Papa, Fear, and the Hole in Her Heart.

Isn’t it interesting? How my lack of you makes me worry if I’m doing right by me? How hard it can be to choose a husband? A husband-to-be? How much it makes me worry that a man will betray me like you did? To trust even the One who made you? Even when He shows me that He’s worth trusting? How do I separate it all? How do I stop my heart from hemorrhaging the memories and the things you did do right, and the times when respecting you and loving you was easy?…When forgiveness was second-nature because you always meant well? When I didn’t question my own readiness for marriage because of you, and knew who would walk me down the aisle?

How do I trust a man to lead me, when every imperfection in him that rears its ugly head reminds me of you? When I need so much proof, so much confirmation that he can follow God and competently lead me? How do I stop blaming you for my arguments with a boyfriend, my financial situation, my lack of school fees, my lack of emotional stability, my mother’s pain, my sadness, my heart that bleeds for my fatherless sisters and brother? How disappointed he must feel.

Probably questioning his ability to be a real man, with stained and distorted beliefs, struggling with unforgiveness, struggling with struggling…interesting how we should have been inter-resting as a family, not this inter-wrestling that has caused an inner-wrestling in my soul, that has made me weary and wary of your actions, your promises and your very eyes. The same ones that I have-“you in a skirt,” they called me. And now you have curtailed my ability to love you unconditionally, because you skirted the situation. You were a coward. But I loved you still. You in a skirt, I cannot deny me in pants.

The man who was my first love, who showed me gentleness and kindnes and what it meant to listen; sitting on our verandah every night while I told him who wronged me, who loved me, who hated me, and it made me love him all the more. He never had to speak because the love in his eyes spoke volumes, amplifying my importance to him as I sat on his lap, or willed him to read me another bible story that same night. He took me to church to find You, holding only two fingers at a time because he was a giant to me. He would give me his lap, his arms, his chest and more. But You were bigger still.

Forgive me, because sometimes I still don’t know how to love you so well, how to let you be what he was to me….giving me his arms, his hands, his lap, his chest, his heart….sometimes I’m not quite sure how to even not need anyone or anything else but You. How does one exist, whose promises never break, who is never selfish, who ALWAYS thinks of me? Who CANNOT fail?…who can make something out of nothing. Who can HEAL. For Real…Who is REAL…

-xoxo, Winnie

Will, Wit and Judgement.

The cashier said $2,171.65. My entire soul sank, but I was just glad my card didn’t decline, because that would have been an absolute disaster, and inside Bashco of all places. All I could think was, what a stress. And this was after I had just heard $5000 at the store before. Why the hell is adulting so hard?? I truly understood why persons swear all day, or just go completely mad. And don’t get me started on what COVID-19 is doing to persons who have children, both mentally and physically, or even what these children might be going through in home environments that aren’t conducive to learning.

So back to this adulting thing. My God. Everything costs so much money, I feel. And at this point, there really is FOOD AT HOME. Don’t let your friends (or your gut, for that matter, fool you). Anyway, I had gotten so used to someone else footing the bill for groceries, I was still in shock at the thousands of dollars I spent on groceries. While I was packing my usual lunch and breakfast for work the next morning, I totally spaced, and forgot the bread for my sándwich. I told you-maddening experiences. While, I would love to give you all more reasons to laugh at me, (especially the adultier adults than myself). I thought-with the assistance of my solution-oriented s/o-how do I combat this monstrosity? Here are some tips:

Budget, Budget, Budget: the truth is, most of us never have as much disposable income as we believe. What’s disposable income? It’s the money you have left AFTER you have taken care of ALL your responsibilities. That is, bills, fees, car payments, GROCERIES, whatever the case may be. The money you have left is your disposable income. Budgeting is key, so you are aware of your expenses and how much it costs to cover them.

There’s Food at Home: Can we go out tonight? Lunch? Brunch? When can I see you? Your answer to these questions should be no, if you know deep down, you have no money to spend like that, or unless you’re an expert at thrifting. Also, the fact that there aren’t many restaurants in Jamaica that have cheap food, should also nudge you in the right direction. You’re welcome.

Strengthen your Will: before you ask, no not your will to spend. Lol. What I mean by this is, develop self control. If you know you only need 2, don’t buy 6. Yes, I know all about it, and I’ve been there. But remember, we’re trying to make it to the end of the month comfortably.

Improve your Judgement: your judgement of stocks, that is. Find a trustworthy entity, and invest your money, so you can reap the rewards later. Financial literacy is crucial, especially in these times of uncertainty.

Keep your Wits about you: money matters require a keen balance of street smarts and book smarts. You have to know how to shop, and where to shop. People have an innate love for convenience, so they prefer to get everything they need in one place. But, I believe shopping around is key. Make a note of where you purchase things on your shopping list for the cheapest price, especially the necessities. Keep your receipts and compare prices-you might be surprised by what you discover. Alright. Those are my two cents (pun intended).

For the millenials out there who have started working, how are things going? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below. If you’re among the older folks, please feel free to leave some words of wisdom and tips of your own below.

“In the 20s, it’s the will that rules; 30, the wit, [and] 40, the judgement.”- Benjamín Franklin.

-xoxo, Winnie

I Can’t Hear You, so You Never See Me.

It was the rainy morning, and the terse responses that really got me that morning. To be so painfully aware of what someone said may have sounded like, even though they couldn’t hear a thing. It was having to walk farther after all that rain just to get to the bus they wanted to take, when earlier he was so eager to get their money-so desparate in fact that they were sharing the front seat of his taxi cab at 6:30 in the morning because he just could not leave them behind-but now that we had arrived in Spanish Town they were on their own.

It was the sunny afternoon, and the pity in her voice and on her face that the man would never ever see. “mi ah go carry him gah di bus stop” [I’m taking him to the bus stop], she said, with voice that trembled with remorse, as she and another man carried the blind man’s bags. It made me wonder who we are as a people, and why we are so adamant that because we cannot see deafness, maybe it isn’t so bad. Why does blindness trigger so much sadness inside of us, when the things we ought to look for in a person, we often never see? To be honest, I believe it is the blind and the deaf who pity us, because most of us lack their vision (not to be confused with sight). They pity us because many of us lack their sensibility (not to be confused with sense).

It was the status post about the irony that the deaf are the ones in our society who remain unseen, as opposed to the blind, that was literally treated like a joke. I thought about all the episodes of Switched at Birth I had watched, and how much it taught me about deaf culture, and etiquette. It was also how much the irritation I felt had intensified when I spoke with my s/o (a man with an umistakeable, and immovable love for the deaf community and sign lauguage) about the issue of deafness in our society.

Before I go any further, I would like to share some do’s and don’ts in deaf/hearing relations:

  1. If you meet a deaf person who does speak, do not ask them how to say rude things in sign language, especially when you know you don’t have good intetntions, and no intention to learn sign langauge.
  2. Do slow down when you are speaking so that it’s easier for them to understand what is being said by lip-reading
  3. Do not leave them out of the conversation when there are other hearing people around who do not speak sign language.
  4. Do treat them with respect, and like a regular person-most of them prefer that.
  5. Please DO NOT speak louder, thinking it will get them to understand. The word deaf is an adjective used to describe a person who is unable to hear.
  6. Fun Fact: Regarding lip-reading only about 30% of words are “readable”.

Now, let’s get back to it.

There was no side-stepping the fact that we marginalize the deaf and treat their needs as ones which don’t require as much attention, when it is the blind man who can speak his needs-the deaf man must show them, and that might not be a presentation that is well received by those of us who can hear because we shun confusion, and our resolution is to run away from anything or anyone who causes confusion, not to learn and wade our way to the truth. And the truth is, we don’t care. We don’t care how (or if) they figure out that it’s mask-wearing season. We don’t care that there is no one signing during the news broadcast every evening, and (possibly) no one signing inside of our places of worship whenever we meet. We don’t care that the group of them who usually meet in Half Way Tree in the afternoon can no longer do so because of the pandemic and because of the recent rains, and some of us might not even care enough to discover that they meet at all.

Those of us who have a fruitful relationship with God will tell you that one of the things you must accept on your faith journey is how much you will not see, and how imporatnt it is to listen, even when you are not sure if you are hearing anything at all. We really only see when we have vision, not sight. We really only see when the fruit has come forth, and we may not even have known the tree has been planted. The deaf will cross the street using only sight and vibration, and the blind will cross the street using hearing and vibration. By no means am I saying any disability is more important than the other. What I am saying is there is a general insensitivity towards the deaf because they can see and are not in wheel chairs. You don’t have to know sign language to fulfill the obvious needs of another human being. Let us be kinder to them, petition for them, fight on their behalf, try to understand them, and listen to their needs and hearts. Their show and tell is important too.

– xoxo, Winnie

Are You a Nepotist?

“Just easy, man. [S]he will get you in quick. A your work dis.” I cannot begin to imagine the number of persons who have received a job through the above means (I’m not judging if you’re one of them)..and if you still haven’t figured out what I mean, then allow me to explain.
Let’s say you have a relative who works at a company, and he or she has a friend in HR, or maybe this relative is in HR. You’re fresh out of college or high school and you need a job and said relative gets you a position at said company in no time, but you also noticed that a number of persons you know have applied to this company and haven’t even received so much as a call back, or maybe they’re met with the classic “there are no openings at this time.”

Many of us complain about nepotism all the time, myself included, but then I realized how quickly and easily many of us can end up being seen as a hypocrite in such a situation, when I was given a job opportunity in which I would have been given a certain amount of power. As the saying goes “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” So I would have ended up clutching to and taking part in the very thing I claimed to be so against, simply because I know persons who are really in need of employment and I have the power to help them get a job. The worst part is, I actually started to think to myself “but is it really THAT bad? I mean, some might call me a nepotist, but the correct word may just be philanthropist-humanitarian, even.” Laughable, I know. But in all seriousness, it never bothered me as much being on the other side of the spectrum. Then it dawned on me that maybe that’s exactly how persons who engage in underhanded dealings, or know people who do, happen to feel. It’s easy to desensitize yourself when you benefit…So-do you really hate it? Or are you just upset that you’re not benefitting from it?

In our beautiful Jamaica we see it practised all the time, irrespective of postion, company or sector, and we often hear the phrase “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” And why is that? The answer is simple: power. There is a forest of trees with sick fruit, and if the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree-funny how many people assume that the tempting fruit Eve ate was an apple-then how can we expect things to change positively? Don’t get me wrong, I know that the world is not black and white, and the grayscale can sometimes be quite expanisve, especially in cases where a person who benefits from nepotism actually has the ability to do the work, and does it well. But what does that mean for the others who just want a fair fight to determine who gets hired? Many persons don’t have a sister’s aunty’s cousin’s step-dad’s “friend from when” who can get them in the door. And the coversation about nepotism feels more like a revolving door, especially when more persons are now willing to admit that they don’t glorify struggle and want the easy way out (myself included lol).

The other side of that is taking care to ensure we don’t give others grief about reaping the benefits of nepotism. It really isn’t their fault. We’re all trying to make a life for ourselves, move forward and be successful. Let’s be kind to each other and be mindful of any nepotistic tendencies we may have. So take your time, show much respect to all and don’t be a nepotist. Blessings.

-xoxo, Winnie

The Parts that Only You Can Touch

While I was working on a new post for you all, I realized I was writing about things that I either needed to revisit, or just didn’t care about at all. In truth, I know I wasn’t writing to my heart’s content, which meant being vulnerable. I believe that as creatives it can be very difficult to be vulnerable, because you second-guess yourself so much, not being sure if you’re being too vulnerable, or if persons won’t care because they can’t relate, or maybe you’re scared that they will think you’re strange. And if you’re still not quite sure what I mean, ask a Christian who has ever been scared to share a testimony lol.
But I have come to realize that for me, words are a gift. I have come to realize that gifts have the potential to urge us on, to nurture us, and even save lives (many times those lives are even our own). Vulnerability is also a gift that very few people master-knowing how to bare your soul while still keeping a part of you for yourself, that no one else can touch. There are so many levels to gifts, love, life, art and relationships and too many of us have only barely scratched the surface of all the above.

We’re scared to let people in, not knowing that that’s where true freedom might just reveal itself to us and allow us to touch it, hold it, experience it for ourselves and transform our minds from a prison to place of peace. Vulnerability is indeed freedom-the freedom to show just who you are without having to apologize for it. Those who mind, don’t matter, and so on.
It’s also important to take your time. Don’t ever share more than you are ready to, and never give more than you’re able to.
Be vulnerable to yourself first. That allows you to gauge how much you can give, (and are comfortable with) giving. It also allows you to identify the parts of you that you will want to keep for yourself. The source of which makes you, you. No, you will not be hiding anything, you will simply be using that part of you as fuel. Fuel that you use to keep those relationships alive because you are being your best self, as much as you can, as often as you can.

Finally, just take things one day at a time, pray, and make the effort to be lovelier today than you were yesterday. Love, light and peace is my wish for you and yours.

-xoxo, Winnie

A Love Letter of Sorts.

I had an awesome dream, where I danced. I can’t say I’ve felt that free in a long time, or even filled with so much trust. My partner lifted me, spun me, held me close and I felt safe. Wanted. So much so that I spent most of our little performance dancing with my eyes closed. And even when I thought it was over, my partner challenged me, pushed me by continuing to dance some more. The rest of this awesome dream, however, I spent crying with my mother, holding her so tightly in my arms and wanting to protect her the way that she’s always protected me.

I think that’s something we all want. To feel so safely and firmly wrapped up in love that we can dance with our eyes closed. To be held, knowing that whoever holds us will be there for us always. To know that our tears are their tears, our smiles are their smiles, our triumphs and our failures are theirs also. But people are disappointing. And the only one who will never disappoint you in the end is the Good Lord Himself. After all the heartbreaks and disappointments I have had to endure, that’s the only thing I have found to remain absolutely true. We pursue love so hungrily, some of us, never quitting and going harder each time than we did the last, and many a time not having the wisdom to slow down and wait for the love that bothers to pursue us. The love that arrives on foot, step by step and is so very calculated in knowing how and when to approach, why to approach, what to say, and most importantly-how to STAY.

We want the love who scurries in on horseback, when we’re inflamed with desire. One that will swing us unto the horse and ride off into the sunset, not even realizing that a dark, cold and lonely night approches after that flame dies out-it usually does so before morning. That love doesn’t keep promises, it doesn’t hold you at night or make good on its word. That love is slippery, waivering and too light-like a heavy, disdainful lust bent on disguising itself as a saving grace, but is really an accuser.

The love that brings us peace and quiet, warmth and shelter takes time. Wise as one might be, everybody plays the fool sometimes. But don’t make a fool of others because you had to endure it yourself. I hope for all our sakes, the love that approaches is more one-two step, cupid shuffle….and a lot less electric slide. I hope it’s slow and steady and determined to win the race, as opposed to tripping over shoelaces for a lack of readiness. I hope it’s a breath of fresh air for you, so you want to fix your posture and take it all in. I hope it’s a dance partner you trust with all your heart, your soul….and your eyes closed. I danced with God, He’s my favourite dance partner.

-xoxo, Winnie

Job hunting and Post-college woes.

It’s crazy to think that I was so enthusiastic about graduating from UWI, and all I wanted was a job. I went to resume workshops, read article after article, fumed about how much job experience I don’t have, then thought that maybe if I were a graduate of an overseas college it would improve my marketability. I realized that I’m definitely not alone with these thoughts, what-with Jamaica’s general foreign-mindedness that spills over into school corridors and interview rooms of potential employers who seem even just a bit more taken by the sounds of the names of ivy-league schools rolling off their tongues, as if my six courses and a lack of job experience because of it makes me grossly disqualified.

Then it became clearer how much most people aren’t willing to take a chance on you. US. Jamaican culture doesn’t always foster the possibility and effectiveness of mentors or internship. I can’t be applying for a job as a translator and put that I have experience working in my mom’s wholesale every Saturday and it gave me a wealth of knowledge and improved my people skills. The only thing it taught me about people is how much they irk me and how difficult they are to deal with. Don’t get me wrong, there’s an astounding possibility that it will most certainly come up when I talk about my unmatched time management skills and my undeniable ability to work under pressure, because when assignments needed finishing, someone asked for 2 pounds of chicken 5 minutes ago, 5 people want saltfish, 3 people have their weekly epistle of a shopping list, a delivery truck shows up and it’s only 2 of you working inside the “family business”, you better act like you have 8 hands, 2 brains and 5 legs.

It’s definitely sink or swim out here. You have to do so much of the work on your own. On the part of the schools, it’s not always a matter of a lack of resources, it’s just a lack of zeal in making the availability of these resources known to students. When I have to think so hard about what my greatest strength or weakness is, along with an example, it’s a bit overwhelming; not to mention when all my examples are from school/school work and the minute most employers look at me they would have already decided if they want to hire me or not. Sometimes it can be very exhausting spending so much time treading water or swimming when all you see around you is water, no shore.

But since it’s up to me, I have to make an effort, even when it feels like all the odds are against me. There are many things I want to achieve in my life, especially in the world of work. I have to keep going. If nothing else, bear in mind that you won’t swim forever. Thank God for Jesus, and swimming lessons. You better make the team.

-xoxo, Winnie

Botched Plans. Again.

So you know those times when you just feel down? I mean valley down, foot bottom, old tyres down, dirt down, just-had-a-fight-with-your-mom-down, just-had-a-fight-with-your-man-down? Me. September 1, 2018 at 9;35 a.m. I am just beyond tired of everything not going my way, not having money, having to be bending over backwards and watching my mom bend over backwards just to get some money, needing time to relax because school is about to begin, too many thoughts whirling around in my mind and not feeling ready for school at all and dying to get my emotions out healthily and feeling like I don’t have a proper outlet for that and just really needing a break. From everything. And everyone. Soooo sick and tired. And sick and tired of being and feeling sick and tired and really just dying to get away but feeling stuck. Inside myself and beside myself and feeling like I have nobody to turn to. I made plans with my s/o to go to the beach for about 3 weeks now. But still, something always seemed to get in the way of all that and i still have absolutely no idea why.

Why does someone always need something from us? Why is there so much pressure everywhere? Why do I not feel good about myself for even feeling the way I feel? Is this how I’ve always been? Putting my feelings before every one else’s and not considering how they must feel? Only wanting what I want no one else matters? No one else’s wants or needs matter? I s this me? Did I just make a wrong move or has this just been a series of wrong moves? And if so, why did i feel worse knowing I could go then when I was told I couldn’t? Why am I making plans in my own head no one else is going along with? What kind of woman am I going to be with this attitude? Am I incapable of “rolling with the punches”, unlike everyone else around me? And why do I not deal with stress very well? Why am I still so angry at my life? Why am I still so angry about how it’s been turning out since I had been away? Is this the other shoe dropping? God allowing me to go through all of that to go through all of this to show how wrong I am about so many different things? About how to treat people? Am I as thoughtful as I believe I am? Am I as selfless as I believed? Am I as great as I believed? Am I, though?

Granted, we do need lessons in humility every once in a while and that’s what being with Shane has taught me. But if I must remain so teachable, why do I still feel like an ass learning all these lessons? Why do I still feel as though something inside me is missing? or broken? or is in dire need of repairs? Like….nothing can fix any of this? Like no one will be able to fix it? Everyone’s going about their lives, going through what they go through, trying to deal, embrace or fight their respective realities, saying “okay this is it”, or “why me?” But why do I still feel so misunderstood? Like i’m always trying to understand how everyone feels and listen to them but no one does the same for me most times? Like my mom never listens before she speaks? Like my father is never around until I need money? Like I will almost always feel disappointed in some way by someone, especially the people I care for most in the world? And why are my thoughts always reeling? Why do I feel like I always have so much to say but no one has so much listening space or time? Like I’m always the one in the group who has to talk about their feelings, their life, and like I never learned how “impolite” it is to talk about myself? But how else do I say ” help me”? How else do I say” stay with me and listen for a while”? I don’t always need advice, just a listening ear.

But how much more selfish can I get and why am I so complicated? When do I listen to everyone else then? and help them if I always feel like I need help lately? How else do I see to the needs of others if I already feel like I have too many? How do I categorize what my needs are, as opposed to a bunch of unnecessary thoughts and things I only think I need? Why do I feel depressed? And like the depression I carry isn’t just my own? Like I share my mother’s my brother’s my father’s, my sisters’? Why do I go through these bouts of crying and pain, by just imagining how another person must feel in his or her own mind and heart and how they deal with their own pain? I want to be able to want for myself again. To feel like there’s something to look forward to, be excited about and not like i’m dragging myself from one place to the next-out of bed, out of the house, to sleep, away from sleep, to school, to my house.

I feel like that troubled 12 year old who had panic attacks everyday on the way home from immaculate and didn’t feel at home in her own home, like it was just a whirlpool of crap. Like the 14 year old who missed her mother and just wanted to go home. Like the 6th former who emotionally lost her family and father because of money. Like the confused 19 year old who just got baptized and didn’t really know what she was doing. And now I’m the 21 year old who has no drive or motivation to finish school, always wants to sleep, regrets her decision to leave home, whose family has no money, needs more out of life, feels depressed half the time, misses her old, optimistic self,  hates some of the changes so far and woke up every morning for the last few months just wanting to go to the beach. I know everyone has their life to deal with, to go through, to really live. But when is a good time to start living? Why do I feel like it rains so often and have no one to really talk to without feeling selfish and like I’m not considering their feelings and what they’re going though too? Why don’t we even realize we’re depressed when we grow lethargic and nothing that used to make us happy makes us happy anymore? That tinge we feel or the need to cry when we loom around and realize that the little things are what should bring us joy? Those things you can’t pay for with money. What wouldn’t I give to have my family back? To have grown up with my sisters and to have my brother home? To be able to make my mom laugh? To tell my father exactly how I feel? To give them all they need and more?

To really have it all together because I’m doing what I’m supposed to do and I’m depending on God the way I should and being trusting and faith full and trying to cheer myself up, even when I don’t feel like it….to find a way to deal with the pressures of life and this world before I let it take a toll on me…to not feel too depressed before I even finish this post. How do I pour into people if I am feeling empty? What do I give if I feel I have nothing? How do you even go about eating if your plate is too full? How do you carry if you have no strength to lift? Is this how we’re constantly stuck in our own minds, our own way and our own feelings all the time? I feel like if I sigh out of sadness or tiredness one more time I might just keel over. Why do people only begin to care when they realize “you’re not yourself”? So many different realities for each of us and it doesn’t make anything easier, I just wanna get to the good part. If the storm is over, let it be over.

Pardon my Spanish.

And then the irony that surrounds me is uncanny. Everywhere I look is white-white walls, white school, white people who don’t remind me of purity, with their white views that they see as the right views, but act like they want to get my views on some issues at hand, mistaking me for an African, making me seem bitter like I hate my roots…so entangled in their minds is this inescapable ignorance I cannot fathom, they criticize every aspect of my being, all that I am, all that we were, all that we try to be-nine times out of ten I’m the thief, I’m the liar, I’m the one who deserves to be scrutinized when I waltz into a store and they see an illegal immigrant who came from slaves, but when I whip out my card silence falls and I’m Django Jane, unchained, not Jane Doe, needing your pity or your bloody money. I earned this. I earned it all. I’m here, deal with it, But you can’t, can you? You mix up the “putas” with the “playas”, but it’s gotta be “zumo” not “jugo”, “ver” not “mira”. Well pardon my Spanish, Señor if it’s not bougie enough for you. Does Caribbean offend you? Because the stares offend me. I’m the homewrecker who can’t walk down the supermarket aisle because I’m not white enough to be married to the money, mama didn’t raise no thief so I can’t shoplift, only uplift myself from this hell you call home…sick is what I am. I’m sick of the cold sun, the cold stares, the cold wind, the cold weather, the cold people. Even some of the ones who look like me. They’re only ones I want to punch in the throat more than the rest of you. How dare you say that crap out your mouth and then want to kiss me with it, Judas? How dare you berate this chocolate and try to switch it out for vanilla with your pale soul…but you not even that sweet. That’s probably why you can’t even get laid up and spread yourself on some white chocolate-they rarely ever mix the two together. Stop hating yourself and look around you. We’re all you’ve got, ni**a. Keep your whites close, and your passport closer. But you know what? Lemme just kick off my chancletas-oh I’m sorry, what was that? You say “zapatos’? Well then pardon my Spanish, señor.