Wednesday, November 30, 2016

How To Keep Swimming

Went swimming last night and the new tribe of three was there. The one guy mentioned Errol Flynn and Jamaica again. I talked to his buddy as our feet dangled in the water and neither one of us was particularly enthusiastic about swimming laps but we both got in and I kept swimming because my lane neighbor kept swimming.

At some point, the Flynn fan introduces himself as Dale then tells me a "joke" which he is prone to do:

Two men wash up on the shore and they don't speak to each other for 50 years because they were never properly introduced.

Dale is a retired math teacher and tells me some formula regarding swimming and burning calories which might be true for fast swimmers but not for me. Dale's friend and my lane neighbor, David, swam a mile and he thought that I should have been close to a mile but I wasn't.

Dale and David exited the pool and I kept my eye on the male kid who takes swimming lessons and whose mother takes him to the locker room. The kid exited the pool and his teacher gave a long synopsis of the lesson. I waited to go to the locker room to give the mother a chance to get her kid ready and ended up swimming longer than I intended to and, by this point, I feel that my body has molded itself to the water and I'm reluctant to get out but I want to go by Target and it was almost 9:00 p.m...

On another note, I'm having dreams of going to Kripalu for a month and when I go to Kripalu, I will dreadlock my hair. One of my colleagues tells me that people in Spain call dreadlocks -- rastas and I think that's super cute...

I finished reading The Twelve Tribes of Hattie and now I'm reading Do Your Om Thing. Think it's kind of funny that I'm only on page 25 but the book is already saturated with cat page markers.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

A.K.A. Paradise or Yoga Retreat in Review, III

When I was in San Diego, the weather man said It's going to be another gorgeoussss day. Felt that way about day seven in Negril a.k.a. paradise.

We went to The Cliff Hotel on Friday to practice yoga and to have breakfast. I had been thinking about getting a massage at another hotel but it worked out for me to get one at The Cliff.

Outdoor Massage Space
The last yoga practice was sweet with equally sweet music. Joy did a Thich Nhat Hanh meditation that I like.
I am a flower; I feel fresh. I am a mountain; I am solid. I am like the (Caribbean) breeze; I feel free. 
Most of us were so serene after practicing yoga in such an awesome surrounding, that we tended to sit in complete silence after practice. You could really hear a pin drop...or the waves.

I found an opportunity to take pictures of my fellow yogis which I had been itching to do for quite a while without being disruptive.

The Conductor
Post-massage, I swam a few laps before it started to rain. Three children didn't care about the rain and it wasn't an issue because there was no lightning -- almost joined them.

At some point I remind my fellow travelers that they should check in with their airline but I had issues. I write down necessary information on the back of a Ganesha (remover of obstacles) card that I have in my wallet and when I get back on WiFi, I'm able to check in and I'm in Group B which is great...

Later on, when we meet for our final dinner, Joy makes a super sweet toast thanking us for coming and telling us how appreciative she is and how amazing we are... I'm totally registering at the high end on the warm and fuzzy meter at this point.

Photo Credit: Lorenzo from Lorenzo JAM Tours
*Love the picture that I took of Joy conducting class and also love Lorenzo's picture of us at the breakfast table.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

To Coo At You

Yoga at the Rockhouse
On the fifth day of the yoga retreat, I note in my journal that the music during yoga practice was on point again -- very soulful and mild. I also enjoyed the story that Joy told about Buddha's quest to reach enlightenment and how he was attacked by soldiers but their arrows turned into flowers...

We head to Booby Cay Island on the fifth day and stop for snorkeling along the way. The trip on the boat is super fun.

Regarding the election I've been told twice, by now, that it's in God's hands...

Some of us hang out at the resort's bar during the night and I talk with Bezu about how I am reluctant to be photographed and when I tell her why she says So what? She goes on to tell me that maybe it's because she was told so often during her childhood that she was beautiful that she doesn't care about being chubby and, furthermore, the chubbier you were as a child the better it was because people really wanted to pinch your cheeks and coo at you...

When I went swimming on Tuesday, thought fondly about my swimming lessons almost a decade ago and how I was the only one to show for the swimming class the day before Thanksgiving and how it was also the day that I figured out the backstroke.

Also thought about how I sprained my ankle on Thanksgiving last year so I was extra careful moving around today.

On Sunday Chiquita told me that she overheard my aunt Al say that I used to make cakes for her. I was going to wait until Christmas but why wait? Bought eggs, butter and soda at Target last night after Zumba and got myself in the kitchen to make a 7-UP cake for my aunt.

Monday, November 21, 2016


Returned to work after two weeks away and had not adjusted the kitchen calendar since Nov. 4th.

Isn't there a Frida Kahlo painting with a broken clock??? The hands don't work or something like that...

Felt like a stranger going back to work. My immediate colleagues were certainly happy to see me and it felt like they were welcoming the beast of burden back.

I came bearing modest gifts and notes:

Even monkeys fall out of a trees -- a Japanese proverb for my colleague who likes all things Japanese.

Asked for reusable bags for my birthday and said colleague gave me bags with Gudetama, a lazy egg, on them. Hilarious!

The note for my other colleague:
Those mountains you are carrying, you were only supposed to climb.
A bit presumptuous on my end to give someone that note but...

I miss Negril or, as I like to say, I have a Jamaica hangover. I want to get down on the floor and throw a tantrum that will possibly transport me back to the island...

Four people asked me about the 'Fugee who is off the grid but it just goes to show how we a.k.a. people are connected. The people can't get to her so they get to me.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

It's Jamaica OR Yoga Retreat in Review (Day Two)

Sunday, Nov. 6th

It's the official start of the yoga retreat with no yoga on tap but a welcoming circle.

I'm the only returning person from last year and it just goes to show how things change. One woman thought that she was returning, for sure, but her dear childhood friend was diagnosed with terminal cancer and she stuck by her side during the summer and, as a result, had no more time to take off from work. Another sign that you never know what's going to be in store for you or the people that you love. Carpe diem...

I did a superb job of packing since I had been mentally packing and purchasing stuff months ahead of time. My suitcase weighed 32.5 pounds and my carry-on bag with a tablet, snacks, paperback book and action camera was not heavy either,

Next time I will purchase and carry Teva sandals with straps. I like my Ahnu's for walking but when they get wet the sands clumps and they don't dry as quickly as advertised. When my Ahnu's were saturated, I wore my Teva Mush which I typically wear for house shoes but they don't feel supportive enough for walking about.

While waiting for the others to arrive, I had breakfast at the Rockhouse Hotel then did the farm tour.




Scotch Bonnet Peppers a.k.a. Scotty Bons a.k.a. Bonney Peppers
I did other things and though that the others should be back but it took a while for 10 people to make it through customs et al.

I get word that we are meeting in the lobby to go to dinner. One of my new buddies is starving but I warn her that dinner will take time. It's Jamaica and we're a big group. I had a very decadent and big plate of jerk chicken pasta, yum...

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Giving Away The Festival or Yoga Retreat In Review, Day One

Saturday, Nov. 5th

It's the day before most people arrive and a day before the official start of the yoga retreat. 

Three of us touch down before 1:00 p.m. in Montego Bay then have lunch at some place by the sea.

View During First Meal in Negril
I try to, unsuccessfully, weasel out of being in a photo and I am super self-conscious because one of the travelers is super-thin. I channel Turia Pitt and also remember the importance of being your own guru.

I have jerk chicken and give away the festival that came with it.

After lunch we drive up to a fruit stand where the owner cuts up mangoes and prepares coconuts.

Fruit Stand
We check in at the hotel then head to the beach and walk toward the sunset. 

Jill and Mark

Monday, November 14, 2016

Things I Miss

Whenever I travel by plane, I try to get my important papers together in case I never return -- my slight unease about airplanes, I suppose.

Of course, any day could be my last day...

The yoga retreat was amazing -- with the exception of the election results and it didn't matter whether I was in St. Louis or Negril, I was going to have to deal with that reality. Haven't read or watched much news but probably should not rely on that strategy for four years but it's hard to watch a troglodyte in action.

Before I left, part of my tribe at the pool told me about Errol Flynn's love for Jamaica which was not on my radar at all. I had no idea that Flynn had set aside money to conserve some of the land. One of the guys remarked that it was a pity -- God had given Flynn a good body and gifts and he had destroyed them. Looked for information about Flynn and came across this article in Vanity Fair.

I'm still processing my vacation, big time.

Still indulging.

I miss traveling around with 13 other people...makeshift outdoor yoga studios...warmth...the Caribbean Sea.

"Feel The Riddim In The Palm of Your Hands"

My Nikon Coolpix has been having battery door issues from the get-go as far as not closing and now part of the battery housing is actually coming off. I'm going to treat myself to a new camera -- one with wifi. I like taking pictures too much not to have a proper camera and I already regret not getting the sixth generation iPod with the better camera.

At our last dinner I ordered an ice tea that tasted sour. I kept trying to adjust to the flavor but finally decided to walk myself up to the counter and tell them that the tea didn't taste good. I asked for a fruit punch and when it arrived, it looked more like an alcoholic drink. I was about to give it way. Before I tasted it, the young lady next to me said You need to get what you want. I'm still learning not to settle and hope that it doesn't take a ton of lessons.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Somber Morning

The sound you heard in your neighborhood this morning was the sound of me sobbing in Negril.

Headed to get water from a cooler and didn't want to make eye contact with a Jamaican worker who was watching election results but when he managed to catch my eyes, he hissed Motherfuckers. I was embarrassed to be American at that moment.

Pulled myself together and headed to the lobby where Crissy handed me a note. She had given me a sweet note yesterday and explained that she was a second grade teacher and one of her parents was in the habit of sending her notes.

My Note
Joy hadn't watched the news and someone told her the results and I started sobbing again. Karen rubbed my back and told me to come and talk to her when I was ready. Debbie held my hand and Courtney, the other Black woman on the trip, gave me. a loving but firm pep talk.

Joy said something, including life goes on and we headed down the street to do yoga.

Joy immediately addressed the election and acknowledged that many of us were sad but also acknowledged that someone might also be happy with the results. She also talked about compassion for all including DT and how something good might come out of this situation in the end.

I cried in class as did Debbie who later told me that she thought about all the women in her family from her grandmother to her granddaughter but she also acknowledged that many in her family,  because of Catholicism, had voted for DT.

The class was exactly what many of us needed -- the right music, essentially oil, tone etc. Joy ended class by saying Don't fall for the habitual sidestep of your feelings. Feel. Absorb. Heal. Move on. Hold space for yourself...

Got an email from Alison telling me to enjoy the rest of my vacation and got another email saying "we're doomed" and yet another saying that it was really scary that DT had gotten elected. I also had someone ask me about the Negril situation and maybe we could do an EatPrayLove thing for a couple of years on a limited budget.

Later on, another yogi told me "All good things come to an end and all bad things come to and end." We also talked about how HC possibly could have done more by, say, going to Wisconsin or how we could have done more by campaigning or donating more money.

Someone also said that maybe DT's presidency might be like a Ferguson, MO moment. We also talked about how many pro-life people voted for DT but we also talked about how being pro-life covers a wide swath of lives.

I keep thinking about June Jordan and Sonia  Sanchez's poems about sadness. To quote Jordan, My sadness sits around me.

Stone I picked this a.m. -- supposed to help with bouncing back from sorrow etc...

Monday, November 7, 2016

The Day Later Post

Currently in Negril and had to get up before dawn cracked in order to get "the wanna get away" fare.

Couldn't sleep before taking off. My body was so tense and I kept telling myself to unclench and relax but never really slept until I got on the Orlando to Montego Bay flight.

We stopped to eat, checked in, settled in then headed to the beach to walk and watch the sunset. 

The other yoga retreat participants arrived today but I wanted to get to Negril earlier so I could recuperate from traveling. Like IKEA, traveling requires stamina.

My hamstrings were pulsing this morning so I did yoga in my room for twenty minutes since the official yoga games are not slated to start until tomorrow.

And, oh yeah, I was so emotional when I woke up this morning. Gratitude, I suppose, for reaching my destination and starting my relaxation regimen.

Since Joy was on airport duty for the other participants, I decided to visit a hotel up the street. Had breakfast then went on a tour of the farm where I sampled sea grapes, argula, cilantro, peppermint and was told a ton of stuff about Mother-In-Law's-Tongue et. al that I can't remember. 

The sea grapes were amazing and I can't wait to get my hands on them again.

*Wifi in room is spotty.

Thursday, November 3, 2016


The usual folks have not been at the swimming pool but I've acquired a new, small tribe. Are you coming on Friday? It's kind of nice to be held accountable. The one guy swims in the lane next to me and, very often, motivates me to keep submerging my body in pursuit of another lap.

My new-ish coworker, Katie, belongs to the same gym that I do and she also likes Zumba. We hoped that David would bring his A-list of Zumba songs since he tries to mix it up with a variety of playlists. The B and C-lists are okay but they are not as compelling to us as the one with the Get Dirty warm-up song.

Well, we didn't get any of David's lists because he wasn't there yesterday. Katie whispered to me We have a sub but I recognized her and didn't panic. Konnie's routines have a thousand steps in them. She's soft-spoken and kills you softly. I was happy as all get out when she played Thriller. That routine is super fun and that tune/dance was worth the price of admission...

When my alarm goes off in the morning, I turn on the TV and watch a bit of CBS This Morning. Had a total MLB hangover which was made worse by listening to a snippet of a focus group with Millennials.  This one woman said that she was voting for Trump and was trying to debunk the myth of the "deplorable" Trump voter then said, in part, that the divide in the country is due to the African-American president of eight years. I was so proud of the young man who said that her statement showed that she didn't know the historical narrative behind the divisiveness...

Talked to one of my coworkers about trying to do my best to tackle as many tasks as I can with integrity and to try to emerge unscathed but I also told him that it's impossible to wrap everything up in a tidy bow. Oh my, you should have seen the smile that spread across his face followed by a most sincere chuckle.