Sprinter, The Movie. A Review.

Sprinter is a movie written and directed by a Jamaican, staring many Jamaicans, shot largely in Jamaica. Note I didn’t say that it’s a “Jamaican movie.” I think it’s important to make this distinction. It’s a movie. And it’s a damn good movie that can easily hold it’s own in terms of the production, the plot, the script, the acting, the sound track, the cinematography and sheer entertainment value against any other movie out there, including the Hollywood block busters that have the might of well resourced marketing organisations behind them and the draw of big names that are paid big bucks to headline those productions. What follows is my review of the movie. I am not a technical expert. I am simply a movie goer, and yes, our perspectives count. We are the ones that buy the tickets and rack up box office sales. Simple.

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Advice for Securing Justice in a Domestic Abuse situation in Jamaica

Last year, prompted by a woman in distress seeking to escape an abusive and potentially dangerous domestic situation, I did a blog post entitled: “Domestic Abuse in Jamaica: Where are the safe houses for women seeking refuge?” You see, I was trying to identify where she could get safe harbour immediately. I came up empty. Since then, the government has announced plans to establish 3 national shelters and I’ve received confirmation that the Woman Inc crisis center is up and running. However, another recent encounter with a woman seeking to escape and resolve a violent domestic situation caused me to revisit the issue of resources and advice available to women in similar situations.

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Downtown Kingston: Artsy Capital of Jamaica.

“Downtown, Kingston.” What do those words evoke? What comes to mind? Crime. Dirt. Wholesale shops. Chaos. Garbage. Crowds. These are some of the images that immediately come to mind. I worked Downtown, Kingston for 9 years. And I fell in love with it. I fell in love with the area’s proximity to the sea. I fell in love with the very old, historic buildings as evidenced by their architecture that were literally on every corner. I fell in love with the potential I knew the space held. I imagined King Street being closed off to vehicular traffic one Sunday per month, with scores of people, families, the young and the old, pouring in to buy local food, supporting local artisans, enjoying Jamaican music, having access to clean rest room facilities and benefiting from free parking. Well today, a small, intrepid group of visionaries has done more than imagine. Downtown, Kingston comes alive on the last Sunday of each month!

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The Keto Diet & Recovery After A Stroke

I reviewed my friend Hilary’s book about her “new normal” after surviving a stroke at the relatively young age of 51 three years ago. As you would imagine, Hilary’s life changed in an instant. She had to contend with her altered appearance and independence due to challenges with her mobility. In the last 3 years, Hilary has worked very hard in concert with her doctors and therapists to get to the stage now where she can move largely unassisted and can once again perform basic self-care tasks. In her book, Hilary explained very clearly what strokes are and how they are caused. And I started to think. You see, in the last year and seven months that I have changed my diet to the keto diet, I have discovered a direct link between the food we eat and our health. The keto diet was originally conceived and implemented as part of the treatment protocol for epilepsy, a disease of the brain. My own improved general health while eating the keto way, prompted me to do some digging, and I have discovered links between keto and other diseases and conditions such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis, PCOS , high blood pressure and even mental health. So could the keto diet be useful in the road to recovery for survivors of stroke?

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“My New Normal: Reflections of a Stroke Survivor” A book review.

We were stunned at work back in late 2015 when we heard that she had had a stroke. What?! Hilary was just 51 and in apparent good health. Heck, I’d seen her that day at work! As the months following that day in November in 2015 changed to years, I’d see a pic or two on her Facebook page. It was evident that her life had changed, literally in an instant. Facial features had changed and mobility was most definitely a challenge. We saw each other once when she visited the office. She was moving around with assistance from a caregiver, but seemed so happy to reconnect with her former colleagues. Then I stopped seeing her on Facebook. I wondered what was happening and thought of her frequently. So imagine my joyful surprise when Hilary reached out to me on Twitter with an invitation to her book launch!

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Innovation, Customer Service & Business: A Jamaican Story.

I literally stumbled upon a great, new small business right here in Jamaica and then I had the pleasure of sitting down with the owners/operators and chatting with them. I left our conversation shaking my head in wonderment and wishing that we could replicate their spirit across the length and breadth of this island. The Instagram account was what had caught my eye. The pics were mostly befores and afters of shoes of every description. Grungy looking sneakers were transformed into new literal works of art. Leather shoes, both men’s and women’s, were revitalized and good to go all over again. Bridgett sandals that were worn and shabby were reborn into their shiny new, well heeled former selves. I saw shoes that had they been mine, I’d have dumped them, restored so perfectly that I was amazed. And all of this was happening right here in Jamaica! What was being showcased was way beyond basic shoe repair. I had never seen this before

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Life Lessons from Birdie: Another study in Livity.

I first mentioned the concept of Livity here, when I shared my friend Marlene’s story about running her first marathon at 58. And recently, something happened that caused me to reflect on Livity once again. A few mornings ago, I sat in my living room sipping a cup of coffee. It was a cool, quiet, beautiful morning in my neck of the woods in Jamaica. Then I heard chirping, a little louder than usual. I live in the hills and we have lots of birds in the bushes and forest around us, so bird sounds are a constant part of the soundtrack around us. But this was distinct and louder than normal, and sure enough, a little birdie had flown inside and appeared not to know how to get back outside.

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She Ran Her First Marathon at 58: A Study in Livity

I knew she had taken up running. In her 50’s. Then she announced that she planned to run a marathon in late 2018. Wow. This wasn’t some athlete or super-star person with oodles of time and resources on some PR kick. This was my friend Marlene, an ordinary mother and friend living her life on her terms, setting goals and going after them.

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Kelly’s Soapbox, and when she got kicked off it.

Just after Christmas, I received a message via Facebook messenger. The content of the message jarred me, and after stewing for a day, I ranted on Facebook thusly:

Dear Facebook Friends:

I invite you to contemplate the issue of Manners. Yes, manners. I realize that we communicate these days in a very informal ways via Whatsapp, FB Messenger and so on, with phone calls and emails taking a back seat. I’m all for it. I hate phone calls…so intrusive.

Anyway, in using various instant messaging applications, we tend to economize on characters used and so shorthand communication is the order of the day. Please be aware that in your quest for brevity and conciseness you sometimes come over as rude, imperious and demanding. And I’m not here for it in 2018. I know this is not your intention. But I’ve rolled my eyes and sighed one time too many this year at some of your messages to me. Please don’t force me to ignore or block you in 2018.

Exhibit 1:
 
“Hi Kelly. Please give me your email address. I have an assignment that I’d like your help with.”

This assumes that we already had an agreement in place that I’d assist you. And of course I’ll help. It’d be my pleasure! But your presumption was offensive. And even after I overlooked and assumed that your motives were pure, and took my valuable time and shared with you, you never ever came back and told me how your final assignment turned out. Shame on you. This is how you should have approached the situation:

“Hi Kelly. I would really like your help on an assignment I have. Could you? I’d happily email the brief to you. Please let me know.”

Exhibit 2:
 
“Hi Kelly. Hope the holidays were good. Please call me at 1234567.”

This was from someone who I haven’t spoken with in years. Let me fix it for you:

“Hi Kelly. Hope the holidays were good. I’d like to ask you a question about xyz. May I call you? When is a good time?”

Exhibit 3
 
“Give me a number for xyz”

No “Hey Dog” or “please”.
You will be blue ticked.
Even if you are my bosom buddy, if you message me requesting something from me without saying please I will ignore you. Y’all have a nasty habit of typing in short-hand which seems to include omission of manners.

General tips
 

Use my name please. It’s a mere 5 letters. Hell… you can even stick with “K”. In face to face communication I prefer eye contact. In digital communication, I prefer establishing the interaction with the use of my name. C’mon. It’s not that hard.

If we speak after a protracted period of non communication, for God’s sake do NOT begin with “yuh dash me weh.” I most certainly will if you go there though. We’re now speaking. Let’s get on with it and keep it moving.

So in closing, as you seek to economize across your various communication modalities in 2018, do not skimp on good manners.
Regards,
Kelly

I felt good after hitting Post. “That will show them. People must have manners” I congratulated myself.

Then I received another notification via FB Messenger. The person who had messaged me and prompted my rant had something to say to me, and it went like this:


Good morning Kelly. I apologize for the approach previously in asking you to call me. I was diagnosed with Z (condition redacted) and I’ve been home couple months immobile, having to be attended to from bathroom help to feeding. While I can touch even to type, this is major improvement. I wanted to tell you two things. Like I called X and Y (names redacted) in person to thank them for their contribution to what I am today. I wanted to tell you in person how much unknowingly you have made me who I am. You have inspired me from my education to growing my children unknowingly. Thanks for sharing your life that has inspired me in so many ways.

I also wanted to thank you for sharing your meals as I have been able to accept now that I’ve have to live on plant based food. Thanks and blessings in 2018. I was able to see my error because anything you put on FB I read. …you do give me a positive outlook on life
 
Oh God.
I was thrown for a loop. I felt like a complete shit.

So I called her. I was terrified and ashamed. But I had no other choice but to call. She was so very gracious in accepting my call. We spoke. Her life had taken a sudden, horrific turn in October and yet she was so optimistic, open and grateful for life when she spoke. I was left with these questions:

  • Was the content of my rant wrong? 
  • Was I being unreasonable?
  • Did the fact that my friend was ill change the veracity of my post?

I’m still processing the whole sequence of events, and before I wrote this post, I messaged her requesting permission to blog about our conversation and the events leading up to it. She was as gracious as ever in granting me permission, and for that I am grateful.

I am not sure that I have conclusively put the matter to bed in my mind. Here’s where I am as at now:

Sometimes a direct and gentle approach is more meaningful and effective than a general rant that comes across as a “sub-tweet”…ask your millennial what that is 🙂 Perhaps if I had messaged her back instead of sub-tweeting, I could have made whatever point I felt I had to make in a more constructive manner aimed more at preserving relationships than proving a point. 
 
I am grateful for her graciousness and ease of overlooking offence. It made it easier for me to swallow humble pie and question my motives and modus operandi going forward. I hope that when an occasion that requires understanding and forgiveness and graciousness arises in my own life, that I will do likewise.
 
So sure, manners are important. Along with humour, manners act as the lubricant that allow us to get along and thrive. But relationships are more important than being right, and one must never forget that we are dealing with people. 
 
What are your own take-aways from this story? Did you agree with the points in my rant and do you now have a change of heart? I’d love to hear from you.
 
 





 

In search of Poinsettias…or so I thought….

“There’s a lady on Church St with the loveliest poinsettias at good prices” she offered.

I was looking for fluffy, good looking poinsettias that wouldn’t  break the bank and a colleague at work tried to help. She too wanted some and we agreed to pay this downtown Kingston vendor a visit. She reassured me that I would get parking (in the JPS parking lot…she had business to do at JPS so we wouldn’t be lying) and that she would direct me.

So at the appointed time, we removed our jewellery (Downtown Kingston, DUH!), grabbed our tiny purses (no need to advertise) and headed out in my car. Traffic was heavy going up Duke St. The commercial district that is Downtown Kingston was a bustle with pedestrian and vehicular traffic. On a regular day, Downtown is a bargain hunter’s paradise. So everyone and their mother trying to maximize their Christmas spend was out in the brilliant December sunshine in the middle of the day in the middle of the week.

The traffic was sluggish and I decided to make conversation as we slowly made our way up the road. You see, my passenger/guide is my co-worker but we’re not close friends, if you understand what I mean.

“So what are your plans for Christmas dinner?” I enquired. Food is always a great place to start as far as I am concerned.

“Well…” she hesitated…“We would normally go to my in-laws, but for the past two years we’ve done nothing.”

There was an awkward pause. But not for long. I sensed a story.

“How come?” I pushed.

She sighed. “Two years ago my sister-in-law was rude to me at dinner, Kelly. I was hurt but I held it in. And I decided that I didn’t need to put up with that ever again.”

As I listened, I sensed that she was conflicted, that she responded the only way she thought she could have, but that she wasn’t comfortable with her own decision.

“So how do your hubby and your kids feel about your decision? Don’t they miss the jollification and family togetherness?” I asked gently.

Another sigh. “I’ve encouraged, I’ve begged them to go without me, Kelly, but they don’t.”

I explained to her that as mothers WE are the nucleus of the family, that everything revolves around us, and that if we aren’t happy, no one else is really happy. Then I felt led to share a story with her.

I told her about my friend Rachel Cunning. I met Rachel on Twitter. She was a thirty something professional who was suffering from Lupus when we met. She was a lively and engaging tweeter, posting links to interesting topics and offering witty comebacks up and down my timeline. She tweeted in passing that she was spending Christmas alone. Immediately I perked up. No one should be alone at Christmas unless they choose to, is my belief, handed down to me by my own mother. Now let me confess, I am not the most sociable person. I am no social butterfly who loves to entertain. Not me, no Siree. But Christmas has always been a time for family and food and fellowship and so I reached out to her. She immediately accepted my invitation to dinner. It was a bit of a logistical challenge for me as she was not mobile and she lived all the way in Portmore, miles and miles away from my Coopers Hill home. But I planned around it, picked her up early, and warned her that she would have to watch me cook and prepare and just spend the day with me. I got a bedroom ready for her in case she needed to rest and took out blankets and socks since Coopers Hill is delightfully cool at this time of the year. I fussed for nothing. Rachel fit right in with the family and we all embraced her immediately. Our other guests came later in the day and December 25 2016 was another warm, enjoyable, fun time.

One Wednesday in early October I spoke to Rachel. She was in hospital but was upbeat that she would be discharged on the weekend. I was supposed to call her that weekend to make arrangements to get something to her later that week or so. I didn’t call her. The weekend passed and on the Monday morning heading out I remarked to Nick that I had to call Rachel “today today today.” Imagine my horror when I saw “RIP Rachel” on my twitter timeline later that Monday morning. Two phone calls later confirmed the worst: Rachel had passed away in hospital the previous evening. 

“Life is short” I told my colleague. “At the end of the day, is whatever you’re holding on to really worth it?

By this time, we had parked and exited the car. All the nice poinsettias were sold off. But I wasn’t disappointed. I had the distinct feeling, almost certain knowledge, if you will, that the drive out for poinsettias was not really about poinsettias, but more about the delivery of a well needed, perfectly timed message to my colleague that could potentially impact her life and her family’s life for the better: something infinitely better than potted plants for my home.

This morning she came in late and came straight to my desk. She was beaming and bubbling as she pulled up a chair.

“I know you were disappointed about the poinsettias, Kelly. But I have to tell you, I think the reason for our little outing was bigger than poinsettias.”

She shared how late into the night she wrestled with the challenge I offered her. She felt compelled to reach out to her sister-in-law to resurrect family dinner on Christmas day. She had discussed it with her husband and children and they all eagerly encouraged her to reach out. They were in full support. She eventually Whatsapped her sister at 7:30 this morning and almost immediately her phone rang. Sister-in-Law was on the other end, happy and eager to pick up where they had left off two years ago. My colleague told me that she felt a great weight off her shoulders and lightness in her heart. She was excitedly working out menu plans and best of all, the family was going to be together for Christmas. She knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that she had done the right thing. I have a feeling that this Christmas will be a very special Christmas for that family.

Is there a fractured relationship that you need to address? Christmas is as good a time as any to deal with it. 

Is there a lonely person in your circle that you can include in your plans? Christmas is a great excuse to intrude. 

Are you the lonely one? Are you the hurt one? I am sorry for your pain and hurt. I encourage you to reach out. You’d be surprised at the welcome waiting for you at the end of that call or text message. 

Here’s to an abundance of love and happiness this Christmas. 

Courtesy Marion Ann