An Unsaid Lesson in Healthy Eating

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Cucumber salad with some tomatoes.

When I was a little girl, my grandmother would make these amazing snacks. She would whip it up for both my cousin Chris and I in what felt like no time. Instead of opting for the Vienna Finger cookies my mom used to buy, we would get excited about the cucumber delights grandma would make. All she did was peel the cucumber, slice it up and sprinkle some lime and salt over it. Viola – edible goodies for us to munch on. My grandma used to garden and would sometimes get the cucumbers right from our backyard. At first, I would just wait for her to make it. Over time, I started making them myself. Of course it didn’t have her touch, but it was still good.

At the time, I did not realize that my grandmother was teaching us how to eat healthy. She was my chef, teacher, nurturer, protector, guide – everything packed into a perfect ball of energy that spread to everyone including my mom, brother, aunts, uncles, cousins and more. Her knowledge and her presence stays with me even today. Now I find myself making the same recipe again, but with a heavy appetite for knowledge about what I am eating.

In the past few months, I have been transitioning to becoming a vegan. It all started with one of those documentaries on Netflix (Sustainability I think it was). Honestly, my whole life, I cared for the welfare of animals. As a child, I refused to wear fur. However, I was backwards, wrong or not fully into the plight as I still had products with leather in it and ate meat. I agreed with the notion that meat was a necessary component for our diets.

It bothered me though that we ate meat. My cousin Chris and I stopped eating chicken for a week after we watched Chicken Run. We were traumatized by the fact that the chicken lived in a place their whole lives to be fattened up just to end up on our dinner plates. We were triumphant in our quest to protect the poultry from our stomachs for that week. But the smell of fried chicken tempted our vulnerable noses during that time. The waft scents of chicken wings in the air filled our nostrils guiding us to the plate like the house in Hansel and Gretel – tempting but dangerous. Eventually, we went back to eating chicken again.

Do not get me wrong, the wafts of chicken still tempt me. Everywhere I go, especially in busy areas, that smell is back to tempt me. It calls to me “Remember me Tiffany? You know you want me. We had such great memories together.” However, now my mind is much more resilient than it once was. For months after making this transition, I would still occasionally eat chicken, beef or fish as well as dairy products. Although when I randomly decided to watch What the Health last week because I was bored and needed something to watch, my night time entertainment turned into a final stamp on my stance of my eating choices. Now every time any meat or dairy is offered to me I think of animal pus, overcrowded farming habitats, or the unfortunate souls in Duplin, North Carolina. (If you think oppression does not exist, look up Duplin, North Carolina hog farms. Or just click this.)

I am not sure how long I can resist the enticing nature of meat and dairy when it surrounds me everywhere, but I will be sure to. Knowing about how the agriculture poisons the environment and our bodies is enough to keep me away. Through these documentaries, I learned that meat and dairy can cause a whole list of problems in the long run including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. I learned that the companies that we generally buy our products from lie about the ingredients and how they were manufactured. I learned that protein, which many think is necessary to get from meat and eggs, actually comes straight from plants. We do not need to eat meat or dairy (We also do not need wheat, but that is another tale).

So I am going to continue following the lesson my grandmother taught me in which she did not even say a word. The best food we can get is right from our garden. There is so much more I could write about this, but bottom line, the best way you can trust your food is from what you see right in front of you. From the beginning, you learn to eat your fruits and veggies. After trying out different recipes on the web, drinking fresh natural juices and of course the cucumber salad that started this all, I discovered and am still learning so many nutritious ways to eat healthy that taste amazing. So why do we eat to die instead of eating to live? Let’s go back to our roots and discover the possibilities of eating healthy and happy.

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Healthy, happy Tiffy! =)

Black Girls Learn Love Hard by Ras Baraka

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I went to this incredible conference called Queen Geniuses founded by Regine Roy at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn on March 18. The whole day was filled with enthusiasm, spirit, passion and an overflowing feeling of inspiration through speeches, workshops and performances. I was truly happy to be there. One of the components of the day included a workshop called “It Really Takes A Village” hosted by black feminist Dequi Kioni-Sadiki. I learned a lot including how the Black Panthers are the reason our kids receive free breakfast in their schools. Towards the end, Kioni-Sadiki shared an empowering poem called “Black Girls Learn Love Hard” by Ras Baraka (Dope poet and the current mayor of Newark, NJ) I fell in love with the difficult truth it portrayed about the struggles of being a black girl. Check out this engaging tale of how hard a black girl loves:

“Black Girls Learn Love Hard”

Black girls learn to love hard, A concrete love

An in spite of love, Even though love

An in between crying love, They learn love hard.

They rush to grade school dodging whistles.

And lewd stares from passing cars of men on their way to work.

They learn vulgarities as compliments

They pretend to get used to being touched when they don’t want to be

And get attention because they are pretty

Everyone wants to feel them, Press up on them

Rub against them, throw them down

Cuss them, Smack them

Penetrate them, Out of love

A be strong love, A hard love to swallow

Young girls sit on stoops and porches, In beauty parlor conversations

Watching their older sisters, With black eyes and bruised self-worth

Learning to be second, And how to hate men and love them.

All in the same sentence…..

Some girls watch their mothers get beat before, Breakfast

And get a ride to school quietly, In their boyfriend’s car

……They carry his drugs, Hold his weapons in their purses

Do time in jail, Fight other girls over our indiscretions

They love hard

Some girls learn to be alone, Some fall in love with crack or wine

And strain their withered brown bodies across the hood, Like a forgotten dream

Some girls met love in the dark while they were still

Vulnerable and small, From a familiar hand in a place they knew

Before they were even virgins, Shaking with terror and confusion

They know love as fear, Something they did to themselves

Love can’t be trusted/it’s ugly and happens to you when

Your back is turned, Love is too hard 

No one remembers that they used to be beautiful, Or smart

Or someone’s daughter, Someone’s sister/friend/a human being

They don’t get to be sweet or gentle, Or cared for

They have to do it alone, No help

……No time for pain or tears……..Black girls learn love hard

They learn sex as dialogue

They reason/their worth/best thing they have to offer

And some start talking at a very young age

They got a “ill na na”

Black girls learn to love hard, A concrete love

An in spite of love, An even though love

An in between crying love

They learn love hard.

Memories That Last a Lifetime: Mason Catering Wedding Expo

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Flowers are a gentle reminder of the slivers of beauty that exist in the world. They come in all types of colors, styles, and sizes. These products of nature are a unique part of the Earth in which we live in. Flowers were a beautiful addition to the Mason Catering Wedding Expo that took place on March 25, 2017 at the Adria Hotel & Conference Center in Bayside, NY. Like a flower, each vendor there had their own uniqueness shining through. They all represented an integral component that makes up the sensational spirit of a wedding. Each of them are a part of the formula which makes the spectacular union between two lovers magical on their wedding day.

“We are natural born entertainers. We make people happy.”  Benny Hype said from GT HIFI, a Mason Catering sponsored entertainment duo making their place at the event.

The DJs have been entertaining party goers for over 20 years at bridal and baby showers, bar mitzvahs, clubs and graduations.

Nigel Alfred stated that he’s happy when the bride is happy. A photographer who has traveled the globe, Alfred has worked professionally at birthdays, maternity and newborn shoots, engagements and baby showers, but has a strong focus on weddings.

“Wedding photography was a great source for me to develop my work,” he said.

Once invested in mostly street art, photographer Ricky “Dean” Scott is passionate about making the day special for the bride.

He said that no bride should ever have to worry about her pictures on her day as he retold a story of getting wet in the rain to capture the bride’s special moment.

“It (Weddings) happens so many times and every time it takes my breathe away,” he remarked.

At this wonderful event, an array of entrepreneurs made up the community dedicated to making the best of a bride and groom’s nuptial. Also in attendance was Pottery Barn, a known venue for bedding, kitchenware and more; Pauline’s Treats, a specialization in traditional and vegan baked goods, YoDog Media, a media company focused on digital and print videography and photography, photo booth rentals, web design and logo design; M & V Limousines Ltd, the largest limo company in NY that provides luxury vehicles; Rose Sweet Designs, a custom candy company that provides catering for sip & teas, baby and bridal showers and christenings; IP Phone System, a phone company that provides computer phones, video phones, phone greetings and much more telecommunication services; Bigga soft drinks, a flagship brand of the Wisynco group that is the only soft drink made locally in Jamaica; and Orchid’s Flowers and Gifts, a family owned business that specializes in day of the wedding services.

Renee Giscombe of Orchids Flowers and Gifts provides everything a couple needs for the day of their wedding. Wait staff, make-up artists, limos, photographers, hair stylists, fresh florals, candy stations, and more.

“From soup to nuts, we do everything,” Giscombe said. Her mother Ruth and brother Leo also have their own entertainment businesses located next to each other in which they all work together as a family.

Garrick Mason brought this community of entrepreneurs together to celebrate and showcase the magic they create for matrimonial ceremonies. After migrating here from Jamaica 10 years ago, Mason has been in the catering business for six years and four months.

Delsha Monroe, administrator for Mason Catering Services, said their goal is to make every event a memorable one. They offer cooking, meal preparation, and catering services (wait staff, bartenders, plated/buffet service, tables, chairs etc.) for all events whether big or small.

Once an employee at Golden Krust, Mason saw a need for low cost business for food. He started Mason Catering with only $150 in his pocket.

“I can never stop. I have to keep going. I always try to go forward no matter what,” he said. With three kids to motivate him, Mason aspires to take his business nationally. Mason Catering is already in Texas, Florida and California.

“If you think about it, you got it in you. Before a tree blooms, it goes through changes,” he said.

Like the changes and evolution of a flower, the talent, drive and compassion of all these individuals work together in blossoming a forever memorable moment for those ready to say “I Do.” I was honored to meet all the unique individuals dedicated to making the beautiful moments of a wedding incredible.

 

 

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Renee and Ruth Giscombe of Orchids Flowers and Gifts

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YODOG! Media

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Nigel Alfred Photography

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Rose Sweet Designs’ Candy and Cake Station

Gliding into 2017

Today, I am choosing to write a sort of reflective piece about the past year. I seriously do not want to write some cliché new year, new me garbage. Heck, it is cliché to even crap on people who do that. However, there is an innate desire for people to want to reflect on the ups and downs of the past year. We cannot help it as human beings as we fumble through this mess called life. Yes, I do it too. I wonder who will I be next year, how will I evolve or how will I stay the same. I personally feel in every second that we are breathing that distorted oxygen in and out of our lungs we are changing. You are never the same person the following day. But at the same time, you are not going to be completely transformed. It is more of a glide than a race to who you will become. 

This year has been an incredible year of growth, change and struggle for me. I got accepted into Hunter Silberman School of Social Work. In this grad school experience, I am learning so much about self-awareness, the social injustices that plague our society and about interventions on how we can assist those suffering from the many demons that haunt them. That whole experience deserves a level of it’s own and that is not the only level of growth I have experienced this year. I also had to fully embrace my natural hair. I learned and am still learning about what makes my kinky coils, how to take care of it and most importantly how to love it. Becoming natural was not easy, but I am thankful for every moment that I am experiencing this hair change. It was not just a change in hair texture; I feel like I am owning who I am and who I was always meant to be. As my hair transitioned, I transformed. I am finding myself becoming more health conscious. I am more invested in the world around me and want to do more in understanding the real truth about it. I no longer just accept what I hear and try to challenge what I hear on a regular basis. I smile but shake my inner fist at the world for not doing better. Ha, of course this is also school’s doing to opening up my mind to how everything works. I also find my style changing but at the same time it represents who I have always been. My growth is a representation of what I was always meant to become.

However, I am still trying to figure out who I am and what is it that I really want out of life. I know I do not want much but I do have the simple goal of being happy. In a way, I feel I have already accomplished my goal. There were some moments in 2016 that made it difficult for me to work my facial muscles into a smile even if frowning is more difficult. Trump winning was the biggest shock to many people this year. Even Trump seemed to be shocked. How could such a misogynist, racist bigot be our president? Especially against someone who was clearly more qualified. As I slowly understand a bit more about how the world works, I wonder if there is some outside force secretly laughing at the way the gears of society is turning. Of course, they must be pressing some buttons to cause those gears to turn. The continued rise in police brutality and injustices against my people only seem to grow while this man is getting closer to accepting his place at the white house. (If he ever leaves Trump tower of course). Many questions plague our minds as the shock settles into acknowledgment of a new era that our hearts truly cannot accept. However, there have been bands of unity across the country that is working against the hateful attacks that attempt to break us down. In these dark times, one thing I know for sure is that we will not be brought down. As a nation overflowing with so much beautiful diversity, we have come so far. Even as the laws may change, we have to start paying attention to the surprises to our liberties and fight it. We must continue to stay strong as a united front against these systems that work to destroy us. After all even with the negative back story to how this country was founded, it is still our home; let’s make it our home.

Twenty sixteen was also an end to some relationships I thought would never end. I do not want to waste too much time writing about this, but it was something I definitely was surprised had terminated. I did fight very hard to make it work. I learned so much about myself in what I did wrong and how I could work to do better in the future. I thought about ways that I could have rectified the situation. I constantly berated myself for the stupid mistakes that I made that could have made it work. However, through time I learned that in all my effort, both of our effort, it was not meant to last. The pains we carry with us our embedded in our spirits as a push, a lesson, a means of strength into conquering tomorrow. I would not be the person that I am today if I was still in that place struggling to make it with that person. My growth happened because of the pains I endured while in that space. The age old saying that everything happens for a reason is always on constant repeat in my mind. But it is there as a reminder that all of the crappy, uncomfortable, pains to my spirit are there to build me up into the phenomenal human being that I am becoming. It is obviously working because I am usually way more humble. Believe me, I love being modest. There is still so much more work to my character that will come to place as I get older. But I think it is OK for everyone to sometimes acknowledge how fantastic they are. As long as you are also aware that you are never done becoming awesome.

Anyway, I am mostly content with the way 2016 played out. I have accomplished so much, grown in ways that I did not expect and now I am excited to see where my growth will take me in 2017. For those of you reading this, I know you are some pretty incredible specimens on this Earth. Please remember to honor your growth however big or small they may be; each moment is responsible for making you into who you are destined to be. Every morsel of pleasure, pain and comfort are the necessary ingredients to being. Laugh, smile, cry, scream; do whatever feels comfortable to you in your moment. Let us go into 2017 like stars and keep on shining. Have a wonderful New Year! 

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Hello All!

This post is literally here to explain my absence.  My writing has been indulged in a more academic platform as I have started Grad school this Fall at Hunter. So my words have been plastered on Blackboard posts, journals, mini papers and regular sized papers. But my creative side has been pinching my insides for weeks. I will try my best to let my creative energy out on here. But yea, this is just a little update to my whereabouts. I did get some writing done in my personal journal, but it would be awesome to let you guys in on my thoughts as well. I also keep coming up with ideas for blog posts, so hopefully they will come to life. (They must!!!)  It would make my little heart pump so much faster. =). I hope all is well with everyone. I am excited to continue my writing journey here with you guys.

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Random photo from my Cali ventures. =). (My travel tales was strictly left for my journal) 

 

 

A Little Peace of Rain

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The moment came to me again. This time in an unexpected way and time. The 103 bus was taking too long to come so I decided to walk in the continuous rain. The wind was howling and the rain drops would not let up even for a little bit. Moisture started to fill up a bit in my light brown leather boots. My leggings even started to resemble saran warm as they began to cling more to my bottom half. The water in the air would sprinkle my face every so often. The atmosphere for once smelled crisp and clean due to what was falling around me. Amerie‘s “All I Have” gently vibrated in my ears like a quiet stream. The song alone brought back times of innocence when I was incredibly inexperienced of the trials, triumphs and the roller coaster ride of life. My legs carried me to my destination in the seemingly gloomy weather. Though many moments in the rain usually force me to bring out my umbrella and speed walk home, this day felt different. My pace could not help but slow down as I was able to unearth bliss. So much joy was felt in the walk that I had to give praise and thanks to God even in the misery of my surroundings. I gave thanks for air being able to fill my lungs, the people in my life, the lessons I have learned and for the moment I was having. Yet again, I was able to find bliss.

Even when your world is shrouded in the doom of a storm, there is always something to be thankful for. Be glad you have food on your table, clothes on your back and a roof over your head. You don’t have the job you want? Go out there and find a way to get it. As long as it’s in your spirit, the thing you desire will come to you. Or God will show you what it is you needed all along. Even in the cool of the rain, peace came my way. For all of you out there if you let it, peace will come to you too. Hope you are having a wonderful day!