On Monday, New Year’s Day, at around 3PM, I put my older sister Karen on a taxi to Half Way Tree so she could get a ride to Spanish Town, from where she’d get on another bus to Ocho Rios, then home to Brown’s Town. We talked on the phone briefly about a week later. I can’t remember what we talked about. Then on the 13th of January, at 7:04AM, I got a call from our aunt, who was crying and hyperventilating on the phone.
DISCLAIMER: This is not a new year’s resolutions post. Or maybe it is. Whatever. Here’s a look at some of what I’ll be getting up to in this blessed 2018.
1. See a therapist. Often. More than once a week, if she doesn’t tire of me.
Self care is priority numero uno for me this year. In as many forms as it may take. Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair, and 2017 was the hottest of hot messes. I’ve had my brushes with depression, almost deep dived (dove?) into the pit last year, and I’m sensible enough to know that professional help is needed to unpack all the baggage if I’m to have a decent life going forward. Please, please, please pay attention to your mental health. There is absolutely no shame in seeing a therapist or counsellor. Don’t let society’s messed up views on this matter keep you bound.
Happy New Year! Buh-bye 2017 and hello 2018! So excited to see ya. Needed this year to be OVER already and it feels like I’ve been waiting forEVER. (I’m also on pins and needles excited for Grown-ish, Black Panther and A Wrinkle in Time). Yayyyy, 2018! 🎆🎆🎆
I know it’s not even 10PM here in Jamaica, but my church is headquartered in Nigeria and we just live-streamed the NYE service and it’s after midnight there, so you will take these new year felicitations and bask in the joy with me, ok? Awesome!
I’ve always dreaded my birthdays. Of the 33 that I’ve been blessed to mark as of today, 3/4 of them have been completely unremarkable. A couple of them—milestone birthdays at that—have been downright awful. So I was down in the doldrums from around the first of November and the closer it got to B-day, the more unsettled I became. Last week, I was just plain stressed. After the year I’ve had, I honestly wasn’t looking forward to the day. Then around Thursday, I saw a quote on my Twitter timeline that said something along the lines of, “the best way to get over a problem is to do something good for others.” (Don’t remember who said it and I can’t find anything like it in the Googles, so maybe it was from a Twitter philosopher. 🤷)
I know we don’t observe Thanksgiving Day in Jamaica, and I also know it has a dodgy history in the States, but I believe in gratefulness as a principle, so that’s what I’m focusing on today. Studies have shown that there are many great benefits of gratitude, from improving your self esteem to helping you sleep better. And who can’t use some good sleep in these stressful times? The Bible is also replete with verses about giving thanks, even in the midst of discouraging circumstances, and as a Christian, gratitude should be my very nature.
A few weeks ago, I blogged about being invited to join the launch team for the book Called to Create: A Biblical Invitation to Create, Innovate and Risk by Jordan Raynor. I even interviewed him and shared a bit of his story. Being outside of the US, the publisher wasn’t able to send me the paperback (😢), but I got to download my advance copy early last month. Refresh your memory or read my convo with Jordan here, then dive into my review below!
I have spent roughly half of the last six years interviewing, researching and writing about entrepreneurs and creatives. I’ve profiled them for ezines, magazines, supplements, a documentary and even my own blog. That’s well over 100 people, from those in the MSME sector to ‘bigwigs’ at the helm of large corporations. One of the first questions I always ask is some version of ‘What inspired you to start this venture?’ Essentially, what I want to get at is the ‘why’—what or who is the motivation behind starting that insurance company, or learning to make soap, or writing that book? This ‘why’ is one of the many questions Jordan Raynor explores in his forthcoming book, Called to Create: A Biblical Invitation to Create, Innovate and Risk. The book is aimed primarily at Christians who are themselves entrepreneurs or creatives, or those who would like to be but are concerned that pursuing ‘secular’ work might not be a true calling or something that genuinely honours God.
If you were here last year for the series about my experiences in the University of Iowa’s online writing workshop, then you know how stressful fiction writing can for me, even though (or probably because) I actually want to pursue it as a full-time vocation someday (whenever I work up the courage to just go for it, already!) In addition to the typical “insecure writer” problems relating to whether anyone will like my work or want to spend their money on it, I’ve also worried about whether this dream is “Christian” enough. Like any good Child of God, I want whatever I do to please Him and point people to Him. I don’t want to just write because I can put words together nicely. I want them to matter. And since I don’t want to write only Christian fiction, how does that even work?
Whenever I’m struggling with something, I always try to turn to the Bible for some answers. Actually, more accurately, I turn to the YouVersion app to look for reading plans related to my issue, which leads me back to the Bible, so same thing. 😊 In June, I found a plan entitled C.S. Lewis and the Call to Create, and it gave me some things to think about. It also led me to the organisation that provided the plan, Called to Create. I signed up for the weekly devotionals, pre-ordered the forthcoming book of the same name, and I’ve just been consuming pretty much everything they post on social media since then.
Note: This post was first published on my Medium page on August 12, 2017.
As it was in the beginning, so it was in the end.
Usain St Leo Bolt, who began his senior athletics career at the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki, Finland with an injury and a last place finish as he limped across the line, also ended his glorious journey limping off the track — this time unable to finish the race, felled by a hamstring pull.
His teammates on the 4x100m relay squad, the rest of the athletes in the camp, and Jamaicans the world over are utterly devastated. This is not how we wanted the big man’s career to end, with a whimper instead of a bang. This was not it at all. But such is life, isn’t it? He is human, despite a decade of headlines likening him to machines and beings from outer space. One hundred per cent human, and his body just had about enough. Age and time catch up to us all, eventually.