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 “CaribScribe”

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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RIP: Remembering My Grandmother, Who Died Thanksgiving Day 2016

with-gran

The last time I saw my granny alive: At her house in St. Vincent and the Grenadines 2013.

My granny would grind cocoa beans and make cocoa sticks rich with cinnamon and all the good spices and send them from her home in St. Vincent to my mom in Barbados. She’d instruct my mom, “Send some for Maquita in New York .” I’d boil my water, drop in my cocoa stick, add some milk and a lil sugar and it’d make for the best homemade hot chocolate in the world!

I last saw my grandmother this month three years ago when I visited her for a week on the idyllic island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the place where my maternal navel string is buried. She’s not one for much chatting, but y’all know I’m little chatterbox, so I sure got her chatting. We talked about everything from how she currently spent her days to reminiscing about her childhood and young adult years. Most of it was marked by hard work, parenting, scarcely an idle moment, and every day spending time reading her Bible and giving God thanks.

On the penultimate day of my visit, while in the nation’s capital, Kingstown, I called and asked granny to make me her famous Johnny Cake (aka dough boy). It was almost 5 o’clock in the evening, “She responded, uh now yuh uh call fi Johnny cake? Is late, yuh see di time?” Anyway, she said to bring her a few pounds of flour and she’ll bake ’em for me.

Almost three hours later I got back to her house with about 10 lbs of flour. 🙈 But before I could step inside, I was greeted by a delicious aroma coming from the kitchen. Granny had gone ahead and used whatever flour she had and made me not one, not two, but three large Johnny cakes, that way I’d have enough to take some back to NYC. It was the best Johnny cake I’ve ever had. And not merely because of granny’s skills and secret recipe, but because my grandmother made everything with love.

As I left her house that November afternoon, I repeatedly hugged and kissed her, told her that I loved her and that I’d soon see her again. My grandmother looked me in the eye and said, “Girl, yuh nah see me again.” And then she too said she loved me.

Granny was right. This morning, I awoke to the heartbreaking news that my grandmother, Doreen Peters, 87, a dedicated wife of more than 50 years (predeceased by her husband) a loving mother of 11 (predeceased by one son), a doting granny to countless of us, a matriarch of her village and more than anything, a devout woman of faith, went quietly to be with her Lord and saviour.

So on this Thanksgiving Day, I give thanks for this incredible woman that helped impart in me a spirit of generosity, selflessness, strong discipline, work ethic and enduring faith in God. This woman who was the best mother to the best mother I could ask for, Victoria Peters.

Granny, I will miss you sorely. I will miss calling you and hearing the excitement in your voice when you realize it’s me, I will miss your laugh, your soft spoken voice and you always encouraging me to keep the faith. I love you to infinity. Say hi to my granddad and my Uncle Moses . May you Rest In Peace and rise in glory. 😢😘

~ I Keep it Irie ~

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 ~

I am Enough

For a moment there

You made me doubt my worth.

I thought I wasn’t good enough for you;

Thought I was too short, too small

Too poor, too un-American

Too unaccomplished, too unattractive

Thought I had the wrong job,

The wrong dreams, the wrong goals

That nothing I am or have could measure up

To your ideals and expectations.

I thought I wasn’t enough.

 

You said I wasn’t your only one

And you had no such plans for me,

Your revelations were devastating.

I wondered how to change your mind,

Thought I needed to do things differently,

That I had to be a better me.

I agonized over it, cried over it,

Became consumed with it

“Why doesn’t he want me?”

I thought about it, prayed about it.

“How could I be enough?’

 

Soon enough I got the answer,

A reminder:  I am enough.

All five feet two inches, 120 pounds of me,

Forged by faith, fortitude, sentimentality,

A sharp mind, selfless spirit, indomitable will

And a heart overflowing with love,

I am enough.

Enough beauty inside and out,

Enough smarts, passion, enough ambition,

Enough empathy, enough loyalty.

I am enough.

 

I’m enough of the things

That make me wonderfully uniquely me.

Nurturing enough, sweet enough,

Witty enough, sarcastic enough,

Enough of a talker, dreamer, crier, writer,

A big enough smile, big enough personality

Enough of all a woman needs to be;

Homemaker, professional, supporter,

A listener, friend, daughter, sister, aunt,

I am enough as a lover, a mother, a wife,

As a faithful servant of God,

I am enough.

Heck, I am more than enough.

by Maquita “Queenie” Peters

~ I Keep it Irie ~

For Larry’s nephew A3. 

I am enough.

I am enough.

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…

On Turning 40, Er I mean “25”

They say life begins at 40?;-)

They say life begins at 40?;-)

When I was a teenager, ages like 30 and 40 seemed really old. When I marked my 25th birthday (for the first time), I felt as if I were grown, that I knew all about life. When I finally turned 30, I thought, “Oh my gosh, where did the years go?”

My 30s have been my most challenging, most exciting, most memorable years; the years in which I’ve taken the most risks, suffered the worst heartbreaks, took my career and education to a higher level, the years in which I’ve matured and learnt the most. In my 30s, I truly discovered who I was and the kick-ass tough stuff of which I’m made.

Reflecting on when I was 21, I thought that by now I would have long been married, borne my twins, living in the proverbial house with a picket fence, ably guarded by my brown Labrador Retriever and black Rottweiler. As an old adage goes, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” For sure, God had and has completely different plans for me than I envisioned.

As I approached my birthday, I’ve been overcome by conflicting feelings. On the one hand, there’s been a sense of unaccomplishment about certain aspects of my life, there’s been a feeling that I am unofficially saying goodbye to my youth, and there’s just the incredulity that I’m already this age! I still feel as if there’s a little Caribbean girl trapped inside, waiting to grow up.

On the other hand, as I reminisced about my journey from St. Vincent to Barbados to Trinidad to Canada and to the USA, as I thought about the relatives and cherished friends I’ve lost along the way, as I grieved with my friend Moni who recently lost her dear mom, and my “bredren” Bertram (25) who only last week buried his beloved mother (who died two days before her 48th birthday), the reality of my own mortality hit me.

I’m reminded of what a blessing it is to awake to a new day, what a miracle it is to be able to celebrate another birthday. So today, I will not wallow in self-pity about what is missing from my life, but I will give thanks. Thanks for all I’ve achieved by the grace of God, whether tangible or intangible. Thanks for all the wonderful people, the angels in my life that have held my hand at whatever leg of this journey. Thanks that on January 30, many years ago, Victoria gave birth to her firstborn, and that four years later on that same date she gave me my best birthday gift ever, my sister Sancia. Thanks that my sweet, loving mother nurtured me into the God-fearing, fearless, faithful woman I am today.

Yes, today, I give my heavenly Father thanks for opening my eyes on this my 40th er, I mean 25th birthday. #Fab40

~ I Keep it Irie ~

P.S.: While in Barbados for Christmas and New Year’s, I launched my birthday celebrations and used the opportunity to ask my longtime friends there, some of the people who know me best to share their favorite memories/reflections of me and thoughts on our friendship. I recorded their responses on my iPad and iPhone and made a “movie” of it with a soundtrack that’s my testimony. Click on this link and check it out. I promise, you’ll be entertained. Thanks and one love.:-)

Life is a beach - especially at 40.:-)

Life is a beach – especially at 40.:-) Photo taken at Sam Lord’s Castle Barbados Christmas Holidays ’14-15.

Delicious Home-cooked Caribbean Meals

Most of what I eat is home-cooked by me. And pretty much most of those dishes are native to my beautiful homeland Barbados and the wider Caribbean region. Be it breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert, I almost always have a taste of my beloved Caribbean spicing up whatever I cook. Over the past few years, I’ve produced vlogs and photo stories sharing recipes of many of these dishes with my growing circle of American and international friends. I’m happy to share some of those creations now in this photo gallery.

From Bajan salt bread, jam puffs and our national dish “Coucou and Flying Fish,” to Trinidad-style dhalpuri roti and chicken pelau, Jamaican jerk cuisine and dumplings, to and Vincy-style coconut drops, hot cross buns and peanut brittle, I present an array of my delectable homemade Caribbean dishes. My diet is predominantly fish/seafood and I occasionally eat chicken, so the photos will reflect this. All photos were taken with my trusty iPhone camera.

Should you require a recipe for anything you see, please don’t hesitate to ask, I’ll be happy to share.  So, please tell me, what is your favorite Caribbean dish? Comment below!

~ I Keep it Irie ~

Don’t Be Ashamed of Depression, Don’t Be Afraid To Live

Hope1In my last blog post for 2013, I Kicked Her Butt, I wrote about some of the darkest moments of my year and how on reflection, I realized that those dreary days were outshone by the unconditional love, invaluable time spent with and unwavering support from my family and closest friends. Above all, it was my relentless faith in God, long instilled by my devout Christian mother, that enabled me to appreciate the blessings amidst the storm. The latter was the mindset I adopted as the dawn broke on 2014. Like for many other people, the start of the year signaled exciting new possibilities, dreams being fulfilled, a spirit of invincibility, renewed hopefulness. I felt armed and ready for what I declared was going to be the best year of my life yet. But before I could even celebrate my birthday at the end of January, everything that could go wrong in every sphere of my life started to go wrong. Read more…

A Part of Me Died Today

Today marks two years since I lost my dear Uncle Moses. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss him and think of him. Continue to sleep sweetly, Uncle Moses. Our family is not the same without you. I, rather, we will always love you.

Island Soul City Dreams

I had today’s blog post all planned. Over the past couple days I had been preparing another product – Caribbean-style to share with you. And while it’s not exactly a culinary treat, I’d hoped it would have brought some cheer. But this morning, I awoke to the sad news of the death of my Uncle Moses in Barbados. As my mother asked the words over the phone, “Are you sitting down?” I started screaming, “It better not be my Uncle Moses, not my Uncle Moses.” It’s no secret to anyone in our family that among my mother’s 10 siblings he was my favorite. He was my grandparents’ third son and the child born just a few years after my mom.  Had he lived to see his birthday on May 9, my Uncle Moses would have turned 52.Google Images

I struggle to find the words to write as I eulogize my Uncle…

View original post 626 more words

Children And Testing – The Bajan Edition

At Grantley Adams International Airport, Barbados 2013 getting goodbye kisses from my nephew Nicholai before I returned to NYC.

At Grantley Adams International Airport, Barbados 2013 getting goodbye kisses from my nephew Nicholai before I returned to NYC.

My sweetheart sister Sancia pissed me off this past week. And if you know me, you know she’s my world. Born on the day I turned 4, I consider Sancia my best birthday gift ever! I’ve loved her from day one, and growing up, even though I was always the smaller one between the two of us, I always felt like her protector, like a big sister. She has always been a darling, thoughtful, generous, bright, one of the most naturally intelligent people I know, highly intellectual, compassionate, she possesses a sharp wit, and just like our mother, is fortitudinous beyond imagination. Like me, she loves a good laugh. Unlike me, she’s tolerant of people and their BS. Whatever our similarities or differences, my mom constantly says we have made her extremely proud. One of us has also made her a proud grandmother – my sister, with her gifted son, my beloved nephew, Nicholai. I’ve previously blogged about Nicholai in “I Got Mail – A Handwritten Letter”  and in “My Little Track Star.” Just like his mother, Nicholai is tied to my heartstrings. There is very little either of them could do wrong by me. Over the years, as siblings do from time to time, my sister and I have had our differences, but whenever it came to her differences with anyone else, be it our mom or Nicholai’s estranged father, or whatever challenge Sancia has had to face, I’ve always found myself in her corner.

On Wednesday, the results came back for the Barbados Secondary Schools Entrance Examination, popularly referred to as the Common Entrance Exam or the 11+. The exam is taken by primary school students for placement at any of the island’s 22 secondary schools and tests their skills in English, math and composition writing. Here in New York, the equivalent (of sorts) to the 11+ might be considered the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test taken by academically and artistically gifted students. Unlike this select group of students, in Barbados, however, every pupil that turns 11 by August 31 of an academic year must take the 11+. The higher their test scores, the better their chances of securing a coveted place at one of the more prestigious schools. Again, for my New Yorkers, consider the competition for and prestige of schools such as Brooklyn Latin School, Bronx High School of Science, Brooklyn Tech, Staten Island Technical High School, and Stuyvesant High School etc. In Barbados, the elite or older secondary schools as they’re called include: Christ Church Foundation School; The St. Michael School; The Lodge School; Combermere; Queen’s College (QC), and the institution that has traditionally been number one – Harrison College (HC) a.k.a. Kolij. Harrison College has produced five of Barbados’ seven prime ministers and its students hold the record for winning the most government scholarships and awards to pursue tertiary education. Nicholai gained entry, or as we say in Barbados, “passed” for Harrison College. He is disappointed. My sister is depressed. Read more…

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