Thursday, November 26, 2020

Thanksgiving 2020


 

Happy Thanksgiving!

This year has been one of the most bizarre, surreal, and heart-breaking years.

I don't have anything huge and profound to say about it, but I just pray that things get better and I know they will eventually. 

Despite having to deal with so much this year, I'm still grateful, because there is a lot to be grateful for...so much.

Happy Thanksgiving πŸ¦ƒπŸ‚πŸπŸ’•


Sunday, November 22, 2020

A Sunday in 2020

fall autumn leaves


I just thought that I'd check in for a moment. Even though I'm more sporadic here these days, it's not due to lack of interest. I always wish that I had more to say when I come here, but like most human beings, this year especially has been having its way with me. It's difficult to gather my thoughts these days. But I guess that I should be kind to myself and just not force anything. I mean, we're all somehow getting through a pandemic, on top of political turmoil, with our own personal losses and worries thrown on top of this steaming pile of a year. 

Sometimes when I let my mind "go there", I'm astonished at how it seems that ten years have been packed into one. Maybe that's why I feel tired all the time. 

Here's to better days ahead and more to say here :-)

I hope that you have a good week wherever you are.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Sunday, November 08, 2020

Biden/Harris 2020

 


Congratulations to President-elect Joe Biden 

and 

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris πŸ’™

We used our voices and voted for change!

I immediately thought of the late Congressman John Lewis when I heard the news.

We did it!

Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Election Day 2020

 

vote


To all my fellow Americans, today is the day!
If you haven't already voted during early voting or by absentee ballot,
 please make your voice heard and please cast your vote today.

I voted by absentee ballot a few weeks ago. I mailed it off as quickly as possible since I wanted to make sure that my ballot arrived on time. I've checked and my ballot was accepted, so I was relieved to find that out. It's a crazy time and sadly we can't be sure of anything during this election. We just have to do our best and do our part as citizens. 

As I completed my ballot, I couldn't help but think about the late Congressman John Lewis, who I admired so much. Even before he passed away this summer, I would often think of him, because I grew up learning about this incredible man and the sacrifices that he and so many others made in order for me to have my right to vote. 

I also thought of my ancestors and all that they endured in order to vote and to just simply live their lives. I thought of the ones who did get the chance to vote and also the ones who were never able to vote because of the racism that they encountered. 

We are living through a very hard time in the history of the world, in ways that we never would've imagined just a year ago. The pandemic has taken so many lives and continues to take lives every single day. The political climate is SO toxic and vitriolic. We MUST make so many changes in order to get back on track somehow, but hopefully on a much better track because there is definitely room for improvement in this world. Too much hate, injustice, and inequality has been allowed to permeate society for too long. We HAVE to do better...much better.

Please vote! 🌊

Please wear a mask! 😷



Sunday, November 01, 2020

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Turning Homeownership Chaos Into Peace At Home

*collaborative post

Buying your first house is an exciting moment. The change of habits from tenant to homeowner can be dramatic! For many new homeowners, it is a learning curve, during which they adjust to their responsibilities. Having your own home is a fantastic experience that teaches you a lot about house maintenance, interior style, and budget management. But not every first-time buyer is ready to tackle the challenges with an open mind. Truth be told, you’re going to find homeownership highly stressful at times. After all, it is an unknown world that differs significantly from your experience as a tenant. Yet, you shouldn’t let those differences unsettle you. 

There is a lot of joy in homeownership. But, if you’re going to make it enjoyable, you need to learn to tackle the obstacles that are most likely to drive your stress levels through the roof. Create a peaceful nest out of a chaotic journey at the heart of the real estate market. 


Unsplash - CC0 License


Making The Exterior Beautiful and Manageable

Don’t you dream of a beautiful garden in your front- or your backyard (or both)? It’s surprisingly easy to start a gardening project you can’t manage. Lush vegetation and beautifully trimmed bushes in a variety of elegant shapes are what public parks are made of. But if you intend to do the same with your backyard, you’ll soon discover that it is, in fact, a monumental task. While this isn’t to say that you should abandon your dream of a green garden and cover every with a slab of concrete cement, you need to be more realistic. Too many homeowners waste a lot of time and money trying to control a garden that would require daily professional maintenance service. Instead, it can be a lot more satisfying to pick a more natural pattern. Slight meadow growth in the backyard, for instance, is a manageable design that can elegantly add patches of colors. Besides, meadow yards need only little maintenance work throughout the year, and they add a controlled overgrown look and feel. There’s a sense of peacefulness to it, not just in terms of management but also you’ll find yourself smiling when you look at it. 


No Rental Fees, Yet New House Payments to Manage

Have you budgeted enough for your home? 

As a first-time buyer, it’s not uncommon to miss essential costs in your calculations. It’s part of the learning process, and you are more than likely to discover further necessary improvement projects as you move in. From needing to upgrade the bathroom to having to repair the roof, these nasty surprises can tear apart your budget. Here’s a little fact for you: Most first-time homeowners don’t borrow enough money through their mortgage, so they are left wondering how to pay for further improvement works. There are a few options available. You can reach out to your bank to discuss a second loan application; however, depending on your credit score, it can be tricky. Alternatively, you can borrow against your existing mortgage, using solutions such as the homeowner loans from Evolution Money. If borrowing isn’t an option, you can prioritize projects, delaying work that isn’t essential until later. This will allow you to save and budget accordingly. 


DIY Improvements Come At a Cost

I’ll do it myself; it’ll be cheaper. 

Are you sure about that? DIY mishaps can drive your costs high. In the UK only, enthusiastic homeowners are known to make costly mistakes. You could injure yourself severely. Over one in ten individuals is likely to experience bad cuts during a DIY project. A whopping 10% get hurt by falling from a ladder. Don’t underestimate health costs as you embrace home improvement works. Causing damage to the house can also lead to high expenses, from knocking a hole into the walls to causing leaks. Sometimes, paying for expert work is the best way to protect your budget! 

Unsplash - CC0 License


You Don’t Need to Keep All Your Things

Have you moved in with an army of cardboard boxes? It is tempting to keep hold of all your belongings, even those that have been part of your life since your first dorm room. The battered desk, the old student clothes you’re not wearing anymore, the home decor gifts you dislike, the magazines and books you haven’t read in years, etc. The list is long, but there are many things in your home that can create clutter. Use the opportunity to get rid of your clutter ahead of the move. It’ll only create more stress and drain your wallet otherwise. 

Don’t let the homeownership chaos take over. There will be a lot of mistakes and new things you discover along the way. But saving yourself unnecessary stress by considering the most practical approach to some common issues, you can preserve your mental health. Breathe in. Breathe out. Welcome to your new home; seize the challenges with a smile! 

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

4 Tricks For Matching Your Glasses And Your Hairstyle

*collaborative post

A lot of people feel self conscious about wearing glasses because they don’t know how to style them properly. If you wear glasses, it’s important that you treat them like any other accessory and match them with the rest of your look. Finding a haircut that works well with their glasses is one of the things that people struggle with most and their glasses end up ruining their overall look. The good news is, there are some simple tips and tricks that you can use to make sure that your glasses and haircut match. 

Woman wearing glasses
Source - Pixabay CCO License

Know Your Face Shape 

If you don’t know your face shape, you will find it very difficult to buy glasses that suit you and match them to your haircut. If you are unsure about your face shape, ask your stylist and they will be able to tell you. Then you can head over to a site like Eyeglasses.com and buy a pair of stylish frames that are perfect for your face shape. Failing to match your frame style to your face can highlight some of the features that you want to hide. For example, if you have a very wide face already, it’s best to go for round frames that make the face look narrower.
 
Bring Your Glasses Along
 
When you go to your stylist to get a haircut, don’t forget to bring your glasses along with you. This will help your stylist recommend the right style and being able to work around your glasses will make it far easier for them. When you go to your appointment, let them know that you are worried about the way that your glasses will look with your hair and get their opinion. They might suggest a style that you would never have thought of having, but you should trust their judgment. 

Don’t Forget About Color 

You should always consider the color and pick something that goes well with your wardrobe when buying glasses. However, don’t forget about your hair color as well because a mismatch can ruin your look. Try to go for something that accents your hair color and if you are going to change your color, think about how the new color will look with your glasses. In some cases, you might need to change your glasses if the new color is completely different from the old one. 

Get Your Other Accessories Right 

Matching your glasses with your hairstyle is the first step, but if you want to improve the overall look, you need to get the rest of your accessories right. When you are buying jewelry and deciding on the best material and color, always take the color of your glasses frames into account. It’s also important that you don’t overcrowd your face, so if you have large frames, try to be more conservative with your earrings and go for a small stud rather than a big hoop. 

As long as you use these simple tips, you can make sure that your hairstyle and your glasses match perfectly.  


Saturday, September 12, 2020

Saturday Walk



English countryside

Hubby and I went on a lovely walk in the countryside this morning. The view was breathtakingly beautiful. The walk was healing and restorative.

This year, 2020, has been an incredibly difficult one for all of us worldwide. We still have a few more months left in this year and this pandemic is still having its way with the world and will for a while. On a personal note, I've lost two loved ones, two incredible women, during this spring and summer, during this brutal year. 

Hard doesn't even begin to describe this time, but I get up every morning with even more determination to keep going. I love them both dearly and miss them more than I can express, but I've realized that I honor their lives and legacy by keeping going. They both lived amazing lives and gave so much to so many. Those of us who loved them will carry them with us in our hearts always. 

So, as I took every step on my walk this morning, they were with me and they forever will be ❤❤

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Happy Sunday

Dandelions

Wishing everyone a wonderful, restorative Sunday!
🌼🌼🌼🌼🌼🌼🌼

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Film Spotlight: Alice

Alice Movie Poster



From Friday, 24th June 2020, ALICE, the debut feature film from multiple award-winning writer and director Josephine Mackerras, will be released on selected digital platforms (Curzon Home Cinema, The BFI Player, Amazon Prime Video).

This is the story of Alice (Emilie Piponnier), who is a happily married young mother who soon discovers that her husband (Martin Swabey) has an addiction to high-priced escorts. Alice and her son are left with no money. Their home is in jeopardy due to Alice’s husband wasting all of their money on escorts and he fails to pay the mortgage. In order to support herself and her young son, Alice reluctantly resorts to becoming a high-priced escort herself, since she has no one else to turn to for help. She finds out that the work is very lucrative and allows her to collect enough money to pay larger amounts on their very overdue mortgage.

Alice movie - Alice and husband

I was very intrigued by this film and I was drawn in immediately as I was fully invested in how Alice would figure things out for herself. Alice is very much the girl next door in the beginning of the film, but as viewers we get to see her transform into a survivor. Her journey is not seamless, and we get to see her understandable uneasiness as she steps into this new world. We get to see her strength grow from the inside to the outside as she meets the many challenges that she faces as she tries to get her life back on track. 

Alice movie - Alice and son

I loved the realism of this film. One of the main themes is survival and most specifically financial survival, which is a timely theme. Money isn’t everything, but it surely pays the bills and that’s a good thing. Seeing Alice desperately struggling to find a way to support herself and her young son lends a great universality to her character. This is a thought-provoking film and I really enjoyed it! 

ALICE won the Grand Jury Award at the SXSW Film Festival in 2019 along with other prestigious awards. Emilie Piponnier gives an outstanding performance as Alice and this is her first lead role in a feature film. 

ALICE will be released on selected digital platforms (Curzon Home Cinema, The BFI Player, Barbican Cinema On Demand, Amazon Prime Video) from Friday, 24th July.

Find out more at eurekavideo.co.uk 

FILM INFORMATION:
Writer, Director, Producer: JOSEPHINE MACKERRAS Genre: Drama | Country: Australia | France | Language: French | Year: 2019 | Duration: 103 min. | Picture:  Colour | Aspect ratio: 2.35:1 | Format: PVOD DIGITAL RELEASE | Cast: EMILIE PIPONNIER | MARTIN SWABEY| CHLOE BOREHAM
 


Beauty of Nature


The beauty of nature...

Saturday, July 18, 2020

John Lewis 1940 - 2020

John Lewis

John Lewis was an amazing man. He gave so much while he was here. I have looked up to him and have been inspired by him my whole life. He dedicated his life to public service and sought justice for us all. I have always thought that he was the epitome of courage. 

John Lewis

In March 1965, he was beaten severely along with other marchers on Bloody Sunday and on many other occasions and yet he persevered. He endured a myriad of horrible experiences during sit-ins and was arrested over 40 times and was a Freedom Rider during the Civil Rights Movement. He always said that we must get into "good trouble" in order to right the wrongs and injustices that we come across.

He is a fellow Georgian, although he was born in Troy, Alabama. He served as the U.S. Representative for Georgia's 5th congressional district since 1987. I am honored that he was part of the Congressional Delegation from my home state. Through all that he endured, from all accounts of those who had the pleasure of meeting him, he was a genuine and kind man. He was a man of great conviction and was very vocal with his views on how to make America live up to itself. He was dedicated to securing our right to vote and championed voting up until the very end of his life. Now it is our turn to continue to work for equality in his name and we must continue to exercise our right to vote always. Too much blood was shed and too many people died for our right to vote and it is our duty to honor all that John Lewis and others did. We must vote!

We live in such turmoiled times and I sometimes wonder how we will ever get through it, but when I get discouraged, I often turn my thoughts to our ancestors…Dr Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks, and so many countless others and now this list will include Congressman John Lewis and Reverend C.T. Vivian (we lost both of them yesterday). I think of all that they endured on our behalf and I know that they are counting on us to keep going. They worked to change the world and as a Black woman, I know for sure that I owe them more thanks than I can ever articulate. 

One of the most immediate things that I can do to honor the work and life of John Lewis is to vote! Interestingly, just by chance, today I mailed in my absentee ballot for the run-off election in my home state and I will definitely be casting my vote for the general election in November. Mr John Lewis, Dr King, Rosa Parks, Reverend C.T. Vivian and so many others fought so hard for my right to vote and it is my job to use it every chance that I get.

Thank you, Congressman John Lewis, for being such an inspiration and for walking through this world with such honor and dignity while giving so much. Saying simply "thank you" doesn't seem adequate in the face of all that he and so many others did in our name, but words have power, even when they are simple words, so I simply say with the greatest respect...Thank you Mr John Robert Lewis. Thank you! 

Take your rest now sir and thank you again.



Saturday, July 11, 2020

Product Spotlight: Niederegger 2020 Flavours of the Year

Disclosure: I was sent these samples by Chocolates Direct. This is my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Niederegger marzipan

Recently, I was sent a selection of tasty Niederegger goodies from Chocolates Direct. I was given the opportunity to try a selection of their products, along with the chance to experience their new Niederegger 2020 flavours

Niederegger is the world's leading marzipan brand, founded in Lubeck (Northern Germany) in 1806 by Johan Georg Niederegger. Their classic recipe remains unchanged to this day, plus they have a landmark 3 storey cafΓ© in the city centre of Lubeck filled with their luxury products and marzipan cakes.

Sunday, July 05, 2020

It's Okay to Not Be Okay

This has been a very up and down weekend for me…more down than up, but I’ll be okay eventually. There are a lot of things swirling around my head these days, but the main thing is that I miss my sister Mary.

I’ve debated back and forth with myself and wondered if I should just try to keep stuff like this off my blog and just work it through using my journal, but I feel the need to speak up here. I want to be transparent and not hide it. If nothing else, I want to show that it’s okay to not be okay. I find that denial is not helpful for me. This is real life. 

I will get through this grief, but I know that it has changed me. I have gone through grief before and I know from experience that it’s never a straight line. It just takes its own path. I know that I will get through this eventually, but right now I just wish that my sister were still in this world. It's been two and a half months, and even though I know that she passed away, sometimes I still can't wrap my mind around it. Sometimes I think that I'm processing my grief okay, but sometimes I feel like I'm just spinning my wheels. It's hard...incredibly hard. 

I will learn to live with it eventually, but I will miss her forever…

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

July 2020

Pink peony July

Happy July! Happy new month!

May this new month and second half of 2020 bring many blessings, healing and better days to us all πŸŒΈπŸ’•

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Film Spotlight: A Foreign Affair

Disclosure: I was given access to this film for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.


A Foreign Affair film cover
Photo courtesy of Eureka Entertainment


Recently I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy the classic comedy A Foreign Affair by the celebrated director Billy Wilder. The film is a sophisticated satire starring Jean Arthur, Marlene Dietrich and John Lund, and for the first time it will be released on Blu-ray in the UK on 22nd June 2020, as part of The Masters of Cinema Series from Eureka Entertainment. A Foreign Affair blends an intriguing mixture of romance along with dialogue that crackles with quick wit.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Happy Saturday - June 20th 2020

Yellow flower Happy Saturday


I'm wishing everyone a wonderful Saturday wherever you are!
Stay safe and be well πŸ™πŸ½
🌼🌼🌼🌼🌼🌼🌼🌼🌼🌼

Friday, June 19, 2020

Juneteenth

Today is Juneteenth. 
Please read below to learn more about this day and why it is so important in our history as Black Americans, as well as how it is part of the fabric of American history. 

Juneteenth

Juneteenth

Juneteenth

Sunday, June 14, 2020

The Peaceful Bench

I took this photo quite a few years ago. Whenever I need a peaceful moment, 
I go to this spot in my mind's eye.


It's been a stressful time...days, weeks, months...heck 2020 so far. So much is swirling around all the time that it's hard to come up for air sometimes. I like to keep informed, but I know that I've been watching too much news and reading too much social media, so I've been trying to take a break this weekend. I haven't done so great at it, but I'm working on it in baby steps. 

Losing my sister, Covid-19 and the protests have had me on edge constantly. I've been kind of on autopilot for weeks, but it finally took its toll this past week. When I woke up on Friday it felt like I had been running a marathon in my dreams because I was exhausted and I had just woken up. I made it through the day, but once I finished my work for the day, I got back to my bed as soon as I could. The mind and body can only take so much and I got that message loud and clear. 

So I'm going to sit on my peaceful bench in my mind's eye and enjoy :)

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Product Spotlight - Nakin Natural Anti-Ageing Lip Treatment Balm

Disclosure: I was gifted this product in return for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

The last couple of months have been eventful to say the least. The pandemic has been a huge adjustment for us all. We’ve all been adapting to a “new normal” and we’ve been faced with figuring how to do a lot from home. One thing that this time has shown me is the value in taking care of ourselves. Self-care is something that I’ve not been great at for so long, but now I’m getting onboard with it because I’m realizing just how important it is. Even though I’ve been working from home, I still find that I’ve been having more time to “be” with myself. It took me a while, but since I’ve been in less of a rush during quarantine, I’ve realized just how much I’ve not been taking time for myself. I’ve learned my lesson now and I think that this will stick even when things are more “normal” again, although I don’t think that “normal” will quite be normal ever again, but I digress 😊

Nakin Lip Treatment Balm

Therefore, I’ve been using a few products as I commit to taking better care of myself. One of the products that I love is Nakin Natural Anti-Ageing Lip Treatment Balm. Recently, I've had the opportunity to try this out and it’s been really great. I tend to have dry lips sometimes and this has worked very well. The consistency of this lip treatment balm is nice and soothing.

This is a great lip conditioner from Nakin's high-performance range. Created with an active complex of shea, mint, argan and baobab oil to flood lips with nutrients and hydration.

Nakin Natural Anti-Ageing Lip Treatment Balm contains: 

Mint - which stimulates the circulation under the skin to plump lips

Baobab Oil   - which delivers hydration and superb protection from the environment

Shea Butter – which is a natural salve made of fats that provide healing and softening

Argan Kernel Oil - provides skin protection, healing and soothing from the Triterpenoids that occur in it

Other reasons to love this lip balm:
  • 100% natural  
  • Free from preservatives, synthetic ingredients, petrolatum and mineral oil 
  • It’s an anti-ageing lip balm, a vegetarian lip balm and a cruelty-free lip balm  
  • It’s also wheat free and gluten free  

Nakin Lip Treatment Balm

Nakin Natural Anti-Ageing Lip Treatment Balm is also a 2020 Beauty Shortlist Award winner, along with five other products from their range.

This is a great product and it’s a welcome addition to my beauty regimen.

If you’d like to try it for yourself, please visit their site here

Monday, June 08, 2020

Peace During the Storm


I love this photo. It looks like it's just a strange pastel-colored square, but to me it brings peace. It's a photo of the evening sky as I walked home one day. I had had a particularly rough day at work that day and this beautiful sky greeted me as I made my way home. I remember that peace...and through these trying times, I remember the peace again.

The Two Diseases

I’ve been thinking a lot about a lot of things over this past couple of weeks. So much is going on as we all know. We are dealing with two diseases…Covid-19 and racism/police brutality. Covid-19 has cropped up over the last few months, but racism is as old as time. I’m at a loss for words about what to say and I’ve been going over and over it all in my head. It’s a tough time and one filled with anxiety.

I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch all of the George Floyd video…I just couldn’t. I watched a few seconds, but then I had to turn it off. It’s just too much…it’s all too much. I know all that I need to know…the police killed him right before the eyes of the world. The whole thing is rooted in racism and the disregard for black lives.

I’ve been heartened by all the huge protests across the country back home in the United States and around the world. There are people from all backgrounds. I have been reading a lot about the protests and have found that there have been deaths at the hands of police in other countries in addition to those in the United States. I have heard protestors outside of the United States say that they are out there to protest in solidarity with the United States and also this movement is highlighting the systemic racism in their own countries. I pray that real change happens worldwide.

Racism is ugly and it infects society around the world. I have felt its terrible sting back home in the United States. I’ve felt it here in the UK, when I’m followed around practically every store that I visit or when my so-called neighbors watch my every move with suspicion or when white women clutch their purses as I pass by them while I'm minding my own business. After I pass them sometimes, I'll glance back and they'll let go of their purses and they dangle and other non-black people pass by unscathed by constant suspicion.

One of my work colleagues, who is white, and I were recently discussing racism, in light of what has been happening with all of the protests. She said that at least the UK didn't have problems with racism. I told her that actually I've felt racism on both sides of the Atlantic and her mouth dropped open when I told her about some of the things that I've been through. It was like what I was saying didn't compute...it didn't fit the narrative of what she believed about the UK. She tried to reason that perhaps it was because the incidents happened outside of London. I told her that some did and some didn't. She was thoroughly shocked when I told her that I was followed around shops in London too and the whole nine yards. That's the thing, people like to think that racism happens in other places, but racism can and does happen globally. America definitely has its problems with racism, but it is not alone in this....not...at...all.

I’ve felt racism in a very pronounced way during a time in my life when I should have not had a care in the world, when I was on my honeymoon in 2006 in the Canary Islands. We were treated so badly by the hotel, the hotel restaurant host, the hotel staff, and the tour guides. I couldn't wait to leave. It broke my heart and for a while, it broke something within me. Racism is so tiring and crushing and exhausting and yes violent, very violent, as we see in cases of police brutality.

Whenever the crushing sorrow of racism just grinds me down and I become immobilized, I read a favorite quote from Toni Morrison that always snaps me back on course, even if only for a little while.

“The very serious function of racism … is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being. Somebody says you have no language and so you spend 20 years proving that you do. Somebody says your head isn’t shaped properly so you have scientists working on the fact that it is. Somebody says that you have no art, so you dredge that up. Somebody says that you have no kingdoms and so you dredge that up. None of that is necessary.”

- Toni Morrison

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Spaghetti Sunday Healing

Spaghetti on plate

Simply a picture post today...

I made spaghetti for lunch/dinner today and it was AMAZING!!!

I think it's the best that I've ever made πŸ™‚

These days I'm celebrating the little things...they are healing πŸ’• 

Happy Sunday 

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Thursday Tree



This is mostly a photo post, just because I love trees!!!

I posted this photo on Instagram today. 

The sky was so blue with a few fluffy clouds that passed by breezily. This tree was glorious as it shimmered in beautiful bright green and danced in the breeze. 

I had a shaky start this morning because I woke up thinking about my sister and missing her...I allowed myself to feel the loss and I sat with my feelings and then I smiled, because I thought of her and us laughing and the memories saved me. 

This gorgeous tree dancing in the afternoon sunlight
made me think of my sister. She loved trees too.

What a beautiful day!

Saturday, May 09, 2020

Sitting Outside Again


I posted the photo above earlier today on Instagram. I took it as we sat outside underneath the tree in our backyard here in Wiltshire, England. It has been an all too rare pastime for me even before the lockdown of this pandemic. It's not that I dislike sitting outside in nature...that isn't it at all. I'm a great nature lover. The reason that we aren't usually sitting outside is...well, I'll just say it has to do with a rather unfriendly set of neighbors who are in very close proximity next door. There is a fence separating us and we were safely socially distancing. However, they are always watching us, especially me, with an accusatory glance as if they are keeping an eye on me.

Note to the "neighbors": I am your "neighbor", not a burglar. 

The environment has not been a good one. However, today we just decided to go out and ACTUALLY enjoy our own backyard. Maybe it's the lockdown, maybe it's our freshly cut little lawn, maybe it's just finally getting to a point, after all that we've gone through recently on top of the pandemic...but we were just like "this is our space...let's enjoy it" and that's just what we did and it was wonderful.

I know that this may sound extreme to those who read this, but the effect upon our enjoyment of our yard and other places for me, especially for me as the "outsider", has been profound and has been hard on my mental health. The "outsider" experience has definitely left a mark on me that I am finally fed up with and am actively working on healing. A shift has happened and I really don't care anymore. Let them look...let them think whatever they want about me...just let me be. It's easier said than done when you have to deal with this ridiculous scrutiny, but I'm done folding myself into a tiny square in order to take up less space in this life. Life is to be lived. Losing my sister and all of the heaviness of these times that we're living in, has changed my perspective on so much forever.

I had forgotten just how wonderful it is to just sit outside in your backyard...I can count the amount of times that I've sat out there over fourteen years on one hand...no joke...no hyperbole...just facts. It may sound ridiculous, but oh the crippling energy has been so real for me. It's sad when I think of that, but I can't go back and change it, I can only go forward.

When we went outside, we both took a book to read, but I ended up spending 95% of the time just looking around and looking up at the beautiful green canopy of leaves overhead. I listened to the sweet birds singing and I felt more alive than I have in a long time. Imagine that...something so normal felt like heaven to me.

Friday, May 01, 2020

May and Baking




Happy new month to everyone. It's May again and I'm grateful to see it. It's been a strange time as we continue through this time of quarantine. Also, with the loss of my sister Mary two weeks ago, everything really just seems to be perpetually out of sync. I can't believe that it's been two weeks already. I'm doing a bit better on the surface, but underneath, I'm just going through my grief hour by hour and day by day. Anyone who has gone through grief knows what this is like. We just have to do the best that we can individually in whatever way that works for us. Second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day...

My sister was a good cook, like most of my family. I can cook too, but I've never been able to master baking. I used to joke and talk with my sister about how terrible of a baker I was. She would laugh with me and then she'd offer tips. 

Well, I think the tips might have finally worked...

I made banana bread and it is absolutely delicious...so moist and light.

I know that Mary would be proud. I think I'll give this baking thing a few more tries. I might just turn into a good baker (smile). Thank you for the tips Sis! 


Saturday, April 25, 2020

Peace


Today has been a back and forth day for me. In some moments, I have thought of my sister and smiled, as I remembered her or a time that we shared together. In some moments, I have struggled and it seems that this struggle has intensified as the afternoon has blended into evening and now into night. Usually it's worse for me in the morning. In those first few seconds after I wake up, I often for a couple of seconds, think that perhaps it has all been a bad dream that my sister has passed away. However, reality very quickly sets in and I feel the weight of her passing.

I've been through grief before in my life...my father, my mother and my brother, however, it's like falling back down a hill now. I have evidence from past experience that I have gone through grief and emerged out of the other side...changed just a little, but I have survived. However, I'm starting back at square one again and I can't remember how I got through it before. I guess it's not something that you remember how to do, you just do it with time. All that I remember from times before is that it was hard...very hard.

I am giving myself the chance to feel how I feel because I know that that is the process. I am trying to accept that my sister is at peace now and I am grateful for that.

Peace...

I guess I do remember something from previous times. It's a process of second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour and day by day.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Flowers For My Sister



Flowers for my sister Mary...

I will miss you forever, but I know that you will be with me...be with the family always. Thank you for your love, advice, kindness, protection, guidance, example, sacrifice and SO MUCH MORE.

Thank you for all that you taught me and for lighting the way for me as I grew up, all the way from when I was a baby into my adulthood. You were always there, a constant in my life, and I feel a void right now. However, I know that you're not physically here, but you're always with me.

You planted a seed in my life and it continues to grow and it will continue to flourish within me for the rest of my life. I am who I am because of you my sweet sister and I will be forever grateful that you are my sister and that we've had the blessing of experiencing this life together.

I love books and flowers and interesting new food and eclectic things and exploring new places and beautiful things because of you. You gave me a curiosity about life and opened my eyes to so much. I love the beach because I've spent so many times walking on beaches with you, feeling the wind in our face and the sand beneath our bare feet.

Thank you Mary for being such a great big sister, a second mother and my everything. I know that you will be with me with every step that I take, with every tear that I will shed, and you'll be with me in every great moment that I will experience for the rest of my life. I will carry you with me in my heart forever Sis. Until we meet again...

Thank you for everything.

I love you ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤

Rest in peace πŸ™πŸ½

Sunday, April 19, 2020

My Sister Mary

I took this photo back in January while I was on a messenger video call with my sister Mary. She stepped outside into the front yard and these tree branches were above her head. I took a screenshot as she lined up the shot. We talked a lot in this way across the 4,200 miles that separated us, but when we talked like this it felt like I was right there with her. I'm glad that we had those talks. I will never forget them.



Our big sister Mary…as my brother Walter said on Facebook…got her wings on Friday. Our hearts are broken because we miss her, but as he mentioned, we have many wonderful memories of her to last throughout our lifetime.

Mary was a daughter, a big sister and an auntie to many and she was a nurse. One of my nieces affectionately called her “Nurse” and it brought Mary great delight because that was who she was…a nurturer always and that is one of the many things that I will remember about her. She was a big sister to William (she is reunited with him and our parents now), Annie, Grace, Geraldine, Walter, and me. As an auntie to our many nieces and nephews, she was their ride to school, nurse, friend and SO much more.

For me, Mary was like a second mother. I can trace so much of who I am today to all that she shared with me as I grew up. When my daddy passed away, I was only twelve. Mary was quite a few years older than me and without missing a beat, she stepped up to stand beside my mom to help raise me. She and Mama together made sure that I had what I needed. Even though my heart is broken, I take some comfort in knowing that I had the chance to thank her for what she did for me while she was still here. Mary, like all of my older brothers and sisters, had a great effect upon me as I watched them all in order to learn how to live.

Mary’s example made me love books…I would see her reading when I was little, and I know that that made me want to be like her and I thank her for that. Mary gave me my first taste of pizza, eclairs, fancy pastry and so many other foods. She was an adventurous eater and that was something that we shared. Mary was my cultural events buddy. One of the highlights was seeing the Alvin Ailey Dance Company with her and my mom one summer evening about sixteen year ago. She also made it possible for the teenage me to see Luther Vandross perform from the 3rd row!!!

Due to the coronavirus, I am not able to go home to be with my family right now and it breaks my heart just that bit more. These times are sad for many who have lost loved ones and cannot mourn them as usual. My sister did not have coronavirus, but I can relate to what many are going through at this time in the history of the world. It’s hard…so very hard.

When I think back on the time that we shared, I realize that a great many of the things that I love now are because she planted the seed in me since the day I was born. I can never thank her enough for her guidance and love throughout my life. I will miss her as all of my family and our friends will. She is not physically here anymore, but the love and memories of her will go on forever.

Thank you Mary, we love you!


Sunday, April 12, 2020