Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Many Shades of Starbucks !!!

My favourite place to sit and chill! As a coffee aficionado, this is the best spot to go on a Saturday afternoon to unwind. Not only are their flavours absolutely delish, but the atmosphere is very relaxing, the inflow of customers range from the teen looking to try out the new rasberry black currant to the executive on the run just stopping in for a quick pick-me-up before a meeting.  All respecting one another and each other's space. Oh! Most importantly, free wi-fi!
Nubian Queen of Egypt.
This observation has brought me to another, more important topic. As the title says, there are many beautiful shades to all of Starbucks' delights. In the same way, there are many gorgeous shades of my beautiful, black, Bahamian sistas! I just love to see a Nubian queen walking with her head held high and proud of who she is and most importantly, who God made her to be.  What I absolutely HATE, is to see my lovely sisters become brainwashed with the ridiculous idea that lighter skin is better! This notion holds true in more than The Bahamas. Nothing is more sexy and appealing than a woman who is comfortable in her own skin and exuding confidence and her own natural swag. Sure, this was true some years ago but as time goes on, more and more of us are understanding that old saying "the blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice"! 
Vybz Kartel Before & After

In the Caribbean where it is sweltering hot, I can understand that already black skin is very susceptible to sunlight and tans very easily. Nothing is so wrong (to me) with wanting an evenly toned complexion and smooth skin. Those people who use skin cremes to achieve this or to lighten scars and acne marks are NOT who I am talking about. If you are like many people between the ages of 15 and 45 and keep up with the latest Vybz Kartel music, you'll know that he has significantly lightened his skin in the last few months and no longer even looks like the same person. He claims that he simply wanted to "reinvent" himself and needed a new look. He is a tremendously popular and talented Jamaican artist who has the power to lead and deceive the masses. Don't get me wrong...I do like some of his music (notice I said "some"), but not so much his lyrics promoting promiscuity, songs about his anatomy and most of all...songs about cake soap which he advocates for bleaching the skin.
Toni Braxton

In my opinion, when you bleach out your skin like a pair of acid washed jeans, you're saying to the world, "Hey! Look at me! I'm black and I hate myself!" This is all part of the plan the racist slave masters implemented hundreds of years ago and is a form of mental slavery. Don't think that white people can't see when someone is 'bleached out'! This only tells them that you hate who you are and wish you were like them! Mental slavery is the oppression of blacks and other minorities subconsciously since physical slavery is no more. It is the system where blacks oppress each other and themselves instead of whites. Ever notice how your own kind often try to make you feel the worst? It is a vicious system that we all as a black nation need to realize and put an end to.  Blacks, Indians and even Chinese believe that the lighter your skin is, the better quality of life you should have. It starts at home and so I am advocating a "Stop Bleachin'" Campaign, in conjunction with my mocha coloured Mom along with anyone else who feels as strongly about this issue as we do. 
Gabrielle Union

In my day to day travels, I see so many females (some older and some younger) who have fallen victim to this trend. It looks painful to see someone of a mocha complexion with blue blood vessels showing from their forehead because her face is so light! It's sad and then very funny at the same time because they usually are so lazy, they only bleach the part of the face that they can see in the mirror and what that does is leaves a big full moon look because every other part of them is contrastingly dark and the world can see that they've been bleaching. It is even a trend in some households starting from the grandmother down a generational line. This is the real problem because the younger generation only learned what they've seen mommy, grammie and auntie do! It is not 1961 anymore when blacks were segregated and looked down upon. The president of the United States of America is half black and proud of his heritage. It is high time we adopt the same attitude of pride in who we are. 
Angela Bassett

Dark skinned ladies....please love yourselves. No! I mean truly love yourselves in every form of the term. This means, do not ruin your skin for the rest of your life for the sake of a brighter image because at the end of the day, unless you get vitiligo (disease Michael Jackson claimed he had that made him white), you WILL NEVER be white! The world is such a beautiful creation because of all its diversity. There are thousands of colours and colours we do not even know existed that are so amazingly beautiful, including your own! Lisa Raye, Beyonce, Tyra, etc. are so attractive to millions. Why is that? Because they love who they are, are not afraid to show it and everyone else can see it. They do not try to change who they were made to be. Sure they act all sorts of dynamic and fictional roles and over accessorize at times (: ) but at the end of the day, they go home and live their normal lives as nothing other than themselves. The journey to self acceptance is not easy, but most rewarding in the end. No one will ever love you the way you love yourself. When you try to hide your true self, you're not only doing everyone around you an injustice by being fake, but you are indirectly telling your creator that you do not like what he has made. In my younger years, I have been called the most horrible names by my schoolmates. All having to do with the colour of my lovely skin. The funny thing about that is...all of the perpetrators - get this...WERE BLACK TOO! Ha! That, thankfully has only made me love myself more. Big uPs to all my haterzzz!!! "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me". If that too has happened to you, remember that there's something they love about you and are too afraid to say it if they actually take the time out to worry about how brown you are. If you live live worrying about what others think, you will never be happy. Life is too short.

 Luv Ya'selves my beautiful, black queens!!!

Please don't be shy with your comments because I would like to get feedback to see how others feel about this. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hilarious & Really Creative 2011 Inventions!

With the increasing production and popularity of electronic gadgets, like ten websites seamlessly integrating with each other and the thousand other everyday stressors, it's great to see new inventions that make you chuckle while getting the job done effectively. You may or may not agree, but I am all for simplicity, being quite the complex soul that I am. What kind of inventions am I talking about? Well...

For all the lazy bones out there:

And the not-so-lazy bones:

This would come in very handy for my 2 year old's pee-pee accidents!

No more guesswork!

Very interesting! LOL

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Importance of Setting Goals In Life.

Do you ever start your car and take off into the distance without one clue of where you actually want to go?  Probably not. Sometimes you may want to go on a little drive just to catch some fresh air but although you may not have a specific destination in mind, you at least have some idea of the direction you would like to go in.

Life is somewhat like driving a car and requires planning in order to make it to where you really want to go. This is the purpose of goal setting. In life, you will find that those who fail to set goals and live life on a whim, often make it nowhere fast and end up with a sense of emptiness and despair. Why? Because metaphorically speaking, they're like a leaf that's been blown off of a tree, landing by chance in the most uncomfortable, undesirable situations. Have you ever wondered, "How did I end up like this?" Well, that is what happens when you finally decide to sit down and evaluate your life and where you once were. You realize that nothing turned out the way you expected them to but do not realize that it is simply because you lacked proper planning and goal setting. In essence, the wind had it's way with you!  

Oftentimes, our subconscious mind is the reason for this. We have belief systems stemming from childhood that we adopted from others about life that can either make us or break us. In my case, I held on to the thought that you shouldn't rely too much on planning because life is unpredictable and throws many curve balls at you that can hinder your goals, thus creating disappointment and unhappiness. This was the way my grandmother felt about things. She had experienced so many disappointments and wrongs that she lost hope in creating the future that she desired. She began living day to day, or shall I say, day to yesterday (dwelling on past hurts), stripping her of her happiness and passion about life. As someone who suffered from rheumatism (arthritis) and cancer on two separate occasions, I can think of many goals she could have set for herself to make life more satisfying and bearable such as losing excess weight or starting to eat better, etc. Instead, she sat day to day in her Lazy Boy watching Lifetime, feeling at odds with the rest of the world. It is quite understandable how people become so depressed about life that they give up trying but that often makes the situation only seem worse. Eventually, I began believing that planning made no sense and that life will give you whatever it wants to anyway. As I got older and more mature, I see that in order to have the life I truly want, I must begin to set things in motion myself. No one or nothing else will create it for me. This is why many of us are so unsatisfied and discontent in life and surprised that nothing turned out the way we wanted them to. Because we did not set goals for ourselves. Anything that we really want to achieve, must first be planned and proper measures must first be taken in order to achieve it.

It is equally important to set goals that are attainable. By doing this, you are more likely to achieve these goals and gain a sense of power over your life and build your self confidence. By setting goals that are nearly impossible to reach like "I want to be a rich by the time I hit 30", you are not only failing to specify exactly HOW you are going to reach this goal but also setting yourself up for great disappointment and sabotaging your self esteem. You will start to think that you are useless, a failure and that goal-setting is pointless. Start with an achievable one like "I want to save $1,000 in the next six months", that is if you have a reliable source of income, and stick to it. One goal links to another and so when you have done this, you create a new one. 

People who are successful usually never get that way by living with whatever comes their way. They had goals from an early age and aspire to improve upon them with time. Those who have college degrees did not just wake up one morning and say, "Oh! It's Wednesday? I think I'll go to college today!" No! They planned and envisioned it for quite some time. Like a pilot creates a flight plan before leaving an airport, considering fuel levels needed, speed, wind direction, weigh etc, we must also create a life plan. Sure we may have to make some diversions due to bad weather but in the end, we make it happily to our desired destination.

Patience is another factor to consider in goal setting. Nothing in nature happens in an instant. Everything has a process that leads up to the end result. I am learning patience each day with my children and especially with my herb and vegetable garden, a perfect example! I want my tomatoes and cucumbers...NOW, but must wait for the right time. You cannot plant a seed at night and expect a full grown plant in the morning! Everything takes time. First, you need time in order to get your thoughts together and then to act upon them.  The conditions must be right in order to get the results you wish. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Age Ain't Nothin' But a Number!

Green Mile, Lost and X Files actor Doug Hutchison married aspiring pop star and pageant winner Courtney Alexis Stodden in Las Vegas on May 20th. That's great isn't it? Well, even greater, is the fact that Hutchison is 51 years old and his blushing bride is...get this...16!!!

When asked about the dynamics of their relationship and whether or not there's any hidden motives to them being married, the two insisted that they are simply "mad about each other". Awww!!! Seeing snippets of their interview was somewhat unsettling for me however, because not only does Courtney look YEARS beyond adolescence but she acted so as well. I mean she looked like she wanted to strip the man right on set!

Age truly is nothing but a number as long as both parties understand and accept the life, experience and personality differences that come along with the age gap and can be quite fulfilling considering these but I get the feeling here that sex is the biggest part of this arrangement.  In my opinion, he really has to be immature, mentally disturbed or just has superiority issues. In less than a minute, I can tell that he's just loving every moment of this girl's nympho-like behavior. As for her future pop stardom, acting like that should definitely get her in the door! I have no problem with age differences generally, but what I don't get at all is how you can have a healthy, happy and fulfilling relationship with a kid! Love...a many splendid and STRANGE thing!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Amy Winehouse - A Flower Grown Wild

Amy Jade Winehouse  -
(Sept.14th 1983 - July 23rd, 2011)

So often, the most gifted, soulful and talented people, those who can control the world with their voice alone,  have little to no control of their own lives.  With this being said, Amy Winehouse, just 27 years young, was found dead in her apartment in London this weekend. Another fallen star. Officials will not know the exact cause of her death until the autopsy is performed but tabloids are speculating accidental overdose or suicide.

Winehouse, known for her popular and well-fitting single "Rehab", was a chart topping British artist whose fame as well as myriad of addictions were constantly under fire from tabloids and fans alike. She admitted in a DVD that the more insecure she felt, the more she'd drink and the bigger her hair had to be! With a name like 'Winehouse' and considering her tumultuous battle with the bottle, Amy SHOULD have gone to rehab and stayed there! Winehouse was also diagnosed as 'manic depressive', yet she refused to even take medication for treatment. Long standing depression could have been the cause, but whatever it was, she had true talent and is gone too soon. "Rehab", which was written by the singer after she claimed Blake Fielder-Civil  "abandoned her" in 2007, sold 1.85 million copies that year and came as a firm statement to those people suggesting rehab for her heavy drinking.

Discovered while performing with a National Youth Jazz Orchestra and signed to a division of 19 Management, the media empire of Pop Idol creator Simon Fuller, Winehouse was eventually picked up by Island Records and the rest was history. In 2006, her album Back to Black won five Grammy Awards making her the first British singer to earn the coveted award as well as tying the record for the most wins by a female artist. Mark Ronson, the producer responsible for bringing out so many of the great moments on Back to Black, said of Winehouse: "She doesn't want to be lavished. She doesn't want people gushing over her. She just can't get anything out of it — even on the day her own album goes platinum." Some say she was just that humble, others say she was just a wreck! Amy sang autobiographies and never held back on her feelings. This being the reason so many loved her music.
She was a fashion icon, sporting her infamous 1950's 'beehive' which was even seen on Karl Lagerfeld's models, strutting down the runways of London's Fashion Week back in 2007. Her style was that of her own and she made no apologies for it. Tattoos of nude women, jet-black, contrasting eye makeup and mini's that made the word 'micro-mini' relevant were all part of her image. Not only did she make her mark in music but she paved the way for other British singers such as Adele to make it in the US. People like Lady Gaga even credit her for making unconventional fashion more accepted and appreciated. Another quality I loved about her. 

Not so lovely about the star were her many failed performances, occasions where she was too intoxicated to remember her own lyrics and non-appearances due to her constant bouts of depression. She was just booed off stage in Belgrade last month after appearing too drunk to perform.

Long-time singer Tony Bennett (84) chose her to duet with him on his upcoming album called Duets II, scheduled to be released on September 20. In his interview, Bennett says that Amy was "extraordinary" and that he is deeply saddened to learn of her passing. So are we Tony... so are we!  Read more of his interview here. 

Another tragic story of what happens when you let your mind get the best of you. Young, beautiful and talented, yet incredibly disturbed in her own head. A mind truly is a terrible thing to waste!

Some random pics of the singer throughout her career: 
Winehouse & then hubby Feider-Civil

Winehouse before & after.

Young Amy
Rest In Peace Amy! 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Childhood Obesity

It is a very controversial topic! In my lifetime, I have seen many chidren who doctors and healthcare professionals would quickly deem as "morbidly obese".  Here in The Bahamas, obesity is rampant and plagues more than 65% of our population. This is bad, but far worse, is the fact that an increasing amount of children are also in this category. It has been said that MORE THAN HALF of the country's children are overweight.

Growing up, I've known and encountered many kids who were extremely overweight and the normal response to any weight related comment by older family and friends was either, "They'll outgrow it!" or "Eat chile!, Nothin' wrong with seein' healthy lookin' children!" All the while I'm going,  "Are these people clinically insane?" There can't be one normal person who thinks a 380lb 13 year old looks or even is... "healthy"! We do all want healthy, energetic children but do we encourage them in gluttony for our own distorted satisfaction?

Oftentimes,  the parents who see nothing wrong with this are overweight or obese themselves! I feel as though a parent who watches their weight, eats a decent, balanced diet, exercises and takes health seriously will never want their child to go down the opposite road of physical discomfort, ridicule and poor self-esteem. More often than not, they won't because they have emulated their parents' good habits as well as the fact that junk food is not abundantly eaten at home. Food does not become an emotional attachment. Sadly for most, it is not the child's fault. They have only done what they see others doing and no one is there to stop the chain reaction.

The negative effects of childhood obesity are long-lasting and sometimes irreversible. Just naming a few are:

  • Poor self-image.
  • Constant teasing and ridicule by peers and almost anyone not used to seeing a heavy child. 
  • Poor self-esteem because of the above which can cause bad decision making and erratic behavior. 
  • Depression/suicide.
  • Love/hate relationship with food ( Live to eat vs. eat to live mentality) leading to eating disorders.
  • Physical ailments which come along with excess fat and stress on the body such as pain in joints/knees/back, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease, as a child then spilling into adulthood.  
  • Considering we live in a tropical country with heat in excess of 90 degrees, constant perspiration, body odour, acne and chaffing.
  • Inability to find proper fitting clothing and looking out of sorts many times as a result. 
  • More than likely, weight problems as an adult.
  • Excessive loose skin even after weight is lost requiring major cosmetic surgery (lots of $$$) to correct. 

In my opinion, parents who nonchalantly allow this to happen are passively (or actively) killing their own kids whether they know it or not and should be held accountable to a certain degree. A very hot topic now in some states of the U.S and Canada, lawmakers are calling for children like these to be taken away from their homes and placed in government care! I would never agree with that because we all make mistakes and many adults can barely take full control of their own lives, much less their childrens'.  Modern parents have very hectic schedules and are not always around to ensure their kids eat the right things but should know at least, that they did their part in providing it for them. Children sometimes eat things that aren't so good for them as a way of drowning pain in other parts of their lives and may need therapy to better express their feelings and get things off their chests.

Believe it or not, some parents of overweight or obese children are quite successful in their professions, are wealthy and can afford all of the resources available to help their child but choose to ignore it, holding on to the fairy tale in their own heads that their lives are perfect. Taking into consideration all of the negative effects listed above, I would say this should be called child abuse. Although in parts of Africa, fat is considered a beautiful thing and young girls are forced-fed (physically forced to drink porridge to the point of regurgitation), this is taboo in western society. Fat is looked down upon and shown to bring about poor quality of life.

The child is at his/her most vulnerable stage in life and needs to be guided in the right direction until they are able to make sound choices of their own. I have two young children and at the very onset of weight gain, I definitely would notice. As time progresses, you know whether or not it's simply a growth spurt or a real problem you have on your hands. It is not that hard to monitor what a child eats out of your own refrigerator or cupboards and if necessary, to hide the things that you don't want them eating. It is not that difficult to remove soda and kool-aid from the fridge and replace with water or sweeten with Splenda. It is not that hard to make your child get off their behinds for 30 minutes to an hour a few times a week and do something physical as opposed to sitting at the computer or glued to reality TV the entire time the're at home, minus bathroom and bedtime. It is not so bad to sit down and talk with your child about the purpose of food and the many wonderful, healthy and satisfying foods that God created in abundance for us all to enjoy.  Kids are really smart these days, as we all know. Just by simply telling my son that hotdogs (his old favourites) are not "real" food and are the mechanically processed, fake version of real sausage, he now refuses them and I now have to tell him that they're fine... in moderation.  It's amazing how you can direct or deter a child's actions by the words you choose!

Today's busy society has made life much more chaotic and seemingly difficult to control but when you put your mind on the things that ARE really important, it becomes easier. More important than the latest smartphone or when the next shopping trip is, is our children's health. They are the generation that are here to take care of us. They are today and tomorrow.

If you have a child with a weight problem or know someone who does, start by simply pointing out to them the difference between real foods and processed. Teach them to look for foods closest to their natural state try to make it a fun activity for the whole family. Get them more involved at the grocery store in choosing the best options and teach them that instead of looking for pretty packaging, learn to read labels instead. In order to do this though, we must first teach ourselves what to look for. The main things to scan are calorie count, fat grams, carbohydrates, sodium, sugars and fiber and then of course, vitamins the food contains. By comparing a pack of nuts to a box of chocolate chip cookies, you can easily show how much healthier one is than the other.  We must also realize that although healthier foods are more costly at purchase, the price is far less in the long run and there are ways to bargain shop for more wholesome foods. Remember that when we buy healthier, we tend to eat less and need smaller portions because the food is more satisfying because of it's high high nutrient content.

On the flip side, there is no need to completely deprive your child of tasty treats  from time to time that are a bit unhealthy. Some of the best memories from childhood are those of eating something so delicious that couldn't stop yourself! I remember cotton candy, ChiK-O-Stics and over sweetened frozen cups from my best childhood friend's house for $0.25. Those were the good ole' days! Balance is the key. Your child/ren will thank you for it later on.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bath Salts - Not So Relaxing!

There is a new trend among young people, increasing popularity in the U.S. They're labelled and sold as "Bath Salts" and can be found and purchased as easily as a bottle of 5 Hour Energy.  The internet, convenience stores, service stations and drug stores across America sell it and for about $20 a pack, can send you on the worst high of your life and can kill you! (Or cause you to kill yourself!)

I'm sitting down watching The Dr. Oz show yesterday, and his goal was to bring awareness to people of all ages about this stuff. A father and his wife came on the show with such a horrid and tragic story of their son who had been a victim of this killer substance. The boy called his dad and told him that he had taken some of it was not feeling very well. The boy went into such an intense trip of hallucinations and paranoia that he stood in front of his parents and slit his own throat! Miraculously, the teenager survived, after being rushed to the ER and treated. A few days later, after being released from the hospital and doing seemingly better, his father found him dead on his bedroom floor with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. This crap had sent the boy into a frenzy of delusional behavior.

According to Mark Ryan, Director of Louisiana Poison Center, "If you take the very worst of some of the other drugs -- LSD and Ecstasy with their hallucinogenic-delusional type properties, PCP with extreme agitation, superhuman strength and combativeness, as well as the stimulant properties of cocaine and meth -- if you take all the worst of those and put them all together this is what you get. It's ugly," added Ryan, who recounted some harrowing stories.
"The psychosis is impressive," he said.
The drug acts as a large dose of amphetamine and has been linked to all sorts of medical emergencies, hospitalizations and suicides. Sold under cute brand names such as Vanilla Sky & Ivory Wave, users believe the dangers are minimal and about to get the shock of their lives when they realize it is quite the opposite. The real danger is that doctors believe it's effects may be somewhat permanent. Even after extreme sedation with powerful sedatives and anti-psychotics, the psychosis often returns in patients, unlike other drugs. 
Some states are now calling for a ban on these products but trying to boost public awareness. 
Very misleadingly sold as "Bath Salts" and even printed on their package, "Not intended for human consumption", these drugs are the last thing we need on our streets!  Now the argument could come where manufacturers claim that they intended for them to be used in your bath and thrill seeking drug users in search of a 'new high' are misusing and abusing the products but why in the world then would they incorporate amphetamines into their  ingredients? 
Click here to read more on this growing problem.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

AT&T Flash Mob Commercial (Hilarious)

FUNNY is NOT even the word to describe this guy! He's so caught up in his moves that he doesn't recognize he's the only one performing AND yells, "WE ARE...!!!" soOoooO loudly, that the entire place stops what they're doing to take notice of him. This is surely the right commercial to come on during tense moments!

Sue Views