Island Soul City Dreams

I love New York, but my heart has a Caribbean beat. It pulsates to the traditions of my people. Attuned to the rhythms of this City, I stay West Indian to the bone. I reflect. I analyze. I speak my mind. ~ I Keep it Irie ~

Archive for the tag “Barbados”

It’s My 25th Birthday – Again! And I’m Happy And Thankful

At one of the places that makes me most happy - a gorgeous white sand beach in my beautiful Barbados.

At one of the places that makes me most happy – a gorgeous white sand beach in my beautiful Barbados.

Every year since I turned 25 for the 10th time, as I approached my birthday, I’ve had a tendency to get depressed. Not because I’m sorry to be aging or to be in the land of the living. Oh no, I’m beyond grateful for life and to be alive. But like many of us have a habit of doing as we mark another year on the calendar, I usually find myself reflecting on my journey and instead of focusing on all the ways in which I’ve been blessed, I lament on all that’s missing from my life. The husband, the twin daughter and son, the luxurious house, the chocolate brown Labrador Retriever, that dream job, that “fantasy” Abraham Maslow created – self actualization.

This year again as Jan. 30 drew near, that feeling of depression started to creep up on me. But merely for a few fleeting moments. As those usual dark thoughts began to plaque my mind, I found myself going, “Hell, no, I’m in too great a space for this.” Today, for the first time in years, I start my birthday with no feelings of sadness, regrets or wishful thinking.

My day actually kicked off with me doing one of the things that I love most – writing. As the clock struck midnight, I was sitting at my desk in the newsroom working on a story that would soon top our homepage. It was a heartbreaking story about a terrorist act that took the lives of six people at a mosque in Quebec City. I find no joy in writing or hearing such stories. But the opportunity to be part of an amazing team this past year that impacts the world daily with the work we do, the stories we tell, is one of the key reasons, it’s been easy to focus on my blessings.

To say from last birthday to today’s has been an incredible chapter is an understatement. It’s been a year where I’ve had to adapt to a new home in a new city after living in my beloved Brooklyn, New York neighborhood – my adapted home for more than a decade. My move to Washington, D.C. started off challenging, but overtime, I started to develop a great appreciation for the change and to stop comparing it to New York. Because, truth be told, nothing, absolutely nothing compares to New York City.

But I can still now safely say, here in the District, I’ve found a haven.

It’s been a year, where for the first time in a long time I’ve awoken every day excited about going to work, loving what I do at work, enjoying the team with which I work. A year where I’ve found myself saying repeatedly, “I have my dream job.” Thank you NPR.

It’s been a year where I was hurt in the worst way by two of my dearest family members. A lesson learnt in forgiveness and rebuilding a bond so badly broken, ensued.

A year in which I’ve lost a few people I cherished, key among them my maternal grandmother, Doreen.

It’s been year where I was reminded how much I hate dating, a year of having to kiss a few more frogs and finding that none of them turned into a prince. But more importantly, it’s been a year where I reconnected with the man I’ve long considered the love of my life, who, in his inimitable way, reaffirmed my belief that’s he the best and most amazing man I’ve ever had. He’s a timely and much-needed reminder that I’ve been loved, am loved and worthy of unconditional unrequited love.

Sure, there were some tears, fears, frustrations, mistakes and disappointments throughout the year, but they added to helping me get to know me better.

It’s been a year where I’ve continued to improve my health and fitness, to grow closer to my mom, enhance my bond with relatives and my dearest friends. Moreover, it’s been a year where I’ve strengthened my faith, built a better relationship with God, prayed and praised Him more and been truly feeling His joy totally restored to my life.

So for all these reasons and more, for my first birthday in eons, I find it easy to refuse to focus on what I do not have. The following quote totally resonates with me:

“Sometimes pain becomes such a huge part of your life that you expect it to always be there, because you can’t remember a time in your life when it wasn’t. But then one day you feel something else. Something that feels wrong only because it’s so unfamiliar and in that moment you realize you’re happy.” – One Tree Hill 

Indeed, today, I am happy. I am joyful. I have complete peace of mind. On this my 25th birthday – again, I’m hopeful about my future, claiming all the blessings I know God has in store for me and fully cognizant that my timing isn’t His timing and that He’s working all things together for my good. Today, more than ever, I say, “Thank you God for everything.”

P.S. Happy birthday to my dear sister Sancia! Love you!😘🙏🏾

~ I Keep it Irie  ~

 

 

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A New Chapter Begins For Me; It’s Handled

Channeling my "Olivia Pope," 'cause in 2016 I'll be approaching any challenge with, "It's handled."

Channeling my “Olivia Pope,” ’cause in 2016 I’ll be approaching any challenge with, “It’s handled.”

On this my “25th” (*cough*) birthday, I want to briefly testify of God’s grace in my life. I had no plans to make any of the following information public anytime soon, but I see the need to share it to encourage those of you “going through” to NEVER give up on God.

The past year was one of my most challenging ever – in every sphere of my life! I gave up a “safe” job for what I thought to be a better opportunity but it turned out to be otherwise. I met and fell in love with what I thought to be an amazing man, but he trampled all over my heart and even impregnated another woman. I found myself jobless, financially challenged, heartbroken and broken, dealing with what I like to call “immigrant issues” (some of which I know my fellow US transplants have encountered) and overall going through a dark period of depression, at times shutting close friends out. My faith was tested beyond measure. Sure, I continued to post photos with my ever present smile, but offline, away in my solitude, the tears scarcely stopped.

Through it all, as challenging as it was, I relied heavily on my faith. I thought of all the trials God had brought me through, times where I, in this country not having a single relative or my closest friends here felt alone, painfully lonely, lost, had no solution to the challenge at hand and figured “it’s a wrap” but somehow, He came through. And so over the past few months, I kept challenging God to order my steps, to open up new doors and to teach me to “wait on Him.” I also realized that it was OK to swallow my pride and to let my close friends in, to request their help, to tell them what I was truly feeling and going through and to ask them to pray for and with me for a much needed breakthrough.

God doesn’t always answer prayers in the manner and time we want, but it’s my testimony that He delivers in ways that far exceed our expectations. As I celebrate this birthday, this new year – my 25th for the umpteenth time – God has brought me to what is in many ways a new chapter in life: An incredible new job at an outstanding company working with some of the world’s best journalists; a fabulous new apartment; a new address – in a fantastic new neighborhood. And yesterday, for the first time in a while, I got my first bylined news article as seen here , for NPR, no less!  I’m both scared and excited at the possibilities ahead. But most importantly, I’m thankful and give God all the glory.

My favorite Bible verse is Isaiah 40:31: “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

Friends, no matter what your situation, please don’t give up on God, ’cause He won’t give up on you.

Please check out video below for highlights of the people, places and things in my beautiful Barbados that made Christmas Holidays and start of 2016 extra special.

~ I Keep it Irie ~

Why I’m Not Leaving My Abusive Relationship

Photo Credit: Google Images.

Photo Credit: Google Images.

I have an abusive man. He abuses me on various levels. But I’m not leaving him. Before you’re quick to judge, you ought to hear our story. Thereafter, you can be swift and merciless with your feedback. Given how often I’ve blogged about being single and my quest to find love, it may come as a surprise to many who know me to learn that I’m in a relationship. As one can understand, it’s challenging to speak about my dysfunctional union. Unlike most abusive relationships, however, I don’t take my man back primarily for the good he does to pacify me after a battering, rather, I stay with him because every time he gives me a beat down, I learn a lesson; I’m the better for it. He keeps me on my toes, he’s the epitome of tough love and despite the tears he occasionally causes me, I couldn’t see my life without him. At present, I know he’s the one for me and I pray to God daily that things will work out between us.

My man is CJ. I first met him in the mid to late ‘90s, while still living in my native Barbados. And not to sound cliché, it was love at first sight, at least for me. Physically, he was unlike any other I’d ever seen. I watched him in awe from top to bottom, like a magnet, he drew me in. He was full of life, bright, bold, smart, sexy, educated, worldly, well put together, accommodating, simply mesmerizing. Our connection was beautiful and organic. With him, I felt like I was at home. AIas, I was already committed to another and wished to remain loyal, so as difficult as it was to tear myself away from this new and exciting man, I had to part ways with him. Little did I know then, that we’d meet again in the not-too-distant future. Read more…

I Love Her And I Don’t Care What You Think

UPDATED NOV. 30, 2016

I’ve been in love with her from the first time I laid my eyes on her. No, I’m not talking about loving my mother, or my sister, or grandmother. But she means as much to me as these special and most important women in my life. Just like them, she has been and forever will be tied to my heart, my soul, my existence, my legacy. She has been with me from my very humble beginnings and she never lets me forget that, no matter how long I’ve not seen her or how many miles apart we may be. She and I have a bond that many of my friends and even some of my own relatives can never understand. A few of them actually envy our relationship.

From my happy childhood days growing up in a tiny village through my rebellious teenage/secondary school years, into my soul searching young adulthood living in the “heights,” to now as I’m trying to live the dream in this concrete jungle, she has remained my rock. She has been always one to inspire me, to show me that no matter how small, unknown or seemingly insignificant to others I may be, that I can make a big impact in this world. She has taught me some of the most crucial lessons in life: about family; friendships; romance; sex; fortitude; work ethic; career; sacrifice; selflessness. She helped shape my personality; my gregarious, “cool under fire” nature; my sarcastic wit; my no BS attitude; my go-getter spirit; my faith in God. Read more…

Doing It With Love: A Sweet Soca Story

I was a teenage student in my native Barbados when I bought my first album. In fact, it was not one, but two albums and they couldn’t be more different. One was “Tapestry” by Carole King and both the album and artiste remain among my all-time favorites. The other album, released in 1993, was by Square One, a top local Soca band and it was entitled, “Square Roots”. “Tapestry” was on CD and “Square Roots” was on cassette. I was mainly able to listen to the former when I was at home with access to the CD player. But since we were still in the era of the Walkman, I could listen to “Square Roots” to my heart’s content. From the day I took that plastic off the cassette, I was locked on to Square One’s infectious rhythms, be it as I traveled on the bus, walked around my neighborhood, or hung out with friends where we’d unplug the headphones, play the music out loud and sing and dance along. As was the Bajan saying back then, “Man, I stretched out dat tape (cassette)!” My favorite track on that album was a slow to medium tempo tune, “Special”, because it simply made me feel that way.

With Biggie Irie of Barbados.

Me with Biggie Irie of Barbados.

Like most Barbadian teenagers at the time, I loved the band Square One. Many of my girlfriends and I had a crush on its cute lead singer Anderson “Young Blood” Armstrong, while our male peers were infatuated with his gorgeous co-lead vocalist Alison Hinds. Square One was the epitome of energy, had wicked drum and bass lines, scintillating keyboard harmonies, tantalizing steel pan melodies and vocalists that commanded the stage and sent the audience in a frenzy. They were Bajans playing “our” music and had quickly become a national treasure, earning the moniker, “Soca Ambassadors”. One could imagine my excitement the year after buying their album, to meet in person members of Square One. Read more…

To Me She Was Carolyn

Were she still alive, Barbadian calypsonian Carolyn “Tassa” Forde would have turned 44 today. I originally wrote the following tribute when she died in 2011. I am reposting now on the occasion of her birthday. Happy birthday Carolyn! Continue to sleep sweetly, my friend. You are sorely missed.

20130501-174712.jpg

The late Barbadian calypsonian Carolyn “Tassa” Forde.

To me she was Carolyn. Not because we were bosom buddies or lifelong friends or even socialized often together. In fact, we were none of those things. Yet, to me, she was more than Tassa the entertainer: gifted singer, charismatic calypsonian. To me she was Carolyn because we shared a mutual admiration and respect for each other. So on a wintry Thursday when my mother called from Barbados to say, “I have some sad news; Tassa, the calypsonian died last night,” I screamed, “Oh no, not Carolyn!” I could not help it; I cried.

I stopped calling her Tassa, perhaps, within a few months after we met in the mid 1990’s. I’d only recently started working as a reporter at The Barbados Advocate and I was extensively covering the entertainment beat through which I met Tassa – as part of the line up of the House of Soca calypso tent. It was easy to be drawn to her dynamism on stage. Away from the crowd and the lights, her energy was even more magnetic. It was this presence: a gregarious nature; sharp intellect; delightful laugh; quick wit and compassionate spirit that drew me to Carolyn. Read more…

Ode To My Man

Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps had mad passion in love n basketball
But lemme tell ya, dem ent want nuttin wid me and my Bajan man at all.
R& R Honey Farms, Sister Marshall snow cones, nor de cane grounds in BIM
Can’t begin to compare to de sweet satisfaction uh does get from him.
Unless yuh experience dis kinda pleasure yuh really won’t onstand
But uh gine try to tell wunna bout de love in dis ode tuh my man. Read more…

The Power Of The “V”

V-Power.

Photo Credit Google Images.

From the time I was a little girl growing up in Barbados, I was always told that there’s power in the “V”. Today, more than ever, I’m convinced of this. Not that I didn’t buy into it as a child. After all, being raised in a devout Christian family, church was a significant aspect of my life. It was there, perhaps more than any other place, that the message was instilled in me that my “V” was a very sacred thing. It was preached that my “V” was to be cherished, well-cared for, guarded against any “slackness”, that it had a special purpose, that God Himself had ordained how and when it should be used.

My “V” was intended to create something beautiful, to bring forth life, and if I did a great job with the product of my “V”- this gift – my legacy will be secured long after I’m gone. I was cautioned that not any and everyone was worthy of my “V”. I had to save it for the right time, right setting, right recipient, and when the stars aligned for all these factors, giving of my “V” would be a euphoric moment, a freedom expressed like never before, I’d reach low and high octaves and might even be moved to tears with the emotions taking hold of me.

Read more…

My Favorite High School Teacher – A Reunion

It’s with bittersweet feelings that I write this piece. As I type, I’m sitting in my “window seat” on a Jet Blue aircraft which took off from the tropical shores of my beautiful homeland Barbados to return me to my adoptive home – exciting, but wintry New York City. Moments ago, as the blinding sun beamed through this tiny window, I squinted to get my final glimpses of paradise, clicking away on my iPhone camera to preserve each image for posterity. Even after almost a decade, every time I leave Barbados, I cry. Yet, I am always eager to embark on the new adventures the Big Apple has to offer.

This was my most emotional “home for the holidays” trip. Much of my time was spent with my immediate family, visiting relatives, dear friends and long-lost friends. Not that I don’t usually do so, but it featured more prominently on this occasion, with me limiting my usual attendance at countless social events. I reunited with people I had not seen in 10, 15 and in some cases almost 20 years. I met new additions to my family or friends’ families – children born since I moved to New York. I connected in person with Facebook friends who have now become friends, ran into former journalistic colleagues who’ve been promoted or have changed jobs, and saw folks that I’d almost forgotten.

Enjoying the view from Speightown boardwalk, Barbados.

Enjoying the view from Speightown boardwalk, Barbados.

I was warmly welcomed into the home of my first boyfriend’s parents; his mom still keeps a framed photo of me. One of my best friends and his wife took me out to an exclusive event, another drove me around the island showing me all the developments that have been taking place in my absence, others invited me over for lunch, dinner and even to stay over, and some took the trek to rural Barbados through potholes, sparsely lit streets, along cane fields and off the “main road” to my mom’s house just to see me.

There are many stories I can write about these “reunions” and over time I probably will, but the one I’ll share with you today is when for the first time in 15 years, I saw my favorite teacher from secondary school (high school). For each of us, I’m sure no memory of that pivotal period of our lives is complete without the thought of at least one teacher who in some way positively impacted our lives. As a student at Louis Lynch Secondary (formerly Roebuck Secondary School), there were a few teachers I admired, who helped mold me into the person I am today, but there’s one only one I called my favorite teacher. His name is Addison Cadogan. Mr. Cadogan was my Social Studies teacher. He taught me from first form – age 11 – until my graduation. I could go back to those early years and tell you why Mr. Cadogan holds such a special place in my heart, but I have a more recent memory that will show you why!

Read more…

Journey Beyond Paradise

As the holiday cheer heightens and the countdown to 2013 draws near, I find myself reflecting on my journey from Barbados to New York and the remarkable progress I’ve made over these past few years. I first wrote about the start to what has become an incredible chapter in my life during my Magazine Workshop – a capstone class in the master’s degree I earned at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. The class was taught by editor extraordinaire of The New Yorker, John Bennet, who had assigned us to write personal essays. For me, sharing this particular slice of my life was somewhat cathartic. My classmates and I read to one another our respective stories – all of which portrayed some challenge we had to overcome. Almost every narrative evoked tears. Today, I’ll expand my audience beyond the classroom to include you. This piece is an excerpt from the book I have yet to complete on my life story. I’d love to hear your feedback.

At the start of 2005, my life seemed almost perfect. I was living in my native Barbados, the easternmost of Caribbean islands where rejuvenating breezes cascade off the Atlantic Ocean. All year the sun kisses us a brilliant good morning and bids adieu with even more radiance as it sinks beyond horizons of white sand beaches and crystal clear blue waters. I was about to celebrate my 30th birthday on January 30 – a date shared with my younger sister who came screaming into this world the day I turned 4-years-old. She remains my best birthday gift ever. I was working as a reporter – the career I’d dreamt about from the age of 13 and I had an adoring boyfriend who’d lift me over a puddle of water into the car just so I wouldn’t soil my shoes. To top it off, every week, my mother baked my favorite treat – coconut bread – for which I’d travel for miles through narrow unpaved tracks in the lush, rural countryside of Barbados. It was looking like my best year yet. Read more…

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