In early 2006, I began creating a life book for my daughter, Alex. Click here for links to articles describing my experience.
And for those of you who are more digitally inclined, in late 2006, I recreated key pages of Alex's lifebook for an article I wrote for AlphaMom, using Scrapblog.
You can see the final digital result (and leave comments, if you'd like!) here.
Total cumulative inches lost: 2-1/4 inches (inches lost in the past week: 3/4 inch).
Three-quarters of an inch. I've been doing this miserable running thing all week long, and have lost a mere three-quarters of an inch.
This, my friends, is where I consider that perhaps it's not worth it. Even though I've figured out the gait at which I need to run to ensure I don't lose my breath (yay!), my legs still feel like lead sacks of water (boo), so my running-to-walking ratio has not significantly improved. And thanks to an unbelievably unforgiving mirror at the hotel in Grand Riviere this past weekend, I realized that cellulite is slowly eating my entire body, and my ass is continuing its death march down the back of my legs.
Not that I'm discouraged or anything.
BUT! I shall persevere, my little kumquats, because (a) I said I would, and (b) it is entirely possible that my poor self-image may be arising, at least partially, from hormonal fluctuations. I'm just saying.
Anyway, hopefully those of you who've joined me on this challenge are doing great -- and if you're not, don't give up, it's not too late to keep going. Trust me, I feel your pain -- but don't give up!
View from the sundeck of our little cabana in Grand Rivere, as I was writing in my journal.
This post was written in my personal diary on Saturday, May 27th. The photos below the text of this post were taken Sunday, May 28th.
As I write this, I'm sitting on the sundeck of our cabana at the eco-hotel Acajou in Grand Riviere, on the north coast of Trinidad. We're here on our annual trip for the nesting of the giant leatherback turtles, just as we did last year. We're not going to actually see the turtles until after dark (when they come ashore to dig their nests on the beach), and, ostensibly, at dawn tomorrow morning (when the last of the turtles are returning to the ocean). However, for now, Marcus has taken Alex to the beach to play, and I'm enjoying a few moments of solitude.
While sitting here listening to the birds among all this lush vegetation, I can't help but notice how much I've been thinking about the environment lately. I honestly don't know the reason why -- maybe it's because that in spite of the beauty that surrounds me here in the tropics, Trinidad is facing its own environmental degradation. Or maybe it's that now that I'm a parent, I feel more of a responsibility to leave the earth, at the very least, in as good shape as it was before I got here, because I owe it to my daughter. Regardless of the reason, it is this new... awareness, I guess I'll call it ... that has moved me to do things like create Emerald Market.
Anyway, this new awareness also had me eagerly anticipating the May issue of Vanity Fair Magazine, dubbed the "Green Issue" -- devoted to the environment and eco-friendly matters. I've just finished reading it here on this deck, and while this month's publication does have its disappointments (it's not printed on recycled paper, for example, and really, shouldn't that be the case for a magazine extoling the virtues of enviro-friendliness?), it is pretty impressive. The magazine did everything from helping me realize all-new levels of my disgust in the current U.S. administration (e.g., the systematic and deliberate policy of ignoring all things environmental, up to and including the ridiculous adoption of the much more benign-sounding phrase "climate change" to refer to the very real danger of global warming) to increasing my admiration of people like Edward Norton, George Clooney, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and Bette Midler, who don't just talk the envirotalk, but actually walk the walk.
Recently, I was speaking with an online friend about living a green life (especially because this friend is inspirational when it comes to living authentically), and she mentioned that she felt many people "go green" because it's the vogue thing to do, rather than because they truly understand the implications of not doing so. I suppose, in a certain way, the Vanity Fair Green Issue is testament to this. But I'd argue that every little bit counts -- and if people are becoming green just to be fashionable, well, perhaps eventually some of their actions will eventually just become second-nature.
So at any rate, with all these readings and conversations about the environment that have been swirling around me lately, the upshot is I have new resolve to begin incorporating more sustainable and ecofriendly habits into my life. Thus far, I've hardly been the poster child for conscious living, but hey, it's a start. And for those of you who might be looking for ways to start doing the same, check out these "Fifty Ways to Help Save the Planet" -- some of them are surprisingly easy, like going vegetarian for one day a week (not for animal-friendly reasons, as you might think, but because "to produce one pound of beef requires 2,500 gallons of water—that's 40 times more water than is used to produce a pound of potatoes.") Or just take your own bag to the supermarket, instead have having to wrack your brains about which is better, paper or plastic. Or hand the Starbucks guy your travel coffee mug when you stop in for that morning java pick-me-up, instead of taking the disposable cup you're offered.
Yesterday, I received a rather interesting e-mail from a man I've never met. His name is Nicholas Laughlin, and he's one of the most prolificbloggers in the Caribbean. The e-mail provided information about an upcoming conference to be held at the National Library of Trinidad & Tobago; in particular, an agenda item that includes a roundtable discussion entitled "Global Voices, Caribbean Accents: Blogging in the Caribbean."
This conference is open to Caribbean Studies scholars; however, the number of panelists leading the discussion is limited to three: Nicholas, and my two good and exceedingly intelligent friends, Georgia Popplewell and Attillah Springer. In an attempt to open the discussion even wider (not to mention to demonstrate to the audience the power of blogging), Nicholas has invited me and several other Caribbean-based bloggers to write a post on our personal blogs about some of the issues to be raised in the conference -- specifically around how the blogosphere provides Caribbean bloggers an opportunity to, as he says, "both engage in a boundaryless regional conversation and to talk back to the world, asserting our identity and independence." During the panel discussion, our blog posts will be projected live to the audience, as a tool to help highlight the various discussions that result on each blog.
I was thrilled to be included in this conversation, particularly because it plays to the panel discussion I'll be a part of at BlogHer, on "Identity...and Obligation." The BlogHer panel will be exploring how much we reveal of ourselves on our blogs, and whether we feel obligated to "represent" those aspects of ourselves we purport to be. As many of you probably know from a post I did earlier this year, I maintain that our words, particularly when it comes to blogging, have the power to affect how people think -- if only by providing our own views which may challenge (positively or negatively) the preconceptions of our readers. If I believe this to be true, then necessarily, as a woman from the Caribbean who chooses to author a blog, I have to also believe that what I write affects or shapes readers' perceptions of the Caribbean -- or, at the very least, Trinidadian women.
And so, for the purposes of this exercise, I'd like to test this theory. It is rare that I write about the socio-political goings-on in Trinidad (a topic which, quite frankly, I find too depressing to go into here on Chookooloonks); however, I do talk about our family life in the Caribbean, as well as various cultural customs -- and Lord knows I publish countless photographs of our surroundings here in the tropics. As a result, I'd love if you'd help me out by sharing your thoughts on the following:
1. If you're not from the Caribbean, has what you've read here on Chookooloonks shaped any perceptions you have of the Caribbean or Trinidad? How has your thinking about the region changed -- either positively or negatively?
2. If you are from the Caribbean, have any of my thoughts expressed here surprised you? Have any rung true?
Please feel free to be frank, even if you'd like to comment anonymously in order to do so. I eagerly await your impressions!
When I was growing up, my parents had appalling taste in music. It wasn't so bad when I was very young, at least as far as my mother was concerned: she was a huge Simon & Garfunkel fan, which, when you think about it, made her very au courant for the early Seventies (my dad was always only into classical, so he doesn't count). But eventually, they both found their ways to Neil Diamond and Jim Nabors and sadly, never left.
Because I think it's embarrassing that I know most of the lyrics to any Neil Diamond song, thanks to my mom, I vowed I would never let this happen to me. All through my twenties and thirties, I listened to all the radio stations, and grew my CD collection to impressive proportions. Marcus is actually the same way, and now together we own over 800 CDs. Furthermore, our collection boasts a wide range of music: we have everything from Missy Elliot to Marilyn Manson; from Alana Davis to Bob Marley. We listen to it all -- except for country music (though we do own a couple of CDs, it is very difficult for either of us to get into country music. Although, I will admit to you that, even though I may never actually open the packaging, I'm probably going to buy the Dixie Chicks' new album just on principle).
Then Alex came along.
Now, all of a sudden, it comes clear why my parents' musical tastes ended in a rut. The reason parents generally fail to stay current with musical changes isn't because they're too busy childrearing, or find themselves buried under toddler favourites like The Wiggles (*shudder*)...
...it's because they're afraid of the lyrics that their children might pick up on and recite at inopportune moments.
Now, frankly, if I'm right, I still think my parents' musical choices were a bit stilted: let's face it, when I was growing up, the worst thing I could possibly sing was "Le Freak...c'est chic" -- lyrics just weren't that suggestive back in the late seventies and eighties. (Although, now that I think about it, I remember being really embarrassed when Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing" came out. I remember thinking to myself, "I'm waaaay to young to be listening to this."). But nowadays? I fear the day that Alex busts out with:
"Don't you wish your girlfriend was hot like me?/Don't you wish your girlfriend was a freak like me?"
"I’ma get, get, get, get, you drunk, Get you love drunk off my hump, My hump, my hump, my hump,my hump, my lovely little lumps (Check it out)."
Check it out, indeed.
As such, I've found myself turning off the radio, and resorting to listening to my CDs in the car -- CD's where I wouldn't have a problem with Alex parroting the lyrics (and, in the event that a song is coming up that I think has a theme too suggestive for Girlie's innocent ears, I can just blithely skip over it). While this works in the short term, I fear that I too will end up like my parents, and find myself stuck in the music of the early 21st century, resulting in Alex blogging about me 20 years from now, saying something like: "All my mother ever listened to were songs by Gwen Stefani ... can you imagine???"
So, now, today, I'm vowing to myself to pay closer attention to music reviews, and start purchasing albums from new artists whose music I think I'd enjoy (and obviously, closely vet them before I let Alex listen to them in the car, lest she break out with:
"Ladies let 'em check up on it, (watch it while he check up on it) Dip it, pop it, twirl it, stop it, check on me tonight ").
But in the meantime:
Who are your favourite new artists that you think are tame enough that a very mimicky two-year-old could safely listen to? Please help, Amazon is standing by.
First off, thanks for all your suggestions for my grandmother's 100th birthday. Some of them are ... interesting... while others are truly inspired. I haven't chosen what I'm going to get her yet, but you've certainly given me some ideas to think about. I'll let you know what I decide. In the meantime, don't feel like you have to stop coming up with ideas, because they all will be considered.
* * * * *
Yesterday evening, Marcus, Alex and I went for a walk around the golf course near our home. It was a really great evening -- warm, but not stifling -- and the neighbourhood was generally quiet as most people were probably home having dinner with their families. It made me realize how much I miss walking. When Marcus and I met, we were living in Dublin and London respectively, both wonderful walking cities. Unfortunately, the only way to get around Port-of-Spain is to drive, and prior to our move here, Houston was the same way. It was wonderful to walk arm-in-arm again after not having done so for so long -- and especially great now that we can share our walks with Alex.
Hopefully, yesterday's evening walk will be the start of a new family tradition.
What are some of your favourite things to do as a family?
As you might expect, there's going to be quite the fête -- lots of friends and family gathered to celebrate her special day. Of course, Granny the Great has been very clear on how she wants to celebrate -- it is to be an outdoor evening celebration, and she came up with the guest list herself. Woe to the person who crosses Granny the Great when it comes to her plans.
Here's the thing, though: what the hell do you buy someone on their 100th birthday? I mean, really: not to be irreverent, but by 100 years old, surely you own everything you could possibly want or need. And it occurs to me that something as trite as, say, a photo album, just doesn't convey the sort of meaning that you'd want to convey to your grandmother on her 100th birthday.
So, any ideas? As background, my grandmother is sentimental, funny, and sharp as a whip. While her mind is quite together, however, she is rather frail -- I mean, let's face it, she's 100 years old. So spa weekends and that sort of thing are out. If anyone comes up with a great idea that I use, I'll... I'll send you a small memento from Trinidad. Deal?
Seriously, I could use your help. All suggestions welcome!
Total cumulative inches lost: 1-1/2 inches. God bless water weight, people. As a point of interest, even though this calculation only includes measurements of my chest, waist and hips, I also lost an inch off of my thighs and 1/2 an inch off of my upper arm. I didn't diet one bit (remember my steak-and-eggs breakfast?), so this is why I have to think that this is just water-weight. Also, I ran 5 out of the last 7 days, and for what it's worth, I hated every minute of it. But it was my promise to you that I'd report in that kept me going --- way to have my back!
So those of you who said you'd join me, please share how you've done in the comments section, below. Don't be shy. We're all in this together, remember?
Isn't it funny how the heat and the tropical sun make my shadow look like the fat on my legs is shimmying and shaking with every step like so much Jell-O? Because clearly -- CLEARLY! -- my legs can't look like that in real life.