Saturday, October 31, 2015

STEPPING UP

We at CHOOSE TO CARE are making our list of children who will benefit from a brand new pair of shoes.  We are calling on a few of our friends to activate the season of giving by picking a name or two to add to their gift-list.

Since 2008, CHOOSE TO CARE has continued to strive to make a difference in many parts of the world and we thank you for your compassion and support in helping us to serve the children in need.
The organization has provided a brand new pair of shoes to many children in need, whether for dancing, exercise, theater classes or just owning a decent pair of shoes that fits well.  CHOOSE TO CARE is full of optimism and has also made it their mission to pave the way to good health for these young children and their families. The session may give tips on proper foot care or at other times nourishing the body with foods that are good for us and avoiding these "sometimes" foods that are less nourishing.  This precious child will not only leave with a brand new pair of shoes but also a message to help on a journey to good health.

Our event will be held in the South Jamaica area and the neatly wrapped gift boxes will have a message tucked in their shoes:

                     We are happy to provide you with a brand new pair of shoes
                          That fits you right
                           Brings Pride,Joy and Hope

Stay Active             Read A Book           Eat Foods That Keep You Well


We are excited, the soirees from the summer's "Shopping At The Farmers' Market" event (read blog)
are busy sifting through the pieces that will allow CHOOSE TO CARE to bring a smile to the faces of these young boys and girls and who knows where their feet will take them.

"Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done
  without hope and confidence." Helen Keller

Peace & Love

Monday, October 12, 2015

LIVE YOUR LIFE BY A COMPASS

I have just returned from a visit to Nashville, Tennessee and when anyone asks me about this wonderful place, I describe it as a "feel good" city.  I truly enjoyed this Music City and the Academy's Food & Nutrition Conference and Expo{FNCE} that took me there, sent me home with a deep rooted message delivered by the closing speaker, Marcus Samuelsson, chef and owner of Red Rooster,located in Harlem, NYC.  He was jovial but pensive at times as he traced his personal discovery and determination.  He was filled with gratitude for the people who helped him along the way and the connections he made; and although there were disappointments, he counted those in the equation for his success.

His message "Live with a compass" will be my conversation to share with anyone who will listen.  As the holidays roll around, I begin to think about the reason I started CHOOSE TO CARE whose mission is to provide a brand new pair of shoes for the kid in need, many young children have benefited but our work continues.  Today I will share 2 thank-you notes from the many we have received after merely donating a brand new pair of shoes,  a small act of kindness,which brings great joy to the young children.

CHEERS to Donors Choose.org
Teachers Ask. You Choose
{www.donorschoose.org}

This organization sponsors teachers' projects nationwide.  I get a kick out of the names of the projects that CHOOSE TO  CARE  has sponsored through Donors Choose, such as : Tip Top Tappers, Tread Upon Your Feet, No Glass Slippers, Dancing Shoes, Fitness Is It, Let's Sweat,Rap A Tap Tap, Rap A Tap Tap and others.

So as  we prepare to share the happiness of the holiday season,we hope to offer a bright spot for the child in need and I will certainly continue to  heed the command to "live my life by a compass."

Peace & Love




Sunday, August 16, 2015

NEW SHOES + KINDNESS + SISTERHOOD

Yesterday, we met in South Jamaica for the long awaited "Youth In Action" event.  The children who participated learned about fruits and vegetables and where they came from and on their page filled with  drawing of a variety of fruits and vegetables, they colored those they could find at the Farmers' Market and then they ate watermelon chunks and left with a brand new pair of shoes.  I thought I would be writing about having proper footwear in the nick of time for the start of the new school year is a step in the right direction.  My mind instead turned to those who came to assist.



I am very much aware of the value of sisterhood but today was the icing on the cake.  As I looked around at everyone working, I marveled at their willingness to change their busy schedules to help carry out CHOOSE TO CARE mission, of providing the youth in need with a brand new pair of shoes that fits and bring joy and hope to their lives.  It is so triumphant to work with nurturing women who care about you and the things you do.  Such an act of kindness could only spring from a sincere desire to do good for those in need.  This warms my heart and leaves me misty-eyed.  It is an amazing deed and I have so much respect for this group of women.



Yes, new shoes provided a step in the right direction but so did the generosity of such like minded friends that has left an unforgettable impression.




"That smile that was pasted on my face
and my expression of reverence, came from deep within.
Thanks for helping us keep HOPE alive."

{BRAWTA}

Sunday, June 21, 2015

NO FEAR FOR TOMORROW OR THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW

They were coming after me, Bindya began, panting
I saw them out of the corner of my eyes
So I dodged the bullet.
They set another trap
But a little Birdie told me
Watch out!  And I managed to to sidestep those landmines.

I heard them thinking out loud
This time I will get her for sure
But that smile always say, BEWARE,
And I slipped away again.

She tried again!
This time she made the loop tighter
No room to wiggle through, was her thinking.
"Let's see you pull this off" she smirked
But my supple skin slid right on out
Another freedom flight.

So she sought help to clip my wings.
"Truly, this is a surefire way,
I will pick the brain of one who says,
she knows her well!"

She gave her a prize
And Deceiter gave her one in return.
"This is one way to nail her good"
But the plan they set, fell apart
And I  am home free.

"Who is this?" she wondered in disgust.
I fed her crumbs and she feasted like a Queen
I created hell and she lived there unscathed
I filled her path with gravel and thorny sticks
But she walked with her head high
As if her journey was on a smooth paved path.
"You just wait, there is still tomorrow and the
Day after tomorrow."

They set a trap, but Bindya beat them to their game
She managed to escape.
Don't be afraid of tomorrow.
And the women rejoice!
Put out the best,
This calls for a feast.

They sang and clap and swayed,
As they welcomed home one of their own.
They listened intently to Bindya's journey,
"I will never be afraid of tomorrow or
The day after tomorrow."
And with that she took a joyful swirl.


Questions for Reflections:


  1. What is remarkable about the Title? "No Fear For Tomorrow or The Day After Tomorrow"
  2. The "Pursuer" recalled all the traps set, Bindya
    escaped, time after time; how is that possible?
  3. Imagine what prize was given both to Deceiter and the Pursuer
  4. Why is Bindya's return home a joyous celebration?
  5. Translate "this is one way to nail her good"


Brawta  - {From :Jump for Joy series}


Monday, May 25, 2015

GO BINDYA GO

                                       Bindya was happy as a lark
                                       High spirited with  a smile
                                       That shone as bright as the
                                       Sunshine bursting from the skies.

                                       Her steps were quick
                                      But she paused long enough
                                      To throw a coin,
                                      In the pool of water in her path
                                      This is her make believe wishing well.

                                       "What a lovely day"
                                        She called out in a cheerful, melodious voice.
                                         Caring not, who stared at her quirky behavior.
                                         She rocked to the beat of the music
                                          Blaring in her ears,
                                         The deafening sound was no bother.

                                        She beckoned and nodded
                                        To those who looked her way
                                        "Join me she shouted"
                                         "Recharge your spirits"
                                         As she cantered along.
                                         There, joining her was a line of
                                          Believers, Hopefuls, Crusaders,Joyful Souls.

                                          She looked back and her face lit up
                                          "That's the power of a smile"
                                           As she skipped and bounced,
                                           Leading the way,in a cheerful voice
                                           She and her followers sang
                                           To their hearts content
                                           "Oh wonderful and glorious world
                                             I will always embrace you."
                                                                                 
                                                                  {From the "Jump for Joy" series}


Questions To Ponder

  1. What do you think Bindya was wishing for in her make believe wishing well?
  2. Those who joined her are labeled, what is the significance?
  3. What would have happened if the author had Bindya hurrying instead of cantering?
  4. How would you sum up Bindya's attitude?  What was her lure?
                                           
                           

Saturday, May 16, 2015

THE LAST WORDS

                                   Put it down! Don't touch that!
                                   Did I give you permission?
                                   Not until I say so!
                                   Don't even try it
                                   It is not your call
                                   I don't trust your decision, this
                                   Is my handiwork and mine alone.

                                  They stared in silence
                                  Some bowed in agreement
                                  Others, brave souls, huffing and pouting
                                  Didn't want to take this any longer
                                  They muttered under their breath
                                  But with a frown on her face
                                  And a sweep of the hand
                                  She shoved them back,
                                  Those who dared to get in her way,
                                   Stay back, she said
                                  This limelight is not to be shared
                                  Mine are the last words, only my opinion counts.
                               

                                  Her head is swollen, this is unbelievable
                                  Her chest is puffed, "Don't let me burst now"
                                  Where is my crown? Ah!
                                  Tailor-made, just for my head
                                  But a row of diamonds, is exactly what I would like
                                  Here, take it back, add it on and make it perfect!

                                  Hold me before I faint,
                                  I just know they are gonna call my name
                                  And the award goes to ......
                                  My hands are limped, a bad timing
                                  To suck the life out of these limbs
                                  My feet seemed pasted on the ground
                                  I have to get to the stage,
                                  I hear them calling my name
                                  Coming she answered in a weakened voice.


                                   Here good for nothing!  Make yourself handy
                                   Hold me by the hand, hoist me on your shoulders
                                   And take me to that stage for the world to see
                                   I want to tell them about my greatness,
                                   Shoo! out of the way now,
                                   Lest they mistake you for part of this marvel
                                   I will take over now! feet, be steady and firm,
                                   I am mightier than thou.


                                  And she "woke up" to those who gathered around
                                  To cheer on the deserving souls,
                                  Who toiled through breaking tasks and bore
                                   Insults after insults, commands after commands.
                                  "Start again,"  "Unacceptable," she shouted
                                   But her words went unheard
                                   Today, those on whose shoulders she stood
                                   Were given the AWARD OF HUMILITY.


                                    Angry and forlorn, she worked herself in a tizzy
                                    Amidst the sizzling sound of
                                     A deflated ego, you could hear,
                                    I WANT YOU GONE,BANISHED
                                    AND OUT OF MY WAY!
                                    Still making sure she has the last words
                                    Only this time, they fell on deaf ears.

                                                                                                   Brawta





                                                             Questions To Ponder

Introduction: The title "Last Words" has a  double meaning, her words that she claims only matters(commands,insults) and those that she uttered in defeat, which carried no weight,(fell on deaf ears).

  1. What is your reaction to such demands, as that of the Egoist portrayed?
  2. What was the challenge of the brave souls?  How did they gather steam?
  3. Those who served, still met with "this is substandard" Discuss your feelings about the line between passive and proactive behaviors?
  4. So the Egoist feigned the need for assistance, "hold me before I faint, I just know they are gonna call my name .."  But she continued to hurl insults "shoo, out of the way now .." Your thoughts?
  5. They were pushed aside, practically hidden.  What do you think was the driving force that brought their plight to light?
  6. Think of a time you were faced with a similar situation, what did you learn and do to change the effect such rampant insults had on you?
  7. The soliloquy of awaiting an award - What do you make of this?
  8. And she "woke up" - Was this from a dream? or an unrealistic egotistical journey?
          "My hands are limped ........." Why do you think the Author added this scenario?
          "Fell on deaf ears" - Did the Brave Souls and Bowing members get together? 

                   
                                 










Wednesday, April 15, 2015

ADDING INSULT TO INJURY

                   Her soul was clenched tight
                   Her body went into a tremor
                   Her lips quivered
                   This is not right
                   And she kept pacing the floor
                   She wants me to do what?
                   She screamed!
                   Pay homage to the devil
                   With all her false accusations!!

                   She pulled you in her game
                   And you became a core supporter
                   Now you have joined forces
                   To send me more insults and shame
                   You have  embraced her lies, oh so lame.
                   There is no justice
                    But I am putting you on notice
                    Your radical movement is way off base
                    And she will leave without my good tidings.

                   And slowly I will begin to mend myself
                   My body will say, Good Riddance
                   To the evil doer and her obnoxious seedy ways.
                   She battled me on every front
                   This warring person altered my life
                   And the lives of many.

                  Poison, Poison, Go away
                  Be done already with your malice, hatred, trash
                  No coronation awaiting you at this juncture
                  Disperse, scat, move along
                  And never look back my way.
   
                                                                    BRAWTA

                 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

THE BRIGHT SIDE

                                         Jovial Cassandra has a lovely attitude
                                         Joyful  & full of gratitude
                                         The smile on her face
                                         She wears with grace.


                                          Cassandra is a firm believer
                                          That there is a healer
                                           Who comes to the rescue
                                           Just in the nick of time.


                                          When heavenly Cassandra is around
                                           Dullness rejuvenates
                                           Discord becomes harmonious
                                           She is full of vigor
                                           And oh so glorious.

                                           She charms you with her kindness
                                           Gracious Cassandra, won't you
                                           Stay around?

                                                                                         BRAWTA
                                                                                     

Saturday, April 4, 2015

WAITING MY TURN

She took a number
Sat in a chair and fell in a slumber.
Some women shouted in unison,
Today, the wait will be long.

I paid no attention
To all the confusion
'cause I had trouble on my mind.

My heart skip a beat,
It was torture sitting in the heat.
I studied the look on their faces,
If they exited in a daze
Or walked with steady grace
I knew how fate had dealt.

I craned my neck
oh what the heck!
With the women a chattering
I cannot hear beyond all that muttering.

I move closer to the door,
By now the kids are on the floor
The noise is even greater
And the time is so much later.

Sister, they are calling your number,
I went over and shook her out of her slumber,
Walking in a quickened gait
She went to meet her fate.

She exited in haste
As if in a daze.
Sweat is pouring down my face
What will it be in my case?

Now it is my turn
My stomach began to churn.
Heart pounding at a fast pace
I met her face to face.

Just in case
They too were looking
 for Grace or Daze
I took a quick flight
With my head at a great height
Still waiting my turn.

BRAWTA


Sunday, March 29, 2015

SWISH! SWISH! SWISH!

                                                         BEATEN  DOWN


                                                             CHASTISED


                     TRASHED                      BASHED                                     MOCKED



                                                             

                                                            DISSECTED

                     BRANDED                    RIDICULED                                BARRED


                                                            PROVOKED






                     PEEVED                         DRAINED                                       MUTED
                                                       
                                                        DEMORALIZED


                                                               CAGED          



Wednesday, March 25, 2015

F O R S A K E N


                             We were pining for a new beginning
                              And it looked promising
                              When an offer was laid at our table.
                               Some said, I am not able
                               But others said it was not a bait
                               This has to happen, it is our FATE.

                               Gaining courage, she was the first
                               To step into the unknown
                               Only to meet upon a clown.
                               When she returned, the Blue Print on her face said,
                                "I am beaten down."


                                Demoralized, Agonized, Dismayed & Shocked
                                Her jaws seemed locked.
                                Then she said, "I was mocked"
                                Her stomach tightened
                                Jammed up in a ball of tension
                                And slowly she began to mention
                                What FATE had dealt her.

                                 She shook her head in disbelief
                                 Do you know we are farther away from relief?
                                 This harrowing experience
                                  Was such an inconvenience
                                  And a set back tugging at her soul.
                                  They had such gall
                                   Pinning my back against the wall
                                   There must be redemption
                                   We must settle this gumption.

                                   My shattered heart will be healed
                                   But their deal must be unsealed
                                   I will fight to the bitter end.
                                   And these words I send
                                   To let them know I will never join this CIRCUS

                                                                                        Brawta


Monday, March 9, 2015

UNBROKEN FAITH

Zara Leek stomped into the room with a scowl on her face.  Her medium sized frame suddenly grew to that of a giant,she had brought her inflated ego with her, ready to launch an attack because she was outraged that Faith decided to add more to what she called her over stacked plate.  But Zara the slickster had filled non-essentials on her plate and Faith Firm her leader had began to unravel her scheme,putting her on notice that she would be involved with sensible and defined projects going forward.

The bigger than life person, the great pretender always takes the easy road; she tried to talk her way out of the oncoming projects but Faith was relentless and would not let up.  She wanted this new style of business to take place and planned to feed it, water it, prune it until it was deeply planted.

Zara began to wag her tongue, spreading false rumours but Faith continued to lay out the fixtures on Zara's plate, creating space galore, which left her highly upset.  Zara began to venture out, stalling at times, cooking up reasons why this will not work.  Every step of the way, Unbroken Faith was there to drive home, that these are here to stay.  She knew that a steadfast dose of old fashioned, roll up your sleeves and get to work, will make this project a success.

Although unbroken, Faith cringed at Zara Leek's behavior and penned these words in dismay.


                                  Wagging  Tongues

                                         If you happen to go down
                                         what's called Gossip Lane
                                         You will find them at it again
                                         Another suspecting person has fallen victim.

                                         They will maul you
                                          stab you in the back
                                          Drag you in the mud
                                          Leaving you for dead
                                          And all this using the tongue.

                                          But just as you realized you are trashed
                                          Those same tongues begin to spew out
                                           Sweetness.
                                          You start to crawl out of your sullen state
                                          And their honey dripping words and pasted
                                           Smile.
                                          Let you rise again!

                                          Your gut is telling you
                                          What you hear is not real
                                          They are only dishing honey and spice
                                          To pull you right in.
                                          But you choose to ignore
                                          And foolish you are taken again
                                          Still a victim!
                                          Falling prey to false appearances.
                                                                                            

                                                                                               Brawta

 








Saturday, January 24, 2015

HOLA PANAMA

I never know where my wanderlust will take us.  There was an urge to go some place and it did not take me long to focus on Panama as our next destination.  As our plane began to land I was surprised at the birds eye view of Panama City;skyscrapers loomed in the distance, a city that reminded me of Miami.  After settling in we got ready to explore the city, not venturing too far from our hotel and on recommendation from the front desk staff we had dinner at the restaurante Tinajas, where we enjoyed a delicious meal and watched the folkloric dancers and performers strut their thing.  Panama is all about preserving their heritage.  Tinajas they explained is the pot used in the olden days.

Our tour had began, early next morning the tour guide arrived to take us on the famous Panama Canal.  I had heard stories from my father about family members who had moved there to work on the Canal.  Every time I  see someone with my family name, I wonder if we are related.  Finally I understood what the locks were, a tour of the museum, a video with its history, brought everything to light. The Panama Canal was the bright idea of the Spaniards who arrived on the Isthmus during XV1
century; and thought  of building a route that would join the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.  This effort began with the French but troubles and diseases stopped them and the Americans took up where they left off by signing an agreement to construct and manage the waterway until 1999.  They kept their word and turned over the canal to the Panamanian authority.  The goodness of this Canal is that it serves as a maritime shortcut, saves time and costs in transporting a variety of goods.

The locks are two lanes(water elevators) which raise the ships from sea level to the level of the Gatun  Lake allowing the crossing through Continental Divide and then lowers the ships to sea level on the other side of the Isthmus.  The water used to raise and lower the vessels in each set of locks is obtained from Gatun Lake by gravity and poured into the locks through a main culvert system that extends under the locks chambers from the sidewalls and center walls. A wonder to behold! The Panama Canal  is expanding to double the waterway's capacity to satisfy the increasing demand of world maritime trade.

I am always at peace, just sitting and watching nature pass by.  The mountain, the lush vegetation, makes you want to give a standing ovation to mother nature. In Gamboa in the rainforest, nature was at its best, food was good also, a hearty breakfast each morning and I was all revved up to go exploring.  We traveled to Embera an Indigenous Indian village, via the Changres river on small but efficient wooden boats, tilapia abounds  in the river.  Along the way, a little of everything, mangrove alongside the riverbanks, tourists paddle boarding.  In the village they gave us history lessons, entertained us, fed us plantain grown around the village and fish from the Changres river. The traditional dressing, the painted faces that tell who were single or married women, cooking the ancient way, were their choices and they appeared very joyful.



Panama is a country of celebration.  In the month of November alone, to name a few, there was Independence day, flag day, children day, memorial day and on and on.  Early morning we took off on a 9 passenger plane to San Blas Island.  Later on we landed on a strip of land where a 'sailor' awaited to take us to the Akwadup camp.  My meals prepared by the caretaker and her husband for our 2 day stay consisted of potatoes and water-producing chayote. Bland!  Our lovely companions, staying at the same lodge on our first night was a couple who moved from the States and now call Panama home.  They live on another coast and was vacationing just like us.  Night fall found us under the mosquito net taking cover. We had another visitor from Sweden, the other couple had moved on, with  we swapped travel stories and enjoyed each others company for the short stay. On our walk through the village we came upon children playing, music blasting western music and women selling molas(cloth with embroidery); I bought a piece which has been already added to a decorative pillow at home.

Another day in Panama City and we decided to ride the subway at the Iglesia del Carmen, estacion(station).  We did not know the ropes to board the train but a kind soul helped us out and swiped us through just like I have done many times in NYC.  Tonight as we prepare to say adios, we decided to eat in the hotel where we stayed.  It is Indionista night{Indian cuisine} and the vegetarian choices have grown.  It was a great journey to this LAND of PLENTY, enticing enough for a second visit.

"Live as if you were to die tomorrow.
Learn as if you were to live forever"
Mahatma Gandhi