It’s a Domestic Affair

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One of my favourite things to do in the mornings while on vacation is to watch local tv talk shows. I find Smile Jamaica quite refreshing and informative … and the host are just wonderful.

Yesterday (ok, this is more like a year ago, since this blog has been in draft since 20-May-11), they interviewed the president of the Jamaica Household Workers Association, a group that provides support services and forums for domestic helpers in Jamaica. I didn’t see the interview from the beginning but caught it in time to hear that she would be going to Geneva Switzerland to attend the 100th Session of the International Labour Conference from June 1 – 17, 2011. Just the mere mention of the International Labour Organization (ILO) piqued my interest as I had the opportunity whilst being a part of the Union movement of my company some years ago to attend a workshop put on by the ILO. At the time, the focus was on working conditions, equality of wages for men and women and the right to union representation in the organization.

This year, one of the agenda items is “Decent Work for Domestic Workers”. This brought a smile to my face for several reasons. If anyone of you has had a helper or knows anyone who has a helper, the description usually brings about some amount of humour to the conversation. Domestic Workers or Helpers as we call them in Jamaica, are generally stereotyped as illiterate women who got pregnant at 15 and was able to do nothing more than wash, clean and iron to make a living. I didn’t have the luxury of having a helper … yes, I had to wash clean and iron for myself for my entire adult life until about 2 years ago, I convinced my husband that my body and our life as a couple would not hold up much longer if I was just tired all the time. Fortunately for me, I’ve only been through 2 helpers, 1 who went on hiatus after an illness and the other who came in to fill her space and did an excellent job of handling my chores while I spent more time doing other things, such as spending time with my children, reading, gardening, etc.

For many families, the idea of a “helper” doesn’t begin to describe the level of involvement of this person in their lives. The helper to some is the very backbone of the family. These are usually “live in helpers” and do everything from washing clothes, cleaning and maintaining the home, ironing, cooking, taking care of the children before and after school, helping with homework and in rare instances, supervise other worked who are also employed to serve the head of the household in whatever way (gardener, chauffeur, etc.)

I would like the day to come when the Domestic Workers association will seek to further empower these women, and remove the astigmatism that comes with the job of being a helper. There are so many people who treat these women worse than their own dogs, because they view them as “maids” or “slaves” who are worth no more than the minimum wage most of them earn. These domestic workers deserve much more respect that they receive today. Don’t get me wrong, as in every profession, there are those that give the good ones a bad name, by destroying people’s clothes or furniture, steal money and grocery items, and possibly abuse children. These are NOT the ones to which I refer. I am referring to those women who take their job ad a domestic worker seriously enough to do the job well, professionally and with due and proper care. Many families could not survive or function efficiently without a domestic helper. I salute all deserving domestic helpers who give their employers a reason to be proud. My hope is that the Jamaica Domestic Workers Association will garner the support necessary to provide the necessary guidance to this group of very important workers. There are courses that can be done in Household Management, and they should encourage their members to avail themselves of these courses to make them better at what they do.

Well, well, well

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So much has changed since my last post … and some things haven’t :) … But all in all, the last 6 months have been extremely eventful to say the least!

Of significant mention is the walk down the nuptial aisle resulting in the change of last name that some women much debate about … Yes, CD … is now MARRIED! I suppose it has been a long time coming, but, as you can see, “nothing happens before its time” and Patience is indeed a virtue. Apart from the union of me and the love of my life, one of the most wonderful things about my wedding is that my bestie was able to come all the way from Canada to share in the occassion with me and be my Maid of Honour. We communicate almost on a daily basis on possibly all tools available today, but nothing beats that in the flesh, face to face interaction. Her visit was short, but we spent a lot of time together and had a great time as we usually do. I know she too was happy she could have been a part of that whole experience with me.

In my last post, I mentioned going to Portland for my vacation … :( :( .. That dream didn’t quite materialize and at the rate things are going now, I’m not sure when I’ll go on vacation again before this year is out. However, I am hell bent on going back to that wonderful parish as it is one of Jamaica’s hidden treasures.

As always, this is a post to keep connections alive and to let you know that CD is still around and kicking up a storm.

There are so many things happening in the country and the world, but the media makes a sensation of every story, almost making it redundant to post on a blog any more. I suppose because of that view, I’m not driven to post as much as before. I mean, I don’t consider myself to be that great a writer, although people seem to enjoy reading what I write or talk about and a blog is an outlet of expression. I’m going through my blog and notice I have 3 draft posts that never made it to the final cut, this being one of them. The other 2 are still interesting topics to me and I still intend to post them.

While I’m re-establishing connection with the faithful followers of CD and this blog, let me take this opportunity to plug the newest food blog on the scene, courtesy of my bestie, the one and only Ms Lovely Lyn. She should be on the blog roll by the time you read this post … but in case I go delinquent before I manage to do so or if the kids steal and divert my attention, you can check her out at www.lovelypantry.com, follow her on twitter www.twitter.com/lovelypantry or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/lovelypantry

So, until I return to this space, walk good and God Bless!

Me in my skin

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I’m literally counting down the to my vacation. So much has happened this year, personally, financially, professionally, socially, politically, etc. And yet, at the end of the year, I’m thinking about what did I achieve? What did I do differently this year than last year? What did I do to change my world 1 person at a time? I always get into a reflective mood as the end of the year approaches.

Well, this year, I must say that I’m proud of myself on some fronts, not so proud in others, but all in all, loving me more and more each day. It is this love of self that brings me again to making a commitment to myself and ultimately to my loved ones, to make and stick to some lifestyle changes. I’ve made many changes this year, especially in terms of diet and exercise primarily. The food part I’ve improved on but still a work in progress. The exercise part, I keep getting on and off the wagon. It seems that there is just not enough time in a day to do everything there is to do. When you are the woman of a household with man and children to take care of, many times YOU get neglected. So, the time is spent taking care of them, the house, the car, etc. and then, no time left for yourself. I remember the days when I used to go to the beauty salon on a weekly basis to get my hair washed and styled and my nails done. These visits now take place at most 2 times a month, unless there is a special occasion, which I usually don’t have time to go to anyway. It’s not only this that has suffered. I started out a couple weeks back on an exercise regimen. Working out on my eliptical machine which I spent good money on, is now a showpiece in my bedroom. I enjoyed my work out immensely and managed to do 1 hour after going at it for 2 weeks … then came the long hours at work, the getting home later than usual and the focus on getting homework done and then kids to bed. By then I would be physically and mentally drained, enough just barely to take a shower and curl up in bed to watch TV or read a few pages of the books that hold my interest at the moment. My partner and I started exercising together, then came his long hours and I just couldn’t find myself getting out bed at 10:30 at night to go outside for a work out. Yes, I know these things take sacrifices but at the end of it all, where do I draw the line? One thing I’ve learned is that rest is important, and if it’s one thing I don’t sacrifice it’s my 8 hours sleep each day/night. I’ve also done well to manage my stress I think so that’s a good thing.

So, what am I resolving to do now? Really, I just need to maintain my exercise program and I’ll be happy with myself that I’m doing what is necessary to keep healthy. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not about to become a vegetarian overnight. My personal view is all things in moderation, control your portions and you’re good to go. No way I’m cutting out chocolate from my diet!!

Next up on my agenda is VACATION!! Yes! 2 weeks from the dungeons of work. No conference calls, no follow up on issues. No campaigns to launch, no financials to analyze, no marketing collateral to review and approve. No boss! I’m planning to go to Portland while I’m on vacation. I’ve been putting this off for too long, having not been to Portland in over 10 years. I’m sure Stunner will have some great suggestions of things to do and places to go while in the island gem of the west.

So, that’s it after my unintentional sabbatical. Am I welcome back with open arms?

I have no intention of quitting this blog. It is such a great outlet and I really need to utilize it more. As a matter of fact, I’ve started another blog, more professional that I’ll share with you when I think the time is right.

Until then, you can follow me on Twitter @ http://twitter.com/#!cooldestinynj

Love you all! Bless up!

Still Can’t Believe You’re Gone

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It is only 10 months since I lost one of my closest friends and here I am mourning the loss of another one of my close friends. Gone Too Soon, the famous Michael Jackson song, is so appropriate to describe the death of these 2 beautiful women.

It is so hard to comprehend the concept of death. When you lose a loved one, especially someone so young, the thoughts of why immediately enter your mind. Even Christians, who have a deep faith and belief in God and a better life after death, have to grapple with the thoughts of WHY. The what ifs, the maybe if, or even just the if. The thoughts of what we want to be when we lose someone is enough to make you become insane. I remember my first encounter with death. I was 21 years old and one of my then best friend’s brother passed away under very tragic circumstances. I remember being in disbelief. I remember driving and not knowing how I actually got home that evening after hearing of his passing. I remember the pain I felt and the need to be strong for my best friend. I remember his mother, being heavily sedated in order to make it through the days from his death leading up to the funeral service. It all was just too much to bear.

Today, it’s been 17 days since the passing of another one of my closest friends. I’m still in disbelief that all this is happening. I’m having a really difficult time accepting the reality that she’s gone, leaving behind her loved ones, including 2 sons, one of whom is just 1.5 years old, to continue to live their life without there beloved mother, sister, daughter, aunt, friend, companion. It is only the grace of God that has kept me going. I keep saying to myself if I’m feeling so distraught about it, I can’t begin to imagine what her family is going through. I was asked to do a tribute at the thanksgiving service for her life tomorrow, on behalf of our company. I feel honoured to be given the opportunity to say goodbye to her, in this way, one last time.

I continue to pray for strength and comfort for those of us left behind to mourn her death. I wrote this poem in her honour.

Still can’t believe you’re gone
Still can’t accept the reality
Still trying to understand
Comprehend, rationalize

The spirit of your smile,
The warmth of your voice,
The encouraging words,
The frankness of your criticisms
All the things that made you
Who you were

The void you leave
Compares to nothing as empty
Vessels, brains, promises
Just empty

From where should our comfort come
From God? Yes!
And from the pleasant memories you left
From the indelible mark you left
On everyone you came across
From the thoughts of your
Compassion, empathy, friendship
The wonderful thoughts of who you were
That sustains us
And makes us smile
Even though you’re gone.

R.I.P. Kerrian. Words cannot express this sadness.

I’m Back … Again

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Wow! I can’t believe how long it’s been since I posted here. It seems like it was just the other day, but alas … it’s been a while! It is truly amazing at how some things in your life just take a back seat as you go through the rigours of life. It’s not for a lack of things to post about, or a lack of desire to share with you some of the exciting and not so exciting happenings in my life, or a lack of things happening in the world and in our region that have warranted many rants and comments … but … For one reason or another, just never get around to making a post.

Anyhow, Happy New Year to all my blog peeps who are still stopping by to see if CD has something to say. It really means a lot especially when I know that I haven’t been keeping this blog as up to date as I should.

Nonetheless, a lot has happened with CD since the last post. From going back to school to pursue a short 1 year skill diploma, to going through many changes on the professional scene (although having the same job title … grateful to still have a job!) to losing a very close friend of mine to the dreaded disease called Cancer to starting a new exercise regimen, to getting some much needed rest during the Christmas holiday, to spending some time with a few friends … all in all, CD is happy about life and where she is right now.

This has been a very surreal period for me as well as last year this time, I was in and out of hospital, in excrutiating pain and give God thanks that I am here to talk about it. So many didn’t make it to 2010 and for those who went too soon, they are an inspiration for me to live my life to the fullest.

Yes people, as last year’s American Idol Kris Allen sings in his billboard single, “Live Like We’re Dying”. Tomorrow is promised to no one and we should all make the best of every minute of every day. Show the ones you love that you do.
Do good to others, no matter how small. Keep a song in your heart and a smile on your face, even when things are not going exactly the way you want. Spend more time with your family and loved ones. Don’t get caught up in the job and other things that are secondary or just a means to an end. The very breath you take is the hope you should hold on to … you are alive therefore, anything is possible. Live your life enjoying every minute despite the stresses of the real world and real bad situations you have to deal with. If you have friends and family to support you through a difficult time, you are fortunate and blesssed that you’re not alone.

That’s my kick off for the new year and plan to keep that outlook comes what may!

Have a fabulous day blog peeps. Love you all!

Nothing Like a Friday Night

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Wow … I can’t believe it’s Friday already. I’ve had such a long week, I wanted Friday to come so bad and it’s almost like now it’s here and I’m not prepared for it.

So … what am I going to do tonight? Definitely watch The Ity & Fancy Cat Show! It is the best local comedy show I’ve seen since Oliver at Large and Titus … yes, nothing after those came close. Ity and Fancy are taking “almshouse” as we would say in Jamdown to a new level. There “How Would You React” segment going to get them in trouble … I believe so fi real. Dem cyaan do dem tings dere inna Jamaica where people tek dem tings so serious. It’s just like Twin of Twins getting arrested shortly after the release of their “Stir It Up, Volume 7″ CD … all because people cyaan take a joke any more. I’m sorry but I just have to laugh at jokes being made at Vybz Kartel’s Gaza and Movado’s Gully … I find it all so hilarious!

Anyhoo, onto more serious things. To my Jamaican peeps, what do you think about all this excitement being created about the fact that the National Security Minister had to be flown to Miami to do surgery allegedly to remove his gall bladder? To my other Caribbean folks, this has sparked a debate about the government’s confidence in the health care system in Jamaica, coming about because of the incident. All this being discussed in the public domain. I thought to myself, we’re becoming more and more like CNN every day … sensationalizing every single thing that happens it’s ridiculous. As someone who had their gall bladder removed right here, I want to believe that the gall bladder story is just a conspiracy theory and that he really went because of serious intestinal issues that required more expert attention … not that I really accept it but … let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.

I think the highlight for me this week, was an article in the Sunday papers, both of them in fact, on the front page, an interview with our Police Commmissioner, Rear Admiral Hartley Lewis, calling for political unity on the crime issue … In a nutshell, he talked about the fact that the 2 major political parties are not willing to come together to tackle the issue head on, as one doesn’t want to help the other to win another 5 years in Gordon House. How many people have to be murdered for them to realize that the only people who win are the criminals? How many more mothers will have to bury their sons and daughters, grandsons and nieces, before they realize that the only people who pay the price are the victims? I’m so sick and tired of the political rhetoric on this matter that I no longer pay attention to them when they talk about what they are going to do. I admit, I see baby steps in that they are seriously tackling the matter of corruption in the police force. Never before in our history have we seen so many policemen arrested, tried and convicted for corruption charges. It is a refreshing new paradigm shift for the country. Many more like that and a few politicians added to the list will definitely raise my confidence 0.5 of a bar in the Justice system.

So many other things of interest have happened, but I think I’ve been serious enough for one night that I’m supposed to be relaxing.

Blog peeps, enjoy the weekend for those who read this before this weekend is over and for those who read it after, you can apply it to the next applicable one. Giving you one of my favourite throwback tunes to start the party … Bless up.

Parenting 101

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Being a parent has got to be one of the most fulfilling jobs in the world.

My son just turned 3 last week and I can’t help but look at him and think of how wonderful he is growing up. Yes, he’s a typical boy, always wanting to climb to heights that would make a trapeze artist think twice and give you a coronary, always wanting to run, not being able to keep still for a split second because he feels he must always be doing something,and I could go on and on. Yes, he has those moments when I feel like I would run away but all in all he’s such a good boy. He is very protective of his little sister, who turned 2 in August and they are like 2 peas in a pod.

A lot of people are amazed that I manage to care for 2 small children without losing my sanity or at least some hair on my head. They think so to the point where people have actually asked me if I’m not going to have another one. I tell them where to get off when they come with that line of argument. The truth be told, if I could afford to be a stay at home mom and could afford it, I would have more children … not like Mrs. Duggar who has 18 going on 19 but I think I would stop at 4. And … my son has been asking me for 2 brothers lately, specifically brothers because he “already has a sister and he doesn’t want another one”. Interesting.

These have been my tenets for raising my children:

1. Good managers. They must say good morning to anyone they see when they wake up.
2. Must say prayers. Before eating and going to bed.
3. Must learn something new every day, not necessarily academically, but a life skill, a new fact of the world, etc.
4. Must take a nap in the daytime. They can’t just keep going and going and going … and mommy needs a break too.
5. Respect each other’s space. Give the other one privacy when in the bathroom or being changed.
6. Respect mommy and daddy and sister/brother. Hitting, kicking, biting, scraping or spitting on us never goes unpunished.
7. Spend time outside. Nothing beats some fresh air, sunshine, grass and water from a hose!
8. Be independent. Learn to do things on their own, e.g., putting dirty clothes in the basket, diaper in the bin, brushing teeth, etc.
9. Speak the truth and speak it ever … they both know this gem word for word
10. Share.

Parenting skills are honed overtime and I believe in setting the tone from now for those dreaded teenage years that appear to be the most challenging for every parent. One of the most important characteristics a parent needs is patience, especially in the early days when you have to be repeating the same thing a million times. I’m lucky to have been blessed with that characteristic, but since I’ve been a parent, I’ve prayed many times for supernatural patience. Sometimes that is what it takes to get through an evening or a day.

At the end of it all, nothing beats the smile from a child because it is pure, genuine and from the heart. It makes all the challenges worth going through at the end of the day.

To all the parents out there, continue to do a good job of raising your children. You only get one chance to do it so do it well. To all the soon to be parents, don’t be afraid to ask for help at any time. It will be a new territory for you and rest assured, you won’t know it all, regardless of how you have excelled in other areas of your life. Nothing beats preparation – read up on parenting to get yourself in gear. You won’t regret it. Never doubt yourself or your ability to do a good job regardless of what your parents have to say. Parents on both sides tend to think they know best. That may be true but you too will have knowledge and skills to do an excellent job. Learn to say no. There’s nothing wrong in saying no to some advice you don’t think you need. Like, I remember when my son had a hiccup and my bf’s mom told me to put thread on his forehead to make him stop. I wasn’t about to do it and mi neva care if shi vex!

Bless up peeps. CD Out.