Monday, 24 November 2014

Celebrate Your Talent: No One Else Might

Celebrate Your Unique Talent is a way of life, however, sometimes we need to just stop and give ourselves a pat on our backs for recognizing what we have been endowed with and make much of it!
When I read this earlier – around 5:00 this morning, I knew which of my talents I would be celebrating.


Might not sound much to some but to me – it has been my greatest cross and asset.

My mother would beat the crap out of me for not listening to her – or so she thought. I heard her. I listened to everything she said. Did I agree or follow her dictates or even example in everything? No. Yet, I listened.

“Education will take you through this world.” Heard it and so got a couple degrees, diplomas and certificates.

“Manners will take you through the world.” Although I questioned this because she said it was education, I was a very polite and “mannersable” child, young lady and adult.

“Yuh caan depen’ pon man!’ This from a woman who lived her life looking for the next man to save her. So I listened to her words more than I followed her example. Today, I can say without fear of contradiction – I have never depended on a man in my life! Never.

Listening to my inner guidance was another matter. This took me many years to learn. It requires quietening the mental chatter, shutting out the opinions of well-meaning people and totally blocking out the “haters” and those who know how to live your life than their own.

I apologize for my disappearance towards the end of last week. I fell ill and was not able to write. My spiritual ears were highly attuned, however, and I heard every word said and not said in support or lack thereof as I retched for a couple days. The spoken words belied the actions and it was the actions that I listened.

Ten pounds lighter, I came to work today even more clear as to my purpose and why no one, not even those I loved dearly, will detract me from my path. I am a listener. It is my unique gift that I today gratefully receive and will continue to use for my personal freedom and that of those who ask for my support .

What about you? What is your unique talent and how do you celebrate it? Share with me here or on our Facebook page.

Have a great rest of the evening.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

International Men's Day - Is It Really Necessary?

Why should they not have a day?If having an International Men’s Day will:
  • Foster greater respect for themselves and for women
  • Engender compassion, caring and greater understanding of the world
  • Allow them time to introspect and reflect on their role in the family and communities
then I am all for an International Men’s Day.

The rest of the hours is this day is being celebrated in approximately 60 countries in the world as this special day for men. According to Wikipedia: 

“International Men's Day (IMD) is an annual international event celebrated on 19 November. Inaugurated in 1992 as 07 February by Prof Thomas Oaster, the project was re-initialised in 1999 in Trinidad and Tobago.  The longest running celebration of International men's day is Malta, where events have occurred since 07 February 1994.International Men's Day, now standardised globally as 19 November finds support from a variety of individuals and groups in Australia, the Caribbean, North America, Asia, Europe and Africa. Speaking on behalf of UNESCO, Director of Women and Culture of Peace Ingeborg Breines said of IMD, ‘This is an excellent idea and would give some gender balance.’”

Whether a greater level of gender balance was achieved through the celebrations this year remains to be seen. I for one have no issue with men having a day set aside for things other sports, war and cutthroat competitions.

Not everyone shares this view – you might be one. Share it here with me or on our Facebook page.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

My Must Have Stuff List

For the first twelve years of my life, we lived in the then middle class neighbourhood of Pembroke Hall in Kingston, Jamaica. Labels are not my favourite things but to contextualize this conversation about using less, it feels necessary to describe the social-economic background of my first community.

Frankly, for most of those years, I did not really understand what it meant to be “poor.” Judging from today’s standards and the political jargon of the time – I guess we were poor or at least residing on the border of poverty.

Looking around our house you really could not tell that my mother was a “hustler” – doing anything and everything imaginable to keep a roof over our heads and our belly full. We had a Phillips stereo from the 1960’s, its matching television set, more glassware and cutlery than Ammars, bed linen galore, area rugs – everything that any 'ghetto' Martha Stewart would want in her home.

Did we need all of this stuff?

No, we did not. Considering that my mother never owned her own house, all these trappings decorated many rented accommodations.  My friends know that unlike most of them, I love relocating. Why? It was just something we did when I was growing up. I remember us moving six times in two years and twice into the same house under disguise. And all that stuff had to be carefully wrapped, packed and transported!

That tradition of regularly moving was passed on to me. Since her birth to when she moved out at 18 years old, my daughter has moved with me, including to Canada and around Edmonton, at least ten times. None of these moves had to do with us not being able to pay our rent, like my mother. Rather, we moved “up” as well as into our ‘owned’ home.

The accumulated moves over my life meant there was a lot and I mean a lot of stuff to pack, discard, give away, etc.

Am I done moving? No. I actually love it. However, the amount of stuff that would go with me is minimal. I am a re-born minimalist and cheapskate! LOL My current accommodation has the bare essentials and most of them were given to me, bought second-hand or inexpensive enough to have paid for themselves in the three months since purchased.

There is few stuff that are ‘must-haves’ for me, aside from my medication. They are:
  1. Heinz Kitchen
  2. Good coffee
  3. Uggs winter boots (and my daughter has been touting Flurries boots to me so this one is questionable)
  4. Revlon Eyeliner
  5. La Senza bra and underwear
Everything else is either negotiable, replaceable or I can do without. 

What about you? What is on your “Must Have Stuff” list? Share it with me her or on our Facebook page.

Do enjoy the rest of this #UseLessStuff Day.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Good Pre-Natal Care: First Line of Premature Birth Prevention

Temporarily staying at their place, I left my daughter not feeling on top form around 11:00 a.m. for work. She was 35 weeks pregnant and the pain in her legs and lower back refused to go away.

In fact, only a couple weeks or less prior, I had noticed that her neck had darkened, looking a sickly black-blue. It reminded me of when I was pregnant with my first child 28 years ago and a similar colouring overtook my neck. I mentioned the darkening of her neck and how similar to mine it looked.

I did not mention my anxiety.

Less than three months before, I was in Jamaica with every intention of staying there. My daughter and my relationship was again on rocky ground  – ever since November 2013 when I refused to allow my mother to suck me back into her well of darkness and devour me with her self-centred, money-grabbing ways.

Source always beckons or rouse me out of my sleep around 3:30 in the morning. As I turned in the queen-sized bed in my mentor’s guest room in Kingston, Jamaica, an image flashed across my mind.

It was my daughter and she was pregnant. 

Not able to go back to sleep, I messaged a mutual friend to ask whether she knew if Abi was pregnant. Her almost immediate response to me was, “How did you know?” After telling her that it came to me in the early morning, she told me that she had heard rumours of the pregnancy.

A couple or so weeks later my daughter sent me an image via Facebook messenger. It was an ultrasound picture of my granddaughter.  In that moment, I knew I would be returning to Canada. There was no question. It was just a matter of when and for how long but the early news from Source was my cue to come back to Edmonton.

On June 30, 2014 as I said goodbye and told my daughter to call me if she felt worse, Source again whispered to me. I was not sure what was being said but felt a need to be ready for move quickly. So when my daughter called at 4:00 p.m. to say that she still was not feeling good even after doing what I told her at lunchtime, I knew we had to get to the hospital.

The child’s father was out of town on business and, as I did not want her to drive to the hospital where I would meet her, I left work early and picked her up. As we sat in the triage area, a knowing came over me. Her neck had darkened more and the pain in her legs and back was now as debilitating as it was back in 2003 when she was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia.

Hours later, a young doctor came in and checked the chart, the baby’s heart rate and in ten minutes was about to discharge my daughter with a prescription for painkillers.

My daughter has big eyes – and they are as communicative as mine. She turned them on me and I could see the fear and question, “What do you think, Mommy?” She did not have to ask twice. I was piercing into that intern with my own gaze, slashing him with caustic words, dismissing his diagnosis as the same misdiagnosis that was done over a decade ago. “That is unacceptable,” I said.

After I detailed:
  • my daughter’s journey with sickle cell
  • my own journey as the carrier of the trait and one whose iron level has been officially diagnosed as abnormal
  • the similarities in her physical presentation as mine when I lost my first child, and 
  • the fact that the well-known Edmonton-based obstetrician had not properly managed my daughter’s pre-natal care (in my expert opinion) – no folic acid, no iron supplements, no monitoring of her sickle cells, no amniocentesis  and absolutely no testing to see whether the baby was thriving in the tummy of a woman whose pre-existing condition made her extremely high risk 
the poor intern ran out and called a top level obstetrician-surgeon. That was around 11:00 p.m., five hours or more since we were at the hospital. By midnight, the decision was made to remove the baby by C-section.

Mahalia Fausu was born at 1:39 a.m. on July 1, 2014 – Canada Day – weighing 4lbs 1 ounce.

Her parents were worried but I was not overly. There was a team of prayer warriors ministering to her – my Sistahs of DOS, her grandfather and his family in Jamaica, my 2,000+ followers on Twitter and friends of my daughter all over Edmonton and the world.

Through this journey, I realised why my first child died. My mother had also lost a child – who knows whether the medical issues were exactly the same. Mahalia broke a cycle of child-death in our family.

It is #WorldPrematurity Day and it holds special meaning for us. I am sure my daughter will proudly and gratefully attend the Royal Alexander and the Grey Nun’s Hospitals each year, as she did today, to pay respect to the teams that worked tirelessly to prevent the grief and devastation that would have overtaken her had things gone differently on June 30.

Do you or anyone you know have a child that made its entrance into our world prematurely?  Share your story with us here or on our Facebook page.

Do enjoy the rest of the evening. 

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Read The Signs For Crying Out Loud!

I believe I have mentioned this before in a previous article that soon after arriving in Canada, Edmonton to be exact, a man said to us as we wandered lost in the subway station, “Learn fast, read the signs!”

Not sure why that has stuck with me but he was absolutely right.

My intuition is very powerful. It was tuned while I studied for my first Master’s degree – literally and figuratively. Being prepared as I was for the diplomatic service, reading the signs – political, socio-economic and historical, as well as the undercurrents was a central part of my training.

These skills were very useful to me in my professional life. As a public relations executive and communicator, it was crucial to have an understanding of the signs of the time for my clients and or products that I was responsible for promoting.

Early in 2000’s as my course changed, my spiritual antenna started to raise and over time whenever I entered a room, two things happen:
  1. I could sense the vibes of those I immediately come in contact with; or
  2. I needed to leave as the energy was too much for me to handle.

Now it is the rare occasion that I will go to crowded events – just cannot hack it. A cinema is the closest thing to a crowd event that I can attend, simply because my focus is on the screen and the only person I speak with or come close to is my companion.

With practice and long periods of solitude, my ability to read the signs – verbal, written, energetic and body language – has been fine-tuned.

Yes, I get it wrong sometimes and that is usually when I ignore the real signals and allow my personal desire to rule. For example, in my last relationship there were signs that the nature of our connection was changing and not for the good. Things were being said that I refused to hear and not just by my partner but what observers were trying to tell me, in code but I did not want to know. Then finally, when the call came ending our relationship I received the ‘news’ calmly and with a shrug because my gut was telling me long before the words were recorded on my voice-mail.

Signs are everywhere for each of us to see. You need not be a clairvoyant, you need no special skills.

All that is required is a willingness to surrender your mind to the will of Love. Sounds strange? It is not. Love is the force of Life and therefore will clarify everything. What is not of Love will be shown to you – a sign will be presented, a warning or a brick over your head as a last resort.

“Learn fast, read the signs.”

Share you “sign stories” with me here or on our Facebook page and have a great long weekend!

There will be no blog posts until Wednesday, November 12 but please browse our archive for many interesting articles.  

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

See The Hypocrite Them...

My friends – not Facebook friends necessarily but those who know me outside of the social medium - they know that I am a straight talker. They also know that when I go silent one of two things or both is happening:
  1. I am in a silent retreat, reflecting, listening and sorting my next step
  2. I am p***** off and prefer not to speak.

Normally and ninety five percent of the times, I will tell you exactly how I am feeling. I am a talker and will not go to my bed without ‘sharing’ my feelings. I laugh as I recall how annoyed a former long-term, live-in partner was after my need to talk escalated during my chaplaincy training!

Hypocrisy is not my modus operandi.

When a situation calls for diplomacy – my vocabulary is wide and deep enough to find the words to express myself in a manner appropriate to said situation. Other times my vernacular sinks to the gutter – forgive me, I worked in the federal correctional system – and I can swear like any sailor.

As I numerically mature, silence is fast becoming my preferred option.

Several attempts will be made to communicate to a person how I feel. Depending on who it is and how much I care for them – I will fervently pray that they get it the first time. However, there are those who are so caught up with their own self-importance that they cannot imagine that you would feel other than they do. 

In those cases, silence is my weapon of choice.

Are you a hypocrite in any way shape or form? Do you say one thing and do another? Are you a bible thumper on Sundays for instance but a fornicator Monday through Saturday? Do you not eat meat but love its gravy?

Maybe I ought not to say this but I am just a plain “sinner” and unashamed of it. I live MY life according to my and the Spirit that guides me rules. End of. Took me years to come to this but am I ever glad that I did! So I hardly have need to be hypocritical with others and worse yet with myself. 

What about you?

Share your thoughts about on this or any of the other topics on this blog here or on our Facebook page. Enjoy the rest of your evening!

Monday, 3 November 2014

Are You Slowly Killing Yourself?

Do you know anyone who hang on for dear life even though the situation they are in is literally or at least emotionally killing them?

When my first marriage slipped off the rocks and was rapidly heading to the bottom of a very steep cliff, some people advised me to work on it for the sake of my child. Only 22 years old but very clear that my body could not stand any more beatings nor was I prepared to subdue my personality to fit into the role of submissive wife, I ruled them out of hand.

A couple decades later and at the end of another relationship that same spirit emerged. I did what we say in Jamaica when I heard the voice-mail telling me it was over – I kissed my teeth. You know, that seething sound that basically means “Whatever!”

Thirty odd years was long enough for me to finally get it – you move on.

After being:
  • Hurt to the core of your being
  • Betrayed by persons who, as they say, you would have taken a bullet for
  • Ridiculed and shamed in your own home
...if the pain does not kill you or lead you to killing yourself, you get tired of the same thing repeating and you learn the lesson.

The one most valuable thing that I have learned about the much-touted “forgiveness,” is that you have to forgive yourself first. Issue a pardon to the ‘little’ you who forgot your divinity, your royalty, the greatness that resides in you and requires no one’s approval or permission to express Itself.

Only after forgiving myself for my forgetfulness of who and Whose I am – the emotional amnesia that lead me to massive weight gain, diabetes, Grave disease and attempted suicides – only then was I able to let others off the hook.

I changed and so my world had to change.

It is a wonderful feeling – this thing called personal freedom. Some believe it requires winning the lottery but they are dead wrong. Jim Carey, comedian and mystic in my view, has the wish for everyone to be rich and famous. He said that only then will they get it that it really is not the fount of happiness.

Happiness and personal freedom – those are the gifts of forgiveness of self and then others. Have you awarded yourself with these priceless treasures? What are you waiting for? 

Claudette Esterine created the Daughters of Sheba Facebook Group in 2010. It has since evolved into a Foundation and she is its lead and visionary.  Claudette is Jamaican-Canadian and lives in Edmonton, Alberta.