Far from finished

Far from finished

Far from Finished by Voice revealed our innately progressive nature, always yearning and stretching toward a better self. Trinbagonian optimism overrides our toughest circumstances, and Full Extreme from Ultimate Rejects captured this unflinchingly. The truest songs always resonate the most.

When 3 Canal’s, Blue, was first released, I was still cloistral; living aside from my queerness and love for women. In the video for Blue, I saw in the gyrations, a liberation and celebration that made me ask my teenaged self, ‘When will I ever be blue?’

I fought myself for 20 years and my self won. I am blue this year, blue with liberation, blue with celebration, blue with self knowledge, blue with empowerment, blue with gratitude…20 years later. How magical! Time is writing me an awesomely #blue story.

“So run tell Iwer George and Blaxx that they cyah take meh title..dis year, I’s meh only rival..” – Voice, Far From Finished

I am my only rival and I’m far from finished. – Janberry

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Social? Media

A few days ago I closed all my social media – Facebook and then Instagram and lastly Twitter.

I found two things to be true for me:

Social media had become an extension of my pride..my ego..a need to control the narrative surrounding who I am…thereby making me feel good, feel proud.

I could succeed at social media but still fail at social interaction, and social interaction is something that I will always need to apply extra effort to. I’ve seen time and time again how social media and social interaction are not the same.

Growing up the way I did, it’s imperative that I get better at social interaction. It’s way too easy for me to revert to my comfort zone…being alone with a book or a paper and pen..and just not talk for weeks, months, years..

I came off social media so I could focus on actually increasing my social skills. That might be the height of irony.

Self-discipline: a learned behavior

Self-discipline: a learned behavior
At the end of 2012, I determined to bring myself up to a level of excellence in life that I knew would require discipline. The encouragement came at the time from the Christian bible. In it, the author Paul had written, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training…Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.”

You see, I’d been average my whole life. I’m naturally gifted and it seems everything I put my hand to, I have some measure of aptitude for it..this made me indisciplined and lazy. I’d coasted through most things giving only half of my effort. I’d even had teachers at high school commenting that very thing..”If only Janessa would make an effort, she would excel”. Well there came a time when I saw that for myself…and as I like to say, ‘What is seen cannot be unseen’. When you see that a change must be made, change and let growth happen. I determined to utilize the discipline of athletics to conquer my self and my self-sabotaging attitudes. I had no idea where the journey would take me but I was determined to press forward regardless of any obstacles.

I started off with no dietary changes and working out only five (5) minutes a day…that was all I could muster at high intensity. I didn’t try to build Rome in one day. I started very small. For an entire year, I made no dietary changes except for one – attempting to drink more water..incrementally drinking more and more water per month, per week and then per day as my trips to the bathroom became less of a bother. I did however work my way up to 30-45 minutes of high intensity interval training daily sessions during this year. I eventually bought a road bike and began cycling.

It was only at the end of the first quarter of 2014 that I began making dietary changes. I began preparing my own meals instead of buying food, learning how to make healthy home cooked meals by reading and experimenting. This began saving me quite a bit of money, which I invested into my training. I began running and bought gear consistent with running, including running shoes and a GPS watch. I ran my first half-marathon that year. I hope you’re noticing thus far that disciplined and healthy choices in one area of your life flow into other areas of your life. My brain became less foggy and I found myself being able to concentrate better for longer periods. I also made tremendous leaps in my self-confidence, not only because of physique changes but because I began to feel like I was in control of my body instead of my body being in control of me.

At the point at which I began cooking my own meals weekly and packaging them for the week, I dropped a few quick pounds. A co-worker at the time said she felt like I had dropped weight almost instantly. What she was witnessing was the difference dietary changes make. Exercise is great but what we eat will always be the difference-maker in our physique and health. By this time it was easy to continue making dietary changes because I’d made a habit out of cooking my own meals/snacks and walking with them wherever I went to avoid buying junk food. I’d also already made a habit of working out regularly – I didn’t have to think about it, I’d already re-wired myself.

You see..”despite what many may think, self discipline is a learned behavior.” This has to be my favorite line in this article: Proven Methods For Gaining Self Discipline – Forbes.

This is a misconception that I hear all the time from people who aim to live healthier lives. “Oh my gosh, but…the discipline!” We aren’t born with self-discipline but we can learn it.

The second misconception I hear all the time pertains to cheating and the guilt attached to it which can derail the course altogether. At one point in time, I would have had ‘cheat days’; it is something very popular in bodybuilding communities. Even then I tried to sustain within myself the discipline to cheat only on my cheat days. By consistently making small and progressively impactful choices that were difficult, I’d learnt that cheating affects none other than yourself. Through successes AND failures, I learnt that when you cheat, you reap disharmony and unhappiness. The ability to make positive choices make you a happier person with a less complicated life. Indulging yourself without self-control reaps destruction.

Becoming disciplined has helped me immeasurably. I now actively believe that I can achieve ANYTHING that I put my mind to because I’ve learnt how to diligently attack a goal: step by step, with consistent and disciplined effort. There are no shortcuts beside this…no fast-tracks, no diets and no super-pills..sorry.

I do like the fact that I can help people attain a better quality of life by being an example for it, though it’s always going to be a work in progress. I hope that the one thing you take away from this article is that discipline is a learned behaviour. I also secretly hope that you’ll notice that a three year journey has been described. It continues. You can do it too…start now and just keep going. Don’t stop, don’t ever stop.

Photo credit: http://zerosophy.com/self-discipline-is-a-key-to-many-doors/

Love these Walls Down

Love These Walls Down – released © 2015. Janberry.

A love anthem, of loss and love and recovery – much like the tales of spiritual search, great love is hard fought for but well worth it.

I decided to finally release this because there is a lot more music to come, so I’m flushing the archives. This is the first track on my sophomore album, which will be a dub album.

Dub Track produced/mastered by Mark ‘Jah Servant’ Giles
Composition/Vocals: Janessa ‘Janberry’ Mc Kell

Refugee white-out

Refugee.

Black.

Diamond.

Black.

Oil.

Black.

Refugee white-out.

Movement and exodus.

Reverse.

Black.

Back.

Refugee white-out.

African.

The land.

Black.

West Indian.

Caribbean.

Inversed.

Black.

Sweat bled to soil.

Black.

Refugee white-out.

– janberry. 26Oct2016 2.22pm. copyright 2016. all rights reserved.

Safety Nets

Safety Nets

Philando Castile. I think of all the things I’ve seen in my lifetime and that one is definitely the most memorable. This man’s safety was punctured, and then fatally injured in one action. Two lives left behind. Three wounds. Four bullets.

I can think of three ways that I’ve manicured my own safety nets, to protect me from being seen as harmful. Was Philando harmless? I believe so. It is illogical and impractical for a man with his seatbelt strapped onto him from left to right to be able to quickly reach for a weapon that is secured on any side of his hip and then successfully pose a threat. Philando was seen as harmful before he even began to speak. His value was shrunk to the sum total of his skin color and perceived class.

I have spent a lifetime hiding behind the safety nets that elevate the perception of my class…ultimately, my value in this society.  Finding myself on the left side of mistrust and alienation hasn’t always worked out for me. I’ve tried then, to place myself on the right side by allowing assumptions of myself to be made based on external evidence. The focus of my lifelong struggles have been chosen based on knowing that there were certain things that I’d never really have to worry about. Three things. There are more, but these are the three that have been resolved and disattached from my worth.

One – my hair. For a period in 2015, my hair was dyed golden. Because of this, my curls were more visible, but also, the dye had thinned my hair slightly, making the curls even more apparent. During that period, I got a lot of attention because of my hair and it caused me to see my own internal biases, the ones I’ve never considered because I never had to. I’d observed them though..throughout my life, I’ve observed that people are generally less afraid of persons with softer or curlier hair. I was glad for this safety net – to not be seen as crude, unintelligent and less worthy because of my hair texture.

Two – my skin color. I’m brown, but I’m not dark brown or black or ‘midnite blue’ or ‘tar’ as some are jeeringly described. I’ve seen that people of darker skin tones are regarded as unclean, or dirty. People just seem to assume the worst of you, the darker your skin tone. And well, the lighter your skin tone (and the less melanin), the greater the likelihood that you’d be seen as trustworthy.

Three – my education. All my life, I’ve taken notes of people’s reactions to my education – both the quality and level. We laud educational success but don’t make sure not to attach our personal worth and value to it. I’ve seen conversations change when I mention the schools I’ve gone to.

I’ve utilised my privilege. I’ve hidden inside my safety nets. For fear’s sake. Seeing these things makes me aware of how I can reclaim a sense of ownership over my own value, by asserting myself in spite of the things about me that people fear – the things I have no safety net for. I don’t need to discover all the value inherent in me in order to hold myself accountable and thankful to God for it. Discovery is a lifelong process but your value – you’re born with it. Philando was born with his value and unfortunately, has died because this value was not seen. Honor him by honoring yourself, in the face of all that fears you.