About Me

Living in the Caribbean is probably like living anywhere else, with the same ups and downs. But it does have its own vibe and flavour and gives me a unique perspective on most things. I'm often sarcastic, mostly funny, always looking for a new adventure. I have not boxed myself into any one category of life. I love a lot of things and dislike a lot more. I write about them all.

Life is so Beautiful - Talking Health, Cancer, Dreams and Diem Brown

No matter what it is, you're going to have the bad days, but if you have hope throughout, you won, no matter what the results...Life is so beautiful. - Diem Brown

Diem Brown
Back in the day when people still watched MTV, shows like The Real World, Road Rules and the various RW/RR Challenges were popular and made seemingly spoiled kids household names.

Back in the day I used to watch these shows and do remember Diem Brown most of all because of her battle with cancer. Even when I stopped watching the shows, I kept up with Diem. She started MedGift - a website that provides support pages to those dealing with a medical crisis or illness. She beat cancer, then the cancer came back, she beat it again, it came back.

Diem lost her final battle against cancer today. She was only 32 years old.

There are two things I take away from this news story. The first is timely, as only this morning I went to get a pap smear done. No woman likes doing a pap smear. Pap smears suck. It is generally recommended that you get a pap smear every 3 years. I actually did one last year, but as part of my annual company medical I needed to do one again today. During our discussion about my personal health care management, the doctor commended me for my regular smear tests over the years. He said he speaks to his patients ad nauseum to do their pap smears and most never do. Pap smears can help doctors identify any cervical cell changes (dysplasia), treat them, thus reducing your risk for cervical cancer and the risk for abnormal cell changes (WebMD).

How many of us also do regular breast exams - whether it is self examinations or at the doctor's? While we cannot predict what happens to us most times, listening to the doctor this morning made me aware that even in the areas where we can be proactive, many women are not. This was scary to me.

Life is beautiful! Get tested! Be aware!

Secondly, the quote at the top of this post - a quote from an interview Diem did with People magazine.

Life is so beautiful.

A 32 year old woman is no longer walking this earth. She had so many dreams. She wanted to be a mother. She wanted the house, with the picket fence - all those things we dream about. She will nvere do or have those things now.

What are your dreams and are you living them, or working towards them? Are you scared of taking the next step towards that dream? It is okay to admit it because many of us are in that space or have been in that space. The tragedy is staying in that space.

Life is so beautiful.

Enjoy today and every day. The moments - simple and not so simple. The people in your life, those who love you and cherish you and vice versa. Diem Brown -

She dreamed of experiencing everyday pleasures, like apple picking in the fall, but more than anything, she said, she just wanted to live.

Selling Stones in the Ground

Stonehenge - a national treasure in England. An attraction most tourists flock to when visiting the UK. As a history buff myself, it was surely to be on my list when I trekked around England, and indeed, one day in brown traveller life, I ventured to Wiltshire to check it out.

There it was - the ring of standing stones, one of the most famous and recognisable sites in the world.  Was I willing to pay the £7.50 (the fee at the time; it is now double the amount) to go in? No. This may seem like sacrilege to many, but no...was not feeling it. Why?

Stonehenge - from beyond the fence.
I have small hands which fit through the fence nicely with my camera. lol.

1. I really was not willing to stand in the line for an hour just to see rocks in the ground
2. I could see the site just fine from where we were standing
3. When you paid the entrance fee, you did not get much closer to the site than if you stayed outside the fence
4. You had to fight up with the dozens and dozens of tourists and one lady complained bitterly later that she could barely get close to the stones
4. It did not fill me with the same sense of wonder I felt when I first laid eyes on the Eiffel Tower or the Leaning Tower of Pisa for example.

So no...it left me a bit deflated and disappointed, but not with any regret. I saw the site very well even from where I was standing outside the fence. I did not feel like being inside would have provided me with any real value. My photos looked pretty good, even though a wire fence separated me from the site. I even posed in front of the wire fence with a big smile on my face. And with my £7.50 still in my pocket, I was able to have a very nice meal later in the day.

Another "this is it?" moment was the tour of Kew Palace (not the gardens, which were a masterpiece, just the palace), Honolulu, and let's not forget the more recent Llandaff Ghost Walk in Cardiff, and these tours in particular have led me to believe that with the right packaging, you can sell anything to a gullible tourist.

Pigeon Point, Tobago

That being said, Trinidad and Tobago has more than its share of natural wonders and it is heartening to see that there is a lot more effort in recent times to create unique tours and experiences for visitors and locals alike. I would love to see more though. I mean, we are not lacking in entrepreneurial spirit as evidenced from the lovely people who charge you to babysit your mobile phone outside the US embassy. Nope. We can do anything we set our minds to. From the natural wonders like the Caroni Bird Sanctuary, Buccoo Reef and Nylon Pool and Asa Wright, to culinary adventures for the foodie traveller, or cultural immersion via tours and day-trips, shows and the like, we have a lot to offer. I mean people are selling spooky ghost stories and drawing pretty decent crowds. We have folklore - great folklore. We have history. We have rocks in the ground - the Growing Stone in Biche. We have amazing cuisine. Diverse and interesting cultural traditions. We have so much! We just need to be a bit more creative and outgoing in terms of how we market these wonders.

Happy Places - Those Moments that Make Everything Better

The wonderful Ray tagged me a while ago to share my Happy Places. I am also stealing her idea of adding a cute word cloud.

Happy Places - those places that are all yours - those moments that evoke warm feelings, feelings of safety, contentment.

As crazy as it sounds, and as much as I hate it - my morning workout. Every morning when that alarm goes off, I move about the house with a sense of dread. I unwillingly put on my gym clothes and lug all my baggage into the car. But once I am in the middle of the workout, my mind is clear, my music is driving me, I am emotionally cleansed - ready to start the day.

Speaking of which - music. Music takes me away from the reality of life. It is my constant companion - in traffic, at the gym, at my desk, while cooking. No matter how tedious an activity may be, or how annoying the world is around me, once my music is on, I take life to that other place - that happy place - where noone else can get in, where it is a population of one.

Coffee time. I mean, like duh. While weekday coffee time is usually punctuated by emails from someone wanting something now now now, or by meetings, real coffee time - where I can sit and leisurely sit with my cup, and maybe a biscotti, cookie or cheese puff - is happy time. It does not matter whether it is in a coffee shop setting where I am surrounded by life - by love, creativity, gossip, solitude - or on the balcony with just my tablet or my Kindle. Coffee time - where the warmth and goodness of ground beans, mixed with hot water, hot milk and honey just makes everything better.

Today's coffee time - Coffee and Toffee Crunch Biscotti - coffee time. Bliss.

My iced green tea is my new happy place as well, particularly in recent days with the intense heat.

Coming home from work and taking off the trappings of a long day. There is nothing quite like getting home after 12 hours at the office, 2 hours in traffic and just taking off all the junk that comes with that, taking a shower and slipping into my favourite plain black maxi dress. Bliss. It is truly amazing how heavy a necklace feels at the end of a work day, how tight and unbearable shoes feel, compared to just wearing a slip dress and stepping through the house with bare feet. It's indescribable really, how that feels.

Cooking also revives my spirit. Something about creating something out of nothing does that. My kitchen is like church! I worship regularly.

Aunty time. Seeing the different moods and reactions of a 4 year old and a 1 year old - extraordinary. From the 4 year old whose little eyes become wide as saucers when you say certain words like trucks, ice cream or pizza, to the 1 year old who is mastering her walking and running skills every day and is discovering new experiences daily.

These are just a few of my happy places. As I said before, maybe my life is not as exciting as others', but it is mine and I am content.

Questions and Answers

Question: Have you abandoned your blog?

This was a question posed to me by a loyal reader (one of my 1.5 loyal readers) after clicking on my blog over and over and seeing nothing new since September.

Answer: No, I have not really abandoned it. I like that it is there. I do feel like creativity has abandoned me. I always have the best of intentions and then I open up the blog app, and I am either too tired or too uninspired to fill the white space with words which make sense and which would make anyone want to read them. But I realise that not writing is also not good - it is like stifling that light inside until it is a mere flicker. So I am going to try (yet again) to not give up on the blog for too long.

Question: How come you didn't blog/tweet/Instagram this?

This was a more recent question (someone asked me this yesterday actually). I ran into a friend at a thing my mum and I were at, and later that evening, she messaged me to ask why I had not checked in or taken any photos. Ummm...cause I was just there for the experience. I mean - what did she want to see? She was there!!! lol. I don't think I need to chronicle every outing, every cough for the world. Not only that, I think I have spoken enough about not really being tied down to my phone, so I can leave it in the bag and just be somewhere without it. I must admit, I was really amused by her question - maybe people think I don't have a life because I don't tweet about every little thing I do. Granted, lately I have been sleeping a lot, but there are also birthday parties, baby showers, girls' nights out, countryside drives on the weekend, cooking adventures, property viewings, shopping trips, Mummy/daughter Saturdays, being the best aunty 2 kids can ever want. It may not always be the most exciting but it's my life - and it's mine to share or not share as I choose.

Question: So what's next?

It's Sunday. I have finished all the weekend chores. Sipping on my iced tea and soon going back to bed. Life is good.

How to Lose Weight on (the best) Vacation

As I sit typing this, I can barely walk. I resumed my regular morning workouts just last week after a 6-7 week hiatus, which included pre-vacation hustling time, a 3-week vacation and post-vacation indifference. It is always the same. Yesterday I worked legs – squats, lunges, upping the resistance on the cardio machines. Today, I am sore and miserable.

The good news is, despite the damage done by multiple “happy hours”, including pink beer in Amsterdam and coffee mojitos in Lausanne, as well the havoc wreaked by vacation foodie goodness, including Swiss cheese fondue and great pastries, I did not actually put any weight on. How is this possible? You don’t even have to pack gym clothes! This is how you do it.

One heavy suitcase. If you are on an extended vacation, and are not low maintenance, then you will still, despite your best efforts, have a heavy bag. We can talk about my success in only having ONE bag in another post. However, the limit on regular airlines like British Airways is 23kg, while on the budget airlines, I am only willing to pay for 20kg. So at the very least, you are going to be doing some weight lifting especially if it is a multi-trip itinerary. I had to hoist that bag in and out of taxis, trains, and hotels over a 3 week period, across 4 cities. That is a workout in itself, let me tell you. That pink bag is better than any weight machine.

The infamous globe trotting pink suitcase

Take the most inconvenient mode of travel. Taxis are a luxury in most any place. Taxis are also usually more expensive. The cheaper options like trains often come with their own challenges, but when viewed through the lens of weight management, one can turn challenges into freakin’ opportunities. Trains don’t drop you off in front of the hotel. Trains usually park your ass at some train station that can be as near as a 2 minute stroll or as annoying as a 20-minute huff and puff. Train stations also sometimes have stairs – no lifts, no escalators, but stairs. Tiring memories of London Victoria and Ealing Common come to mind as I hoisted my pink bag and brown self up and down multiple steps in agony. Taxis are for people who want the wonderful Italian dinner to stay on their hips. For the health conscious – take a train.

Avoid public transport and not only save money, but lose a pound or two. If your travel spot is gorgeous, as most tend to be, then why take a train, tram or bus to go everywhere? The canals of Amsterdam make for scenic walking routes and I did a lot of walking. Not always good for tired tourist feet but great for burning off the pink beer! At the end of my trip with a sore back caused by a pre-vacation fall down the stairs at home and lifting the pink bag everywhere, too much walking, particularly uphill walking as in Lausanne, was not the best option. But it still worked those glutes.

But still, take the train and be late for said train. I had forgotten about how “great” relying on public transportation can be, and even when on vacation, you can still find yourself running for trains. Don’t want to wait another 30-45 minutes in the cold at midnight in Geneva International? Run for the train, with pink bag. Don’t want to wait another hour for the train from Bournemouth to London? Run up the stairs, across the walkover, down the stairs and to the train door just as it is closing. Don’t want to be late for dinner date with friends? Run for the train! Yep…running for the train in Europe is inevitable. In the chase after the train you will probably lose necklaces (check), flip flops (check check), scarves (check) and the like. But there is nothing sweeter than losing a bit of weight (CHECK!!!).

Oh, and sit in the restaurant having cocktails while not checking your flight time and then realise you have 5 minutes to run about 100 miles from the table to the departure gate. That burns calories as well. These helpful tips should help you on future trips in managing all the goodies associated with vacation and your waistline!

*This blogger was not hurt in the pursuit of this weight loss.

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