was able to more than adequately provide for his family. I am the eldest of my parents’ three children and I am the only girl.

My father, a former military man, was all about discipline and raised us in a very strict, rigid household with a thousand rules. My mother, on the other hand, was quite liberal in her parenting style (thankfully) so this kind of created a tolerable balance.

I think I might have been the toughest of the 3 children to raise since I was quite the opposite of everyone in my family. I was an extrovert growing up in a household of introverts. I always wanted to go out partying, socialize with the other kids next door, listen to all kinds of loud music with somewhat raunchy lyrics, namely Rock and Jamaican Dancehall, talk loudly and generally just hang out. My father didn’t think any of that behavior was very ladylike at all, so I just kind of kept in line so I wouldn’t get in trouble with him. Growing up I was very scared of my father. Truth be told I was still kind of scared of him even in my adult years, he was a no-nonsense kind of guy, who expected the best from his children, and I never wanted to disappoint him.

Q2. When and why did you move to New York and what was the transition like?

In the Summer of 1998, I was visiting New York and met a very, cool, confident guy that swept me off of my feet. We spent the entire summer hanging out and by the time I was ready to go back home to Law School I was in love. We did the long distance thing for a few years and every opportunity I got to come back to New York, during school breaks, he would send me an airline ticket. When I graduated Law School he encouraged me to move to New York to be with him so I did, much to my father’s displeasure. We later got married, had a child, then divorced.

Despite the divorce and circumstances that caused the divorce, I have no regrets about giving up my solid life in Jamaica and moving to NYC. I love living in New York and I enjoy being a mother, which I don’t think I would have been if not for my Ex, so zero regrets here.

The transition from Jamaica to New York was fairly easy, the only thing I had to get used to was the Winters; but I am so in love with Winter fashion; coats, knee-high boots, gloves, scarves etc., that not even the Winters bothered me much.

Q3. What do you miss about the Islands and how often do you go back there?

I miss my Mom, who still lives there. My Dad passed away a few years ago so in some strange way I miss him too.

I miss the food, the freshness of the food. The way everything tastes light and organic, as opposed to being heavily chemicalized or fertilized.

I miss the greenery, the lushness of the backdrop of the Blue Mountains as I drive through certain parts of the island.

I miss listening to our dialect every day. I also miss the very special way in which we (Jamaicans) create and invent new words all the time to perfectly fit any given situation and circumstance. Gosh, I love my people. 😂

I go home at least once a year. A trip I always look forward to.

Q4. Also, have you taught your children about the culture and traditions of the Islands?

Child – not children – just one. Yes, I most certainly have. My son has been going to Jamaica every year, sometimes twice a year, since he was only six months old. He will be 15, in a matter of weeks, and you can’t tell him he isn’t Jamaican himself. He understands the dialect and speaks it better than most American children born to Jamaican parents. He loves the food, the music and the dances, which he surprisingly does very well. My son has claimed Jamaica as his own and doesn’t like it when I refer to him as a “fareign pickney”. 😂

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Map of Jamaica with the flag’s colors.

The following questions came for the emphatic Nova at https://mynamaste365online.blog

Q5. Do you spread spaghetti sauce all on top of your noodle or mix it all together?

Mix it all together.

Q6. What was your favorite snack as a kid? When did you last have it?

Chippies Banana Chips, which, of course, is from Jamaica. However, I find it in New York from time to time. I recently had some.

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Q7. Do you have a monthly subscription box? If so, which?

Nope.

Q8. What’s your favorite perfume?

Good ole classic Chanel No. 5.

Q9. Top pet peeves.

i) People who spit in public.

ii) People who act like they know everything.

iii) Unsolicited advice.

iv) People who talk during a movie.

v) Long recorded messages that ask you to press a thousand different numbers before you can actually talk to a real live person.

Q10. Do you own a dishwasher?

Yes. Believe it or not, I hardly use it though, I like doing my dishes the old fashion way.

Q11. What would the warning label to your life say?

Combustible! She goes from 0 to 100 in under 60 seconds.

Q12. If you could meet anyone who would it be?

Oprah Winfrey.

Q13. What food can you absolutely not eat?

Frogs. I hear it’s a delicacy in some countries but I’ll pass.

Q14. If you weren’t in the profession you are in right now what would you choose to do for work?

A Writer, of course. It’s my dream to get paid for my writing.

Q15. If you could use one superpower for a day, which would it be?

Ha! I’d want to be invisible. Imagine the things you could find out if you were invisible. 👀

Q16. What allergies do you have?

Thankfully, none.

Q17. Do you read magazines?

I use to but in this day and age of the World Wide Web, I don’t really read print magazines anymore. I use to have subscriptions to O (The Oprah Magazine), Essence, Cosmopolitan, and Parenting Magazine.

Q18. What has been your hardest challenge this month?

A particular case I have. Well, it’s not even the case, it’s really the client that has been challenging.

Q19. Do you have a Thanksgiving tradition? If so, what?

Not really. We usually eat Thanksgiving Dinner with another family at their house. I rarely ever host Thanksgiving, I did it once and I don’t think I want to do it again.

Q20. What’s something you do without realizing it?

Raise my voice. I do it out of excitement, annoyance or anger and don’t even realize it until I’m asked, “Why are you yelling?”

Q21. What would be in your self-care kit? Lip-gloss, mint-flavored gum, movie tickets, a pair of dumbbells, a great book and my debit card.

While the fun and comedic Britchy over at https://bitchininthekitchen.org wanted to know the following:

Q22. What is your favorite color?

Red!!! I adore everything red. Red cars, red dresses, red sofas, red walls, red lipstick, red cell phone covers; I always go with red. All kinds of red; fire-engine red, apple red, brick red, wine red…Red! Red! Red!

Q23. If you could go to any play or musical what would it be?

Hands down Springsteen on Broadway; mezzanine tickets are going for at least $1,200 a piece. Of course, I can’t afford to go at those prices but oh how I wish I could.

I also have an interest in seeing Hamilton, another ridiculously priced Broadway play.

Q24. Who would you invite to a dinner party? Ahh, let’s see…

  1. Oprah Winfrey
  2. Chris Hemsworth
  3. Barack Obama
  4. Viola Davis
  5. Denzel Washington
  6. Usain Bolt
  7. Bruno Mars
  8. Stephen King
  9. Diego Maradona
  10. Sebastian Maniscalco
  11. Martin Scorsese
  12. Shabba Ranks
  13. Serena Williams, and
  14. Jerry Seinfeld.

Q25. Where would you like to vacation? I’d like to go to Egypt to see the pyramids.

Q26. Can you recommend any good books?

Of course! Here are some favorites:

  1. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  2. Defending Jacob by William Landay
  3. A Time to Kill by John Grisham
  4. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  5. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  6. The Stand by Stephen King
  7. 11/22/63 by Stephen King
  8. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseinei
  9. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  10. Black Boy by Richard Wright
  11. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  12. A House for Mr. Biswas by V.S. Naipaul

Q25. What pets do you have or would you like? I wasn’t blessed with a love for animals.

Q26. What types of music do you like?

I listen to just about anything but I do have an affinity for Rock, Reggae and Jamaican Dancehall. I even enjoy some of the rap music my son likes to listen to.

Q27. Did you enjoy school? If yes what subjects?

For the most part, I did. Favorite subject, hands down anything to do with English Langauge Arts; both English and English Literature were favorites of mine.

Q28. Were you ever a girl guide? Nope.

Q29. Do you like fun fairs? Yes, I like fairs. b) Favorite fair food? Cotton Candy.

Q30. Do you prefer wine or cocktails or soft drinks? I like red wine but I prefer a tangy tasting cocktail and if I opt for soda, it’s usually the diet version, like Coke Zero. My favorite drink is water though.

Q31. What would your favorite dinner be if you could pick anything?

Well, since I’m a carnivore I’d have to go with a porterhouse. Next up would be a nice roast chicken complete with stuffing.

Q32. Kiss, Kill, Marry; who gets what?

Kiss – Bruno Mars/ Kill – (I can’t think of anyone I want to see dead)/ Marry – Chris Hemsworth.

Q33. Is there anywhere in the US you’d like to live more than where you are now?

Nope! I love living in New York. I might opt to move around in different parts of New York but I really like it here. My favorite thing about New York is its diversity and inclusivity, all are welcome, everyone has a home here.

Q34. What TV shows do you like?

I like laugh out loud comedies. I’m a big fan of The Big Bang Theory, Black-ish, Modern Family and I always watch The Jeffersons re-runs.

I can also sit and watch endless hours of Law and Order.

Q35. What are your favorite clothes shops?

  1. Lord and Taylor
  2. Desigual
  3. Top Shop
  4. Zara
  5. Express

Q36. Who is your favorite historical man and woman?

Bob Marley and Rosa Parks.

Q37. Do you prefer to fly or drive?

Flying gets you there quicker but considering that I am still waiting around in this damn airport after 7 hours of checking-in for my flight, I am not feeling flying right now. 😟

Q38. Baking is important to me. If I was to bake for you, what cake would you like me to make most?

I’d probably go with anything chocolate, with chocolate fudge and chocolate chips.

20181116_0534371043823758107854812.jpg Me, right now, in the airport trying to get this Blog done.

I’ll just keep going until they call my flight – Up next we have questions from the illustrious Claudette over at https://writerofwordsetc.com

Q39. Favorite Bon Jovi song

The irony here is that my favorite Bon Jovi song wasn’t even done by Bon Jovi, the band, but by Jon Bon Jovi, as a soloist, when he recorded Blaze of Glory for the movie, Young Guns II.

My favorites from the band would be Bad Medicine and I’ll Be There for You.

Q41. Do you have a phobia or aversion to something?

I freak out around creepy, crawly, slithery things. The give me the heebie-jeebies.

Like you, Claudette, I went down the rabbit hole called the Internet and found out that my phobias have names – Ready for this? Entomophobia is the fear of one or more classes of insect while Ophidiophobia describes the abnormal fear of snakes, and herpetophobia relates to the fear of reptiles in general.

I suffer from all three.😒

Q40. Did you ever watch the Walking Dead and if yes do you have a favorite season or character? If no, why not?

So I got hip to the Walking Dead when it was already well on the way to becoming one of the most popular shows on television. Me being me tried to get in on the excitement and watched the first couple of episodes of Season One but I wasn’t feeling it. I thought the zombies looked fake and they weren’t scary, not that I like scary, but it just looked like a B-rated 90s Horror film to me. I couldn’t get into it.

Prior from over at https://priorhouse.blog wants to know…

Q41. What would you call your autobiography?

One word – Fierce!

Scherezade Ozwulo of https://edifyingthespiritblog.com wanted to know

Q42. What was the best piece of advice given to you by a loved one or someone you respect, that could be passed onto your child?

My grandmother always said, “Manners will get you everywhere!”

On that note, it’s 3 am and I am about to go board my flight home. This was a great way to pass my time in the airport. I’ll be back with Part 2, next Friday, maybe even sooner.

Thanks for reading!

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Sunshine Blogger Award

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It must be awards season since this past week I was nominated for not 1, not 2 but 3 different Blogger Awards. I am so psyched. I think it is an honor to be recognized by your peers; especially as a new Blogger, the recognition means a lot to me and, as such, I intend to respond to each and every one of the nominations. Therefore, I am apologizing in advance for inundating your WordPress Reader feed with my self-indulgent award posts responses.

First up is the Sunshine Blogger Award – I would like to thank the amazing and very spiritually aware https://mynamaste365online.blog (i.e. MoonChild Nova) for this nomination.

Here are the rules for this award:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link back to their blog so others can find them (see above).
  • Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 new questions.
  • Notify the nominees about it by commenting on one of their blog posts.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your post and/or your blog site.
  • Here are the 11 questions I was asked:
  1. What’s your biggest accomplishment of 2018 thus far?

Apart from amicably settling a nightmare case that has been going on since 2016 in the earlier part of this year, my greatest accomplishment would be starting and maintaining this Blog. It’s something I have wanted to do for a very long time but since I am such a procrastinator coupled with my very demanding career in addition to being crippled by my fears, BLOGGING FEARS, I just couldn’t get it going. The fact that I got this Blog going at all and have been able to stay committed to posting weekly is a very big deal for me and I am actually pretty darn proud of myself for doing it. I even took a Blog Writing course to help me get things going Racquel Writes!

It’s my dream to maintain my Blog, to keep it going and I’m hoping to find topics and stories worthy of my readers’ time to keep them coming back week after week.

2. When you have free time, what is your favorite thing to do?

Free time??!!! What is that?! 😁

If we are talking about my hobbies – I would say I always enjoy sitting in the quiet of my bedroom on my comfy little chair by the window and enjoying a good book. One of my 2018 New Year’s Resolutions was to read at least one book per month and I was doing very well with it, I even read 2 books in the month of March alone, but that entire commitment kind of went left when I started this Blog and I haven’t completed a book since July; but I vow to get back to it for the month of November and beyond. 😃

I also enjoy the movies, I try to get to the cinema at least once every other week (there is always something out that I want to see; yesterday alone I did a double feature with my son – so much fun) and of course I enjoy blogging/writing.

So yeah, that’s my “free time” go tos – Books, Movies and Writing – not necessarily in that order.

3. Who is one of your role models and why?

Here is a cliché – My parents are my role models.

My father was a self-made man, who came from nothing and was able to start and build a successful company. The admiration for my mother comes from her unwavering devotion to her husband and her children. She was not fortunate enough to be a housewife and worked outside of the house for 40 plus years until her retirement, but would always come home and cook a meal for her family. She kept a clean house, helped us with our homework (until we were old enough to get it done ourselves) and was always there to listen.

My parents were married for 45 years until the day my father took his last breath; another reason they’re my role models; because any adult in a relationship, marriage, or otherwise, knows that is no easy feat.

4. Do you know your personality type?

If by this you mean the Myers/Briggs personality type – Nope, never done the test.

5. When did you realize you really enjoy writing?

Might have been in elementary school when the teacher would tell us to write 3 paragraphs on a certain topic and I would take pleasure in writing an entire page or more.

6. Has anything you’ve written been published in a book or newspaper?

Yes, actually! While in high school I sent several pieces to the Gleaner, which was the local newspaper in Jamaica, where I was born and raised, and I was lucky enough to have a few pieces published. The first time I saw my name in print I was ecstatic. I was in the 9th grade.

7. Tell us three other talents you have.

Wow! “Talent” – I dunno. I’m good with people. Is that a talent?

I don’t have any talents. I’m not particularly great at anything. I can’t sing to save my life and I’m an average dancer. I’m not really good at any sports and I don’t play any instruments; so no talents here. That’s kinda sad, isn’t it?! 🤔

8. What’s your biggest inspiration?

Hmmm, let’s see…I have several sources of inspiration, whether it is people or things. However, I would say my “biggest” inspiration would come from love; love for my family. I am inspired to do more, be more and be the best version of me because of the love I have for my husband and my son. I just want to be great for them.

I am also inspired by great writing, music, wonderful friends and the random beauty I sometimes encounter out of the blue.

9. Have you recently made a choice you regret, if so, what was it?

I took a case I knew I shouldn’t. During the initial consultation with the prospective client, my intuition told me I would have a hard time with this client. His personality was a bit too “intense” for my liking. I took the case anyway because I felt I was up for the challenge but boy oh boy did I live to regret it.

10. If you could give one piece of advice to the teenage population, what would it be?

Be a kid! Enjoy it! Wallow in it. Sit back and chill and let your parents take care of you because the responsibilities of adulthood are coming and once it gets here there is no turning back.

One more thing – Wait to have sex! No need to chase it. It will always be there. You’ll have so much of it as an adult you’ll eventually get tired of it, even when it’s really good.

11. What’s your biggest pet peeve?

People who spit in public. I. Cannot. Stand. That!!!

Now, I’m supposed to nominate 11 other bloggers to participate, for the Sunshine Blogger Award. However, in the past, I have nominated other bloggers for other awards and have been met with the “I don’t do awards” sentiment, which is totally cool, to each his own. I have also nominated other bloggers who said they would participate but they just didn’t get to it. So how about this? If it is in your pleasure to participate in the Sunshine Blogger Awards; then go right ahead; please feel free to answer the questions above and tag me in your response post.

Thank you for reading!!!

BLOGGING FEARS

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Photos courtesy of Pexels

Earlier this year, I came across an article, a letter that had been penned by a young woman named Holly Butcher, who was dying of Cancer, she was only 27 years old. As I read what she wrote from her deathbed I was brought to tears by her message. This young lady obviously didn’t want to die, she hadn’t done all the things she wanted to do, she thought she had all the time in the World to pursue her goals and dreams, like most of us do, yet her time here on Earth was unexpectedly cut short.

We always think we have time, so much time, but who knows how much time any of us really have left.

At the time, when I came across Holly’s article, I had been toying with the idea of writing a weekly Blog. The more I thought about it the more I wanted to do it but I was afraid. I had so many fears about all kinds of things, some of which were justified; while others were downright silly and completely unwarranted; but then I thought about this dying girl and how she will never have the opportunity of doing anything she wanted to do ever again so I decided to do what one of my favorite quotes postulates – “Feel the fear and do it anyway.”

Fear of Oversharing

In this day and age, where everyone shares everything on social media; even the dark and very personal, I sometimes feel old school in thinking that not everyone needs to know everything about me. I am not fiercely private (not like my husband) but I don’t broadcast everything either.

One of the things I discovered in my research about blog writing is that as a blogger one has to have a niche, something to blog about that you’re actually good at and can give expert advice on. So we have our beauty bloggers, our fitness and health bloggers, our fashion bloggers, travel bloggers, lifestyle bloggers; a plethora of blogs are out there with something for everyone.

However, the only thing I consider myself an expert in is my work and myself. I thought damn I have some really interesting cases but I can never write about them for fear (there’s that word again) of trampling on the attorney/client confidentiality clause. So I was left with my only other area of expertise, which meant writing about myself, my life, my very own experiences and that’s where my fear of oversharing came into play.

One should always be authentic with one’s writing; but where does one draw the line between authenticity and telling too much? Let’s face it, some of my stories, despite being heartfelt, are downright embarrassing, for example, this one 5 Lessons I Learned from my Divorce. However, if a writer desires to remain authentic then he or she must speak (write) openly and honestly about all experiences despite the fear of the embarrassing overshare.

Fear of Being Trolled/Stalked

I once had a stalker. I said “once” because I sincerely hope that he is in the past. Believe it or not, this stalker came from my work website. He was never a client nor a potential client but he must have liked how I looked in my pictures or whatever it was that I had to say on my work website because he proceeded to send me weekly emails and leave daily (sometimes several) voice messages on my work phone. This freaked me out!!!

It started in May 2015. At first he would send one email weekly, then it grew into a few emails per week overtime it became a few emails per day. I never once wrote back because based on his emails the guy was a loony. So after months of unanswered emails, he started calling my work phone. I immediately blocked his number, but he still got my voicemail whenever he called so it gave him the opportunity to leave a message and he oftentimes did. He was unintelligible and rambled on and on about nothing or some old cases or problems that he had. He always left his phone number and asked me to call back. I never did. After a while, he must have realized his phone number was blocked because he then went back to his non-sensical emails.

He would take a break from the emailing and phone calls for a month or two then he would suddenly reappear, and start his incessant emailing and calling again. It was nervewracking.

The sporadic email stalking went on for 2 years, which was way too long; before I finally called my web-designer and told him about it. I had no idea my web guy could go in and see where the messages were coming from and block any future messages from coming through to my website email from him. When stalker guy realized he couldn’t email me anymore then he went back to calling. He even left a message alerting me to the fact that something was wrong with my website because he could no longer send me any emails. I kid you not!!!

Anyone remembers how John Lennon got died? He was killed by a crazy stalker who flew all the way from his home in Hawaii and waited outside John Lennon’s apartment building in New York City and shot the Beatles group member to death as he entered the building. The murderer, since then, has done a few interviews from his prison cell, where he gave no real reason for committing the murder more than he was influenced by the book, The Cather in the Rye.

During those 2 years of weird emails and voicemail messages from stalker guy, John Lennon’s story was prevalent in my thoughts. Obviously, I don’t have John Lennon’s fame and harming me will not bring anyone any kind of notoriety but people are certifiable crazy and you never know who is who.

The only thing that made me feel somewhat safe is my husband’s reassurance that he “wouldn’t let anything happen to me” (yeah, I know; but I believed him) and that based on the guy’s voicemail messages and emails he was “probably harmless” but I live in a world of ‘you never know’ so putting myself out there in the form of blogging is a major deal for me because ya know; you never know.

Fear of Not Being Read

Let’s face it, every writer wants to be read. What’s the point of writing if your words aren’t read by others. Unless, of course, the writer writes for therapeutic purposes only; but once the writer hits “publish” he/she wants his writing read.

Most writers want to know that their writing doesn’t suck, or at least I do. We all want to captivate our audience. I won’t speak for all Bloggers, but as for me, I want every word of my piece to be read, from beginning to end; the views are not enough, I want people to actually read what I write; and appreciation of my written words validate me and makes me want to continue to tell my stories.

The fear of not being read at all almost prevented me from ever starting my blog. What if no one cared to read what I had to say? What if people thought I had nothing interesting to say? What if I said it in such a way that I wasn’t able to excite curiosity or attention? What if I couldn’t evoke emotions from my readers? What if I really couldn’t write as well as I thought I could?

All of these fears almost crippled my attempts to start a Blog and almost prevented me from putting myself out there. The truth is, writing has always been my first love, above the practice of law and anything else I have ever attempted, writing is and will always be my first love. I have been writing since I was in high school, and even though I had stopped for a while because the responsibilities of life took over and I pursued other goals, I had never given up on my first true love.

I am sorry that Holly Butcher died but I am glad that the letter she wrote from her deathbed gave me enough inspiration to feel the fear and to do it anyway; to sit down at my laptop, punch those keys and gave me enough guts to hit “publish” afterward.

Thank you, Holly!

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Breaking the Friendship Rules

“Who is your best friend?” The question was directed at me.

“Er…ah…” I stumbled for a bit trying to answer the question, as I thought about it. “Well, I have a bunch of really good friends, I guess I have 5 best friends.”

“Five! How can anyone have five best friends?” she said incredulously. “There ought to be that one friend out of your five that you can tell your deepest, darkest secrets to…Who is that?”

What’s with the deepest, darkest criteria for a friendship anyway? Can’t we just connect with people without sharing the so-called “deepest, darkest”? And can’t that connection grow and still be an “honest to God”, real, true friendship without the deepest, darkest stuff? This line of interrogation was beginning to annoy me; I felt I was being forced to choose who I like the most and the truth is these 5 chicks, yeah I said chicks, are all special to me on different levels and for different reasons. Why is it that we are always forced to pick just one?

Longevity = True Friendships

Here’s the thing – I don’t want to be confined to any friendship rules. Like the one that says you have to know someone for x period of time before you can call that person your friend. Really? Nah! I don’t think so. I have people who I have just recently met, that I consider friends. Why do you have to be the kid from Elementary School, who I use to kick rocks with, or the girl from High School, who I use to gossip with or even the friends from College, who I use to party with for you to be considered a friend? Why can’t you just be someone I recently met that I share a really cool connection with? I don’t understand the longevity criteria requirement. I don’t have to know you inside out, nor do you have to know me inside out for us to connect on an “I really dig you” level because let’s face it how much do we really know the people we call our friends?

We Have to Have A lot in Common

You and I don’t have to have to share similar interests or like to go to the same places for us to be friends, we just need to have shared values. I have a really good friend, who is nothing like me. She is incredibly quiet and shy and super intellectual and may never have been to a real party in her life. She analyses everything and never just goes with the flow. Yep, she is the total opposite of me but she is my friend. Why? Because we have these really deep, interesting conversations. She admires me, as much as I admire her despite our differences; and in the short time since we met, we have learned so much from each other. That might be part of the reason we get along so well, because of our differences, we each bring something unfamiliar and new into the friendship. I am forever amazed by the way this girl mind works. We aren’t kindred spirits but there is still a connection.

Perfection

I’m still waiting on one of my 5 to return my phone call from two days ago. This friend is moody as hell, if she’s not in the mood to talk, which is often, she will not pick up her phone, doesn’t matter who is calling. She responds to text messages and calls back when she feels like it, or she may respond to your phone call with a text. (I have a rule that a phone call should be returned with a phone call and not a text, but this friend doesn’t care about my rules.) Yet, she is still one of my go-to 5, because I know if I really need her she is there. I might have to text her 911, but she’ll be there😀. She and I have history, she is fun, she is smart and I like her I-don’t-give-a-damn attitude, because you know I have a bit of that I-don’t-give-a-damn attitude myself. Our friends don’t have to be perfect for our friendships to be real nor do they have to conform to our idiosyncratic rules. My friends sometimes annoy me and I am 100% sure I annoy them. Friendships are not all rainbows and butterflies, sometimes your friends will behave less than perfect and as long as a weird situation doesn’t develop that leaves you wondering if that person is actually your true friend then their imperfections are perfectly okay.

Age Differences

Who says we can’t be friends if we weren’t born in the same decade? There is this notion that a real connection can’t be made if the person is not within your age group. False!

Last Summer, my son, who was then 13 years old announced that his new best friend was his summer employer, who is 20 years his senior. He really liked hanging out with her and looked forward to going to his Summer job every day simply because to his surprise “she is a geek” like him. He was intrigued by the fact that an adult could be into LEGO, video-games and Science experiments like he was. He had made a connection, a real one.

Similarly, one of my go-to 5 is 12 years my junior. It’s a real relaxed friendship, she is one of my favorite people, but she does have an old soul and I am young at heart so we get to meet somewhere in the middle as our friendship blossomed over the years and it couldn’t be more authentic.

Distance and Time

Distance and time have been known to create a void in many friendships, so much so that people believe the misconception that they are no longer “real friends” with someone they don’t talk to on a daily / weekly basis. That is another rule I don’t subscribe to. Not because our connections are few and far between doesn’t mean that our bond isn’t as tight as when we were hanging on a regular basis.

Thankfully, social media has made the World a much smaller place and has facilitated greater, sometimes even meaningful connections. However, we all have that one friend who is just not into social media. Conversations with that friend only take place once or twice a year on your respective birthdays; you’re not in on the day-to-day happenings of your friend’s life and vice versa but believe me when I tell you it doesn’t make the friendship any less than it used to be. Gone are the days when you both use to sit in your dorm room and watch “Sex and the City” and “The Sopranos” and have lengthy discussions about each show afterward. Those were really great times sprinkled with laugh out loud memories but when you both get the opportunity to connect you realize that what you built years ago still has a solid foundation and that bond is irreplaceable.

There are too many rules and guidelines surrounding the definition of a true friend and what friendships really means. It’s unfortunate that society has created a kind of hierarchy, if you will, of friends in an effort to get people to rank their relationships with each other, but the reality is that when you meet a friend you know, whether or not you’ve spent years or days getting to know them, instinctively you’ll know when you’ve made a worthwhile connection.

5 Reasons Why Online Dating Works

As I settled in on my couch for a night of binge watching “Dexter” on Showtime on Demand I realized this had become a regular Saturday night routine. When I left my first husband, I had a fantasy that I would be re-married within a year, 2 years tops, after all I was “a catch”, the ultimate woman. I was sexy, personable, good-looking, career driven with a successful law practice and I had my own money. Well, fast forward 6 years and I was still single, going through another very long period of celibacy, not by choice might I add.

It was the end of the first decade of the of the new millennium and online dating was all the rage. Everybody and their Mamas were on Match.com or e Harmony; but I still thought how pathetic do you have to be if you can’t meet and connect with someone in real life. I thought online dating were for ugly, weirdos so I refused for years to give it a try. However, loneliness makes us do some crazy things, so 7 years ago I did the craziest thing I thought I would ever do; turned off “Dexter” picked up my laptop and created an online dating profile. Today, I have been married for almost 3 years, and I am here to tell you that online dating works; yes, I met my husband online.

1. You Get a Variety

Here’s the thing, most of us, by the time we get to our mid-thirties, have developed several routines; we go the same gym, hang out in the same bars, go to the same church and essentially have the same friends. We rarely open up ourselves to anything new, let alone anyone new, so we keep seeing the same faces everywhere we go over and over and over again, therefore our chances of meeting someone new and different is zero to none.

Variety is the spice of life; with online dating there are so many potential suitors at our fingertips, the variety made me almost giddy with excitement. There were so many men to choose from, all with different backgrounds, different looks, different interests, different styles, different levels of education, and it was a pleasure to find out that most of them were in fact not ugly weirdos. The differences were pretty damn sexy; you could go from winking at a bad boy rocker with an arm sleeve tattoo to having an online conversation with an English professor all within 2 minutes. I was in heaven. Within a few days of creating my online dating profile I had scheduled a date with a guy I seemed to share several interests.

2. You Meet People You Wouldn’t Usually Meet

My husband is from New Jersey, and I would never have met him if I hadn’t tried online dating. I could count on one hand how many times I had been to Jersey prior to meeting my husband, Greg. Similarly, Greg’s trip into Brooklyn on the night we met, was one of only a handful he had ever done. In fact, he got lost while he was on his way to pick me up, our first date was before Google Maps became a thing.

Online dating works so well that Greg wasn’t my first success story. Even before I met and fell in love with Greg, there was Paul. I met Paul 3 weeks in after I first signed up for online dating. Paul lived only 2.2 miles away from where I did, less than a 10-minute drive, yet we never met prior to connecting online. We just didn’t move in the same circles and even though we had similar interests we had never ever bumped into each other before. Paul and I dated for a year and a half but alas we went our separate ways when our relationship got to an impasse. We broke up the first week of 2013 and that was the last time I saw him. Despite living only 2.2 miles away from each other Paul and I have never seen each other again; but for online dating we would never have met.

3. You’re in Control

Online dating gives you more control initially than dating in real life does. Take for example, you meet a seemingly cool guy or gal at the grocery store in the checkout line on a Saturday afternoon. The conversation is short and sweet, so you exchange numbers in the hope of continuing the conversation another time. During the very first phone call you make plans for a date. During that first date you realize that guy or gal is a freaking psychopath based on the crazy things he or she is spewing out of his or her mouth. You quickly end the date and escape with your life.

Now, had you met that same guy or gal online, chances are, during the very first several email exchanges you would have realized that he or she is a psychopath and you would have had the fantastic option of blocking that person from future communication with you and avoid wasting precious time on a date from Hell.

One of the beauties of online dating is that it gives you ample opportunity to weed out the crazies before you are seated in front of them sipping on red wine. I have had the sheer joy of using the “block” feature on a few occasions during my online dating experience and I couldn’t be more thankful. Dating tends to work a lot better when you’re in control of the situation.

4. You Meet Like-minded People

All online dating web-sites require that you fill out an application illustrating your hobbies, needs and desires before signing up, the application also asks that you be detailed about what you’re looking for in a partner, from height to weight and everything in between. As such you’re more likely to find the one or the one that works for right now since online dating applications demands such specificity.

Dating sites make it easy to find other like-minded individuals because it requires that each person create a profile explaining who they are, what they are looking for in a partner and what they want. So if you’re looking for a hook-up and you make it clear that that’s what you’re looking for then you’ll probably find someone who is also looking for something casual. Similarly, the same is true if you’re looking for something “long-term”, as was the case with Greg and I.

There are even websites designed to bring people together with similar beliefs and tastes, if you will. Take for example “Christian People Meet”, that site exist for believers seeking other believers to share a cup of coffee and talk about their faith. Further, if you’re adventurous and your desires lean towards something raunchier you will have several sites to choose from, among them “Adult Friend Finder” claims to have a 97.5% satisfaction rate among their members.

5. You’re Encouraged to have an Open Mind

Online dating will work because oftentimes it encourages individuals to step out of their comfort zone, think outside the box and have an open mind. Sometimes what you think you want isn’t what will make you happiest. In your mind you may be dead set against dating a guy who is under 6 feet, especially if you’re a woman who stands 5’ 10 without shoes on and likes to strut around in elegant 4-inch heels. However, you may be winked at by the guy who barely stands 5’9 and even though you might not have winked back he may still be brave enough to send you an eloquently written email that piques your interest, so you’ll go back and check out his pictures and while doing so you realize that he has gorgeous eyes and great teeth. Chances are you might just respond to the eloquently written email.

When I met Greg, I had a check list with specifics for what I thought I was looking for in a guy. He had to be at least 6 feet tall, be accessible, which meant he had to live within a 10-mile radius from my home, no way I was driving over a bridge or through a tunnel to go visit my boyfriend and most importantly he had to be Jamaican, or at least be from the Caribbean. Well, my Greg, is none of that, what he is, is the sweetest, kindest, most compassionate man I have ever met. He is the epitome of the strong, sensitive type – physically strong, with an inner resilience that is second to none, while highly sensitive to the needs of others. He emailed me on a Wednesday, we had our first date the following Saturday on March 16, 2013; and on November 13, 2015 we were standing in little Chapel in Astoria, Queens promising to continue to love and respect each other through good times and bad, with our family and friends as our witnesses; all because I had an open mind.

It’s never easy to put one’s self out there and that is what online dating requires us to do. It takes a certain type personality to cast that net into the World Wide Web and hope for a catch. Is it risky? Yes! Is it worth the risk, 100 times yes!!!!