Break who? Me? Today? I think not.

This morning I woke up and felt like I can take on the world. Sometimes you feel like the ant, sometimes you feel like the shoe. Today I feel like a steel-toe size 13 boot!

Hair is cooperating, makeup is good and blouse is cute: all systems go! Determination is my co-pilot today!

Have a great Thursday lovelies!

Vikera

Image taken by Vikera Hunte. Please do not copy without permission.

Image taken by Vikera Hunte. Please do not copy without permission.

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I only needed one week

So I’m back from a week off work sandwiched in between weekends away from home. Well, let me tell you, I learned something about myself and about life these past 9 days.

My vacation at home (or staycation as the cool kids call it) was one of the most relaxing times I’ve had. Usually, wherever I’ve worked, I would bank all my vacation time to be able to go back to Trinidad for a few weeks. I never just took days off. I always needed all my days to be able to have a long enough trip to travel to Trinidad. With this job, I have quite a bit of time off, so with my decision not to go to Trinidad this year, I am up to my eyeballs in time off eligibility. As Kidlet’s school vacation was winding down, I took a week off to spend with him. In the meantime, I planned a weekend away to go camping with my friend and her boys to start off the week and Boyfriend and I planned a child-free weekend after Kidlet went to his dad’s.

First of all, it was weird spending vacation time in town. It felt indulgent. Most people (and I used to be one of them) squeeze out all their time off to hop on a plane and travel or at least to go away for a week; I just stayed at my house to noodle around! Ha! What a luxury! I had planned a few things for us to do: amusement park, aquarium, a day trip that included a bike ride, possible play dates. In the end, Kidlet and I just spent a lot of time at home together, just being together. We watched movies, ate out, did 6 loads of laundry at the laundromat, went back-to-school shopping, got him a fancy haircut and went to the park. It wasn’t anything particularly postcard-worthy, but just being with him, being his mum and spending time together uninterrupted was amazing. Spending this alone time with him really made me see what a remarkable young man he is becoming and how funny he is! My pride runneth over. <3

After that week being a full-time mother, I got Kidlet ready to go off to his dad’s and then got myself ready to take on my role as a full-time girlfriend for the weekend (a process that involves a lot of prep, let me tell you! Ha!).

Boyfriend and I are cut from the same cloth. We get along extremely well and what I realize is that a lot of our happiness comes from our ability to just take things with stride. We too had lofty plans of doing things on the weekend and sightseeing and dinners out. In the end, we ended up spending one day at the mall, taking funny pics in a photo booth, and buying groceries and cooking at home. Again, it was this alone time that really hit home that we are building on something and I how happy I really am.

You know, when I took my current job, part of the appeal was the vacation allowance and the flexibility it would provide to go to Trinidad for weeks at a time. Little did I know, all I needed was one week to have a really good vacation.

This week has taught me:

  • despite being an early morning person my whole life, I quickly learnt how to sleep in until at least 9 am…I kinda like it!
  • while I am a city girl at heart, I thoroughly enjoyed camping
  • my life was becoming way too stressful and that the things that I spent time and energy worrying about on a day to day basis, are really just NOT that big a deal in reality, for example, cooking :P
  • my job is not my life and I am blessed to have a job that I can go hard at 5 days a week, but can also walk away from for a week without looking back
  • as much as I value and feel protective of my independence, having someone in my life who respects me enough to let me be myself, but also who wants me to know that he has my back is a wonderful discovery
  • you really don’t need a lot of money to really enjoy the things that make you happy (but I already knew that!)

So I have a few days of vacation left (Still? WHAT?!) and I am looking forward to spending it wisely. Doing what? Who knows!

Have a great week!

Vikera (no longer a woman of leisure)

It’s just hair

This post was hard to write. It’s hard to type when you’re rolling your eyes the whole time! Sheesh!

The source of today’s frustration is that ruckus about the magazine article showing how people with straight hair can get an afro. A lot of people seem to be upset by it. It’s being called ‘cultural appropriation’: a term that I hadn’t heard about or truly understood until last week.

The internet tells me that appropriation is “the action of taking something for one’s own use, typically without the owner’s permission”. I counter that with “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” perhaps.

I have worn my hair natural for about 9 years. I have a thick head of hair, which used to be even thicker when I was a teen, so early on, my mother had it chemically straightened, so it could be manageable. I continued that process until I moved to Vancouver. Unfortunately, the climate change was tough on my hair and it was hard to keep it healthy. I decided to keep it in its natural state and I never looked back. For me, my naturally curly hair was just my own and it was easy. I wear it because it’s relatively free to maintain and it’s easy and I think it’s authentically me. It’s not a political statement nor because I’m from the Caribbean. It’s just what’s growing out of my head. Need I remind you about my latest tattoo?

This photo was taken by Vikera Hunte. Please do not copy without permission.

This photo was taken by Vikera Hunte. Please do not copy without permission.

This whole cultural appropriation thing with regards to hair is kinda over the top for me. The article doesn’t make a cultural or political statement about afros, its headline simply says, “You (yes, you) can have an afro even if you have straight hair”. It makes no reference about race. Either I’m not understanding it properly or there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this. I think that model was used to show that if you have fine, straight hair, you can have big hair with volume, as in, you can have a completely different look temporarily. You know, just like people with curly hair that get it flat ironed and have a completely different look temporarily.

I happen to think my hair is my most versatile accessory. Even when I had an online dating profile, I wrote right on there, “One thing you should know about me is that you can never assume you’re going to know what my hair looks like.” I change my hair ALL the time. I wear it super short, I add extensions, I dye it, I wear it straight (flat ironed) and I wear it big and fluffy. Every Thursday or Friday, I scour the internet looking for new styles and new ideas. I see something I like that would flatter me and watch some videos about it and then make the change. I never once stop to think about the origin of the style. Honestly, I don’t really care. I’m not going to lie.

Photo taken by Vikera Hunte

Photo taken by Vikera Hunte

I wear head wraps on the weekends “like an African woman”. I don’t care that it’s an African-inspired style, I care about the flexibility of being able to leave the house in ten minutes without having to wrangle my hair into something decent. I don’t think about an African seeing me and thinking, “Look at her, she’s not even African, but she wants to wrap her head like us?” For me, a head wrap is not an homage to my African heritage, it’s a piece of cloth. The end.

To me, hair is just a thing. It’s not a political statement. In American history, the afro was a symbol. Women didn’t wear their hair that way unless it was to make a point. Even now, sometimes I get a Foxy Brown comment, which I don’t really understand, to be honest. I do like the attention my hairstyles get, but to say that it has a larger meaning than I have too much time on my hands, I don’t know.

The article shows how you can change your hair from straight to voluminously curly. I’ve read the comments on some websites and there are some that asked, “Why couldn’t they use a Black model? Here they go, not giving Black people credit. Here they go, using White people to celebrate Black successes.” Well, forgive me, but Black models will already have curly hair, no? Oh right, everyone’s sporting straight hair or weaves or extensions these days. So you’re mad because you have curly hair that you don’t want to wear and choose to wear your hair straight, but are mad because people with straight hair want to wear their hair curly? Hmmm…again, either I’m not getting it, or this doesn’t make any sense.

I’ve always thought the beauty of my curly hair is the infinite possibilities it allows me and I get excited thinking about what I can do with it. If someone can show me a way to change up my look (for free and relatively easily), then why the heck not?

Can someone explain to me why I should be offended?

V

The iron have me so bazodee…literally!

Morning!

My heading is the lyrics from a song about steelpan music: the “iron” is the steelpan music and “bazodee” means overwhelmed, confused, dazed in Trinidadian. Now, the original song was about enjoying steelpan music, but my heading means that my actual iron levels are low and I am literally overwhelmed, confused and dazed.

A few weeks ago, I collapsed in the washroom. I passed out for a few minutes and when I woke up, I had twisted my ankle and bitten through my lower lip. After getting bloodwork done and going through the agonizing twenty four hours after being told I had to come in to discuss the results and when I actually met with the doctor, I was told that there was virtually no iron in my blood. Sigh.

As a vegetarian, we’re always reminded that we need to keep up our protein. I do try to include protein in every meal and those close to me know that I’m always lecturing about protein in meals. Somewhere along the line, I guess I lost sight of the iron part of things. The doctor met with me and discussed the levels and while he didn’t try to make me start eating meat again, he did ask me a few times if I would consider eating meat, “not that I want to judge your lifestyle”. Hmmmm…

I can’t actually fathom chewing on and swallowing a piece of chicken or bacon on salmon. I actually can’t. Now I know the body is resilient and if I wanted to, I probably could actually do it, but the reality is that I’m not going to. The fact remains that I have been a vegetarian since high school and can’t go back now. If I can incubate a human and take care of two of us on this diet, I can surely take care of myself, right?

So like the lactose intolerant revelation a few months ago, now there’s this bombshell. I mean, seriously? Does my body want me to eat nothing at all? Sigh. To add insult to injury, since last year, I have given up juice and pop and have stuck to drinking only water and tea: I go through a cup of orange pekoe in the morning, 750 ml a day of green tea at my desk at work and then I drink unsweetened homemade iced tea at home (that I brew myself) and on doing my iron absorption research, I’ve come to find out that properties in tea (tannins) inhibit iron absorption. Here’s the kicker: tannins only affect iron absorption in iron found in non-meat sources. So essentially, because of the all-day tea drinking, my body has not been able to absorb any iron I’ve been consuming. What the f….annoying!

So now what? Now what do I do? I fear I might have to become those meal-planning, own-food-bringing, nutritional-content-scrutinizing people. I don’t have time for all of that! Can’t I just eat three beets and call it a day? I never want to reject food or bad talk food or shun food. I like to eat!! I have been doing research and my loved ones have been providing a lot of information and advice for me to consider, so that’s good, but I still can’t be bothered! hahahaha…I’m kidding.

Over the last three days, I’ve had to make changes. I have to take my iron supplements twice a day with food, but not with dairy (since that inhibits absorption) and try to have it with Vitamin C (which helps absorption), but after one hour of having tea, which affects absorption. It’s like an algebra formula! I just want to eat!!!!

Okay, enough with the whining.

I’m not invincible and despite how free-wheeling I want to live my life, diligence and organization is necessary. The amount of attention my body needs is growing and so to be healthy, I have to make a concentrated effort. No more fainting spells and low energy because I have my life to live. I have a son to raise and a job and a boyfriend and hobbies and this blog and my family and my Fitbit to keep busy. I don’t have time to have low iron!!! Right now, I have to work hard to get the iron levels UP and then maintained! That will take some effort, but pretty soon, it’ll be automatic and my body will be happier and I will be happier. This low iron thing is not going to keep me bazodee!

So on I go, one meal at a time.

Have a good week!

Vikera

One step at a time

Good morning!

So I got an activity tracker. It’s a long story, but the gist of it is that we got one for one of my besties and I thought it was a brilliant idea, so I got one too. I know what you’re thinking, “Laziest woman in the world, why are you wasting your money?” 

I’ve never been a fan of exercise. Everybody knows that. I have spent quite a bit of time avoiding it actually. In recent years though, I’ve been trying to get my act together and be more active. So here I am in 2015 with an activity tracker masquerading as a person who gives a damn about the inches on her waistline.

Let me tell you why I like this device: it makes it all count. Because I’m prone to sloth, there are times when it’s hard to get motivated to even get the bike out from the balcony, let alone go for an actual bike ride, for example. Because my Fitbit tracks the activity from the time I get up in the morning, I’m not starting from zero by the time I have an opportunity to ‘exercise’.

The common goal for a step count is 10,000 steps a day. When I first got it, I put my goal as 5,000 because I didn’t know how many steps I did – I didn’t want to get discouraged. In the first few days, I smoked that goal. Then I went to 8,000 and soon enough I was getting close to that, so I decided to go whole hog and try to get 10,000, so I could push myself!

Here’s how my Fitbit has been working: by the time I get to work in the morning, I have 1,000 steps logged, half of them from my all-over-the-place method of getting ready in the morning. T-minus 15 minutes to walking out the door: oh, I forgot to pack my lunch (kitchen)…dammit, where’s my red shoes (my bedroom)…ack! my hair (washroom)…where’s that thingamabob (living room)? Hey, is Kidlet ready? Um, what IS he doing in his bedroom (Kidlet’s bedroom)? Vitamins (kitchen)! Hmm…did I put on deodorant (washroom)?

Basically, being disorganized is a very active lifestyle!

This continues on throughout the day at work too…walk over to the printer waiting for my printout out…oh wait, I never did hit “print” did I? walk back to my desk, hit “print”, walk back to the printer then walk back to my desk. Rinse and repeat 10 times a day = 500 more steps. My daily flask of tea? Go to the kitchen at the back of the office to put the kettle on, get sidetracked with gossip, come back to my desk, forget to put the kettle on, go back, put it on. Get back to my desk, forget the kettle was on, go back to refresh the kettle, go back to my desk. Remember the kettle, go back to the kitchen then come back to my desk with tea…another 300 steps logged.

With the Fitbit, all the unintentional exercise counts. By the very nature of how it works, it’s very forgiving. For me and how my mind is wired, it works. It doesn’t judge my lazy days. It tells me, “Hey, you didn’t do exercise on purpose today, but you still logged 3,000 steps! Good for you!” Now, having said that I’d have to be asleep or completely immobile to log 0 steps a day, so it does reward very minimum effort. For me, though, I plan to not do less than 5,000 steps a day, so that’ll keep me moving.

So what’s the point of this? The point is that I’ve become much more active since getting this tracker. It validates the things I’m doing right and pushes me to do more. Because I had to be out the door early and was busy at work and didn’t take my lunch walk, by the time I came home last night, I had only logged 2,000 steps. I got my butt out for an hour of walking around my neighbourhood. The tracker tells me I walked 4 km. (Really? Who is this person?) I came back home, exhausted, invigorated and excited. Checked on my step count: 8500? Seriously? WTF! I didn’t even meet my goal. I wasn’t even mad. I did more than I would have that’s for sure. I tried walking on the spot, but after about a few hundred steps or so, my thighs were NOT amused, so I gave it up and passed out forthwith!

Anyway, long story short, I’m slowly changing my lifestyle to a more active one. One step goal at a time. For me to do this whole thing is a reflection of how I live my life. I really just am doing the best I can. I push myself when I want, but I also cut myself slack when I need it. I don’t want a perfect life, I just want to be happy and comfortable and healthy.

*******

Steps taken while I was typing this post? 0
Steps as a result of writing this post before work and now I have 10 minutes to get out the door: 1,000 :P

Have a great week, folks!

Vikera

PS. With all this walking, I’m going to have even more AMAZING thighs by the end of the year. EEEEK!

This pic is mine. Please do not take without asking.

What a difference a year makes….

Good morning!

I was sitting here reminiscing on last summer. It seems so different from this summer. Last summer, I had just started working again and funds were not for spending, but for replenishing my withering bank account after six months of being off work. In other aspects though, my life was the same, but different back then. I was very involved with the Trinidadian society out here: going to meetings and volunteering. I was seriously single. I didn’t have the new car and still felt awkward driving my old car. I was living a very sedentary life. I didn’t have the new phone or maybe I just got it and was still figuring it all out. I was dancing kizomba religiously every two weeks. I certainly didn’t have Whatsapp to communicate with my brothers. I was rocking short hair. I didn’t have four tattoos. Flashforward a year and a lot of this has changed.

Isn’t it amazing how life changes? None of these things I had really planned on changing; they just happened over the course of the year. Life has a way of moving along nicely, doesn’t it?

You know me, I have always been a planner and I’m not extremely spontaneous, however, it’s becoming clear to me that despite my best efforts, things are going to happen that I didn’t plan for or didn’t see coming and it’s not always a bad thing! Hmmm…imagine that!

  1. I am grateful to have people in my life who love me and want what’s best for me.
  2. I am grateful that I am able to provide for Kidlet and we both have more than we need and are able to have some of what we want.
  3. I am grateful that my heart remembers how to love and the person that I’ve entrusted it to is taking care of it nicely.
  4. I am grateful that I’m becoming more active. (I bought a Fitbit activity tracker…more on that next week!)
  5. I am grateful that I have a challenging and rewarding (and frustrating and sometimes overwhelming) job!
  6. I am grateful that Kidlet is happy and healthy and just an all-round super duper wonderful person. <3
  7. I am grateful that I’m making peace with my hair. It’s getting longer and it’s a lot more work than a bi-weekly haircut, but when it’s big and fluffy and my curls are all over the place, it feels magical.
  8. I am grateful that after 10 years, the homesickness for Trini food is now manageable.
  9. I am grateful that I held out for a job with a short commute, so when I’m working on this blog post in the morning when I should be in the shower, I can still get to work on time! ACK! :P

It’s important to focus on the positive. Last year, my life was good. It wasn’t perfect, but it was good. This year, my life still isn’t perfect, but it’s still good. Happiness and contentment live with me and for THAT I am ever grateful!

Have a good week all!

I still need her…

I never thought I would say those words. I never thought I would feel this way. I had been dreading it. I was able to avoid it this whole time – it’s almost been 6 years – but finally, I said it, “I don’t have a Mum.” Sigh.

Now that I’m dating an adult AS an adult, I’m faced with things that I am not completely comfortable with honestly. I don’t feel sure of myself. This isn’t a teenage romance. This isn’t easy. There are so many things to consider: me, him, his children, my child, scheduling, blending of the families, everything. Not just externally, either, but in my own mind and heart. It’s challenging. There are so many ways things that can go wrong and get sidetracked. New Boyfriend and I do talk A LOT about everything and try to do right, but still, there are no guarantees and we don’t feel sure about everything all the time. We’re just doing the best we can. Remember when you were young and you meet someone, you like them and then you’re just ‘together’, the end. Those days are over! hehehe

Now is the time I wish Mum was still here, you know? I don’t know what it would be like and honestly, the person I am today is actually because she hasn’t been here, so if she was here, would I be me and would I be in this situation? I don’t know. All I know is that with this new relationship, I want to do the right thing and I want to make good choices, but how can I be sure? My mum often seemed to know what the right thing was…not always, but often.

I was talking to a coworker about New Boyfriend and she was literally GRILLING me about him and us and I thought, “Whoa!” The funny thing is that it’s been a long while since anyone actually gave a damn in that way. The way only a mother can: the no holds barred, I don’t care if it’s private, I still want to know way. It reminded me then that I don’t have a mum to help me get through this. Don’t get me wrong, it’s all good, but it’s very delicate to do it properly. I don’t have a mum to reassure me that I’m doing the right thing. I do have people in my life who love me and we can talk about things and New Boyfriend and I do talk about things all the time as well, but you know, Mummy would have been alllllll over everything, asking the hard questions.

Ultimately, though, it’s he and I that are in this relationship and while it’s good to get advice, it’s up to us, but I can’t help but want her as a sounding board.

I know it’s going to come up again. What if I get remarried, what if I have another baby, what if so many things…she won’t be here.

It’s good to know that she’s still in my heart and I fear all the time that I’ll forget and I’ll go on living without her, but the fact remains that I do still need her. I do still wish she was here and I do still want to hear her laugh.

Hmmm…

I press on.

Vikera