Unlearn: Self-Love is Paramount

Often as children in Jamaica we are not taught to love ourselves. The prevailing mindset is that children should be seen and not heard, displays of emotion are frowned upon (worse if you’re a boy) and the needs or wants of a child in a family with many older members are usually overlooked.

Contrast the technicolor televised images of my childhood where Foreign children are raised with so much self confidence it seems like entitlement, where people are consoled when they cry and where parents/extended family seem attuned to the emotional needs of the younger relatives.

Because I had the privilege to be exposed to this alternate experience of childhood, I was aware that the way we do things here is not necessarily the best way. I also had the opportunity to observe the difference in outcomes when children are raised in a loving and nurturing home instead of a yard where every man is for himself, and I remain convinced that the way we parent in this country is largely responsible for the way we deal with the deeper problems that plague our society.

But why is this relevant.

Most of the time I write because I hope that something in my words will resonate with the right person at the right time. Hoping the current of the universe will push this cobbled craft to the person who needs it when they need it most. A lot my posts start their lives as ‘what I wish someone had told me’ and I’m vain enough to believe that if I needed to hear this, then someone else does too.

So this is relevant because we need to be reminded that it is okay to love yourself. The lessons I learnt growing up as a child in Montego Bay (bloodthirsty and falsely cheerful Montego Bay) are lessons I had to unlearn as an adolescent (and which I’m still unlearning as an adult): sadness, disappointment and insecurity are not things to be ashamed of. Wanting affection, support and stability is not a sign of weakness.

Lessons I am working hard to teach myself are exercises in self-care, developing my psyche and feeding my soul. Giving myself permission to make mistakes, backtrack and be better than I was. I’m being deliberately vague because this process is different for everyone, and in the various stages of your life self-care means different things.

But everyone should start from a position of unconditional positive regard for who they are. There will be aspects of yourself that you think are flawed and fucked up, there will be voices in your head with many negative comments (likely honed from a lifetime of hearing  those comments out loud) but the first step is to open your arms and love yourself.

It is okay to love yourself; it’s actually a good thing. It doesn’t mean you’re prideful or you won’t get into heaven; it doesn’t mean you’re conceited or you think you’re better than people. And newsflash: negating your self-worth will not make people like you more. The sooner you learn this the better.

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Ode to Cat

My cat turns one year old this month, and I love her more than I ever thought I could love another living creature. I love this cat more than my mother. More than my partner. And though my mother would be a little annoyed, my partner is unfazed. Perhaps because my cat loves him more than she loves me.

Cat comes first. Her delight at dismembering roaches, frogs, lizards takes first place over my delight at having a floor devoid of tiny animal guts. Her disgust with hours old cat chow takes precedence over my sad attempts to ration her (expensive) food. Her desire to be on my lap right at this very moment even though I have to get ready for work supersedes my need to get ready for work.

Cats aren’t usually paraded as the most affectionate of pets but it is a goddamn miracle whenever she chooses to hop into one of our laps at the dinner table. The ensuing nuzzle-and-purr I am convinced are mere tools to ensnare us even further and I wish I would resist (especially when she hops off to bring a cockroach home and it inevitably runs across my bare feet) but she is just so precious dammit.

Of course I get mad at her. She destroys the furniture, bites my ear when I don’t wake up on time to feed her, scratches my feet at play, and have I mentioned bringing creepy crawlies into the house? But even in her craziest, sprint-across-the-house-at-2am-for-no-goddamn-reason moments I still manage to lose myself in her huge – eyes (the crazy eyes) and that faint meow so unique to her.

She widens my heart one feline stretch at a time, indulges my need to cuddle, teaches me about acceptance and patience and selflessness. She’s everything I ever imagined a cat would be (plus some other things I never thought of – roaches, again).

Now excuse me while I put some alcohol on my fresh claw marks.

The Last Sun-Kissed Cloud

Let me be the last sun-kissed cloud
That receives the golden heat of your love
As you are
Pulled away

Let me be the last rain-dewed blade
Of grass
That your essence clings to
Cooling
Til morning breaks
And you are gone
From me

Let me be your last
Unbroken love
Skin branded by the heat of your touch
Heart chilled by the cool of your gaze, let me be
The last fire in your eyes
The last ice in your words

Let me be
Let me be
Let me be

fangirling | old poem: three by Nneka

I think she’s Jamaican, which drove me into fits of happiness. That I could find a Jamaican who writes words that touch my soul so effortlessly. Understand, my soul is not particularly hardened against Jamaicans but my love-words are not the same as everyone else’s here. I have never had someone express my heart this clearly.

Her poem “three” is poignant, poised on the sharp edge of request that will slice you open to rejection. The uncertainty in this poem is sublime.

i want to create a home with these words –
after all, you can’t sneak into somebody’s heart
with spikes and a trumpet,

– three

Read more at her blog Red Lips and City Lights.

fangirling|New Poem by Carla Moore: “Wait for It”

wait for the one who meditates your syllables in silence

Carla M’s new poem moves you. Well, moves you to inaction at any rate (though true love is a thing of action). She preaches patience from the pulpit of hope and reminds us that there are things beyond a pretty smile and charming words. That love is less about I want you and more about how they’ll feel inside.

Wait for it.

Even for those of us who think we might have already found It – the one who will look through the hill and see only your face in the trees – these words are a whisper of gratitude, a reminder of the way the universe had conspired to end our waiting.

Namaste, Carla M, namaste.

Cat lover seeks cat on time-share

I want to start this one by declaring that I am not destined to become a crazy cat lady. The voices in my head would never allow it.

I do love cats, though, in the way you love something you’ve never had but desperately want despite all the conflicting opinions you’ve heard on the subject. Like children. Or a writing gazebo. I’ve never owned a cat, or had to take care of a cat, or spent any meaningful length of time with a cat (but the meaning of ‘meaningful’ is really up to the meaner, isn’t it?). Despite all of this, I remain convinced I want a cat. Perhaps even cats plural.

I have played with only a handful of cats in my lifetime – my first experience being with a litter of playful kittens when I was much younger. I don’t remember particularly wanting cats at the time; we had dogs then. We have always had dogs. This love for cats grew practically out of fancy. I have friends who love cats, who own cats, who own cats on time-share (the cat decides whose turn it is, of course), who have kittens to give me free of charge if my mother would only let one in the house. Which she won’t. Alas, I think cat-hating is another Jamaican tradition I’ve skipped out on.

It’s gotten to the point where I have a built in cat-radar. I will spy feline movement out of the corner of my eye and swivel my head just in time to catch the flash of a tail as it disappears round a corner. It’s how I spotted the orange and white tabby lurking just outside the front office on campus last Friday.

He was this cute, I swear.
But KT probably saw this.

It was so clean that at first I thought it belonged to someone who had just gone into the office. So naturally I called it over and proceeded to stroke its ears. KT was less than pleased. I was surprised when the girls inside told me it was a stray. I’ve seen the stray cats on this campus. They are a bad crowd. This tabby cat was all right, it just needed some food. At least that’s how I interpreted its plaintive mews. (See, I’m a natural at this maternal instinct thing). I stopped apologizing to him for not having any food when K started giving him the stink eye because we had stuff to do. I was so afraid he wouldn’t be there when we came back. But he was!

Mr. Muggles (KT named him, go figure) was hiding under a car, but he came out when I called him and actually ate the leftovers I got! It’s silly to be so excited over such a little thing, especially since the (charmingly) ungrateful cat just strolled right back under the car when he was done without so much as a by-your-leave, but this is the first cat to ever be so nice to me! Usually cats are a bit standoffish when it comes to strangers – except my friend’s grey tabby who kind of gets around – but this one just came right over and introduced himself. He totally made my day.

Pax!


Do you love cats or hate cats? Any cute/horrific cat stories to share?

the Obligatory Valentine’s Post

Exact copy of the card I'll be giving this year.

Ladies and gentlemen, imagine you have just met a stranger. He or she possesses the physical attributes and personality traits that most appeal to you. You enjoy spending time with him or her and find yourself doing so more and more. You realize that you are beginning to like this person quite a bit and you make the decision to enter into a relationship with him or her. The relationship progresses naturally and after some time you find the faintest beginnings of a stronger and deeper feeling; you and your stranger are happy and in love.

Now imagine you are the same sex.

That was written in 2007 for my oral presentation in a communications course (CAPE Communication Studies), and I dusted it off because I think Valentine’s Day should be all about love. Not hate. Let the red mean passion, not bloodshed. Let them wear pink. Let people love each other.

And maybe you’ll let someone love you.

Nickelback’s If Everyone Cared

Happy Valentine’s everyone. <3