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.

Love is the Greatest Adventure - TW Wed-Zine 2015

Behind the scenes of the TW Wed-Zine photo shoot
Photo credit: Antony Scully
So have you started planning your wedding?
More than half of single women have already planned their wedding before they have found a groom...
Millions of women still looking for 'Mr Right' have researched elements churches, flowers, reception venues, bridesmaids dresses and the car which will take them to the church.
...nearly two thirds of single females have planned their wedding day since they were a child.
And 34 per cent of unspoken-for women regularly browse the web for inspiration on flowers, dresses and elaborate venues.
- Findings of an Interflora survey in the UK, as reported by The Telegraph.

As a single gal, I can attest to this, and unashamedly. A woman's wedding day is something that has its genesis from perhaps as early as when she got her first doll. Whether it is a lavish 600 guests-strong affair, a simple beach wedding, a subdued civil ceremony or an intimate destination wedding, a woman's special day is something she has been planning in one form or another, for years.

When the question has finally been popped, the real work begins - taking the childhood dream from an idea to reality. A lot of times, the dream has been formed through media experiences - what a girl sees on tv, or in the movies, or in glossy foreign magazines. For local couples though, the search for ideas, concepts and recommendations is much closer than they think.

Trinidad Weddings has just released its latest issue of its increasingly popular TW Wed-Zine - a top resource for brides- and grooms-to-be (yes, grooms plan too), and is an official how-to, go-to, what-to for weddings in 2015. Also popular among wedding vendors, planners and students, the TW Wed-Zine is not only a great resource, but it is a locally produced resource and one that is of an exceptional standard.

TW Wed Zine 2015

TW Wed Zine 2015

The beautiful brides of the TW Wed Zine 2015 cover
Photo Credit: Aarti Gosine

I love that one gets a full feel of what a wedding can be - from the international trends to what can be delivered locally from industry experts. Editor and founder, Simone Sant-Ghuran launched the 2015 magazine recently at ZaZou Bistro Moderne at the Trinidad Country Club, which in my estimation, oozes love and romance so it was a perfect venue to talk love, marriage...

...and adventure.
This year, the magazine’s theme of “Love is The Greatest Adventure” ties in with an emphasis on outdoor weddings. This issue features several take-your-breath-away love stories from deep in Tobago’s mangrove, a Port of Spain hill top, a rustic log cabin, the Temple By The Sea at sunset, the Wild Fowl Trust, a residential garden and even, the first Catholic wedding held “down the islands.”
TW Wed-Zine Founder and Editor, Simone Sant-Ghuran at the mag launch at ZaZou Bistro
Beautiful dress by CLD - Charu Lochan Dass and accessories by Rachel Rochford

Roses and chocolate at the mag launch - what says love better?
Flowers provided by Latitude 0 and Floral Artistry by Flowers to Treasure
Chocolate Tarts provided by the awesome team at ZaZou Bistro Moderne

Weddings are not all cut from the same cloth and the magazine recognises that couples all want something unique to them. The assortment of wedding stories and ideas can only help the excited lovebirds to refine what they want out of their big day - or at least one hopes, if they are not like me - always overly excited about the choices available.

But it is a must-buy I think. I don't know of anyone who has been married, who has planned their wedding, and who has not referred to someone or something to bring their wedding dream to reality. Love is an adventure and planning a wedding should be an adventure - a good one. There was one day in London, a friend decided she just wanted to go try on wedding dresses. Neither of us were engaged - hell, neither of us were dating. But it was great fun telling the salesgirls about the dream wedding neither of us were having - at the time, But hope for the day is alive. Every girl has that dream wedding in their minds, and I think TW Wed-Zine is an amazing ride for those chasing the dream.

-----
  • This year, readers anywhere in the world can also purchase a hardcopy if they wish. Both the digital and hardcopy versions can be purchased HERE.
  • The TW Wed-Zine is sold at 30 retailers throughout Trinidad and Tobago
  • For more visit the website - www.trinidadweddings.com 
  • Check out the behind the scenes video for the Love is the Greatest Adventure themed cover below.


My (Somewhat) New Role as a Big Sister

For those who may not know me, I am a big sister. I have one sibling - a younger brother. We used to fight, make up, watch tv together, go out together, participate in kitchen adventures together, meaning I would cook and he would eat. Being a big sister to him, as annoying and vexing as he can be at times, is a great thing. He is super lucky to have a sister like me. lol

Now, I am a Big Sister again. This time, it is to someone I only met this week and whom I am just getting to know.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am finally participating in the Big Brother/Big Sister Programme, with the Heroes Foundation of Trinidad and Tobago. I am matched with a Little through the Foundation's new Corporate Workplace Mentoring model, which facilitates the recruitment  of Bigs from one organisation and brings the Bigs and Littles together in the workplace, albeit in a non-stifling, casual setting. It can be really hard for corporate types to make time to volunteer. Personally, my work days start when I open my eyes at 3am and they end when I get home some 16 hours later. My weekends can often be a rush, so carving out the time at work is perfect for me. For those of you out there, who want to give back but struggle with being available and committed, this could work for you.

I was soooooo excited about this, I cannot tell you. I have always wanted to participate in this programme after hearing of the heartwarming and fulfilling experiences from others who were part of similar programmes overseas. I was a teenager once, believe it or not, and remember some of the angst, the confusion, the pressure of transitioning from girlhood to womanhood. I had the support of family and at school, we also had the support of our 8-hour mothers - our teachers. But there was nothing quite as powerful as having someone who looked like me, sounded like me and who went through the same trials and joys as I did, reach out and offer words of support and advice - not as a teacher or a priest, but as a friend.

So being a Big Sister is my way of paying it forward to a young woman who is just where I was at that age - trying to find her own space in the world. I am thankful for all the influences I have had in my own life and having never had a little sister, I was really excited about being offered this great opportunity.

So I met my Little Sister this past week and she is so cute. I had asked that I be matched with someone creative, who likes the arts, music, books and the like. Someone not too quiet as I am chatty. She is an amazingly talented artist - she sketched for me and she is really good. She loves to sing and she loves music so in that regard, we are exactly the same. However, I do not like Ariana Grande - she is a teenager so I will give her that. We both like sports but she likes playing sports while I am a mere albeit often obsessed spectator. She likes languages, as do I. She likes to write, but not to read -an odd fact I thought but that is who she is. She wants to see the world with the Maldives being at the top of her list and she was not impressed that I travel regularly but that I had not yet been to her top spot. We learnt some more about each other, realised we have quite a lot in common.

I am not surprised by that because the process to become a Big Sister is a rigorous one. Besides all the screening to ensure you are not a felon, there is a deep dive interview where the coordinators get to REALLY know you so they can match you with the Little most suited to your personality. The Little also undergoes this deep dive because the matching is so important.

In the end, I have a new Little Sister who is smart and lovely and talented and who I am really excited to get to know. My Little and I will be matched for about a year and will see each other twice a month. So far, she seems to like me and I like her, so cheers to that!

All the Big Sisters at work are excited and so are our Littles. Nothing beats volunteering, in a way that is meaningful to you. Whether it is reading to the elderly, helping a young person in life, building homes or helping an NGO with their accounting, their marketing or governance, or in whatever your professional area of expertise may be - there is nothing quite like paying it forward. Looking forward to a great year!

Learn more about the Heroes Foundation
Learn more about the Foundation's BBBS Programme
Follow them on Facebook
Read more about their Corporate Workplace Mentoring

Fat Girl Problems

After the gym, sometimes breakfast has to be quick
aka smoothie alert. Blueberry and almond protein smoothie
Trying to lose weight is a real nightmare. Putting it on is fun and easy. Date nights with girlfriends, with those yummy cocktails and cute fried appetisers; along with rich entrees and decadent desserts. Weekend stay-ins with Netflix and shrimp fries with Thai sweet chili sauce. The real killer - work events - schmooze and lose...lose your willpower to resist glasses of great wine and bite sized goodies that demand you pop another and another and another. Family get-togethers, where there is always food, always a lot of alcohol and aunties watching you cross-eyed if you try to politely refuse.

But when you are trying to get all this excess baggage off your body, not that easy. The early morning wake up calls to unwillingly subject oneself to cardio and other torture devices, or to try to get a workout outdoors before the morning heat and glare get the better of you.

Last night the family got together for a good ole family time. I drank nothing and when offered a plate heaping with roti and curry - my kryptonite - I politely (yeah, that is my excuse) ate the vegetables, a bit of the chicken and gave my mother 95% of the rest. Nightmare.

It has been tough going but the competition element of it has been keeping me really honest. The first couple of weeks, I admit, I had chips once in a while. But I have been super good this past week and for good reason. The people at work are hard core in trying to win this thing and I see my chances of winning slipping away. But I am still doing it because it needs to be done and I need to do it for myself. Still...winning would be nice.

The numbers thing is always complicated. I hate scales and on my second weigh in, the weight numbers were up ever so slightly but the fat percentage was down. This is apparently a good thing, but when you have been programmed to count just the pounds/kg, it can be a bit of a buzzkill. But rallying.

Eating lots of salads and veggies, soups (I love soups so this is easy) and cut out the sugar and the snacks. The snacks have always been my problem so this is a small miracle. No cake. No cookies. No chips. No Haagie. Lots of water, tea and my post-workout smoothies. Getting more sleep, though still not enough. The hardest part has probably been trying to keep my meals fun and creative. I am not one for those crazy diets - onion soup diets or liquid diets. I eat like a real person, just without an excess of the "fun" stuff. Food should never be boring, even if one is trying to be healthy.

Part of my weekly supermarket stash last weekend. Fruits and stuff for teas, fruit juices and smoothies.
Greens for salads.


Chicken quesadillas and greens for dinner. Salad by itself - not food. That's torture...

...unless the salad is epic like this one - mixed greens, grated carrots, roasted onions,
chopped black grapes, pommerac, homemade garlic croutons, and some baked chicken.

So wish me luck. The battle wages on. Another weigh in this week so game on!

That Bruce Jenner Interview

Bruce Jenner took what has been paparazzi fodder and ridicule for months, and made it real and human, in his interview with Diane Sawyer tonight.

I tuned in because this was a story we had not been privy too. While a part of the Kardashian reality debacle for 8 years, Bruce was always a supporting act, and never the star. And yet, as he said, he was the one with the story - the real story; a story that meant something to some people - to those people who try to navigate life with a lot of questions about themselves.

Gender confusion is still something many people grapple with. I grapple with it - not me not understanding whether I am man or woman. I am a woman and I am clear on that. But I never fully understood how others could not really share that sense of comprehension about themselves. There are a lot of things in this world that I do not necessarily agree with or fully understand. But what I do understand and appreciate is the ongoing quest to be happy. Happiness can sometimes seem so far out of reach - you seem to have to stretch just a little bit further to reach that fruit that is just, just out of reach. Living a life where it seems true happiness evades you is not really a life. Contemplating suicide, as he confesses he did, because you are in constant fear of what society will say or do, is not life. So when a guy feels he is happier living the rest of his life as a woman, after 65 years of living what he feels has been a pretence, then I am okay with that. Living half of a life is painful. It is empty. It is callous for us to ask anyone to do that. In the end, all any of us want is to be happy and for our loved ones to be happy - or at least that is what we should want.

I think Diane and Bruce handled the interview beautifully and brought it back really to the human condition, and made it less of a spectacle than has been made of it in the past several months. That people are harmed by others, or harm themselves because of their choice is very sad to me. The images were disturbing but hopefully there is just a little bit more understanding. Glad to see his children have been so supportive as it is clear they were his central concern. I don't agree they all had to be on-camera to prove their love for him. They are dealing with their own issues and fears I am sure. And also, I think the Kardashian girls recognised this was not their moment, but his (or at least I hope they were really being this generous). I appreciated that they were not there to bring it back to that circus level, but he could tell his story in his way, on his time, by himself.

I thought he was very brave and honest. I respect that it is a very private journey and so we did not need to see him as "her". I respect the way in which the 2-hr interview was conducted with it not being a tabloid-esque expose but a deep and meaningful, often touching, sometimes funny perspective from someone trying to come to terms with himself, and the challenges others like him face. I always felt a bit sorry for him on that silly reality show but he is a very brave guy and I give him a lot of respect for that.

I wish him the best.


Learning and Owning your Sadness in pursuit of Happiness

I read this article this week and it truly resonated with me.

The Secret of Happiness? Stop Feeling Bad About Being Unhappy.

Now while I make a conscious attempt to be fun and bubbly most of the time, the reality is...wait for it...I cannot and am not high on life every day. Yes, I preach the whole 'life is beautiful' spiel because I truly believe it is and you just need to pick up a newspaper, turn on the news or talk to friends or random people to appreciate the blessings in your own life as compared to the horrors in our world.

But that is just it. The world itself is not a utopia. The world is a dark, grim place where people hate each other so much that they lie, attack each other, kill each other, start wars and the like. Where mothers look at their toddlers while they sleep, eyes filled with love and hearts with gratitude for this small blessing in their lives but still ponder and sometimes feel a bit guilty for bringing them into a world where we have to reaffirm that black lives matter or girls are awesome or gays have rights too, because so many are still ignorant or dismissive of these facts.

And these are global issues, which filter down to your own lives in Trinidad, New York, Nassau or Pretoria because you cannot divorce your personal lives from the psychosis around us.

But getting off the cloud above it all and coming back to the space where you, the mother, wife, sister, daughter, employee, friend, person are living his or her own life right now, at this moment - you have your own personal problems.  We all have problems. Full stop. Punto finale. We wake up each day and we face one thing or another - exhaustion, dead end job, screaming kids, bills, loneliness, cheating spouse, illness, death, fear - the list goes on. Recently, in supporting two friends, I encouraged them both to work through their sadness on their own time. Too many times, we get frustrated with friends and relatives when we feel they are wallowing in the murkiness of their experience for too long. But that's just it - it is their experience, not ours. Where I would have a concentrated, contracted period of darkness, another person may need months to get past the hurt from a similar event. I know a guy whose son died in a freak accident almost 15 years ago, and he just never truly recovered from that until his grandson was born recently. Now the light in his eyes is finally shining again - after 15 years.

We edit life every day - we post photos of happy moments on Instagram or Facebook; photos of cocktail hours with friends or vacations or special moments with significant others. We rarely, if ever, post photos of the darkness - when we sit alone in a room and cry, or we are so depressed we cannot get off the couch. And that's okay because that is our truth. The universal truth though is that pain is just a part of life and we must accept that. To me, pain allows us to cherish the happy moments. They go hand in hand. A world that pushes happiness down our throats, without acknowledging that it is unrealistic to always be on top of our emotions, almost making us feel bad about being unhappy, is a world that creates us to feel badly about ourselves, makes us envy others, makes us edit our narrative to promote an unrealistic image of who we are.

I go into deep, dark places sometimes. Deep, dark places. I edit. It is my truth. I don't have to share it with the world if I don't want to. I don't claim to be the happiest woman alive. I accept that I cannot be 'up' all the time. When I am not 'up', I want others to appreciate that I am human and I have hurt and pain and fear as much as I have all this love to give. I cannot dismiss how I feel because you have placed an expiration date on my emotions. We can be happy. We can be content. But we can also be unhappy and constantly searching for answers to life's many questions. That's okay. We don't dwell on it but we accept it. I accept my truth.

That's it for today

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