Today’s affirmation:

Today I give from the heart.

It’s been an emotional few days. Not only are my hormones out of whack naturally, but there have been some upheavals at the office as well. I can’t seem to focus on what’s going on and I keep getting up late for work. I’m really beginning to feel run down. There is a part of me that even doubts this 29-gift journey will make a difference. Seven days in and the fact that I’m still turning my eyes outward is frustrating me.

I know that the exhaustion I feel is more than physical. It’s emotional. It’s mental too because my brain has been going 5 miles a minute. In my heart of hearts, I know I’d much rather be doing something else and that thought drags me down so much. What’s the point if we’re simply getting by and not living the life of our heart right? Yes, I have a plan and I’m working that plan, but this “in-between” time can be draining.

I’ve been faithful to gym, eating better and drinking more water. I’ve stuck to the goals I set for myself daily. But I’ve fallen short on my commitment to get more sleep. I’ve always had trouble sleeping and I try to get at least 5 hrs a night. But lately I need more that.

So today’s gift, is some much needed Vernette time. I need to give some “luv-ups” to myself. I skipped the gym, got home early for once, lit some candles and had a nice warm bath. I didn’t turn on the TV and quickly posted the last two “Days”. I made sure to turn the laptop off immediately. Then I made a nice, big, mug of hot chocolate and went to bed.

I’m gonna read Tying Rocks to Clouds by William Elliot until I fall asleep.

How do you spend your “me time”?

Illustration: Jennifer Troyer,

Today’s affirmation

Today I simply give.

Today we said goodbye to the leader of our organization. He has been here for the last 10 years and he is the only leader I’ve had the privilege to know (they change every 5 years or so, unless they are given a second appointment). I consider myself blessed. I was unprepared for the emotion I felt at the farewell function organized for him. His remarks to close the program took me back to when I first joined the organization.

Here is a man who was truly passionate about what he did. He has always described our organization in superlative terms. He would boast that he had the privilege to have had three terms of office over the course of forty-two years. He would say, he kept coming back because it was a noble institution. It was through his stewardship, the credibility of our organization was restored. He was also pro-family, insisting that we operate not as co-workers, but as a family. He believed in passion. Passion for excellence at work and passion for life. It was his passion for our organization, that sparked hope in many of my colleagues, certainly for me. He saw something great in us as a whole and so I could see something great in me as well.

This is a time of great uncertainty, there will be a lot of changes with the new appointment. We are going to have to let go of what was, to move forward with the new. It is a bit exhilarating and unnerving too but necessary for growth.

This is true for everything in this life. Every day we are alive is an exercise in letting go. When we open our eyes, we let go of sleep and the dream world. We welcome the day. We leave our homes for our day-to-day lives. We eventually leave it all behind at the end of the day and return to our homes. When we lay down to sleep, we let go of the day, with the hope of a new one to come. Always an ebb and flow. A give and take. We may try to hold on to a moment, make it last for as long as it can…but eventually we have to let go of time, in order to live. We have to let go, to grow.

Today I let go of what was, with hope for what is yet to come.

This was taken on my much anticipated trip to Bequia last year. Here, I’m having a mango in the market. The guy behind, is a Trinidadian, living and selling his produce there.

Today’s affirmation:

Today I give with love.

Yesterday, I got 3 Julie mangoes from my friend Lucy. After coconuts, it doesn’t get more Caribbean than mangoes and I just love ‘em.

When we were kids, my brother, sister and I would sit with a bucket full and eat to our heart’s content. In Trinidad we have quite a variety but my absolute favourites are Julie, Doudouce, Starch and Long Mango. And for each one I have a favourite way of eating it.

To eat a Julie Mango requires some preparation. I like it ripe but not over ripe, it must be firm to the touch and from the smell of the skin alone, you know it’s gonna be that custardy-mango-y goodness. Then, I slice both faces off and place on a plate with a spoon. For the seed, I peel the skin around it and that joins the others on the plate. Then I find a nice comfy chair, sit and savour each spoonful of mango. The seed I devour and sometimes suck until you can no longer tell if it was ever yellow.

Doudouce, is a small, sweet mango; so small, the entire fruit can fit in your mouth. The skin on a doudouce could range from a dusky rose, to a reddish orange to a bright yellow. All of them, small and sweet, this is one good thing that comes in a small package. For a doudouce, I employ the squeeze and suck method. You gently squeeze the skin of the mango, until the pulp is soft to the touch. Then you bite a small hole in the skin, and suck out all the sweetness. Ambrosia of the fruit world, I tell you.

Starch mango was my mother’s favourite. She would choose the most unblemished ones, peel and savour. Me, I prefer to bite the skin off, suck off all the pulp on the skin and then devour the rest of the mango. Starch mango is a really sweet treat.

Long mango, unfortunately is like the mongrel of the mango world. But it is abundant and sweet. As children, we would raid my aunt’s tree and spend most of day eating our loot, mango juice running down our arms and covering our faces. Oh the glory days of youth.

I decided yesterday, that today’s gift was going to be one of the Julie mangoes. I just had to find the person to give it to. Even, though I grew up with mangoes as a part of my life, everyone I knew had a mango tree in their backyard, in my research I learnt that mangoes were first grown in India over 5000 years ago. And that it is also considered a symbol of Love there. A basket of mangoes is considered a gesture of friendship in India.

It is so poignant to me that I chose ‘giving with love’ as today’s affirmation. I gave my gift of love and friendship, a mango, to my friend Lena. She has been such a pillar of strength for me at times in my life when I really needed her. Though small, it was given with big intentions and blessings.

Today’s affirmation:

Today I give with peace and abundance.

I woke up properly sunburnt, still a little punchy from all the sun and sea yesterday and very dehydrated. The skin on my nose is taut and I’m not looking forward to when it starts to strip. I spent most of my morning, thinking about the day’s events, writing about it…tearing up a bit about it too. Yes I’m a punk. I did however, remember to make my affirmation right after my morning prayers.

My morning spent writing and thinking was pretty fruitful despite forgetting to eat. By the time lunchtime rolled around my tummy was protesting something fierce. My sister invited Lucy and I to lunch today…so I was gonna get another curry fix for the weekend. Yes, I’ve already prepared my mind to work extra hard in the gym this week.

Trudy came to get me after 12, we had to drop off the pots from yesterday, go to the Salvation Army and drop off some clothes and shoes, then go pick up Lucy. I could tell she wasnt feeling well, the moment I sat in the car. I thought to myself, what’s the gift here? Offer to drive? No. Then what?

As we were passing a grocery for our first errand, I thought…hmmm it’s hot out, we are both dehydrated…why not get some coconut water? Now, I don’t have money to spend on coconut water, which is very expensive for an island with miles and miles of coconut trees growing freely. But I blessed the money I was about to spend and got two bottles.

Our Salvation Army errand was interesting as well. It was the last day and farewell for this Jamaican guy who is moving on to St Kitts tomorrow to go to the Salvation Army there to continue his work. He stopped his preparations to accommodate Trudy and I. He was such a warm guy.

When we picked up Lucy, she had 3 lovely Julie Mangoes each for Trudy and I.

I already know what tomorrow’s gift will be.

As the sun set on our a lovely day, this person stood on the beach and looked as if he was standing on the edge of a pathway…we are all on a journey and people may come and join us for parts of it, maybe change our course a bit, but at the end of the day, we are on our own.

Today’s affirmation:

Today I give with love.

Today is my brother-in-law’s birthday and my sister organized a surprise beach celebration. I LOVE birthdays and I LOVE surprise birthday celebrations. Which means I hate it when people spoil a surprise. I almost ruined everything on Thursday night, forgetting he was in the car and talking about having to walk with sunblock to the beach. Anyways, my sister passed it off as something else and we were able to successfully surprise him.

I chose today’s affirmation because I knew I would be around my family and some of my closest friends and I really wanted to be present in the moment. I wanted to tap into the love I knew would be all around me today and let it flow though me. We were also celebrating my little cousin’s success at the SEA he got his first choice school: Hillview College. So very proud of him.

There were many special moments during the course of the day that were treasures and I was being mindful of giving time and attention, which for me means love. I could count the time I spent with one of my friend’s son who is under-5 and wanted to play in the water while his Dad was playing football on the beach. We spent an hour playing in the shallow and I think I was more excited seeing him experience such a simple probably overlooked pleasure, than he was. His exclamation, “Ugh, SALTY!” when some water got into his mouth and his expression were priceless.

I could count the time and effort spent organising the day itself. I could count the whole day as a gift to myself, it was such lovely day in the sun. While all those moments or gifts are special, it was during a conversation I had with my friend Lucy, punch-drunk from the sun and sea that I realised what the day’s true gift was.

I met Lucy through a friend of a friend, who I saw in person only twice. It was such an accidental meeting but it stood out because he and I had different variations of the same name and his sister and I had the same name. Vernette is a pretty unusual name in Trinidad and I like to think the world over, so when I heard there was another Vernette in Trini as well, this was obviously a meant-to-be friendship.

He told me about 3 months ago that a friend of his was coming to Trinidad for a couple of months and he wanted me to meet her and spend some time with her while she was here. A Facebook friend request, BBM pin exchange and a couple of Skype calls later, Lucy and I were hitting it off. Excitement was brewing on both sides of the world as she prepared to leave London for the Caribbean. When she arrived and we met in person…we were already friends.

Lucy and I being friends, is from a series of events that had any one thing been different it could just as easily not have happened. Our journeys on this earth are really the result of the choices we make. The choices we been making our whole lives, led us to the moment on a beach in Trinidad, brown from the sun, mellow from beer and a good curry (my Aunty really put her foot in that pot, I’m still licking my fingers) sharing about an experience we were going through unbeknown to the other.

And that was it. That was my gift. That honest, open sharing about that experience was my gift. You know that saying, “people come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime” I always think it sounds cliché but it’s true. Our paths touched at a time when we both needed to hear about each other’s story. It’s hard sometimes to just be in the moment and trust that you are right where you are supposed to be, that everything is happening just as it is supposed to and that you will be ok. But, that is exactly what it is about. Timing is everything.

    Bad things, good things, sad things, great things: Stop. Breathe. Breathe again. Bless it. Learn from it. Start again.