Posted by: scsquared | July 5, 2015

Hurt & Hope

Dear Chris Tufton,

I cried that night you lost the vote. My heart broke, not just for you, but for my country. A little piece of my faith in Jamaica died that night. It hurt, and it hurt beyond that night, for weeks it felt like an open wound, and even now, four years later, it feels like a scar that’s still there.

See, before that night, though I felt unsure about most seats I was certain yours was sure, solid like a corner-stone. Why? Because I could see you working, I saw your commitment to the agricultural sector, your vision to help it develop and to bring younger people into the industry to ensure longevity and our survival as a country. I saw your love for South Western St. Elizabeth, and your concern for the members of the constituency, you were not half-hearted in this either.

What I saw in you was a man who understood and loved his ministry, but could stand and negotiate and deal with those that don’t – the bankers, the buyers, the bullies. Yes, I said bullies. You are a good blend of what I think an MP should be, you were doing what you were elected to do. You are an example of how leaders should carry themselves, you have a calm confidence that seems missing in the days we are living in. You seem to be a decisive contemplator, not that you have not made mistakes, but you clearly think before you speak and act. You are not easily thrown off-balance, and you do not jump up and carry on because of sensationalism.

I can’t vote for you, wrong constituency, but I do hope that you have learned what older and jaded politicians know – how to win elections. You are the new politician that my generation hungers for and wants, however, we tend not to vote. This means pandering to those who do, and no one does it better than the ones we wish would “just resign already”. Find out the legal and ethical side of their secret and WORK IT!

Dr. Tufton, shortly after the election, I saw you at a party, I wanted to just hug you and lament with you on the loss that I could see you were trying to not dwell on. I did not. I thought it would be a little weird, having never met you and it being a party and all. Also, you are still human and need the space to not be on show, to drink some rum / scotch, and breathe.

I hope you do not let go of the hopes you have for our island and your role in helping us get there. I hope you inspire others to get involved in the service of our fellow citizen, so that we can play our part in advancing the welfare of the whole human race.

With Hope,
S. C. C.

Posted by: scsquared | June 21, 2015

I Honour You

Growing up with a father like mine was good, bad, adventurous, chill, and all sorts of things in one. As a child, I thought my father lit up the night sky and pulled the sun out of its slumber every morning. As a teenager, I loved him but resented his work. In my early 20’s, all I wanted was his approval and respect. Now, I adore him and appreciate who he is, where he’s been and most of all, the relationship we have.

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I honor him not because he is my Daddy, but because of the man he is. The man I grew up with. The man I respect. The man who mentors me.

When I was very little, my dad always had money for the many persons who reached out to him for help. Even when we ourselves were stuck with tin mackerel for dinner, he somehow was able to always help others make ends meet.

I recall one night that he had a homeless man come to the house to bathe and get some new clothes. It wasn’t the only time it happened, but I remembered wondering why does he always do this. More importantly, why couldn’t he let them use the outside bathroom, why let them use ours? When I was a little older, he told me the man was the same as us, he just had a different struggle.

His kindness and care for others was never a matter of pity though, it was just a part of community, a genuine caring for others. It was not always the grand gesture of helping to pay university fees, but it was also in things like buying a breadfruit or a pear (avocado) for his friend just because. Why? Because that is who he is.

The struggle of being my father’s child is shared by the children of any passionate person. When you grow up with someone who is excited to go to work, who can’t wait to pursue their vision, it’s hard to settle for anything less. It is difficult to imagine a life more ordinary, because you have seen and experienced a life less ordinary. There is no return from that.

I appreciate you, my wonderful blessing of a father. I honour the love, the joy, the peace, the passion, the amazing, the principled man you are, because you have taught me about the person I only can hope to be.

 

(Originally written December 14, 2013)

Posted by: scsquared | April 20, 2015

My Wish

I wish you understood that the things I care about are not because they are my personal experience.
I wish you recognised that speaking about issues are not simply passion projects, that yes, they can be good business.
I wish you understood that my passion isn’t about promoting my self-interest.
My passionate cries are because someone has to speak up for the silenced.
I wish you understood that each time you say it’s not important, you enable an abuser, a cheater, a rapist, a racist, and yes, your own blindness.

If you understood that standing up for each other, even for those hidden in the shadows, meant standing up for yourself, maybe you would not be silent.
If you realised that silence enabled the Holocaust, Bosnian and Rwandan Genocides, but speaking up let the Nuremberg Trials happen, then maybe you would say something.
No, it doesn’t have to happen to you nor does it have to be the hot topic of the day, but if you say something, ask something, simply acknowledge it exists, then it doesn’t have to grow in the shadows it likes so very much.
Maybe if you said something, you could help to make it stop.

I wish you understood, I don’t care if you think I am but a voice in the wilderness because I know that I am a voice and I will use my voice until my very last breath.

(Nov. 2014)

 

Posted by: scsquared | April 17, 2015

Be Awesome Instead!

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I give high-fives. I tell people they are awesome. I do this every day. Yes, every single day. Most people are receptive to it, and it lifts their day just a smidge. At the very least, it makes them smile.

Others think that because I do it daily, it has little value, and others shouldn’t get happy about it. They suspect it is not genuine, that it’s just “a thing” that I do. It isn’t. Here’s how I came to celebrating our awesome.

A couple years ago, I watched a video of a 9 year old who asked, “Why be boring, when you can be awesome instead?“, it changed me. I stopped using the word bored when describing myself, my mood, my activities. I decided to look for the awesome in life, in the same way I used to always find something to love about each person I met. I decided to be more awesome.

For me, being more awesome means celebrating others, going on adventures, finding peace, worshiping God, encouraging others to greatness, and enjoying life’s moments.

Now, I make it a point to celebrate awesome, remind people that they can be awesome, and share high-fives for the little victories in life. I celebrate a lot.

So yes, I say “Be awesome“, “I’m awesome“, “That’s awesome“, and high-five multiple times a day, but I mean it every single time. When I do it with you, know that I am celebrating with you because I know YOU are worth celebrating.

 

Posted by: scsquared | March 3, 2015

A Joyous Year – Week 1

I have looked on my life thus far and weighed and measured it, I have found it to be a good one. I have had ups and downs, laughter and sorrow, poverty and wealth. Through it all, I find that in each day, there is joy to be had. Yes, even in moments of devastation, we can all find a bit of happiness.

So, for this new year of mine I will publish “A Joyous Year”, a weekly list of things that have brought me joy within the previous 7 days. The first list, today’s, covers the first week of my 38th year :) and I am excited to start sharing joy!

A Joyous Year Headline

Sisters whose love travel across oceans:

There is nothing as wonderful as pleasant surprise, especially one that takes your breath away. At almost the end of the work day I got one of these; a huge beautiful bouquet filled with roses, orchids, and lilies. Not one filler to be found. Just a beautiful arrangement that is still blooming two weeks later. Grateful as I am for the flowers, I am even more grateful for the givers, The Conners & Baby Cowan. When I read the card, what was lovely bloomed into a heart touching moment, knowing that a student in Canada and a very busy family in Texas found the time to scheme and brighten my day in a way that only sisters could.

Flowers for ME!

A Friend who supports my secret dreams:

I have this friend, who just makes me, no, forces me to take steps towards my secret hopes and dreams. She doesn’t judge my fears or insecurities, but she doesn’t let me use them as a crutch either. She ignites the pro-active part of me to move forward in the direction of my own dreams, not just help others actualize theirs. She is like a treasure box for me, not only can I deposit precious things, but she gives precious things back. I asked God for friends in the faith, and she certainly is a gift He gave me. (Oh and yeah, thanks Twitter.)

An Island Home filled with treasures:

There is no expression that can ever truly express how amazing an island Jamaica is. No matter where you go, beauty can be found. No matter what your plans, an adventure awaits. No matter what you need, we have it in abundance. I spent 3 days in places not found on a tourist map, but certainly filled with moments to make you smile.

I went on a “picnic-chill” at Hope Gardens, drove half of the North Coast, and listened to the waves on Lime Cay. All happy moments.

My Jamaica

Friends who are up for adventures:

How I spend my time is almost and important as who I spend it with. Only the most adventurous people, can take a rainy Portland day and end up in Ochi. I have some friends that make my heart burst with joy at the thought of a drive out – any card can play. I am never in danger with them, yet we always have adventures. Whether it’s a random corner shop meal, or a community dance, or bailing a friend out of jail in the middle of the night, I have found them to be both wise and adventurous. I can count on them to get me out of trouble as much as I can count on missing trouble by a hair with them. I am forever grateful.

 

All-natural, 100% organic, Coconut Oil from the street side!

This is my fave part of going to Portland, the stop at the bottom of Blacky Hill to buy coconut oil from my dread-locked, happy, vendor. I love the smell, the feel, the taste, of coconut oil. It reminds me of going to the beach with my Mom, and it soothes me. Nothing brings me that except the sounds of water and the smell of coconut oil.

It doesn’t get any fresher than this

 

Other happy-happy, joy-joy things from my birthday week:

Chocolate Cake from Kim, Special desserts from Quizz, Chinese New Year, My parents, Days off, Sushi, 3 story yachts, Lifelong friends, did I mention Chocolate Cake? But really, these messages warmed me to the core:

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Posted by: scsquared | October 27, 2014

The Truth About Friendship

Friendship

Someone asked me if I was still close with people I went to high school with, ahhhm – No. She was shocked, partly because her long lasting friendships were birthed in High School. Truthfully, a lot of people have that experience – I’m not one of them. This is not to discount the value of anyone I went to high school (or prep school for that matter) with, it’s just that we were classmates – not friends.

My reality is just different. I come from a home of 7 children, who for the most part were taught – you have each other and that’s all you need. Additionally, I was fortunate enough to grow up simultaneously in two great neighbourhoods filled with kids and where everyone was part of the family. Seriously, we ate dinner at various houses each night. My closest friends, the ones I trust the most, call the most, e-mail the most are from these two neighbourhoods, Innswood & Gallery. They say, “Blood is thicker than water”, I say “Concrete is thicker than blood, and they are my foundation.”

I say all of that to tell you, the truths of friendship, according to me:

  1. Not everyone that you know and have had a conversation with is your friend.
  2. You can be someone’s friend, without them being yours. In other words, friendship is mutual but being a friend isn’t.
  3. You know you’re friends when the convenience is gone and you still choose each other.
  4. Not all friendships are for life, some are just for a season.
  5. On that note, “We used to be friends” does not mean we had a fight and are in malice, it just means life happened.
  6. These people are not automatically friends: Class-mate, dorm-mate, room-mate, church sister/brother, siblings, cousins, bredren, sistren, friend of a friend, parrie, Boy/girlfriends friend, co-worker, god-siblings, parent’s friends kids, neighbours, ….and the list can go on forever
  7. Friends are trust worthy, honest, caring towards you.
  8. Anyone that gossips about others with you will gossip about you with others ~ my Dad told me this early on in high school and I trust it as Gospel
  9. It’s not just mutual interests that make you friends, it’s a mutual positive influence on each other, a mutual desire to be together . . . .

What are your friendship truths?

Posted by: scsquared | October 16, 2014

My Boss is Better Than Yours

Last year, I got the opportunity to work in a different aspect of the Marketing Industry, it meant change. It meant shifting from being second in command to being a pleb, going from being an employer to employee, from having my own office to having a cubicle, from setting my own hours to conforming to a standard. I was going from Event Production and Promotion to a full service Marketing Agency.

No lie, my heart was heavy, the fear was real, I was about to step out into the unknown. So in preparation, I did what I always do, I sought advice from those with more info than I. They were discouraging for the most part, but still I was told in essence, give it a try. I prayed and was settled.

On January 6, it began with an “All Hands On Deck” meeting and big speech from JJ, my boss. He spoke about the great things that the team did in 2013, and the value of each person in the organisation. He took the time out to commend everyone, to remind them of their value, to honour them and yes, to lay out the vision for the year. This was already a good start, because we all know, I love leaders who can clarify the vision.

Since then, I have had what can only be described as an awesome adventure. I have been given random chances to do things I would probably not have volunteered for, like writing scripts and idea generation. I have been able to come up with something and have the resources to see what it could be (even if no one else ever will). I get to be challenged just as much as I get to challenge others. Most importantly, I get to learn, grow, and laugh every single day.

My boss, JJ, is a huge part of this. Here is why my boss is better than your boss:

  1. My boss is a highly creative being, and expects you to develop your creativity.
  2. My boss is highly perceptive, sagacious, and intelligent.
  3. My boss knows his shortcomings, but accepts that he is still growing and so are you.
  4. My boss is not afraid of grunge work. Anything you can do, he can do too.
  5. My boss is willing to invest in all of us.
  6. My boss is concerned with our impact on the business and its impact on us.
  7. My boss will protect his people, and does it more than anyone realises or credits him for.
  8. My boss’ eyes light up like a 5 year old when he gets excited about anything new.
  9. My boss has an eye and ear for cultivating amazing talent – meet anyone on staff, you will see.
  10. My boss is a father, drill sergeant, the Mad Hatter, and Manet all in one.

Is my boss the only great part of working there? No, however, no matter where you work, no matter who you are, what happens there is a result of who leads. So, when you walk into our office and see history on the walls and shelves of trophies, remember, it’s not there to intimidate you – it’s there to celebrate us. When you step in and see us, remember, we are chosen, hand-picked, selected, for the awesome that we are and the standards we are expected to surpass. Why, because he wants to inspire us daily, does your boss want to inspire you?

 

 

Happy Bosses Day!

Posted by: scsquared | October 13, 2014

Is it Worth Your Life?

 

When I was 14, my mother was murdered by a “don”. Most of my friends know this, however, let me tell you a part of the story that is rarely spoken about – the reason the Police took so long to respond.

Growing up, my mother was the parent least present, she lived in a few different places including other countries and being the youngest, I jumped at the chance to live with her when I was 12 and she was finally “stable”.

It was great, my sister and I shared a room, I started to learn about my mother who had been but a visitor in my life up til that point. I learned that she loved to cook, and she was good at it. I learned her habits, the sound of her laughter, her smell. I learned that I could always be honest with her, and what she thought was appropriate behaviour.

When I was 13, she got a boyfriend named Ricky, who moved in. I did not like him at all, but I chalked it up to being a jealous kid who just wanted a parent that was there. I pretended my gut didn’t have instincts.

Ricky was a deportee and a recovering addict who missed his flashy Miami lifestyle. When he was sober, he could be decent, but in general he was just unhappy with his life. The entire time I knew him, he cycled through addiction and recovery, violence and laughter, depression and joy. Was he evil? No, but he was broken in ways I am still unable to fully understand.

Ricky and my mother fought A LOT to say the least, and there was violence. Violence both verbally and physically. There was hitting, choking and death threats. Did my mother just take it? Certainly not, that’s not who she was. Victim was not a word one would use to describe Valerie, but victim she was.

I distinctly recall an incident in which he hit her, and I stepped in asking who does he think he is to lay a hand on my mother, his response was to raise his hand at me. My mother looked him dead in the eye and said if he ever dared touch me, he would die that day. A few days after that, he threatened to kill her, her response was “I dare you to try”.

She was someone who showed no fear, but she was still a victim of Domestic Violence. The police had been called many times to the house. They had taken statements, held Ricky in lock-up, tried to have her press charges. All for naught, she was planning on marrying him that May anyway. (She marked it on her calendar as “D-Day”.)

My mother taken him to rehab, to church, to counseling, trying to help him. Most of this was at his pleading request after he had been kicked out or found himself waking from an overdose. She had hope for him to end the cycle in his life (and ours) but it did not happen.

On the day my mother was murdered, she shouted the name of her murderer over and over as he held up the household and massacred both her & Ricky. She called out his name so loudly and in such a manner that the neighbours kept calling the police to come. This was at 7:30 in the morning. The police did not arrive until 11:00 even though the station was less than 5 minutes away.

They did not take the call seriously, they thought it was just another “Domestic Incident” where a couple were arguing. Both my mother and Ricky were murdered that morning.

Many women AND men stay in situations like this. Many Christians stay because they think leaving is betraying their vows. Many stay because they don’t think they can survive without their spouse. Many stay because they are ashamed to let anyone know. Even more stay because they think there’s hope and it will get better, statistically it won’t.

Domestic violence ends in two ways, either you leave or you die. You can’t stay in the same place and change at the same time, and neither can an abuser. Keeping them clothed, fed, or housed while they hurt you is not helping them, it is enabling them. Don’t keep yourself in the cycle, get help.

October is Domestic Violence Prevention Month and the month of my mother’s birth. If you or someone you know needs help here is a number to call:

(876) 929-9038 – Jamaica;
1-800-799-7233– USA;
0808 2000 247 – UK;

 

You were made for a better life than to be abused and mistreated by anyone.

Posted by: scsquared | August 1, 2014

Tears On My Pillow

Injustice for one is injustice for all.

My heart tears up at the thought of those forced to live in constant war zones; farm on barren land; not have access to potable water; live in constant fear.

The question is: What can I do about it? That isn’t the life I have, I don’t have the power to change it. I’m not a world leader, I don’t get to decide the allocation of resources to make a difference. Or do I?

The truth is, if I don’t stand up, who will? If I don’t make my voice heard, who will speak? If I speak, how much do I say? If I do something, what do I do?

Here are options available to us mere mortals when we are bothered, concerned, irritated, or empassioned by an issue we feel is beyond our reach:

  1. Donate to a cause. You may not be able to go to a war zone, or research AIDS, or dig wells; there are people who do this and they have given their lives to this. Help them with funding, no matter how great or small, you can help them.
  2. Raise awareness. Sometimes this means giving speeches, or choosing project topics on the issue. At other times, this means just raising the topic for discussion amongst friends. Use the platform you have to inspire others, to urge goodness, to educate.
  3. Apply your skill. We each have skills that are useful to world issues, some of us do PR, others do Financial Management, some build homes and others put on parties. Use the skills you have to help, be it through writing to people in power or throwing a fundraiser or calling and asking how you can volunteer your skills to help.
  4. Go. Yes, it is as simple as that. Go. Go to the area that screams out to your heart. Raise funds if you need to and go. Do you stand for Palestine or Israel – go volunteer in a refugee camp. Do you cry for hungry children in India – volunteer to feed them. There are thousands of ways to go. So, go.
  5. Focus locally. No matter what world issue you bring up, there is a local version happening in our back yards. Want to help people in war zones, or feed the starving, or bring water to communities, or help the diseased? You can do all of this where you are. There are areas in every land that people are suffering, even when it’s not on the news, it is the reality.

You can make a difference, no matter where you are, what you have or who you are. It is your choice, how you make a difference, and if you make a difference.

If you are in Jamaica, a good place to start looking is: Do Good Jamaica.
Want to go global? Try: RED, UNICEF, Salvation Army, or the Peace Corp

Posted by: scsquared | July 24, 2014

A Return To The Work

I find the more muted I feel the greater my desire to write, draw, paint, or sing. I am in the need of full expression in my daily life. I must “Live Out Loud” or I will die in silence.

There. I said it. I must have my own voice.

This will possibly be the least eloquent or stylish post I ever write, but write and publish it I must.

I am committing to posting. I am committing to taking a time out for my creative self. I am committing to pondering, philosophizing, and posting.

This is me. I must create.

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