Down in the D.R.

swing

The season in Naples has been hectic for the hubby and I. “Season” is the time of year when SWFL comes alive. “Snowbirds” as we call seasonal residents who live up North in the summer time and relocate to SWFL for the winter season are here in full force, this typically means all the stores are full, the restaurants have hours of wait times, all the fundraising events for local charities are packed into these few months (actually all major events it seems) and the traffic is horrendous.

So, with valentines day weekend and both the hubby and I having a couple of days of in a row we decided to high tail it out for a few days. The deal is… he book, I pack. So I never really know where we are going to end up until its time to pack and so two days before we left I found out… we are going to the Dominican Republic.  We will spend two days in Santo Domingo and two days in Punta Cana. I’ve gotten lots of reviews from people once I told them we were going to the D.R.

Santo Domingo –

Tripadvisor says: “Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic and a UNESCO world heritage site, is the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the Americas and one of the most populous cities in the Caribbean. The city is a mix of old world charm and modern Latin flair…”

The first thing I noticed once we got the rental car and was heading to the hotel is: There are seemingly NO TRAFFIC LAWS in Santo Domingo. NOONE obeys stop signs, stop lights, turning lanes… NONE OF IT!!!! Even when there are officers standing in the middle of the road directly traffic, people were still driving/riding however they wanted to.  A two lane road could easily be a four lane road just because of the driving and the motorcycles… lawd the motorcycles. They literally come seemingly out of nowhere and go anywhere there is a space. Thankfully, unlike most of the other islands we visited where they drive on the other side of the road as we do in the U.S. , in the D.R. it’s the same as here because I couldn’t imagine trying to navigate traffic and still remember to do that.

Another thing we noticed was how easily the neighborhoods changed. You could be driving in what seems like a pretty nice clean upscale neighborhood and one turn and the landscape changes drastically.  I wondered if there was any garbage pick up schedule and or dumpsites/landfills in Santo Domingo because of the sheer amount of garbage you see on some streets.

breakfast

That being said our stay in Santo Domingo was pleasant.  The locals were friendly as we navigate conversations without speaking the same language and the areas of interests where very interesting.  Our first stop on Valentines day after my morning workout and breakfast (tried Mangu for the first time, the native dish of boiled and mashed green plantains with red onions) was the Kah Kow Chocolate Factory. What best way to get valentines chocolate than to make your own?  It was fun and informative watching the process and then making my own bar. We then set out to explore the city.  Lot’s of tour guides offer to give us walking tours but since I’d already researched it (good old Pinterest) we decided to navigate it on our own.  It was interesting and colorful.

chocolate

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Later that night we went to the Malecon district (near the water) where it seems like everyone gathers to hang out, eat, socialize etc.  It was very interesting as there were a group of people dressed in white gorilla costumes (left over from carnival maybe) just literally jumping out into traffic and dancing in front of the cars.

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In the midst of all this our rental car stalled and had to be pushed to the side of the road. Calling the roadside assistance and trying to navigate that phone call without speaking the language was interesting and after a 2 hour wait (thankfully in the Malecon district and not on some lonely side street) the roadside assistance came… on a motorcycle! Trying to explain to him that it was not the battery but some kind of overheating did not go well and once the car started (probably because it sat so long it was not longer heated) he gave us the thumbs up and we are on our way in this overheating car.  A few miles up the road after trying roadside assistance again and again and the rental car company we just stopped and had dinner and let the car cool down again and then thankfully made it to the hotel safely… we will deal with this tomorrow.

The next morning, we got a new car and headed to Punta Cana.

punta cana

Punta Cana – while only a two hour drive from Santo Domingo is a world away in lifestyle. Punta Cana is not even a real place. No seriously… its a whole made up town for rich people to go on vacation.

“Punta Cana is a resort town within the Punta Cana-Bávaro-Veron-Macao municipal district, in the municipality of Higüey, in La Altagracia Province, the easternmost province of the Dominican Republic. The area has beaches and balnearios which face both the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, and it is a tourist destination” wiki

Houses range from $10M to $50M U.S.D and none of the beaches are accessible unless you are staying at a resort or paying to visit the beach. But the beaches… what a beautiful sight. Reminded me so much of Cancun. The whitest sands and the bluest waters with the perfect breeze. I did nothing else in Punta Cana than layout on the beach and it was altogether wonderful.

One night and back to Santo Domingo to catch our flight back home.

 

 

 

 

This is MAJOR!

major.jpgI got MAJOR news! Yes for real.. This is MAJOR! I actually like a dog. Yeah I know I got Major Issues. Now I know you think that there’s nothing to do it but bear in mind a year ago I couldn’t even see a dog without going cold. Being in the same room with one would have my anxiety on 10 and if it touched me… I swear I would probably pass out.

Major showed up in my yard at The Sunshine House in September. The Sunshine House seems to be a haven for strays as dogs and cats always seem to pop up from time to time. Because I’m deathly scared of dogs I would always call the kids to handle it. JD, if not home, would take the time to leave work, get the animal, take it to animal control and hope they can locate chip and find owners. But Major had major issues, he was tiny (for a pitbull) and cried the whole time I had him on the lanai, wanting to come in the house. Thankfully, my niece Ayri was with me that day and sat patiently with him until JD came to get him. As soon as he saw the dog, JD fell in love with him and vowed to keep him if he did not belong to anyone.

Animal services confirmed he was not chipped and after 3 days, JD was allowed to go get him. Maybe it’s because I was part of his rescue, maybe its because I met him so tiny, maybe its because he now belongs to JD but I can actually stand to play with and be near this dog. I wanted his name to be Boots (because of his 4 white paws) but JD refused to give his dog a “cat name”. His name is MAJOR. I kinda love him.

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Dream Realized

deepak

These days… the things I wish for is less material and more experiences. I dream about traveling to places I’ve never seen before, seeing sunrises and sunsets in distance lands, meeting people I admire and love face to face, learning not to be afraid of dogs.

The past few years have afforded me many opportunities to be in the same room and even meet and touch some of the people (mostly authors, artists and spiritual teachers) I greatly admire. Maya Angelou, Michelle Obama, Lisa Nichols, Glennon Doyle, Panache Dasai… etc. so when I heard that Deepak Chopra was coming to Southwest Florida I was excited.

I’d first learn about Deepak Chopra when I saw him on an Oprah Winfrey show. Intrigued to see a brown person on national television I was enthralled as he spoke to Oprah of the power of the mind. Over the years I’ve read many of his books, read articles he wrote, listened to him on youtube and done several of his 21 day meditation courses – even buying a few. He was definitely on my list of people I would like to be in the same room with. Imagine being able to meditate with Deepak LIVE??? A girl can dream.

When my daughters texted me that my birthday present was tickets to see Deepak Chopra that dream was realized.  Words cannot describe the energy in the room when Deepak showed up on stage. For about 90 minutes he spoke. His voice is soothing and calm and as he walk the stage from side to side (never utilizing the stool provided)

He’d tell an occasional joke mixed it with very profound messages. He told of his new book MetaHuman, the research, the details etc. One profound explanation that stayed with me was that the body completely changes in a year. Skin, cells etc. and he said… “so last year when I visited Florida, I came with the same suitcase but a different body” WOW. He talked about how the temporariness of the body we are presently in. How it changed from birth, to infant, toddler, child, teenager, adult etc… what perspective to leave your ego in check and know that it is all temporary physically.

Getting him to sign my copy of his book…

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A Dream Realized. deepak1

OutGrown the Grown Ups

In a conversation with my daughter last week, she asked (I’m paraphrasing)… “is there anything you learned as a child that you had to unlearn or do differently as an adult? She gave me her example. As a child she hated to show emotions, viewed it as a weakness but as an adult she is learning to express her emotions better. I agreed and thought about it.

My answer to her question was “I’ve learned that we can outgrow the grownups” explained that I sometimes look at the behavior or people older than myself that I’ve looked up to all my life as childish and sometimes see that they have not grown and I have surpassed them in understanding, accepting, changing, growing…

Life has a way of teaching you a lesson. Over some back and forth conversation about the week of thanksgiving, when my daughter will be in FL, I assumed I knew why she was making the decisions she was and acted out my emotions. Petty (as she calls it). My daughter, to my frustration is much more level headed than I.

On the drive to work this morning as we had to conversation of how she truly came to make her thanksgiving plans, I realized…. she was definitely acting more grown up that me in the moment. Outgrown the Grown Ups. Hmmmmm. At least I can admit and correct. Unlike my elders who seem still stuck in their box

 

For Her Children

Just Some Random Thoughts I Wanted To Get Out on what mothers will do… FOR HER CHILDREN

I went to an event the other day. It was a Domestic Violence Awareness event and women were sharing their stories and stories of women of the bible that went through some tough times.  Not sure why it sparked this blog but I remember leaving there thinking. I’ve seen many trials and tribulations in my life but I am grateful domestic violence is not one of them. Grateful for the caliber of love that I have attracted into my life. Grateful that even though my parents argued and fussed when I was a child. I don’t have any knowledge of domestic violence.

One survivor said she stayed  for her children… “I did it for my children” and this got me thinking about my mom. As a mother I get it but I can say that I was privileged to have never had to do anything for my children alone. Their father was an equal if not better more patience parent that I. But my mom….

I look back in wonder at how a woman who got married when she was 14 years old, never worked a day in her life before coming to the US, as a single parent with 5 children would come to a foreign country to struggle to provide a better life … FOR HER CHILDREN.

I remember our basement apartment, where my mom would come home from working  in a factory all day and her bed was a mattress on the floor, ours a little better being the pull out couch our upstairs neighbor was going to throw out. Why didn’t she take the “bed” and let us have the mattress? Selfishly, as a child I never even thought about it.

I marveled at the memory of how we made a home out of a tiny basement without any windows, hanging curtains against a wall in our living room (I think space with a temporary wall off the boiler room of the house). Did our laundry in the bathtub and hung it to dry in the boiler room and still was the home where all our friends love to come and hang out.  Mind you it wasn’t just the five of us, if you know anything about our culture, anyone you remotely knew in Guyana that was given the opportunity to come to the US and had nowhere to stay was considered family – blood related or not- and as a result we always had others living with us at varied times. From the mother-in-law of my aunt’s ex to cousins, uncles, aunts etc. How did she manage? I am in awe at the women who do it… FOR HER CHILDREN.

I am humbled and grateful that while I too may have made decisions based on being a mother, I can’t say I’ve ever had to really sacrifice anything significant as a result of having my children. I’ve never had to provide for or worry about my children well being single handedly and have been blessed with a hands on father, extended family members and friends. To the mothers like mine, that gave up so much of themselves FOR HER CHILDREN. I thank you for loving us.

Humbled and grateful.

Abundance

abundance oil

 

I smell like Abundance! No seriously I really do. It has been my signature scent since 2016 when it was my word of the year and I found an essential oil from Young Living with that name. I lived Abundance that year.. and have since. I even had my friend Ontonio Christie create me a logo just for that word!

 

Abundance_logo

Its so divine!  Abundance™ combines oils such as Orange and Ginger, which were used by ancient cultures to attract prosperity and magnify joy and peace.

Ingredients: Citrus aurantium dulcis† (Orange) peel oil, Boswellia carterii† (Frankincense) oil, Pogostemon cablin† (Patchouli) oil, Eugenia caryophyllus† (Clove) bud oil, Zingiber officinale† (Ginger) root oil, Commiphora myrrha† (Myrrh) oil, Cinnamomum zeylanicum† (Cinnamon) bark oil, Picea mariana† (Black spruce) leaf oil †100% pure, therapeutic-grade essential oil.

So every now and again… I will catch a whiff on it and be like… hmmmmm…. delicious. I guess it’s safe to say… I’m feeling myself… or rather… I’m smelling myself and I like it.

Do you have a signature scent?

Protect Your Peace

peace

It came to me in a dream…. “Protect Your Peace”

Lately, I find myself dealing with myself on a whole different vibration. Maybe its the accumulation of eating clean, training hard, meditation, spending time in nature, reading good books and prayers but all of a sudden… I can’t tolorate much of anything that disturbs my spirit… and my peace and that includes my own negative thoughts and emotions.

The other day something came across my social media feed that I didn’t want to see. This happens from time to time with political posts, other peoples opinions, happenings on the news etc and all of a sudden it dawned on me… I didn’t have to see it. I had the power to block, unfollow, log off… like… I can’t control what happens in the world but I can control most of what happens in MY world… so I got rid of the offense and kept it moving.

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Twisted Sista

scoliosis

I recently took this photo of myself doing a workout and when I looked at it, I remembered… I have scoliosis! I mean… I never forget, having scoliosis means living with chronic back pain… like EVERY SINGLE DAY but I forget sometimes that it means I’m twisted… unless I see a photo like this or catch a video of me walking (which looks titled to me every time but someone goes unnoticed by everyone else.

Scoliosis:

scoliosis2

 

My diagnosis (I cant remember the exact terms used) is  a 5 degree curve of my last 3 lumbars and no cartilage between the lumbar and backbone because  its fused together (basically, no “wiggle” room – making turns and twists uncomfortable to painful.

What this means for me is some days my back is a dull ache and some days its downright excruciating. It means that clothes fit differently and even my face and smile is off (most people don’t notice). It means as much as I love it, I will never be able to ballroom dance gracefully like most of my family members (but at least now I have an answer to why it was so frustrating for my partners growing up – my dad, brother or uncles, when I could not follow their lead without tripping them up). It means that workouts are extra hard and recovery even more so. It means that I’m off centered most of the time and coordination challenged (this shows up as clumsy) basically… I’m a twisted sista.

I think my head is on straight though… although that might be up for debate.

I Will Leave The Light On

light on

 

I woke up thirsty the other night… came downstairs in the middle of the night for a drink of water. The kitchen light was on. I got some water and reached to turn off the light and couldn’t. My heart won’t let me. I always leave the light on… for my children.

My children are adults now. They live their own lives and do as they please. One even live in a totally different state.  Neither of them really live at home anymore even though they both still have bedrooms here (and would probably be highly offended if I convert them to something else). Somehow though… our kitchen light stays on all night every night – Just in case…

While they were growing up, as they got older and stayed out later, we got into the practice of leaving a light on for them when they came home, I can’t really remember but I’m guessing they would turn it off when they get in. I, though, have no recollection of turning it off at nights… only in the mornings.

I’d never thought about this kitchen light before my trip downstairs recently for a drink of water. It dawned on me that my daughter lives thousands of miles away and my son has not slept in The Sunshine House in almost 6 months and neither probably won’t be coming back except to visit and I should probably turn the light off? I wondered how much of a difference it would make it my electricity bill if my lights didn’t stay on all night. I wondered why I left it on in the first place as they both know where switches are in our home.  Still somehow… I could not flip the switch and I suspect… like a lighthouse… I Will Leave The Light On.

 

 

 

Chapter 47 – 0 MILES TO EMPTY

love wild

 

September has been a whirlwind. Chapter 47 of this beautiful Joy Journey has begun but it ended with 0 MILES TO EMPTY!

0 MILES TO EMPTY!!! 100 MILES COMPLETED IM SEPTEMBER! In September, I made a deliberate effort to complete 100 miles of walking/running (outside of my normal training/workout).   Most of you know my goal was to complete a 5k a month (12 for the year) and in August I missed doing one because I was out of town 3 weekends and lost a love one the other weekend. (It still feels surreal that Gail is gone. I drive through Naples and my instinct is to stop by her office or call her to meet for lunch or dinner or an event).

 

But because I missed my August 5K, What did my crazy ass decided to do to make up for it? A self imposed challenge of walking/running 100 miles in September!  Let me tell you… this was by far one of the hardest things I’ve ever done! Having to get up every single day and make sure (Be Intentional) to add miles every single day (3.33 had to be completed each day to ensure success) so I’m not behind was brutal, some days was so hottttt… I just plain cried.

September, also being a month of several out of town trips, I’ve literally had to put these miles in wherever I could. The streets of New York, walking around airport terminals, and even across the street from my house, All this while maintaining my workout schedule. I’m grateful for all the times I was joined by family members especially my sister Sharmilita to push me.

My September 5K was special! I looked for one I could do on the actual day of my birthday and was happy to see that there was a Color Run in Orlando.  I’ve always wanted to do a Color Run. It reminds me of the Hindu holiday Holi. As a matter of fact, its kindof a bite off the  festivities, utilizing the same colored powers that is used for those events.

colored

I completed my September 5k on my birthday at The Color Run Orlando came home and went right back at it, working to complete my 100 miles that I set for myself. Somehow though I still felt a way about missing one of the 5Ks I intended to complete in 2019 so when I realized there was a 5k for MADD not every far from my home at the JetBlue Stadium on Saturday September 28th (end of the month)  I decided… what better way to complete the 100 miles and get 12 5ks completed this year as intended, than to do another one in September! Busted my ass to make sure this week that I was at 97 miles before this morning

And there you have it folks. 2 5ks in September and 100 miles!!!!! Chapter 47 about to be a whole book by itself.

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