Around this time of year, and today especially, I am glad I haven’t liked Halloween since I was a pre-teen (no offense to my Halloween lovers out there). Daddy, there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of you or something you said or did to make me or someone else laugh. A day that goes by that my heart doesn’t ache for your warmth to still be in this cold, cruel world. You were so kind and so giving, and so forgiving. You unselfishly did for and cared for others. Since losing you, I definitely cling to my family more and to my friends more. You taught me to eliminate the Takers who don’t deserve me, and I do that now more than ever. I tolerate less bs and less people full of it and of themselves. It’s what happens when you lose someone of this caliber. It opens your eyes a lot more to those around you and whom you quickly decide your effort goes into or not, and who is worth remaining in your life or not. It helps you really ensure that what you do in career and life is really what you deserve and what you want to be doing. Especially since we had these talks often.
Oh, how I wish we could share our new journey with you in person! I can hear you now telling us how proud you are of both of us, and I can see that larger-than-life smile of yours beaming with pride. We really miss you and we talk about you often. The other day I was thinking of one of our times together and it was like you were right in the room with me. I thought about you on Sunday while watching football, and how I miss watching it and chatting about it with you, and us coaching and yelling at the Packers from the sidelines (i.e. the couch), and it broke my heart into tiny little pieces. I will never forget where I was, what I was doing, the words my Auntie said to me when she called me, or arriving at the hospital and seeing my Cousin, then crumpling to the floor when I got the news.
I have so many great memories to replace those awful, still-unbelievable ones, yet my life has been forever changed without you in it. Three years has gone by so quickly, and yet it feels like so much longer too. Missing you today and every day Daddy. They say it gets easier, but it doesn’t. It doesn’t at all. You just learn how to live without someone you love because you have no choice. I know you’re in a better place though watching over us and I will always be warmed inside by the thought of you watching over us. Love you, Dad! I’ll process and reflect throughout the day, but so that I don’t cry at work, I’m just going to go out and do what I do well- For you and to make you proud. I’m going to pour every ounce of sadness into rocking this day like I’m so ready to do! I love and miss you so much!!! 😘😇😪💔
It’s been a little while since I’ve blogged, so I feel it’s only fitting that this blog post should be a shout-out to my wonderful Husband on our 9th Wedding Anniversary. Where has the time gone?!? 9 years!! So much has happened in 9 years, and yet sometimes it feels like just yesterday. Other times it feels like it’s been longer. On either side of that is a deep love and respect for one another. We’ve hoped so much, believed so much, accomplished so much, and have endured so much. It is a blessing to have you by my side as we establish new roots together, while continuing to nourish the ones we’ve tended to all these years. Like the root of a tree, you are my foundation. Like the root of a tree, you are mighty and resilient. Like the root of a tree, you become more and more grounded over the years. Like the root of a tree, you are strong enough to hold on to what others need you to, and to hold your own. I appreciate you for all these things and more, and I love you more and more with each passing day, month, and year. Can’t wait to celebrate double digits with you next year and to see what else we will have hoped, believed, and accomplished together!! I love you the MOST!! ❤️❤️
1 Corinthians 13:13
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:7
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
With every end, there is a chance for a new beginning. Coming out of an awesome appointment this evening with good discussion, some other good discussions today, and a beautiful, most perfect friend who told me today I’m glowing in my newfound adventure, I am truly blessed, humbled, and happy. This is not the end. It’s a new beginning. A fresh slate to absorb all the wonder that lies ahead.
What will you do when opportunity knocks? Will you wait and wonder what could happen? Will you miss opportunities? Will you forsake those who’ve stood loyally by your side to get ahead or to fulfill your own needs? Will you damage relationships? Will you forge new ones? Will you live in denial of self or worth? Will you reflect on how you/things could have been different? Will you live your life as it was meant to be lived, or will you settle for the past or what could have been? Will you learn from your mistakes and take accountability for those you’ve hurt/wronged? Will you commit to yourself and others to be a better person? Will you stand by your values? Will you accept that not everyone will like you, but make them respect you? Will you be happy and free?
I’ve asked myself these things time and time again over the years, and I tell you: Self-reflection and just downright being a good person (which has never been my issue- if anything I’ve been TOO nice to the undeserving over the years) is worth the investment. You can accept an end much better that way knowing you’ve done all the right things for the right reasons. You are also that much more ready to embrace a new beginning. Not everything or everyone is good for you. I say this often too (said it earlier to someone). I am full of wonder and excitement to write my next chapter (literally and figuratively). Are you ready? The time is now. Life never gets any longer folks, and time doesn’t wait on anyone. Through the grief process of so much loss, I learned things about myself I didn’t even know. I reflected. I owned and and re-owned it. I let the sadness come. I let the questions come. I let the anger come. I used it all as a weapon to stop putting up with bs. I used it to mold me even further. I reflected and realized I needed to stop putting up with things that I should never have tolerated in the first place. I gained more intestinal fortitude. I solidified boundaries. I healed (and am still healing in full disclosure). I used it to carry the weight of others who needed me. I used it to drop the dead weight of those not carrying their own weight. I used it to call out or separate without notice from the disingenuous. I gained more confidence. I made even more people proud. But most of all, I made me proud.
I say all the time that I am unapologetically me. And I mean it. I will not apologize for all the beautiful, complex things that make up my character and/or values. We are all flawed, but when I say that I am the best me I can be, I believe it because I’ve done the work. I’ve continued to do the work, and I’ve ended what wasn’t good for me. I don’t have to apologize for who I am because I love me, and I always do the right things for the right reasons. What will you do differently tomorrow?
“Sips and Writes” is a new phrase I coined tonight while having a drink and reading some poetry to take the edge off of the day, sitting in the quiet (except for the Central Air and my dog’s ever-so-slight snoring, which gradually became a bit louder). I rather like the name, and I think it will become a new feature for me, even if I’m not sipping. It could also be that I may not be writing at that particular time either, but I like it. It’s catchy. And I like to have fun. The best ideas are often born from mistakes.
I’m gladly settling back into some old, familiar routines, reading some poetry of late and re-exploring the art form, as I’ve started writing and recording some of my own again the past few weeks. I’m not sure yet what I want to do with the recordings (standalone poems or turn them into pieces of a fiction or an autobiographical novel), but I like having the options. Poetry doesn’t flow quite as easily (in written form) as it used to for me because I’ve gotten a bit rusty in practice. Writing free form is a completely different story. I tried my hand at spoken word poetry and surprised myself a bit a few weeks back though. I wasn’t too shabby.
I’ve dabbled with the idea of Open Mic Nights that I couldn’t do back then, but I’m kind of private and particular with some of my work. It’s mine, it’s personal, it’s emotional, and it’s one of the handful of things I’m just not there yet with vulnerability. Fun Fact: I have been invited a few times in my life to D.C. and NYC with other poets and celebrities, but it wasn’t the right time in my life. I wasn’t ready to invest in and commit to it then. Everything has a time and a place, and I believe the better time is now. For tonight, a little William Shakespeare for inspiration because it resonates with me this evening:
“All that glitters is not gold
To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.
Hell is empty and all the devils are here.”
As the saying goes, “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.” I believe my love of writing keeps me astute and observant; keen in my intuition. Therefore, at times I dance with the devils I know and taunt and flirt with them, the same as I may do at times with the devils I don’t. Then again, I’ve never been overly risk-averse overall in my adult life. I’m not cut from the average cloth or fabric of life, and I celebrate that. I didn’t always, but I celebrate the hell out of it now! I wasn’t born to be ordinary, darling. I embrace my complexities and all of the wildly beautiful things that make me uniquely me. So should you. So should we all. Goodnight from Sips and Writes.
I really miss my Dad and his wit, charm, and smile. I’m glad he taught me to be strong, to do what’s best and right, that I can do whatever I set my mind to, and the power and value of honesty and love. He always proudly exclaimed, “ You’re MY Daughter! You can do ANYTHING- ANYTHING you want!
I always felt so much better just talking to my Dad. It felt like just by sharing things with him, they’d magically get fixed. He may not have been able to fix all things all the time, but he fixed most things most of the time. Even if it was “just” listening, or “just” giving me the courage to make a decision I’d been thinking about for awhile or validating something I already knew to be true. It always helped hearing it from him.
Daddy was my hero, and it is so very hard to lose that kind of influence in your life. This world has lost a lot of luster for me without him in it. Daddy was kind and giving, even to strangers. Every day I wish there were more like him- more selfless, but every day I see more of the selfish rise. His smile lit up so many rooms and so many lives. For me, it is just the most unfortunate and heartbreaking of circumstances to have lost him and be left with so many of the opposites. I’m glad I have some wonderful people in my life to keep me and my heart from turning to stone because of this fact. It has definitely hardened me though. How could it not?
I miss holding his hand. I miss Daddy/Daughter Time, I miss his goofy laugh that he passed on to me, I miss our deep conversations, I miss sitting next to him at my Grandparents’ dinner table in our traditional spots, I miss picking him up for our Daddy/Daughter Dates, I miss getting his voicemail if I missed his call then him asking me if I called, because he didn’t always check them. I miss him leaving a voicemail for me if I missed his call. I miss his fancy clothes and shoes, for Daddy was always DRESSED for the most casual of occasions. I miss my friend, my Daddy, my mentor, my confidante, my heart, my rock, and my biggest cheerleader (well, I have some others too). I miss him so much. I miss most of all him calling me Darling. My Auntie still calls me that and it warms my heart that much more now.
This Father’s Day has been the toughest yet. I spent practically the whole first year in disbelief, shock, anger, and numbness. The second year I moved into acceptance, learning to manage through the difficult emotions, learning to “put up with people” when I really just wanted to be left alone, and figuring out what this new “normal” was for me. This is year three and it’s been the hardest by far. I miss my Dad more often and I’m sad more often. I think I understand a few of the reasons why this is, but it’s still tough. I think I’m just sad to know that it’s true that the pain never goes away. Thankfully, it is also true that it does get “easier.”
No amount of time will ever heal the void of the loss, but as time goes on, I learn new ways of coping with it and coping with how I see the world now as a result of it. It feels so unfortunate and tragic, and absolutely heartbreaking, but I’m fortunate he was my Daddy and always loved me. If there were 70 other people in a room, it was always me who mattered most to him. I miss the way he loved me. I miss the irreplaceable, simple, kind, gentle human this world ripped away too soon. I am grateful for fond memories to hold on to and fun memories to make me laugh instead of cry.
Happy Father’s Day, Daddy!
The other day I shared an article by Ezgi Tasdemir on LinkedIn and FB that talked about being one’s whole self, being authentic to self, self-monitoring, setting boundaries, and embracing what sets us apart while holding steadfast to our values in situations where there are expectations of thinking or behaving a certain way (particularly in the Corporate space). The article challenged readers to clear a path of comfort toward being different and celebrating one’s uniqueness. It also came right on time for me with some things I’d been going through personally and professionally, and had been discussing with colleagues and family. It especially struck home because it touched on one of the values I hold in most high regard, and to which I hold others to a high expectation- authenticity. For very specific reasons (probably not much different at all from the reasons others do), I rarely cross the boundaries of work and play, to the point that I also typically keep LinkedIn as the only vehicle for professional interactions and FB as the sole mechanism for a personal, work-associates free zone. I intentionally rarely mix work and play, because setting boundaries is so healthy in work and play. In fact, it is my personal belief that most times the two worlds should be kept separated if not just for balance alone.
Tasdemir's article really resonated with me, so to that point, I’ve done some reflection and have some thoughts, insights, and advice to share this evening on things that have changed my life, happiness, job satisfaction over the years, as well as my comfort level with vulnerability and risk-taking, caring more about keeping myself happy and true to self and values over others, and truly allowing myself to shine and have my career take flight. In the spirit of vulnerability (I’m naturally-vulnerable but to share with those it may help): For many years, I did a grave disservice to myself by not owning the shoes I walked in and letting others overshadow and/or color/tarnish how I operated. By not believing fully in myself or my capabilities. By selling myself short (until a great mentor showed me the way on exactly how I was short-selling myself, how to authentically showcase my true worth and market value, and trim the fat along the way). By feeling that because it was in some unwritten rule book that I had to be someone I wasn't- be inauthentic, which is completely against my very fiber.
No more can I afford to be that naive, overly-hopeful person who thinks that there is no place in the workplace for authenticity, or that people are not at times awfully selfish and horrible, or that everyone is as self-aware as we'd like. I’m more attuned to the harsh realities of life now than I was back then, and on how to maneuver through the challenges that often present themselves. I've become savvier at putting myself and my needs first while maintaining my own dignity, integrity, authenticity, and values. I am forever grateful for (and to) the wonderful mentors I’ve had. Thanks to some self-monitoring and these mentors, I have not been that naive, overly-hopeful, confused, repurposed shell of my authentic self for some time except under extreme/rare/politically-charged situations. Sure, I’m still a hopeless romantic and dreamer that we can do better as humans, but that is what keeps quite a lively, grounding fire burning inside me so I refuse to go too far to give that up.
I hope that by sharing this advice others can avoid learning the hard way what took me year after year, refinement after refinement to learn the hard way. That said though, I do firmly believe that some of life’s greatest lessons are best served (and learned) the hard way. And sometimes for some it’s how the “mighty” must fall. I, personally, would rather be perceived as authentic than "mighty" any day. Authenticity is the stuff that legends are made of, while "might" can be very temporary, depending on the circumstances. In the article, Tasdemir notes that it WILL take work and self-monitoring. This I know to be fact, given my own experiences on the journey over the years. It will also require making some tough decisions on what/whom you’re willing to put up with and/or sacrifice/let go of in your life when the authenticity test has not been met. I encourage you to drop the dead weight if something/someone is weighing on you/weighing you down, whether in the personal or professional space.
Do NOT make the critical error of sitting idle while you wish to operate differently and know you should be. Do NOT let people push you aside, pass you over, or take advantage of you. Do NOT give up on your dreams. Do NOT underestimate/undersell your own strengths/bench strengths. Don’t do it!! Do NOT be afraid of taking risks or doing what’s right and best for you and your family EVER! DO believe in yourself and your capabilities. Do LOVE yourself above all (but faith) because that part of the article is very true too. DO use self-preservation when needed, as long as it’s not at the expense/to the detriment of others. Self-preservation can be very necessary and productive in work and play. I know this probably more than most things in life (likely more than many people as well because of some of my life's experiences). Just make sure you aren’t sacrificing too much of yourself in the self-preservation process. Don’t stay too long in self-preservation, because the longer you do, the possibility is high that you need to make a change of some sort (and the stakes can be high as well).
Here is a link to the article I’ve referenced. I hope you enjoy the read as much as I did. I’m also grateful to have made a personal connection with the author after reading it, and having that discussion inspired me to get this blog post up within a couple of days after. My initial intent was to post it the same evening, but I got lost in something else at the time. Writers' minds also move at the speed of light and on various tangents, you'll find.
I’ve had to weather some tough storms throughout my life, the most recent and toughest few being the loss of my loving, devoted Father and sweet Granny, and transitioning into a new Health Care role. I say a lot in my profession while coaching leaders and employees (and in my personal life), “It takes as long as it takes.” I’ve said it many times over the years. Today, while watching “This is Us” to catch up, Jack said it to his Son in the episode, and I smiled because I say it all the time. Then I became deeply and unexpectedly pensive and inspired to write. I was inspired because I had a contagious euphoria and adrenaline at that moment that begged to be put to paper. Getting into my own head in that moment inspired a little bit more clarity on some things I’ve been working through and trying to figure out for awhile. It reminded me that the process (whatever it is at any given time) takes as long as it takes. We are continuous works in progress, flexing and adapting to situations and a world that are ever-changing. Life is the square peg trying to fit into the round hole of our expectations and desires for the path we wish to take. I’ve never been the most patient with my path, but I’m learning over the past few years to be more patient because the best is yet to come. It’s one of the reasons I’ve embraced my 40s so fondly.
I’ve never felt as strong of a calling to do what I’m destined to do as now. Much of my path has been written, yet MOST of it is yet unwritten, and I’m looking forward to writing the rest of my life's story. I’m inspired and looking forward to where this journey will take me. One of my college professors in Undergrad said something very powerful and memorable to me. She said, “My dear. You have a talent. A REAL talent, and my dear, we do not waste talent such as this. Keep writing, because it would be a shame to waste such talent.” Do what you love and love what you do. I love HR, and I also love to write. I anxiously await what comes next! And just as I wrap up this blog post, I am beaming with delight at what I love to do most because it’s a feeling like no other, and the sun just came out on a cold, gray Winter day. The same as it did on my Wedding Day on a colder-than-normal Fall day. That’s hope shining down, folks. And it shows up unexpectedly when we need it the most. And it’s beautiful. It takes as long as it takes.
I recently shared in a Facebook post that I was thankful this Holiday Season for renewed energy, focus, and creativity. I am definitely grateful for the blessings of creativity and refocused energy that my writing have brought back. The Christmas Season has been one of my favorites since I was a young girl. The festive Holiday songs, church, feelings of nostalgia, anticipation of Christmas Day, family, faith, friends, food, and the feeling of togetherness help to make the Season bright for me. The feeling of the Holidays is what I value most and what I love most about it, because it reminds me of family and friends. Of happiness and all that I am fortunate enough to have and am grateful for every day. Never in my life have I felt more connected to these feelings or have they held as much meaning as now, as we go through trying times as a Nation. Seeing people happy, grateful for what they have, spending time together, laughing, making new memories, and pulling together makes me so happy.
I had my music on shuffle through media in the car (as I do 97% of the time) on my phone tonight on the way home from work, and I listened to an Electronic song. I belted out lyrics I haven't sang in probably five or more years, smiled to myself in pride at the fact I remembered every single lyric, smiled at the fond memories that came with the song, reminisced on how much has changed since then (my 20s), and rested my head backwards on the headrest, completely at peace and continuously belting out lyrics. Feeling something so inexplicably beautiful from deep, deep within my Soul. It was a pure moment in my solitude that I truly cherished, and it was good to be able to reflect on it in the moment and to feel pure peace and joy. It was a feeling I've never experienced before while singing, listening to music, or even during this Holiday time (my favorite time) of Christmas Season. It felt GOOD! I was released, I was happy, I was blessed, I was powerful. I was everything beautiful in that moment, and I wanted to replicate it every second and every day from then on out. Some things are unexplainable, and this was one of those things and one of those times. Another beauty of the Season. Feeling. Believing. What our eyes see our hearts feel stronger. Our faith shows us that much stronger through the Soul. And I had that moment tonight. I will be sad to see the Holidays go, but will most certainly cherish them while they are here, and will cherish the fond memories made for long after. I hope you hold your loved ones near and dear this Season and always. I hope you find what makes you happy. If you're still on a journey, continue that journey and may it bring you peace well into the New Year.
From our family to yours, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! "Here's to having all your hopes and dreams take flight in 2018!" "Feliz Navidad, Próspero Año y Felicidad!"
We took a trip to Jamaica for my little Sister’s wedding. The wedding was on Saturday, November 11, 2017, and we decided to bake a bit extra of a vacation into the trip. We arrived at the airport on Thursday afternoon, November 9, 2017, around 1:00 p.m. EST and to the resort around 2:30 EST. We departed Jamaica for home on Thursday, November 16th around 9:30 a.m. from the resort and began our trip to the airport. Don’t worry, Mon. I’ll tell you all about our adventures there before we sadly left for home.
The start of our trip was a bit rocky, and even a little bit before we left there were a couple of hiccups: The Royalton Blue Waters switched (downgraded) our room from one with a swim-out, but did upgrade us to Diamond Club, which afforded us more property amenities and extra, free snacks and premium drinks in the lobby. While our driver arrived 45 minutes late, it was an honest, human mistake, and he was a very gentle, kind, genuine man who apologized profusely for his first ever time being late to anything in his entire life. He felt horrible and thought we may miss our flight, but we actually had plenty of time because we’d baked in more than our usual extra travel time (for reasons that will come in a later blog or book). I thought about him several times during the trip and hoped and prayed he’d be able to maintain his employment. His company has a strict policy on customer service and being prompt for customer pick-ups. We discovered that the airline switched our seats on the trip out, so we didn’t sit together, but Mike switched seats to sit closer and we both sat next to some pretty awesome people! Things started looking up when Mike got a free snack on the plane because the credit card machine was not working. The trip out was smooth, without incident, and we arrived safely to Jamaica. Our car was waiting early at the airport in Montego Bay (which I’ll later refer to as Mobay in places). We fell in love when we landed. It was an experience equivalent to what they say about people and love at first sight. We quickly lost track of how many times we heard “Yah Mon”, only to realize later how many more times we’d hear it hourly and how much we’d love it and the people even more as the trip went on.
Garfield was our driver from the airport when we landed in Montego Bay to the Royalton Blue Waters Resort in Mobay. He was also our driver from the Royalton to Negril for the second part of our trip to the Rockhouse in Negril, and we found him to just be a delight! What a nice welcome to Jamaica! He asked us whether this was our first time in Jamaica and we told him it was. He then said to us, “I will share this with you: ‘Jamaica is a medicine you need to take at least once a year. It will cure what ails you.’” We talked about Track and Field on the drive because Mike is an avid fan and ran Track in school. Mike and Garfield talked about Track and Usain Bolt at length. Usain is, of course, a legend in Jamaica. He visits Jamaica often and has never forgotten his school, or his roots in beautiful Jamaica. Garfield also humored us while we talked about Jamaican football versus U.S. football: “We play football with our feet but you guys play it with your hands and call it football. I don’t know why that is. It’s like someone got mad at someone during the World Cup and called them ‘Soccer’ (read: Sucker).
Garfield told us the story of the White Witch of Rose Hall as we passed by, which is a famous, well-known part of Jamaica’s history. The story (as he told it) is that Rose Hall Plantation had slaves. He told us that the “White Witch”, Annie Palmer, practiced witchcraft and that she murdered three of her Husbands, including her first Husband, who owned the Rose Hall Plantation at the time. Garfield told us that there are frequent celebrity sightings in Jamaica, and that some are well-known in Jamaica and/or own homes/property there, including Johnny Cash, Morgan Freeman, Beyonce, Jimmy Buffet, Ralph Lauren, Lennox Lewis, Rihanna, Sean Paul, and one or two others I'm forgetting because I didn't document that part while on the trip, and as we know, memories fade, which is why it was so important for me to begin capturing the essence of Jamaica while I was there.
We arrived to the Royalton Blue Waters in Montego Bay without incident and made good travel time there too. We parted from Garfield and had someone waiting already to take our bags, get us registered at the resort, get us settled for snacks, and some welcome drinks in the Diamond Club, since we upgraded our room for our stay. Not bad! We were liking this and our vacation already. We got a full, guided Orientation to our room, which included a beautiful soak-in tub, Room Service to Order right from the t.v., cable, a stage where live music played every evening, and a nice patio with a wonderful view of the resort pool, cabana areas, and the sea. We’d never stayed in a resort before, so we felt like we were living high on the hog in this place. We got settled into our room and unpacked a little bit before going off to explore the property, passing by the many shops and restaurants to become familiar. More family arrived about an hour or so after we did, so we then greeted them in the lobby, exchanged hellos and hugs, and shared some drinks. My Sister’s Bachelorette Party was on Thursday evening, and we went to a couple of clubs, but Amnesia was my favorite. Music was on point, energy was BLAZIN’, and it was quite the experience! It was so amazing to watch the dancers (not those kind of dancers). Everything seemed so surreal and so perfect, and I watched in awe wondering if the dances were choreographed, but they seemed so natural as the locals danced to the music. After we hit the clubs, we took a bus back to the resort, but not before some side-of-the-road-ya-gotta-know-a-guy Jerk Chicken! Oh man!!! I was loving the food and experiences already!!!!!
My Sister’s wedding was beautiful at Borghinvilla in a perfect, beautiful country-like setting! The grounds were serene and beautiful. The wedding venue was about 25-30 minutes away from the Royalton Blue Waters, but the drive really didn’t feel like it. Maybe because they drive so fast there. About the driving……we didn’t realize they steer from the right in Jamaica, so that was an experience that took getting used to. It was really funny when one of us would get into a car and remember, or when a few people went to get into the “passenger” seat, only to realize that it was actually the driver seat. The wedding day was a full day of meeting with the Wedding Coordinator to rehearse for the ceremony, prepping dresses (hanging and steaming), making sure the Bride had everything she needed, getting hair and make-up done, having some lunch, all while listening to some great American and Jamaican tunes. Everyone was excited for the ceremony and happy for the couple. The ceremony was intimate with family that traveled from near and far, my Sister was stunning in her gown and make-up, the Bridesmaids were all beautiful and proud, her Husband and the Groomsmen were handsome, and the ceremony overlooked the water. Absolutely BREATHTAKING!!!! My Sister married a great guy, and he is more my Brother than my Brother-in-Law. We were all so happy that the big day had finally come after lots of planning. We were kind of sad that it had all come to an end, but it was most certainly worth the wait! Now my baby Sister is off and married and now I really feel like it’s the next chapter of her being all grown up. I think sometimes I forget that she is an adult, but now I’ll just be waiting to be an Aunt again!
Part two of vacation for Mike and I started on Sunday morning and we were off to the Rockhouse after Breakfast at the Royalton with family and friends. We much preferred the slowed-down pace and culture of Negril over the resort. We asked during the beginning of this part of the trip whether there a a lot of mosquitos because it is so hot in Jamaica, and a few people said no and that they don't really bother you. See pictures later of my many bites. We both proudly displayed the bites for some time. Each day, we'd add new battle wounds to the collection from the Battle of the Mosquitos. Apparently the Mosquito Nets were not only adding to the peaceful, beautiful setting of the room, but were also practical. Nevertheless, we appreciated being completely immersed in the culture, the open air huts, local food, and people over the mostly-Americanized resort food and being waited on most of the time at the resort. Don’t get me wrong; the resort was very nice. It just felt very overdone for our personalities and was not our speed, or what we value in vacations and life. We visited Rick's Cafe during our stay in Negril too- interesting experience that was listed (and told to us) as a spot to check on. Rick's is a long-standing part of Jamaica's history too, where people jump from high cliffs with spectators, a DJ, food, and a full bar. We stayed for a drink since we just popped in to check out the buzz.
We adored the politeness of the Jamaican culture and how helpful, humble, gracious, and accommodating they are. If one of our drivers’ cell phone rang, he would always say “Excuse me” or apologize that it rang. We didn’t see it as a necessary apology, but appreciated it nonetheless. One morning at Breakfast at Rockhouse’s restaurant, our table was a bit wobbly so our Server said she was going to fix it right away. We both said it was fine and not a bother, but she was insistent on fixing the wobbly table, and sure enough came back with a fix. Every single Jamaican would greet you first if you didn’t greet them first, and would always respond back when you greeted them. Something that leaves much to be desired in our culture. One of the people in the store where I was browsing jewelry told me when I said I wanted the bracelet with the Jamaica flag colors that I’m in Jamaica and am now an honorary Jamaican. He said once you’re there, you’re a Jamaican. So sweet!!
Jamaicans are a people with beautiful, smooth skin due to a rich diet, healthy lifestyle, and relaxed state of mind. They eat all fresh food. Food just isn’t as appealing or exciting since we’ve been home. We really miss the food and everything else about the Jamaican culture! Ohhhhh, let me TELL you about the food! The seafood was amazing because it was also so fresh! We had fresh Snapper, Lobster, Shrimp, and “Chef’s Favorite” Fish Cakes (Ivan’s) that were amazing! We also enjoyed Jerk Chicken with and without Jerk Sauce (3 Dives had THEE best spicy Jerk Sauce!!!), Brown Stew Chicken (our FAVORITE!!), Callaloo (another favorite we ate with almost every meal), Rice and Peas, Curry Chicken, Curry Goat, Oxtail, Bushman’s Stew, Curry Seafood Stew, fresh Pumpkin Soup, Smashed Potatoes (Ivan’s), so many fresh fruits and vegetables, and I enjoyed the delicious, smooth Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee daily. The pictures don’t even come close to doing the food justice, but enjoy them anyway.
Fabian at the Rockhouse was one of the Groundskeepers who was working on fixing the Air Conditioning at the unit next to ours and he greeted us while we sat out on our perfect patio after a swim in the Sea. Mike mentioned that he’d gotten stuck a few times in the foot by a Sea Urchin and Fabian asked him if he’d gotten the stinger out. Mike told him that we’d looked at his foot and thought we got them out. Fabian looked at Mike’s foot, as it was propped up on the rocks while we sat out anyway, and he said there appeared to still be a small sticker in the foot, so he offered to help get it out. He asked if we had a needle. We and didn’t, and he was kind enough to go to the front desk and retrieve one for us. He was able to get it out and said that you don’t want to take chances and that it’s best to just get it out. We were grateful for Fabian and his timing that afternoon! We chatted it up with him for a bit about his work, our lives, Jamaica, and sports. He said to remember him when we come back to the Rockhouse or to Jamaica. We assured him we would, and we will. We will undoubtedly remember him and we will certainly be returning to Jamaica.
The Sisters at Just Natural were one of my absolute favorite parts about the trip besides my Sister’s wedding. They grow everything in their gardens, it’s all organic, they make their own jewelry, and their Niece makes the bags in her free time from school- SO much fun and soul happiness chatting with them both!! They shared with us on our second visit there that people from the U.S. bring them beads and solar powered outdoor lighting for the gardens when they visit, and that they have made many new U.S. friends. That just touched my heart! We loved the Rasta Mons we ran into at LTU Pub, walking on the street, and driving us back from our nice dinner at Ivan’s. We met another new Rasta friend from LTU Pub that we saw daily and multiple times a day after walking the roads and at our fave local spots. He was a driver, and we ran into him a few times between Rockhouse Restaurant, Pushcart, and just walking around the area.
The road travels walking the streets were an adventure in and of themselves. You constantly had to be on the lookout for cars and mind the narrow roads and fast driving, but it was still an experience we were glad for and that we were proud we did. The music and dancing in Jamaica is like no other- truly! People were just happy to be happy. They sang and danced. All the time. Whether it was while proudly mixing drinks, serving you food, when it was slow and they had a little free time, you’d enjoy daily great team dynamics of people who worked so well together and the hospitable nature of Jamaica. We made new friends wherever we went. We do that at home too, but it was just inexplicably different. New friends at Pushcart, new friends at Rockhouse, new friends at 3 Dives, new friends at LTU Pub. New friends everywhere!
Jamaica is a very environmentally-friendly Country. Streets were clean. Resort was pristine. The workers at Rockhouse used canvas bags to put raked leaves in, Rockhouse had AC controls in place to conserve energy, and if you opened any of the room doors or windows it would automatically shut off. Though not nearly as financially stable as the U.S., the people of Jamaica are happy with what they have. They have an amazing, intriguing way of letting go of stress and not letting it get to them. I envy them because in the U.S., everything is just rush, rush, rush. In the U.S., people are stressed, often not satisfied with what they have, are willing to hurt one another to get ahead, and do not look out for each other as much as they do in the Jamaican culture. Our driver on the way home said that people in the U.S. create a lot of stress for themselves, and he is absolutely right. We quickly and wholeheartedly agreed with him. He also told us that they are raised from when they are little to love each other, feed and house strangers, and to never use the word hate. He said he doesn’t even understand that word. He was 51 and didn’t look a day over 45. He told us that his Grandmother lived to be 104 and was never sick. You can’t help but be introspective after a discussion like this. We also met a very nice man one day at 3 Dives having lunch. He was from Columbus, OH, had moved to Negril many years ago, and owns his own company there. Mike asked him what has been his biggest challenge overall moving to Jamaica. He shared with us that his biggest challenge has been the jealousy of foreigners. That was such an unexpected, yet not shocking response, but so disappointing too. We have some work to do as a Country. That was a known fact prior to vacation, but was further reinforced through talking to the many new friends we made.
“Sweet Jamaica......No other place could make me feel this way, like Jamaica, Jamaica, Jamaica......” This is a verse from Gully Bop’s “Jamaica Nice,” and it definitely resonated with us after visiting beautiful Jamaica. These are the perfect words to describe sweet Jamaica. Jamaica is a life-changing experience. "This is what you're looking for......." This one is from Wylf/JJ Grey/Mofro's "What You're Looking For" and yes, Jamaica. You are what I've been looking for. Hospitable, accommodating, chill, respectful, very polite, honorable, proud, loving people of Jamaica- I will miss you almost more than life itself! You are a breath of fresh air, a delight to the soul, a marvel to wonder, and the cure to all that ails in life. I see what Garfield meant. He was right! One more new-found song that I love: “I can’t, no, I can’t. Every time I think of saying goodbye, everything inside me says it’s a lie.” This verse comes from Beres Hammond’s “No Goodbye.” Perfect for how we felt about leaving this sweet, soul-quenching Jamaica! We will miss everything about Jamaica. We loved it so much, both agree that it's the best vacation we've taken together, and we plan to return at least once a year. In the interim, we'll enjoy the trinkets and memories we brought back. One love.....
Local Places We Visited:
Things We’ll Miss our Sweet Jamaican Friends Saying:
“It’s no problem Man.”
On the List to Try Next Visit:
Mi Yard (A friend recommend this place for their Tuesday night music)
Little Ochi (Fabian, our Rockhouse Groundskeeper recommended we visit)
Xtabi Hotel (People we met at LTU Pub one afternoon recommended it as a place to stay in the future)
7 Mile Beach
Sip n Bites
Photos of our Trip
About the Author
Anyone who knows me well enough knows that I have a zeal for life, a love of family and friends, nature, and a love of laughter. I frequently laugh myself into tears and it makes me laugh even harder. My best friends love this about me. I love music, travel, new experiences, the Arts, and taking photos to capture and share precious and unique moments. I'm an admitted-Selfie Queen thanks to one of my girlfriends (you know who you are). I love exercise, trying new restaurants and recipes, and I love to dance! I embrace my world fully and everything around me, and hold it all near and dear, as if it's the last time I'll see or experience any of it.