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. ❤

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 😛
  • 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)

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

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. ❤
  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! 😛

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!

There’s been a development

Good morning!!

So there’s been a development.

I’ve been blogging now for a little more than year and it’s been a wild ride. I’ve been able to share my peaks and a lot of my valleys. My readers have been there along for the ride the whole time. Well, here’s another peak for ya!

A few months ago, I went on a date with a man, which led to another date with him, which led to another date, which led to a few other dates, which led to him asking me a question a few weeks ago:

“Would you like to be my girlfriend?”

Needless to say, I am very excited about the possibilities. He’s funny, he’s smart, he’s a parent as well, he’s very tall, but most importantly, he gets me – the real me, the whole me. I’m not going to lie, we’re awesome together.

Honestly, I didn’t know if I wanted to share it on the blog. I am protective of who/what I put in the public eye, but it felt weird not sharing it. Of course, there’s the whole, “What if I tell the world and it doesn’t work out?” Well, after all this time looking for someone, I’m trying to make a concentrated effort not to hold back. What’s the point?

What’s the worst that can happen: I get my heart broken? Well, I got a divorce and buried my mother in the same year: my heart’s been broken plenty, thank you very much. It wasn’t easy, but I’m still standing.

Having been single for a long time, I’m not scared of going back to that either. Meh. There’s no real point in holding back. I have a good life and while there are times I had been conflicted about sharing it with someone else, now that I’ve met this man, I see a different side of things and frankly, different things about myself too.

We are taking things slow, which I know sounds incredibly cliche, but it’s actually true. We both have children, so it’s none of this ‘love at first sight, flashforward three months and let’s ride off into the sunset’ business. Just being able to see each other takes a lot of coordination – with the different custody arrangements, classes, work, other family commitments and my early bedtime, we couldn’t take it too fast even if we wanted to! I certainly don’t take for granted the time we do spend together, which is how it should be anyway. I guess, I’ll finally figure out what to do with a man. 🙂

Anyway, I don’t want to ramble on and on, but I just wanted to share the news. From time to time, I’ll probably write about things I’ve noticed about myself in this situation…or not. I don’t know yet how comfortable I will be, but you know me: the words must flow. 🙂

Have a wonderful week, my friends! ❤

V

Sappy romance novels: who’s with me?

Good Tuesday morning!

So this weekend, I had a lot of free time on my hands, so I do what I usually do: I borrow an e-book from the library and gorge on it until I’ve read every last word.

*chomp, chomp* <– sound of me devouring the book.

This last book was a winner. Now before before you start trashing romance novels, I have to say that I find their predictability and creativity very soothing. I read A LOT of them when I was growing up. I mean dozens and dozens of Mills and Boons. I then went on to study Literature and books with a bit more gravity, but I still enjoy them. A friend who writes romance novels tell me that they are supposed to be formulaic: boy meets girl, boy likes girl, girls likes boy, they must have a fight, they make up, the end, cue the happily ever after. That part of it is comforting because I know that there’ll be happiness in the end and I’ll feel good and while the guy or the girl may make me mad or disappoint me through the course of the story, they’ll pull it together by the end of the book. On the heels of what I’ve just described, “creativity” is not the word that would come to mind as well. The way I look at it is that to have to tell a story in such a strict framework, but make it different from the thousands of other stories out there – that takes creativity. I always look forward to finding out what makes Prince Charming a dick or what makes the couple falter and how they work their way back.

Anyway, coming back to my point…what was it again? Oh right, this book I read.

Right away, the female lead character resonated with me. She is strong, independent, has her shtuff together, career, house, car, good friends in her life, supportive family, etc. What she didn’t have was a man. The writer wove this wonderful picture of a successful but lonely woman who wanted to find the right person. She wasn’t pathetic, she didn’t hate men and thought they were all dogs (sorry guys), she wasn’t controlling, she wasn’t mean. She was just single and didn’t want to be. I appreciate that portrayal.

Of course, in the end, she fell in love with the man of her dreams, but what I liked most about the story was that it wasn’t an easy road (which was part of the formula, of course), but she stuck it out. I think at times, I feel because I do have my independence, it’s extremely easy to ‘pass’ on any kind of hardship. It’s easy to walk away from a man with baby mama drama or someone who hasn’t progressed in life at the same pace as me. It’s easy to dismiss things that make life a little harder because I have full control. What the character did was inspirational to me. She had hurdle after hurdle to make it to the happy ending, but all along the way, the writer seemed to be telling me (personally, I would like to think) that sometimes you have to fight for what you want. Sometimes something good is shrouded in bad and, yes, while it’s not easy to deal with difficult in-laws or your partner’s children who don’t like you or friends who think your new man is a dick, but you have to ask yourself, “What do you want ultimately?”

The lead character asked herself throughout the story, “You love this man and it’s not an easy road to go down with him, but you’re going down the road together.” The writer was also trying to tell me that while I have a good life alone, I can also have a good life with someone else in it (Duh!) but with that comes compromise and acceptance that things will not always go the way I want.

Anyway, the point is that I’m a romantic and these books always make me feel so sappy and girly and I did swoon a couple times but I do take something I can use from every story. It helps me keep my faith in romance alive….even if there’s no romance to be had at the moment.

Um, in other news, I get a new tattoo this week. Pictures to follow…after it passes the scabby phase, of course.

I know I’m a day late, but you guys have a good week!

V

Ode to Vancouver

Well hello there! Good morning!

I was reminded over the weekend that the 6th anniversary of becoming Canadian was this weekend. That flew by quickly. One minute, I’m working at a Trinidadian daily newspaper, eating doubles every Saturday morning and callaloo and macaroni pie every Sunday for lunch and next thing you know, I’m a Vancouverite through and through – complete with vegetarian diet, rain boots and recycling bins. It’s amazing how time marches on and how life changes.

I went back to find a picture from my citizenship ceremony and realized that I was married at the time, so pictures of Ex-Husband were all throughout the album. They always seem to surprise me – pictures of XH, but that’s not what this post is about. Although, of course, my being in Canada is inextricably linked to him, so it’s kind of avoidable. Meh.

I didn’t plan on being Canadian. When I met him and we fell in love, it never crossed my mind that I’d have to move. Oh, to be young and a little bit stupid! After a couple years, we did move. I didn’t really know what to expect. All I knew was that it was far, but I didn’t expect Vancouver to be this beautiful. Over the years, I’ve taken a lot of trips and nowhere I’ve been is as good as here – not even Manhattan, which is saying a lot since I’m obsessed with that city. It’s not the most exciting place – I prefer the bustle of Vegas with the shopping and the noise and the crowds – but I accept Vancouver as my own.

I am Canadian! [Photo taken by Vikera Hunte. Please do not copy without permission.]

I am Canadian!
[Photo taken by Vikera Hunte. Please do not copy without permission.]

 So today I want to make a list of things I appreciate about living in Vancouver.

1. Being born and raised in a place where there is homogeneity and sameness, I always marvel at how cosmopolitan we are. I remember when I moved here and met people from LITERALLY all around the world. I met a guy one night from Azerbaijan. Do you know how blessed you are when you can casually meet someone from a place you have to look up on a map? When I first moved here and met a friend’s babysitter, who was from Nepal, I wanted to have a map and put a pin of the countries from which I met people. I still might do that. It’s fascinating.

2. The mountains and the ocean. I like the option of going up to Cypress for a day of snowshoeing, which I did on my own because I wanted to try something new and exciting – only to find out it was just hiking on snow! Then a few months later, being able to spend the whole day on the beach, lying in the sun, being warm and happy. In Vancouver, it’s easy to be outdoors – camping, hiking, going to the beach, paddleboarding, skiing: the options are endless.

3. It’s SO clean here! I mean, seriously! It’s clean here all the time. I appreciate the hard work of all those who keep our city clean. If you see litter somewhere, it’s always a surprise. In Manhattan, the garbage is just piled up on the sidewalk and it’s jarring. Here, garbage is whisked away and taken care of ever so discreetly. I love it.

4. On the same vein, I appreciate that we are mindful of our environment here. We take care of our planet and recycling is a BIG part of our culture. I’m not going to lie, I’m a recycling buff. I try to recycle everything all the time. It makes sense and it’ll be a good thing in the long run. On one of my trips back to Trinidad, for the first time I realized how much styrofoam was used and that everything was just GARBAGE. I did my part one year and took all the disposable (and biodegradable) things for Kidlet’s birthday party down there. I couldn’t bear contributing to the massive piles on the Beetham.

5. I just like how everybody gets along here. I mean, with so many different groups of people, everyone is integrated and open to different cultures. You are exposed to different kinds of food, music, religions, dances. I told Kidlet once that we should learn how to count to 10 or say “Thank you” in 10 different languages for fun – that’s still on my bucket list. Since I’ve been here, I’ve fallen in love with Japanese sushi, Thai pad thai, and Angolan kizomba.

When I fell in love with a man all those years ago, how could I have known that this would be my life today? I’ve said this before: there are days when I feel like I want to go home and there are days when I feel like I’m already home.

What to do with a man

So a few days have passed and I have been stewing about this ‘what can a man bring to a table that already has a breadwinner sitting at the head of said table‘ thing. (When I say breadwinner here, I mean, provider of all the family’s needs, not necessarily only financial support.)

I can give you a list of single women in my life who are breadwinners and they’re doing a damn good job too! Almost all of these single women are looking for a partner. Hmmmm…the questions are:

Where is the line between being head of a house and being a woman? Does there have to be line? Can we do both? Are those two roles mutually exclusive?

Think about this. As a single woman, you meet a guy, you get to know him. You tell him that you have a job, you pay your bills, you are raising a child/children, you have a car, you have friends, you have responsibilities. Do you think he thinks that you need him? He knows that his job is to get your attention, so that he can be on the roster too. I think it’s up to you, if you like him, to show him that while, yes, you are Superwoman, you know how to be a regular woman too…more specifically, HIS regular woman.

In my post-divorce dating, which is NOT extensive by any means, I had a good experience with a man I was dating. It was clear to him from the beginning that I had my life together, and it was clear to me from the beginning that he intended to be part of it.

I remember one time we were going on a date in the city, and I was driving. I usually gas up for the week, so on the way downtown, I swung by the gas station. He offered to pay for my gas. Not just $20 to get us there and back, but to fill it up. I thought it was the most ridiculous thing I had ever heard. Why would or should he pay for my gas?! I laughed it off and I told him no. He insisted, then I seriously told him no. Then he said, “Alright, then I’ll pump the gas.” So he did and I really appreciated it.

What I was telling him was:

a. I can pay my own bills.

b. I want him to be part of my life, not sitting as a passenger, but as an active participant.

c. There is room for him in even the routine, mundane things.

d. Sure, I can do it myself, but I acknowledge that he is part of the team and I can step back and let him take a role in it!

What he was telling me was:

a. I want to take care of you.

b. I know you have your own life but I want to be a part of it.

c. I can be patient and let you show me where your boundaries are.

d. You can pay for your gas today, but you now know that it’s something I’m willing to do if you let me.

A man, a real man, wants to take care of his woman, even if she can take care of herself. Then I guess that a woman has to let him be that man and let him take care of her in a way that she is comfortable. I think, that’s where things go sideways sometimes. Maybe sometimes the man will expect her to be a woman right away and when she doesn’t fit his expectation, he’ll find her controlling and inflexible. Maybe sometimes the Superwoman will forget that he wants to be part of her life too and might make him redundant and have him sitting on the sidelines while she carries on with the business of things. In a perfect world, the two people deciding to embark on this journey will try to compromise and work together.

Sigh…it’s very tricky! Finding a good man is hard enough as it is and then you have to deal with all these nuances!?

Anyway, long story short about what I’ve learned from writing this:

If/When I do find a partner, there is room for him in my life for him and I have to remember to show him that. I’ll remember what it’s like to just be a woman and he’ll remind me what it’s like to have a man in my life.

Hmmm….I don’t know if I’ve explained this properly or if I’ve just botched the whole thing…

V

p.s. This is such a loaded topic for me! It wasn’t easy for me to write this and even now, I’m not 100% convinced this is publish-able, but I’m releasing it into the world! Good, bad or ugly!