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Get your feet wet at Eaton Canyon, a great trek for new hiker.

Get your feet wet at Eaton Canyon, a great trek for new hiker.

A Great Trek for The New Hiker

Hiking is defined as the activity of going for long walks, especially in the country or woods. Oftentimes people equate hiking only with hills and mountains. That can be a deterrent for many who are either afraid of heights or feel like their legs are not strong enough for anything higher than one foot. This is why Eaton Canyon is an amazing hike for the beginner. You get a taste of hiking elevations and you can feel fit and fabulous afterward. Not only will you get the experience of being in nature’s bliss, the trees and the water, but you get to finish the first leg of your hike at a waterfall. Depending on rainfall for the year, that waterfall can appear to be a flirty trickle or a wondrous roar.

Strategically Plan Crossings

Located in the city of Pasadena, Eaton Canyon is about a 1 mile stretch of wide, mostly flat and dirt trail. The elevation change goes up to 375 feet and is very doable. There are just a few spots that would appear challenging if climbing is out of the question for the hike. The stream can keep your company as it leads you to the waterfall. Early 2019 brought so much rain to California that getting to the waterfall without “getting your feet wet” was virtually impossible. The water can get up to thigh high depending on your height. The current can be pretty strong and there are areas where you have to strategically plan out your crossings.

The Trek is Not a Straight Path

My son and I recently visited Eaton Canyon and we challenged ourselves to get to the waterfall without getting wet. We didn’t make it pass the first stream, haha. He stands about 6′ 2″ and there were parts of the water that passed his knees as we crossed. 

What I enjoy most about this hike is having to navigate how to get from one side of the stream to the next. The trek is not a straight path. Doesn’t life feel like that sometimes? It sure does to me. Anything that helps me to shift my focus in a positive direction is such a treasure. Crossing rocks and logs over fairly fast moving water is a sure way to redirect my thoughts.

Like headstands, my entire being goes completely to holding my balance and in this case also finding the best ways to get to my destination. Mind, body and spirit become engulfed in one single moment – navigating. Even if the moment is fleeting as you put one foot in front of the other, at least for that moment, nothing else exists.

Some Info To Consider

Eaton Canyon can be very busy and patience will be needed as you traverse among a myriad of people. Keep in mind that everyone is seeking the same joy you will likely find if you immerse yourself in the moment.

Some helpful info you might to consider is:

If you enter the destination (1750 N Altadena Dr, Pasadena, CA 91107) on Google maps, it usually gives you an idea of what kind of traffic to expect. During daylight saving time (DST), you can get away with arriving at Eaton Canyon by 3pm. It takes about an hour to get to the waterfalls and about the same to get back out. Arriving at 3pm during DST gives you about 4 hours before the sun sets which is usually when the park closes.

The parking lot closes at 5p but I have seen a 7p sign during DST. There’s also parking on the street but always try your luck in the parking area.

If you want to hike without having to feel restricted to time, park on the street. Pay attention to the signs around.

Some Hiking Tips

The initial part of the trek may feel like a bit of a trek as it’s the main part of the elevation. Be prepared for it.

If the sun is hot, take your time… once you get closer to the entrance of the canyon, it’s mostly traversing dirt paths, rocks, logs and a few tiny climbs here and there. There are also more shaded areas to enjoy.

Never assume a log or rock is firmly in place. This is not “Rock Steady” with Bob Marley… give it a feel first if you’re unsure.

If you choose to play music, remember not everyone wants to hear it… take your ear plugs or headphones.

If you can manage, try a hike without any music and just fall in tune with nature.

Have patience, especially on weekends. There are people of all ages seeking a taste of the divine in nature.

Be open to dogs… most of them are actually funny to watch as they play in the water, run for sticks or cause a ruckus amongst everyone.

If all else fails and you get tired of waiting your turn to cross or you feel unsure of the rocks and logs, just get your feet wet at Eaton Canyon. The water is refreshing, unless it’s winter… in which case it’s practically freezing cold 🙂

Scale Through Life

There are also a couple other trails nearby that take you up to much higher elevations. For the beginner though, just stick to the path that leads you to the waterfall. If you’re lucky, you might be there when a professional hikers come scaling down the waterfall on a rope. I’ve seen them on a few occasions and it’s always a thrill to watch how they slide down with almost zero effort. If only I could scale through many things the same way, even a waterfall! 

If you enjoy people watching, this is also a great spot to just sit and enjoy the energies or close your eyes and connect fully to your own energy. Keep an open mind and notice all the trees, the way the light hits the canyon floor and how water flows. It’s a sweet reminder about life – that things are always changing. How boring it would be if it always stayed the same.

God is the Greatest.

Ode to Chantry Flats

Ode to Chantry Flats

Ode to Chantry Flats

You will hear my wondrous roar in the waterfalls and know that it is me

You’ll feel my touch in the cold wind and watch it blow the leaves on every tree.

You will see my creative flow in the many shapes of every rock you touch

You’ll witness the intricacy of me in the flowers and wonder how I do so much

You’ll know I’m hearing you my love when you notice all your tears have ceased

You’ll understand that no matter what, I am always with you and in you I am well pleased.

God is the Greatest.

Nuggets of Fitness Advice from a Veteran Body Builder – Train, but Don’t Strain.

Nuggets of Fitness Advice from a Veteran Body Builder – Train, but Don’t Strain.

Ballet ignited my love for strength, movement and flexibility. Under the tutelage of Mrs Valdez, it became a part of my life when I was 3 years old. I can vividly recall going to her studio on the south side of Belize City and taking the long walk through the alley to get to her house. It was an old colonial style, wooden home with two floors. The dance studio was downstairs. Mrs Valdez always wore full black, kept her hair up in a bun and embraced everyone who became a student of hers.

I did ballet until I was 12 years old. When I started high school, it was time for me to leave the craft behind but the construct of fitness, flexibility and body movement stayed with me. It helped me to be more mindful of how good it feels to be in a body that moves well. My legs received the most benefit from ballet I believe. As an adolescent, I was called thunder thighs but it had a negative connotation for me. Today, I love my “thunder thighs!”

My legs are strong and shapely and I love how they carry me through my life. Throughout high school, I was always in dance groups and active with friends on the weekend. It created a balance for me since I was no longer taking ballet classes. I took up running when I moved to Florida in my late teens. Weight seemed to melt off my body with running. Later, I got into yoga, cycling and eventually nurtured a relationship with weights. If it wasn’t one thing, it was another.

Lighten Up

As social media blossomed, I became and more and more comfortable with sharing my life in bits and pieces. One of my weekly shares became fitness activities, including weight lifting. My cousin started sending me nuggets of advice on some of my routines. Eventually she started to mention that I may be lifting too heavy. What? Nah. “Lighten up for what?”

I was following fit women on Instagram and felt sure of what I was doing. I shared with her what I’d learned from these women who lift heavy and how they shaped their bodies with heavy lifting. She kept insisting it wasn’t healthy for me. My uncle, her dad, has been in fitness for 58 years and she felt confident in what she had learned from him over the years.

I decided to take her advice. There were days it felt like I did lift too heavy and I’d be exhausted after. I started listening to my body more – paying attention to what felt good – what felt like “enough”. Just enough weights and just enough repetitions.

I asked if she could get some basic nuggets of information from him that could prove helpful to women, especially.

His name is Jorge Pelayo, widely known as Mr Pelayo, but I call him Tio. He is a lover of fitness – 58 years in the business and counting.

Tio started body building when he was 18 years old and still does weight lifting at the tender age of 76! In his late teens, he took a liking to football and wanted stronger legs for his role as a left winger. Little did he know that his love for football would lead him into a life long love affair with weight lifting. Bodybuilding gave him a natural high that lifted his spirit, enhanced his self esteem and made him look and feel younger.

Tio firmly believes that doing weights all these years and taking such good care of his body is what helped him to recover so quickly from hip surgery three years ago. He amazed his doctor with his “snap back” game. He was walking on his own within 6 weeks and back in the gym after three months. “Thanks to the Almighty, I am back to normal.” he says.

He attests that his self care rituals all these years aided in his rapid recovery.

Often leaning to ease and flow, I wanted some simple truths about fitness he could offer. Tell me simply Tio… a few nuggets of advice in the world of fitness. 

Oftentimes, we complicate things but most of life is simple. If we pay attention to nature, we’d see the simplicity of so many things. Here’s what he had to say – solid pieces of advice from a fitness guru with almost 60 years experience in body building and fitness.

Nuggets of Advice for Everyone

Eat lots of fruits, veggies and seafood.

Drink lots of water and coconut water.

Cut out sodas, especially coke.

Eat home cooked meals as much as possible.

Get 8 hours of sleep every night and take an hour nap some time during the day.

Nuggets of Advice for Women

Heavy lifting is for women who compete professionally.

3 times a week minimum and 4 times maximum weight lifting for the average woman taking care of her body.

Lighter weights will do wonders. Do 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps.

Training with heavy weights for the non-competitor can damage the joints as you get older.

It can also affect menstruation and make it irregular.

The “No pain. No gain.” movement is a myth to him. It can lead to serious injury.

He believes in “Train but don’t strain” and you’ll be fit for years.

Keep it moving. Even if you don’t get to the gym, do something. Ride, walk, run, dance – just move!

DO NOT DIET. Simply make wise decisions about food. Eat healthy. Diets don’t work and can lead to the “yo-yo syndrome”.

Just find what works for your body and follow it. Make good choices and your body will love you for it.

Adonis Gym

Tio still trains in his gym today helping people achieve their fitness goals and still enjoys everything about fitness. His gym, Adonis Gym is located on the 2nd floor of the ITVet Building on St. Thomas Street in Belize City, BELIZE.

Among his many achievements in his years of bodybuilding and weight training, his most prized moments are those that inspire and help people along their fitness journey. This includes the everyday person who just wants to invest in their wellbeing and the competitor who wants to win!

Inspiring and guiding others to a better and healthier lifestyle turned bodybuilding into a life of service that has been most fulfilling for him.

Among some of the many amazing people he has trained, here are some that have competed and won under his wisdom and knowledge.

Faith Ferguson – Miss Figure Belize
Crystal Mendez – Miss Figure Belize
Josie Pollard – Ms Bikini Belize
Noel Nunez – Mr Belize, Mr Central America in Panama and Costa Rica
Ben McKoy – Mr Belize
Thomas Wright – Mr Belize and Mr Central America in Honduras
Fred Henry – Junior Mr Belize

Three years ago, his true appreciation for investing wisely in his temple to to full fruition. Witnessing how quickly he recovered from surgery was a testament to how vital it is that we take care of our bodies.

Balance

I’ve been so into working out sometimes that I could easily put in 2 hours even on a day when my body is telling me its tired. I’d leave the gym, feeling so tired after, with little energy to focus on other things. I’ve since lowered my weight lifting to pounds that feel better.

The whole conversation just reminded me of what I always find myself drawn to – balance. Just enough of everything, not leaning too much into anything except love. And, as you can see in a pic of him above, he has a beer once in a while.

A couple years ago, I changed my diet (as in what I eat). I suppose I could be considered a pescatarian.

The last time I dropped weight easily, I was working out 3 days a week for 40 mins each day, kept carbs, sugar and processed food to a minimum. It was such a simpler process and I had way more energy. It felt like the weight just melted off my body.

Just Listen to Your Body

Working out has never been an issue for me. If someone would just curb my love of chocolate and carbs, I’d be flaunting leaner curves and a tighter bootie in all my headstands. But NO, someone had to make chocolate. 

Since I lowered the numbers on my weight lifting, I leave the gym less exhausted. As I write this I recall that time weight just melted off my body by just mostly watching what I ate. Exercise always plays a role of course but if you’re putting in long hours in the gym and longer hours in the kitchen then it’s all futile. Just listen to your body. It knows.

Have you ever just looked at food and just know you don’t want it? Your body knows! One of the best gift we can give ourselves is learning how to tune into our inner guidance system. The more in tuned we become with our vessel, the better guidance we will receive. It knows when it needs rest, what foods it wants to eat, how much is too much, what feels good and what doesn’t.

While there are unique situations that may require the guidance of a doctor or nutritionist, it really is a simple concept.

Eat Less. Move More.

I hope this helped you or inspired you to make your fitness journey simpler.

I hope you practice listening to your body. It knows.

Practicing Mindfulness is a Sure Path to Having More Sacred Moments Everyday

Practicing Mindfulness is a Sure Path to Having More Sacred Moments Everyday

Practicing Mindfulness is a Sure Path to Having More Sacred Moments Everyday

Mindfulness. Last year I told one of my friends that I’d found a way to slow down time. I found a way to do things in slow motion that made time last longer. I was stoked. EXCITED!

I couldn’t really explain it – I only saw that I was doing it and I knew that it could be done. It entailed complete focus and awareness. If I were to simplify it, I would say that I was moving with the rhythm of the universe. Have you ever heard the saying, “Grass does not strain to grow.”? If you are feeling rushed, things are falling out of your hands or you keep having to turn back for something you forgot, just stop. These are signs that you are not in alignment and that you should slow down. The energy of rushing and hastiness will not yield better results. They actually tip your vibration in the direction of unwanted and chaotic.

Lately, when this happens, and I catch myself (key words: and I catch myself) I just stop.

I stop and I breathe or I intentionally move slower. Anyone close enough to me knows that I love ease and flow and flow and ease – in every way. I may not always practice it and sure, there are days I’m not in alignment with the things I believe. But, I know what it feels like to be in alignment and when I’m there, it’s pure bliss.

At any rate, I couldn’t make much sense of this new found ability. I only somehow became aware of it, as if I were an avatar redirecting energy.

Oh, but actually I am.

Hello. It's me.

Hello. It’s me.

Eckhart Tolle

After listening to one of Eckhart Tolle’s YouTube videos where he explained what mindfulness is, it occurred to me that “slowing down time” was very similar to what he saying. It was all tied to awareness, being fully present, mindfulness etc. I wanted to make a deliberate attempt to fully immerse myself in a moment. Tolle described what it would be like to put all your focus into any and everything you do – from making tea, to walking, to cleaning etc. These are the tiny moments that we often take for granted – and yet they provide the most magical everyday paths to practice awareness, or mindfulness.

We tend to fixate our attention on the past or the future and we forget “The Now”.

“The Now”, where all the power lies – the only space we really have control. Yesterday is gone, even two minutes ago is gone and tomorrow is often filled with thoughts and worries that may likely never occur. Deep down, I know this.

God Bless the days I practice what I know to be true haha.

Teachings of Lao Tzu

Teachings of Lao Tzu

Slow Motion

Imagine, if you will, the following scenario in slow motion. Take one deep, slow breath and bring all your awareness to the next couple paragraphs. Relive this time and space with me.

Ready?
Breathe… Read….

I reach up and open the dark wooden cupboard door. It makes a slight screeching sound and the movement generates a tiny wind that brushes pass my face and makes a few of my curly locks dance ever so gently. My eyes find my favorite coffee cup on the shelf. It’s white and shaped like a teapot with blue print designs on it. The designs remind me of china my mom used to cherish. I take the cup off the shelf and set it on the cold granite counter top. It makes a tiny clink, like when two wine glasses lightly tap each other to celebrate. There’s a brief moment of hearing “Cheers”. It’s fleeting but I hear it. My hand automatically closes the cupboard door but my eyes are on the prize – coffee.

The house is completely silent. I am fully aware of the sounds around me, where my eyes are, what my focus is and then it all fades to total connection with my breath. It flows in and out of my body – my life force. Without her, I couldn’t be here. She is all I am, the core of me – outside of any labels, possessions, wants, desires, discontent or pleasure.

My breath – in, out. In, out – filling my chest, my lungs and my tummy, expanding my vessel … then releasing. And, repeat.

My only focus in this moment IS this moment.

Cheers

I grab my tablespoon and dip it in the plastic container, scooping a heaping spoonful of instant coffee. The sound of the spoon reaching into the coffee grounds is very audible to me. It goes in and crystal like coffee powder piles up on top of each other and just as the spoon is about to emerge, tiny bits fall back down. I steadily lift the spoon out and the other clink comes when the tablespoon touches the cup and again I hear the sliding of the coffee grounds as they make their way into this tiny empty space.

My awareness shifts to the boiling water. The bubbling sound is letting me know it’s almost ready and the steam is beautifully escaping the electric white kettle, gracefully floating upwards.

I hear the click from the kettle – the water is boiled. 100 degrees celsius. I make a few steps to my left and release the kettle from its base, pouring the boiling water into the cup. Hot water and steam engulf the space and the coffee crystals swirl around like dancers around a bonfire. I pour my creamer into mix and start to stir my morning joe. The spoon edges against the inner parameters of the cup and then at the rim. I lift it out and tap it a couple times on the edge. Clink clink again. Cheers!

Inhale. Exhale. Coffee.

My mind is fully concentrated on just this moment. Again, I become fully aware of my breath… inhale, exhale – coffee.

This is mindfulness. It is complete immersion into any given moment. It’s filled with awareness and silence and it is pure magic.

Mindful Coffee

Mindful Coffee

If I were to hone in on what my first interaction with mindfulness was, it would be almost a decade ago when I was riding my bike as a part of my usual work out routine. I became fully aware of my hair blowing in the wind. Only then, I didn’t know what it was nor did I have a label for it. It was just a moment that I loved and I started to become more and more aware of moments like it. All those moments eventually lead me to believing that I could slow down time but all I was practicing was mindfulness – being fully present.

Silence

Silence has become one of my best friends, especially in recent months. Often times, I find it’s the only way to balance myself when things feel like they are out of control. A couple years ago, I did a weekend job that left me so exhausted that I couldn’t talk for two days. My energy was drawn in ways I never knew was possible. I ended up tuning in to someone else’s life in a way that shook her and the people around me. Even I didn’t understand what was happening.

It was like I went directly into her energy field, picked up pieces of her life and shared them with her verbally. She leaned on me physically and emotionally and when I left that space, I was drained.

Silence came naturally after that weekend and was the only way to recovery. It centered me and allowed me to pull my energies back to my core. Practicing yoga and being drawn to inversions, I learned that headstands were another way for me to stop time.

Headstands and Mindfulness

People have often asked me why I love doing headstands. The main reason I love doing headstands is because in that moment, nothing else matters but! My focus is my body and my balance. My mind is completely engaged in controlling my stance. There is no room for anything else but that moment. It is one of THE BEST ways for me to become fully present and be in The Power of Now.

Stop Multitasking

As I become more aware of my energy, where it goes and when it’s being overstimulated, I find that I can more readily reel it back to myself. Reeling it back almost always begins with mindfulness which always includes silence and awareness. We often pride ourselves on being able to multitask and I suppose in many aspects, it is indeed a gift.

My personal experience though, is that the more you do one thing at a time with full focus on that one thing, the better it will be for you, the action you’re taking and the result it will bring. You will also find yourself feeling better about each thing you are doing. As I was completing this yesterday, I saw this post by Dandapani and had to steal it. One thing at a time. Slowly, and with your full attention equals bliss… resonates with mindfulness, full presence and breath.

Dandapani - Stop Multitasking

Teachings of Dandapani – Stop Multitasking

Meditation teaches focus. Applying focus creates mindfulness. Mindfulness introduces sacredness.

Everything is Relative

For many people, the only way to truly practice sacredness is to include church, prayer or meditation.

But, everything is relative. Attending church may be one way to connect to God but an even more amazing way is to do it when making a cup of coffee. This would mean that the connection to God is being integrated in the simplest to the grandest moments as you live your life. Practicing mindfulness is a sure path to having more sacred moments everyday.

Awareness while making my coffee that morning was not just about slowing down time, it was about being completely immersed in the now, fully aware and connected to my breath. It was the observer inside me – where there is no label, no need, no want – just existence, pure energy.

Any time that I am fully aware of my being, my breath and my actions is a moment I am practicing awareness. In those moments, I am not consumed by my ego, my doings, my worries, my woes – I simply Am.

I Am, two of the most powerful words we could possibly utter and the more that mindfulness is practiced, the more I Am moments there are to be had. Try it… When you find yourself noticing your breath above all else, it will hit you and hopefully you’ll smile and recognize it as mindfulness and these words may make more sense to you.

“I Am that I Am!”

The Letter ‘A’ Makes the Sound ‘Ah’ for Apples – The Learning Curve of My Son, the Lyricist

The Letter ‘A’ Makes the Sound ‘Ah’ for Apples – The Learning Curve of My Son, the Lyricist

The Letter ‘A’ Makes the Sound ‘Ah’ for Apples – The Learning Curve of My Son, the Lyricist

“He’s not learning at the pace I expect him to and I feel it’s best he repeat this year”, said Ms Heusner of Belize Elementary School (BES), Belize City. My heart sank. “What does she know!”, I thought. I was upset. She had to be wrong. My son was 3 years old at the time. How could he possibly need to repeat? It was ABC, for crying out loud. Of course he’ll catch on.

“No, he won’t repeat. Move him forward.” I retorted. I knew that it was an unfair assessment. I had a flashback to a moment I had with him in the kitchen just some weeks before.

Just Another Typical Boy

“Mommy, please send chocolate for teacher tomorrow”, he said to me as he pulsed himself up on the kitchen sink staring up at me with his beautiful dark eyes. “Why do I need to send chocolate Deej?”, I asked. “Because that’s what makes teacher good.” he said confidently. “We don’t give chocolate so people like us babe.” I responded.

“I’m on to you,”, I thought to myself.

Well that was it. That’s what this was about. He wasn’t one of the kids who took gifts for the teacher and now this is the result. She wants him to repeat. She thinks he’s having trouble learning ABCs but look at this insightful and observant 3 year old already assessing that if he takes chocolate for the teacher, things will be a lot smoother for him.

That school year I had to leave the country for a month and took my son with me. I convinced myself that it was the only reason he didn’t catch on to his ABCs. And, she wants him to repeat for that AND because he doesn’t take chocolate! THE NERVE!

DEFENSE!

DEEEFENSE! Stomp Stomp Stomp!
I felt like I was at a local basketball game I used to go years before at the Civic Center in Belize City.

I was in defensive mode and I didn’t want to see or hear Ms Heusner’s insight into my son.

He wasn’t learning ABCs but he drew a beautiful turtle without a picture to reference at only 2 years old and without prompts from anyone to do so. Obviously something was wrong with them. Yes, this was my solid reasoning. I kid you not. Defensive mode is a hell of a thing.

Mr Turtle by DeJean Wright

Ms Heusner had at least, or just under, two decades of teaching under her belt by then but in my dismay, none of that mattered or even occurred to me. I didn’t want to acknowledge it. He went on to Kindergarten with Ms Burns and the struggle continued. She tried to help him using the sand outside so he could draw letters in the sand and associate it with sound. I bought ABCs in the forms of tangible letters that we could use to play and do fights with so he could remember the sound that went with each one.

Hardly anything stuck.

He now says he lost his drawing skills. As if…

The Letter ‘A’ Makes the Sound “ah” for Apple!

Not for my son. ‘A’ made the sound ay like hay, say and day.

E made the sound e like eel, easy and erode but not eh like elephant.

He was extremely phonetic and I had to find my way with how he learned and how he saw the world. It was just exactly as he heard it.

When there were parades at school and he had to wear a hat, he threw a fit. Just about every other child was happy and content and my son cried through the entire process. He didn’t like conforming to the norm and hated wearing the hat they put on him. DeJean never reported back what happened in school other than remembering that the teacher is pleased if you take her chocolates. Days of the week were only important if it involved a holiday and still asks me what day of the week it is from time to time.

I searched for years to find a way to teach him the alphabet and the varying sounds.

It felt like like I’d been around the world and back searching for a way that made sense to him. Finally, I found a system out of the UK – well, it was on a UK site. Each sound accompanied an action. So A makes the sound ah like ants and with that word there was an action of ants running up his hands and so on. Tying an action to the letter and the sound finally resonated with him and a very slight introduction to reading was made. He was around 6 years old.

No Tooth Sugar, a Belizean saying.

Maybe He Needs a Filter (Not SnapChat Type)

My aunt told me about one of my cousins who took some tests and learned that some people can read better when there’s a color filter over the words. Maybe it would work for DeJean but he would need tests. No problem. I’d try just about anything to get the help he needed.

We made our appointment at the Irlen Institute in California on July 30th 2008. We wanted to see if maybe using a color shield over the text he was seeing would be the solution for him. It worked for my cousin. Maybe it was an easy solution to his reading hurdles.

The details are blurry to me now. All I remember is a dark room and a big desk and words that had little meaning to me. These tests were more ideal for 7 year olds. DeJean had just turned 6 but I was desperate for solutions and insisted that they see him. They complied.

Problem was, it would have been better to wait til he was 7. I wanted a diagnosis. Typical human behavior I guess.

I was expecting to be something like this. “He has dyslexia. Use this filter and all the words will appear correctly.” YES! Problem solved. NO.

A Myriad of Profiles

“Your son fits a myriad of profiles Ms Shaw”, Shirley said to me. Again, my heart sank. What do these people know anyway? Maybe they don’t even know what they are doing. “He’s a little bit of a lot of things. We see dyslexia, a little ADD…” she went on. “So you can’t just tell me one thing he fits that we could just work on?,” I interrupted. We made a long trip to see her and all she could say was that he fit many profiles and they couldn’t truly diagnose him til he was 7.

“Well, then why did you agree to see us,” I was rolling my eyes back and forth from her office to Timboktu. I forgot that I was the one who insisted.

We left with a report that made some suggestions for his current school at the time. The ones that struck out mostly were the following:

  • Don’t mark his work with lots of red ink everywhere. It sends a terrible message to a child like him.
  • If there are errands to be run, choose a kid like DeJean. The tiny distractions will help him tremendously.
  • Lessen the amount of work he gets and make it simpler.

I met with his principal, Mrs Nisbet, and shared all the notes. The teachers tried to adhere but with at least 25 to 30 other kids in their classes, it was hard to keep track of what suits each child.

Dancing Michael Jackson

After School Sessions

Each new school year brought new challenges for my boy and consequently me.

Besides what I tried on my own, he had countless teachers who wanted so much to help him. They all tried wholeheartedly. After school sessions with Ms Revers and Ms Padilla were helping but only a nudge in the direction we all hoped for. They were tending to other kids at the same time and trying to reach each one with the same effort. Ms Karima, yet another teacher, used to come to our home a couple times a week. It helped him edge along only a little bit. Evening classes with Ms Viola and Ms Lara were yet another attempt at getting him to up to par with his peers. Each little accomplishment meant so much to each teacher.

Having a child like me has shown me what a gift it is to teach. I can tell you that I don’t have it, unless you want to learn about the The Secret. He’s helped me to see the best and worst of myself in trying to teach him.

TEACHING IS A GIFT!

New School. New Chance. Not Quite.

Once he finished his Infant 2 year, BES decided he would need to repeat. It wasn’t up to me this time. A decision was made by the administration and it was out of my control.

So, I moved him. A new school was forming and I was full of hope. He would repeat but he wouldn’t notice because it was a new school with new kids. All was well in my world. New school. New Chance. Not Quite.

He made quite a bit of progress but not enough and I decided to switch him back to where he first started. He was given the chance to be in Standard 1, trusting that since he actually did repeat Infant 2 at a different school, he was caught up.

June 2012. I was right back where I started.

Old School. Second Chance. Same Problem.

“Jeannie, we’ll have to repeat DeJean. He’s just not learning the way we need him to.” Mrs Nisbet said to me. Old school. Second chance. Same problem.

There I was, back where I started. Her neatly organized office and desk and my scattered brains.

“It’s as if there’s like a little man in his body who receives and delivers information. But when he goes in to get the files as needed, he becomes confused and either can’t find them or can’t bring them to the surface,” said Majiba, the vice principal at the time. “He needs help we don’t feel we can give him. We are willing to try but he has to repeat.” Mrs Nisbet added.

How many times can your heart sink on one recurring matter? A million times, to date lol.

I hardly held it together enough to make it to my car outside. Once I got inside, the sobbing began. Where had I gone wrong? If only I didn’t take that month off. I didn’t do enough with him at home with his ABCs. No one told me how to do this. We should have spent hours working everyday.

My self blame was as rampant as the traffic around me. I could hardly breathe. What else could I do?

Today, I still ask myself that same question. What else could I do?

My son, DeJean Elizon Wright, still learns differently and the words I hear still hear now from teachers sound terribly familiar. He did go on to find more advanced solutions. However, either years of red marks all over his papers have affected his whole perspective on traditional education OR it’s just not for him.

My Greatness Staring at God’s Greatness

Sorry To Bother You

Conversations with him will mislead you into thinking he’s just the average teenager as far as education is concerned. His wit and humor will make you wonder if I’m telling stories about how he learns differently. His comebacks to me on a daily basis often send me into spirals of laughter, like last week when I wanted him to go see a movie.

“Deej, do you want to go see a movie?” I asked. “What’s the name of the movie”, he replied. “Sorry to bother you.” I responded. “Um no, but that should have been your first words to me when you opened my door!” he spat back at me in jest. “Hahaha” I couldn’t help myself. Maybe it’s our dry humor from my dad. Someone else might see it as rude but for us it’s humor and it often grabs me in giggles.

I’d guess this is where his writing comes from. Like his mom, he has a way with words. He may not spell them correctly although he’s gotten a lot better but he will spit them out mostly with ease and most especially when he’s writing.

Beats on YouTube

A few years ago he decided he wanted to try writing to beats he found on YouTube. The kid that took 3 extra years to understand that a makes the sound ah like apple learned how to find beats, write lyrics to it, create videos and upload them with ease. Absolutely no help from me. It was something he loved to do. It served his spirit and gave him a sense of purpose. No one was monitoring his spelling or expecting him to learn at their pace.

There are so many ways I can relate to my son. School was something I worked hard at. Science and Math still hardly make sense to me and I still don’t see the point of chemistry, for example, in education unless they are tied to a child’s dreams and goals. I couldn’t possibly tell my son all the ways in which I agree with him.

A Gentle Giant of a Kid

He has bigger dreams at 16 years old than I have in my 20s right now. Yes, my 20s. Young chick here. This year he didn’t want to celebrate his birthday because he didn’t achieve some goals he set for himself. Not a single one of them had to with school, as you may have guessed by now. BUT the vision he has for himself, I have yet to formulate for myself.

I’ve gently dosed him with the concept of The Secret, affirmations and visualizations and maybe he uses them without realizing because some how he brought at least one thing to himself at 16 years old – a song.

Dreemwurl Entertainment

Fast forward to recent months when an old friend and I rekindled our communication from 20+ years ago. His artist name is Geronimo Wild Apache, born Adrian Sanker from Corozal, Belize. He is the owner of Dreemwurl Entertainment and saw a chance to, at the very least, inspire a young man to continue with his love of music. “Bring him by the studio and let him record with me”, he said.

I agreed. The sound and clarity would be better than what DeJean set up in his room. It would open DeJean up a little more since his teenage years took him to more quiet place overall.

Before long, he was writing to more and more songs and learning to record and edit himself in the studio. Geronimo’s connections lead DeJean to meeting artist Dignitary Stylish, born Horace Samuels from Portmore, Jamaica.

“Mi have a song mi want him sing pahn” Dignitary said to me on one of my many pick ups from Geronimo’s home studio. “He is a talented youth, enuh. He can goh far.” he added.

I felt proud. I’d heard Dignitary’s vocal and writing skills and felt good that he saw the talent in my son.

So, there he was. 16 years old and spending hours upon hours in studio with men double and triple his age and fitting right in. Not the typical 16 year old at all.

DeJean in Dreemwurl Entertainment Home Studio

Money Maker by Dignitary Stylish

Little did I know how serious Dignitary was.

DeJean was given the opportunity to write the lyrics for the first portion of Dignitary’s latest release.

“I just gave him lickle guidance and him bring it.” Dignitary said.

The kid who couldn’t understand that the letter a makes the sound ah was spitting lyrics like “my neck froze, I ain’t worried ’bout a drought” and “yea I’m really fired up, burnt darth vader.” He doesn’t know what a metaphor is but uses them naturally in all his writing.

The song is “Money Maker” and was officially released this week on all major music distribution platforms. 99c for each download. YES, I’m encouraging you to buy.

My son, the lyricist, was featured on a song!

Awaiting his first radio interview at KXLU Los Angeles with Junior Francis

Ms Heusner was Right

Turns out Ms Heusner was right about my son’s learning hurdles. She saw them within months of teaching him. I was just being a defensive mom who wanted to believe that every adventure with my son would be easy. It’s not. It still isn’t.

Every teacher has contributed so much to his life and learning even if he doesn’t realize it. Some teachers more than others, like Ms Moore who is the only teacher who got my son to do long division on his own. He was somehow also drawn to his Science teacher Mr Garcia and his English teacher Mrs Portillo from middle school. Some teachers touched him more than others and every name I’ve mentioned here is one of those teachers for him.

The Strong Silent Type

DeJean is the strong silent type. Like his mom. He looks easy going – his quiet ways will easily mislead you. DeJean doesn’t like to conform to the norm and fights it in the smallest and biggest ways. School is still his least favorite place in all the world. I’m still hearing the same concerns from all his teachers many years later. I likely won’t be the mom who gets to take pics of him at prom. He doesn’t see the point of prom and finds it all ridiculous – FOR HIM. He’ll smile and sweetly comment to me on his friends’ pics and accomplishments.

Some weeks ago, I proudly declared to him that Jayda (whose mom is like a sister to me) ranked 2nd place for the Belize District Spelling Bee. “Jayda came in 2nd for spelling in Belize Deej!” I excitedly told him that evening. “It’s JAYDA mom! Why would you even be surprised? Tell her congrats.” he said. He loves it and admires it but acknowledges that it won’t be him.

I’m slowly coming to terms with that although I should know by now. No Spelling Bee wins and no proms.

But a few amazing model pics might give me some other stuff to brag about like this pic of him in Santa Monica, California.

DeJean Wright, modeling for promo pics.

My Son is a Lyricist

And today I get to tell you that my son is a lyricist and he was featured on a song that’s now available for download at only 99c. Yes, another attempt to get you to buy. If you’ve read this far, don’t you think you should just give in?

I get to tell you that he’s funny, sweet, laid back and can read my energy from miles away. He has a way with animals and grew to be 6′ 2″ so far. Now I’m the one staring up at him with my beautiful dark eyes full of love for all that he is.

I don’t know what his future holds for him in terms of education but I’m thankful that two grown men, a Belizean and a Jamaican, saw a young man with writing and rapping skills and decided to give him the opportunity to record and later actually on an officially released dancehall tune with one of Jamaica’s veterans.

Who knew that a friendship from 20+ years ago would lead to that same person being so welcoming, hospitable and kind to my giant of a son. You just never know how life will unfold.

BZE Kings by DeJean Wright

Whatever learning style your child has, there may something else there waiting to be explored. If your child isn’t learning like the other kids or at the pace they are learning, there may be something else there yet to unfold.

While many days have been hard getting DeJean to focus, some how guidance finds him through people who are maybe strategically placed in our lives and us in theirs. He was encouraged to find a way to make money which lead him to coming up with a design for merchandise.

So, I get to tell you also that he came up with a design to promote young men in Belize to see themselves as Kings. I helped him to open an online shop to sell his merch. When he gave me his first draft for the BZEKings idea, I didn’t agree and went another way with it.

DeJean insisted that he wanted the Belize flag on it and whatever other elements he included in his drawing. Turns out, he was right. No one liked my version. Just his. He’s also received interest in having BZEQueens available which has been added to his product list.

His online store is www.society6.com/bzekings

BZEQueen

 

Ms Heusner was right about his learning styles and needs. And he was right about using the design with the flag. I wasn’t right about much but I’m still here trying 🙂

Cheers to the ones who live outside the box.

If you’re on Instagram, follow DeJean at @BZEKings and remember to check out Money Maker!

Final attempt to get you to buy a download for only 99c. 🙂 Say yes!

Money Maker
© Copyright – Nathan Kipp / Black Oak Studios (192914638964)
A new dancehall single featuring Dignitary Stylish, Geronimo Wild Apache & DJ Elzwright.
Instagram Profiles: @dignitarystylish, @geronimo_7 and @bzekings
Also, check out Dignitary and Geronimo’s other release “In Da Party” also featuring songstress @_Sabriety on Instagram.
I hope to be telling you more about her in the coming months!
5 Simple Steps on How To Meditate & Why You Should Do It At Least Once a Day

5 Simple Steps on How To Meditate & Why You Should Do It At Least Once a Day

5 Simple Steps on How To Meditate & Why You Should Do It At Least Once a Day

Meditation found me years ago but at the time I didn’t understand what it was or that it even existed.

My mom believed in prayers and shared some of her rituals with me, some of which I still practice to this day. My dad was an atheist but there were a few times he admitted to believing in a higher power or source. That was as far as he’d go with it. Otherwise, he’d just joke about St Peter not allowing him into the pearly gates of heaven. He believed that people took the Bible too literally and much of its true meaning was often lost in interpretation. Prayer was certainly not a part of his daily life but maybe meditation was at times.

I wonder now if he realized that as he canoed down the Sibun River, Belize, it’s very likely that he was meditating. I am guessing that his focus was often directed to the sound of the river, the falling of leaves into the water and the sunlight glistening on the tiny waves around him. He was likely in tuned with the movement of his body as he switched his paddle from side to side, going downstream in the middle of rich forestry in his favorite country in all the world.

He probably reached constant states of elevation by allowing “absence of thought” to find him. Even he, the non believer, the smoking meditator (haha) surely found solace in those moments where thoughts escaped him and his only focus was to simply be alive. He was, in essence… meditating.

My dad canoeing down Sibun River, Belize

What is Meditation?

Often times, people think meditation is about controlling thoughts but it’s not. It is defined as a mental exercise (such as concentration on one’s breathing or repetition of a mantra) for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness. The basis of meditation, or what you’re trying to accomplish is to be in a place where there is “absence of thought”.

It has zero to do with controlling your thoughts. Trying to control your thoughts can make meditation frustrating. My friend Florence often soothed me with her assurance that the thoughts will come and they will go… let them rise and let them fall.

Thoughts will always come forth whether you’re meditating or not. That’s the gift of the mind – a tool for us to use to think when needed, except for Math. Don’t waste your mind on Math. There are no answers. Trust me, I’ve tried.

What’s True For You?

Besides that general misconception about meditation, many people also imagine that it requires sitting in lotus position while making the OM sound for hours on end. Like most things, meditation is about what’s true for you, including how you position your body, what you focus on, how long you do it, what sound you make etc. Most of life almost always comes down to what is true for you.

The basis of it all is simply to reach a place where there is absence of thought. This place or moment is often brief. The timespan and feeling may be different for everyone. For me, it’s like an escape that leads to a connection to something far more powerful than I. Imagine this place like the gateway to your connection with God or Source or Spirit, whatever name rings true for you.

Visualize, if you will, walking down a path and easing into light, clarity and peace – that’s kind of what it feels like for me. More often than not, I don’t even realize I’m there til it passes and I take another breath hoping to find it again.

Noticing moments like these are the tiny glimpses into what it feels like to be connected to Source.

How Long Should You Meditate?

15 to 20 minutes is a good time slot for meditation, generally. While you’re meditating, you may find that this “place” (absence of thought) lasts for 3 minutes or less. Even if it’s only that, it will have served you well. It is like opening your bandwidth to receive. Once you experience this, it’s very likely you’ll want to experience it again and again.

Meditating for 15 minutes everyday will make way for more ease and flow in your daily life. As you continue on your journey, you’ll find that you receive guidance more readily on small and big things. In the days, weeks and months that follow, things become increasingly clearer to you. This even includes things like what to cook, which way to turn, who to call, when to stay home etc.

Unshaken and Unmoved

Every time I am out of sync with my meditation practice, quiet and down time, things feel disruptive. My mind gets foggy and I’m more easily overwhelmed, like yesterday when I found myself feeling lost. I know a lot of these feelings of disconnect are tied to a lack of meditation.

I can remember times being so in tuned with my connection to God that I felt I could walk blindfolded. Can you imagine what that kind of guidance feels like?

There is a feeling of being grounded that comes when we keep our connection to Source alive. It’s as if you’re a giant tree – your exterior may sway and dance in the wind or the what is reality but, the core of you is unshaken and unmoved.

There were times meditation meant doing yoga, heading out on a hike or just being generally quiet. Whatever ways I found, they were like a lifeline to a place of calm and knowing.

Meditation aligns you with feeling more grounded.

Inspired Action vs Motivated Action

Answers come and you are lead more by inspired action instead of motivated action.

Motivated action can be narrowed down to the things you “must do” for a specific outcome. Inspired action can be narrowed down to things you are lead to do by your intuition. The outcome is almost irrelevant. You just know what to do, when to do it, how to do it and it just flows. Period.

Life is so much easier when we allow our higher self to guide us. That guidance comes from a place of clarity, ease and flow and that space is created when we meditate.

Outside of doing Yoga, taking a hike or just finding quiet time alone, you may be considering the conventional concept of meditation. Minus the lotus position and making the OM sound for hours on end, here’s my simple take on how to include “conventional meditation” as a part of your daily life.

Focus on Your Breath or the Air-Conditioning

One of things to keep in mind when meditating is that you’re trying to find something to focus on that has no meaning to you. This could be the flickering of a flame, your breath as it goes in and out of your tummy or even the air-conditioning. I learned about listening to the air-conditioning from Esther Hicks. It really is a splendid idea.

Basically, you want to connect to an action (breath) or object (flame) that doesn’t evoke thought.

Today is 100 degrees outside. Focusing on the air-conditioning won’t work because all I’ll be thinking is that it needs more freon. It is super duper hot in here today!

If you choose to focus on your breath, use your visualization to follow it. As you breathe in, connect to it. You’ll become distinctly aware of its magnificence.

As it enters, follow it and let it go all the way down to your tummy. Most people tend to breathe in and they think it stops at their chest.

The action of inhaling basically fills your body with oxygen – first to your lungs then to your heart and onward to the rest of your body. As your chest and tummy feel filled with air, slowly release that breath and start it all over again.

5 Simple Steps Before You Inhale, Exhale… Namaste

1. Find a quiet and spacious spot in your home that’s easy to access at all times.

Is it possible to put something in that space that is a reminder of meditation, quiet or silence? It will help to create a visual/internal understanding that this is your place of meditation. Some people use an altar but you might use a simple photo or element that tells you “This is the spot where I connect to my higher self”.

2. Choose a time of day that works with the daily operations of your home.

If you have a big family or other people to consider then this time would be either when they are out of the house, all quiet or asleep. This time could be morning, midday or night – it all depends on what works best for your lifestyle. All you’re trying to do is establish is finding a time that works best.

3. Think of a position for your body that is comfortable.

Are you able to sit cross legged? Do you need back support? Are you better off laying on the floor? Will you likely need a chair? Consider what’s the best possible way for you to be in a still position for at least 15 minutes at a time in a way that your body will comfortable doing so. This allows you to put your attention only on your choice of focus (breath, mantra, flame, air-conditioning)

4. Set a Timer

You can set a timer for 15 minutes on your phone. I usually set mine for 18 minutes and I use the 3 minutes to light my candles or sage and get comfy.

5. Close Your Eyes 

Just close your eyes and start to focus on your object of attention – breath, air-conditioning, flickering flame or whatever serves you best. As thoughts come, and they will, let them rise and let them fall. Let them come and let them go. As you become more and more aware of your ability to be connected to Source, you’ll naturally draw your focus back to your object of attention.

One Meditation A Day Helps the Clarity Stay

Before you know it, 15 minutes will have passed and you’ll carry on and get back to daily living.

Just remember, as the days, weeks and months pass you by, you’ll understand how important it is to find your way to Source at least once a day whether it be through conventional meditation, being in complete awe of a rose, falling instantly in love with a puppy or taking quiet alone times for yourself.

As with all things, there’s always more to learn. Studying the teachings of Abraham Hicks has given me a much better understanding all the ways in which we connect to our higher selves. His simplification of mediation has helped me to fully understand the purpose of it.

Some days, it’s a hummingbird outside but if I can fit in conventional meditation at least once a day, I will get back to feeling completely guided. One meditation a day helps the clarity stay.

Outside of these pointers, you can always look up meditation videos on YouTube. They are often specific to your desires. For example, if you are trying to quell anxiety or stress, just search for a meditation that helps alleviate those or any other nagging human emotions that are wreaking havoc on your feeling centered and grounded.

I’d love to know how it goes and if this post made meditation more clear to you.

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