2021 One Little Word: Fearless

Now I’m not much of a New Year’s resolution kind of person, but I have in the past chosen a theme or one little word which serves as my guiding principle for the year. I don’t actually remember if I chose a word for last year, but you can check out my 2018 and 2019 posts on this.

Generally speaking, I think I’m pretty good at getting things done and maintaining a routine that works for me, so because of that instead of coming up with a specific resolution or goal, I think about where I am now and where I want to be and how I can get there in a way that works for me. And because my method is so non-specific, I think this is why the one little word thing works for me.

Don’t it twisted and mistake this for complacency…I achieve results, get things done and am pretty happy with where I am and what I’ve managed to accomplish in my life so far, but at the same time I do believe in continual improvement. So each year I think about what I want to get done, or how I can become a bit of a better person than I was the year before and that helps to guide my word for the year.

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The Year of No Fear

At some point last year, without really thinking about it, I kind of decided that 2021 would be the year of no fear. I’m pretty much a total scaredy-cat, and over some of the dumbest things too. Croaking lizards would probably be number one on the list, but also people generally terrify me and I take stranger danger to a whole other level. Travel also scares me because I love routine and predictability, and travel, locally or internationally, takes me away from that. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s all I’m willing to share in the here and now.

So, with this train of thought, I landed on FEARLESS as my word for 2021. Here’s to taking the plunge!

How to read *better* in 2021

Hi everyone, and Happy (not so) New Year! I hope you had a restful and enjoyable holiday and that 2021 is looking at least a little more hopeful. This year, I plan to spend more time doing the things I love, which means more reading, more crafting and as much dancing as I can (given the circumstances).

Okay, so pretty much everyone knows I’m a planner fanatic (Happy Planners and Passion Planners are my poison of choice) and I’ve more or less always been this way. I grew up with both my parents using daily planners and I just kind of fell in line. 

So when Rebel Women Lit sent each of us book clubbers a Reading Journal digital download as a thank you gift for being an amazing book clubber (their words, not mine) I was super excited to put it all together and give it a try.

To be honest, I’ve not had a great history with reading journals. In theory, I love them (currently own three others), in reality, I go through phases where I use them obsessively and then I don’t use them at all. But since this one was a digital download I figured I could frankenplan it into being something that worked for me.

With the digital download, I could pick what I wanted from it, and leave out the rest, so the pages I knew I’d never use, I just didn’t include in my print, and for the pages I was sure I’d end up using, I printed extra copies. Using a set of old Happy Planner covers (I think it was my 2020 planner) and lilac mini rings, I printed and then cut the pages down to size, punched them and put it all together, with some additional Happy Planner note paper at the back, just in case I have too much to say.

I love how it turned out, and it might be the thing that gets me tracking my reading religiously this year…who knows?

So how is it going to help me read better in 2021? Well, it has two reading challenges, one to help you (aka me) read more widely, and the other to help you (ie me, again) read more deliberately. There’s also a reading tracker page, which I’m not 100% sure I’m going to use yet, but if used correctly/consistently, will give you a nice graphical representation of your reading habits by the end of the year. I’m pretty poor at tracking my reading, and it would also mean using up to ten different colours which doesn’t really appeal to me. I might just tweak it to suit my own needs and track whether or not I read from a book each day.

While we got it as a gift, Rebel Women Lit also has it for sale on their website, either as a digital download or as a gorgeous vegan leather binder with the physical pages already done for you (plus you also get the digital download included). The physical version is available in three colours (which are basically my life’s colour palette – mint, lavender, pink) and honestly, it’s gorgeous. I’m not even a fan of ring bound planners, but low-key I still kind of want one.

That’s a Wrap on 2020!

I don’t always do a year-in-review type wrap-up post, but with everything that happened in the world this year, I thought it might be nice to look back on the some of the good things that happened and to end 2020 on a positive note.

For a lot of people (myself included), 2020 might have felt like a year of stagnation, which is totally understandable. We were trapped at home for months and restricted in movement (locally and internationally). Then on top of all that, as much as we thought we already lived our lives online, 2020 gave this phrase new meaning as we navigated working solely online, schooling online, and even socialising online.

I spent about six months this year living with my 16yo cousin and uncle (her grandfather) and while my family has always been very close-knit, these six months brought us even closer. Evening walks with my uncle, followed by verandah chats long into the night became part of our daily routine; and I joined tiktok (that’s what the 16yos are busy doing these days) and spent hours cooking, baking and watching trash TV with my cousin.

As a dancer, I learnt who I am outside of dance, and that I’m still a dancer even if I’m not actively dancing. I’ve always strugged with the notion of who I would become when I’m no longer able to dance, and this year taught me that I’ll always be a dancer. Plus, with no dancing for much of the year, I now had the time to explore other interests and discovered that I love needcraft! I crocheted a bikini, I made reusable face masks with decorative embroidery, I beaded earrings and made about a million tassels.

I made this mini banner!

Before moving back to much house after my cousin migrated, my mum and I decided to do over the place and we repainted and decorated everything. I’d been living there for 13 years and had never really put a personal touch on the place, which hadn’t mattered much since I was never there that often. I left for work at 7am, would pop in briefly for 30 minutes before dancing, get home at about 10pm after dancing, then get ready for bed and do it all again the next day. Now, even though it’s a rental, the place finally feels like mine and I actually enjoy spending time here. Which is good, since with no dancing I have a lot of time to spend here now lol.

Professionally, I worked on a global rebrand/launch as a Digital Operator across 32 countries, and wrote a World Communication Award-winning submission for Digicel Jamaica Foundation for its work in Special Needs. The Foundation award is extra special for me becuase having a brother with special needs, and doing my thesis on empowering children with disabilities, it was Digicel’s support of Special Needs that first drew me to the organisation, and now I’m approaching my third anniversary there.

Is this a bit of a 2020 brag sheet? Perhaps. But in a year that felt stagnant, I don’t think it’s wrong to remind myself of the things that were good, the things that I’m grateful for, and that there was growth.

Cheers to 2021, whatever may come.

Christmas in the time of Corona

Well, it’s another Christmas done and dusted and we can probably all agree that it’ll go down in the books as one of the strangest. Whether you spent it alone in isolation or in a festive family bubble, I hope you had a Merry Christmas.

For me and mine, it was the first time in about 100 years that my extended family didn’t gather for Christmas dinner. It’s a tradition that’s been going on for generations (clearly) and apparently nothing’s ever stopped it before.

Growing up I remember that being the core part of our day. We’d get up, do gifts, I assume have breakfast (I don’t really remember that part) and then get ready to head to whoever was hosting the dinner. The first Christmas after we moved to the country, my mum thought it would be a good idea to host Christmas dinner that year so the family could all come and visit and get to know where we now lived.

Whether she knew it or not, that started a whole new tradition where my immediate family hosts the annual get together. Now it’s been just over 20 years of hosting (barring one year where as a family we had a lot going on), and I’ve always wondered what it would be like to just not do all that.

Christmas Dinner 2020

You see, I’ve always thought what we did was completely normal. I just figured all families got together on Christmas day with anywhere from 20 to 80 people. Apparently not! As I got older, I learnt that ours is unusual, not just in terms of size, but also longevity. And part of me has always wondered what a small Christmas would be like.

This year, thanks to the pandemic, I sort of got my wish. For the second time in over 20 years, we didn’t host the family Christmas dinner, because there wasn’t one. In Jamaica, the guidelines are no more than 15 people gathering, and curfew started at 7pm on Chrsitmas Day. So instead of hosting our usual shindig, we joined my aunt and uncle at their house, with their kids gathering via zoom and that’s how we had dinner. After that, we had a slightly larger zoom gathering with some of the extended family (Zoom is the real winner of 2020).

There were some things that were different, but a lot remained the same. My mum and I stayed up all night on Christmas Eve baking, then we spent most of the morning in the kitchen cooking for dinner later. This year, what I learnt was that whether it’s seven people gathered or seventy, not much changes and the seasonal spirit was still there.

Christmas 2020…The most wonderful time of the year?

Christmas has always (like always, always,) been my favourite time of year and not even 2020 could compeltely ruin that. Yes, things are a little different, but I still got a shiver of excitement when I saw the first Christmas lights for the season.

This year, we’ve all had to adapt and adjust to new ways of living, and as I thought about how that would apply to how I (we) celebrate Chrstimas I thought that might make for an interesting blog post (or not – that’s up to you to decide). It seems like a lifetime ago, when I’d contemplated visiting my cousins in Paris this year, instead now we’re in a postition where there are lockdowns all over the world and families are being asked to celebrate Chrsitmas in bubbles.

But enough doom and gloom, because this isn’t really what this post’s about. During November/December, there are usually a number of craft fairs and pop-ups that showcase local artisans and their work. One of my best friends and I have a tradition of going to many of them and taking our time to check everything out and plan for gifts around what we’ve seen.

This year, some happened, but they were few and far between so instead I took to trawling Instagram to see what I could find there instead. And while I’m not going to share the gifts I’ve purchased, I will share with you some cool things I’ve come across in preparing for the season of giving.

Not Bored Games – Is any Jamaican drink up complete without a quartet of people playing ludo? Whether you call it ludi or ludo, you have to agree that the trash talking of who kill who and constant commentary while racing around the board to be the first to make it home is part and parcel of a good time in Jamaica. Traditionally played on a sizeable wooden board with edges (and a checkerboard on the reverse), Not Bored Games has reimagined the game for on-the-go, creating a canvas playing board with wooden game pieces and dice. Available in four different Jamiacan-themed designs, there’s one for every taste and the option to have any theme of your choice turned into a drinking game board.

Books and Bookish Things will never not be a good gift idea as far as I’m concerned and for that Rebel Women Lit and Decentred Lit have got it covered. Local (women-run) companies that push diverse literature, you’re bound to find some gems when you look at what they have to offer. From subscriptions services to individual books to merch and more, I low key kind of want everything on the sites.

Yes, Haveli is a clothing store, but it’s honestly so much more than that! Designed in Jamaica and handmade in India, Haveli is all about sustainable fashion and honouring heritage through ethical production. Brinigng things a little closer to home, I’m obsessed with the Equity Bracelets that they recently introduced. Made by eight women from the Thicketts community in St. Ann, Jamaica, these bracelets are handwoven and are helping to drive community development through artisnal production.

Also up on my list this year is Rachael Lane | Candles & Soaps. They also do things like body wash, room sprays and other products, but the candles and soaps really are a thing of absolute beauty (just check out their Instagram page if you don’t believe me). Run by a mother-daughter duo who turned their hobbies into passions and their passions into business, their brand is all about self-care and comfort – two things we could all do with a little more of after the year it’s been.

With just three more days to go, I really hope you’ve got all the gifting sorted out, but if not then maybe one of the above can help you out 🙂