The new way forward, Post Pandemic.

Hi Friends,

It has been awhile since I have posted anything here, life has been so busy since I last posted in December 2020! And as you all know, so much has changed – but we have also had to get used to a continuing year of the pandemic, variants, vaccines and trying to keep the balance throughout it all.

Coming up the end of 2021, I feel a mix of emotions, and “feels” and have been going back and forth in my head as to how I am going to manoeuvre my new way forward post pandemic.

One lesson I have learnt, and it has not been an easy one…is that there are those whose “true” selves, came out in this era. The ones we thought we could count on, but could not. And at first, in saying goodbye to those people (sublimely or not) it was hurtful – but then I realised that sometimes people are only in your life for a season and a reason. And that is a lesson, maybe we all have to learn.

I leaned on my family and close circle of friends much more than I ever have. I may have over-shared my life story with certain confidantes, but it was the year you could.

One of the things I did to balance was to go to the Beach on a late afternoon after work, or more on the weekend, to swim, tan and think.

Focusing on the positive, and what is to come, is how I have gotten through each day. Exercising and focusing on my fitness goals is another way I have kept the balance.

I drank wine, I cried, I planned…..for my post pandemic life.

I wrote in a journal all throughout 2020, with goals and thoughts. Dreams and hopes. I prayed. I cried. I laughed. I cried again. I drank wine. It was a rough year last year and I think we all agree. What was incredible in the midst of such chaos, was how the things I wrote down last year, started to slowly manifest in my life.

I moved in to a dream home in July. I had walked past this house for four years, and always admired it — the space of the gardens around it, the trees and the house itself….we had been on the lookout for something new and fresh. And it came to me very easily in June, on a whim. After I was letdown by another house we were to move into and some bad news there. I looked back at my journal from May 2020 and saw that I had written about this very house in detail, and how I would love to find out more, in order to live there, and it worked! All my dream wish list items: large, open kitchen, a loft, lots of space outside, lots of guest rooms, a covered garage and a beautiful sunroom. I cannot wait to start decorating for Christmas!

I was one of those persons who stood outside in the HOT SUN for four hours in order to get my first dose of vaccine back in April, and then again in June (AstraZeneca.) Many people in Jamaica do not believe in vaccines much less the AstraZeneca. Yet I had been reading about it for months before we received it, and I felt very confident about taking that one. Albeit life is still a very cautious one, it has given me a level of feeling more “safe” – many of my friends who are vaccinated have gotten Covid, and stayed home with it, there was no need for hospitalisation. In fact most of them got it very mildly or asymptomatic. About a handful got it where it was like a bad flu.

I worked as hard as I ever have, knowing that in tourism in Jamaica, we have to put more out there to get the business for the future – and that meant creative marketing, public relations and social media. Social Media is 24:7. And I manage about 14 channels. Imagine how annoying that is to my friends and husband. My head is constantly down looking at the phone in order to answer questions about Island Outpost 24:7. It can get very stressful and a feeling of not ever going to have a day off, and that in itself is a challenge. I have had to pray about that too. However one has to do, what they have to do, and not complain. Especially now!

I have mapped out my future in my head, as I am sure MOST of you all have too….it will be a future with genuine, FUN people as my “circle”, NO guise, no “fakeness”….a future of MUCH more fitness goals in terms of competing, attending competitions, and taking on clients, why not?

My life story will always include working out, fitness goals for future Shows, and the beach for a total unwinding session. Even a rustic beach like this one, is fine for me!

The premise is to try to make more income where we can right? If that is ONE lesson I have learnt, it is do not sell yourself short. Do what you have to, even taking on extra work to make it all happen.

Don’t sweat the small stuff anymore, life is TOO FRAGILE for that.

In the next post I will talk about (and show pictures) of how I have simplified and edited my life in terms of wardrobe, my fridge organisation, general frivolous spending, and cutting out selfish/rude/insensitive/”bad mind” people.

We need to go forward in a much more genteel, gentle, kind… loving way, don’t you agree?

With love,

Neenie


Jamaica Scenes, and Stuff.

Hi Friends,

If you have never been to Jamaica, I strongly encourage to think about it. “BrandJamaica” or rather #brandJamaica is so strong right now, more than ever. And I mean to visit Jamaica and enjoy our culture, beautiful beaches, food, music and people is something you have to write on that list if you have never made it happen.

While all inclusive resorts with everything you need at your fingertips is really a lovely way to relax and let your hair down for a week, I hope you are able to come back and see some more of what Jamaica has to offer on your next visit. I hope you try to experience the “authentic” Jamaica that delves a little deeper into the history and culture of my beautiful country. Get out the hotel and do some wonderful and fun tour of the country, eat in the community nearby to your hotel or villa, and get to meet some people along the way. You won’t regret it.  There is so much more to us, than just a beautiful beach!

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View from my gorgeous room at Strawberry Hill, Irish Town  – Jamaica is not just about the beach!

In the last six months I have been very fortunate to be able to re-discover my own island in the sun, via hosting press trips and Journalists and seeing places and new “haunts” that I have never been to, and vow to keep going back to. I am so happy to share some of these scenes with you.

Coffee Country

The Blue Mountains of Jamaica is one of the most beautiful locations on the island. It is hard to imagine you are still in Jamaica when you are up there. The smell of pine, the cool air and the vegetation all becomes completely new.  Strawberry Hill, part of Island Outpost, is located in Irish Town and about 3,100 feet up.

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The view of the Infinity pool overlooking the hills and capital city of Kingston from Strawberry Hill. Photo courtesy of Island Outpost.

Go much further up to explore the Coffee Houses and Farms, and to to hear more about the production of the best coffee in the world. You will see all the coffee plants literally on the side of the mountain as far as the eye can see. A visit to David Twyman’s Estate is a treat to see how the very best coffee in the world is grown and roasted, as well as if you have an “innings” to check out Clifton Mount (Coffee Traders Farm and old Plantation House) with Jamaica Tour Society.

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Up at 5,100 feet in the Blue Mountains, where the best coffee grows, as far as the eye can see is coffee plants!  It is very cool up here so far up, you will need a sweater or a scarf.  Wear comfortable shoes.

Places to stop by…

Try Eits Cafe when you visit the Blue Mountains, short for “Europe in the Summer” – such a cool stop for a meal. They are open for breakfast and lunch up to 6:00 p.m. and have an organic garden where the fresh arugula and lettuce is grown for the famous salads (try  the shrimp pesto salad, the dressing is to die for good) – the “green goddess” salad dressing is so good people will travel from Kingston on a Sunday to order a salad and the famous ‘barrel roasted chicken’ or one of their other divine dishes.

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Have one (or more!) of the EITS Mojitos, with the mint just picked from the garden, and definitely just make sure you take a few hours to sit and enjoy the view, the music, the people — it is really an eclectic and lovely setting. The owners are lovely people willing to sit and chat about anything.

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EITS Cafe’s Famous Bar Menu – the Mojitos are amazingly good!

Kingston and Kingston Tours

Kingston is the capital of Jamaica and many people tend to shy away from the city thinking it is riddled with crime and bad news. However over the years Kingston has gotten a bad rap. It is a metropolitan, fun place to visit especially when you want to learn more about our culture, music, art community and food. If you link up with a really great tour guide like Jamaica Tour Society, or Vibzen, you will be able to customise the type of fun tour you would like to experience – it could be a strictly “music” tour – or a combo of music and foodie, mixed in with culture, you get it!

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In Downtown Kingston at Coronation Market, the largest and oldest produce market in the Caribbean. A really diverse and “raw” experience. This little Bar is located at the outside perimeter of the Market.   That is LyndaLee peeking out the window who owns Jamaica Tour Society and offers custom Kingston and Blue Mountain Tours (see her link above for more information.)

In Kingston, you can have various tours set up, and we did a combo of Downtown and an “other” interesting finds…we started at Devon House for the famous and most yummy Jamaican patties and coconut water…Devon House also has the best ice cream in Jamaica, which you need to have (I wish I could tell you more, but I literally have to be disciplined on these trips – food wise…lol or my Trainer will hold me accountable 🙂 )

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Devon House for the first stop on our Kingston “Tour” – for Jamaican patties, so DELISH – you can get lobster, shrimp, chicken, callaloo or even curried goat patties.

…And then headed to Downtown, where we checked out Paint Jamaica at Fleet Street – a street that has massive painted murals on the walls done by the children who live in the area, as a community project that continues. We then went to LifeYard, run by true Rastafarians who are taking the time to harvest an organic garden right in the middle of two buildings on Fleet Street…so interesting! They will also let you sample some of their wellness natural juices (very yummy.) We visited Nick Davies who is a huge pioneer in his own right – making the most divine dark chocolate with cocoa beans grown right here in Jamaica. That’s right, we make chocolate too! And right after that we visited the famous Coronation Market.

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An example of a painted mural on a wall on Fleet Street – “Paint Jamaica.”

None of this is considered luxury or anything you would find on your typical vacation here in Jamaica, but it is certainly worth doing if you want to find out more and delve a little deeper into our rich culture and heritage. Having a wonderful guide like LyndaLee is an asset and the way to go too. She will give you a run-down on the history and culture of each stop and the communities.

Next time you are in Jamaica, go a little deeper, discover more, learn about our Music – the history of reggae, stop off at the Bob Marley Museum…taste some real “ital fare” — go up to the Blue Mountains and see how the most famous coffee in the world is grown….pick up a bag of the best coffee while you are there…visit an Art Gallery in Kingston – we have so much more to do than just sit on a beach (which is all good too!) – however there is so much more to discover.

Love, Neenie xo