Jay of Sunshine

It's Still a Beautiful World

My Worst Experience as a Tenant

These days I’m trying to appreciate that there are indeed lessons to be learnt in the midst of negative situations. It is very difficult to see life from this perspective but it can be done. I slowly adapted to the whole seeing the glass half full mentality just a few months ago when I was living in a tenant’s worst nightmare. Now, I’m not in the business of shaming anyone but saying that this place was not suitable for humans is an understatement. I will not get into why I subjected myself to such living conditions but I will say I just couldn’t do better at the time. Anyway, here are the lessons I’ve learnt while living at this rat hole:

Avoid Renting Places Where Landlords/Landladies Have Too Much Access to Your Space

When I first viewed the place, the landlady pointed out that because the laundry room is located downstairs (right beside my kitchen) they would use it when they have to wash their clothes. I assumed (I know it’s not wise to assume sometimes) that it meant they would wash perhaps once a week and would only come downstairs just to wash. Boy was I wrong! They invaded almost every day, sometimes even four times a day! Sometimes they came downstairs just to go outside when they have a perfectly good back door upstairs that leads to outside. Then there is the loud talking when they come downstairs, even at 6 a.m. Talk about no sense of boundaries! The landlady had promised to build a washroom closer to their end. That statement was made in 2012 and up to 2014 it didn’t come to fruition.

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Image courtesy of nzmuse.com

Some Landlords/Landladies are Too Eager When Rent is Due

Setting a due date for rent is fine but shouldn’t there be a grace period for payment? Perhaps a week? These people didn’t seem to understand or care about that so as soon as the due date arrived (which they have set one day after salary pay day) I would get a phone call. Ridiculous! I was so annoyed at one point that I blurted out that they will get it when they get it. You can imagine that that statement didn’t sit too well with them. I didn’t care. Later the landlady’s daughter tried to level with me and said that they needed the money by a certain date each month to take care of some responsibilities. How unwise! Why should you put yourself in a position where you are totally dependent on rent to meet some time sensitive obligation? It is not a guarantee that the tenant will pay on time or even at all. So many scenarios are likely – tenant gets paid late, is robbed, is tardy etc. I’m not saying that renting a section of your house isn’t a good idea, but just understand that like all other investments, it can be risky.

Low Ceilings and Poor Ventilation are a No No

I learnt the hard way that low ceilings + poor ventilation = humid air laden with molds and mildew. I’ve experienced so many warm nights at that place, which is located in Mandeville – one of the coolest places in Jamaica. Even though I’ve used Lysol Disinfectant spray so much I’m praying that my respiratory system is fine.

Avoid Living in Areas that are Directly Behind Hills

After a stressful day at work you want to go home and watch some entertaining TV shows or listen to some soothing music, right? Well I didn’t have that luxury at that place. I think the hill blocked signals so many evenings there was nothing on the tv screen and every now and then I had to go outside to shift antenna. It didn’t work but I still tried.

Don’t Co-habit with Rats and Cockroaches

I don’t need to expound do I? When you first view a place there may be no sign of pests but maybe what you can do is have your “get vex money” ready the moment you see them. As soon as you spot them you can start looking for somewhere else because you have some money saved. Or even if you don’t have cash that’s readily available you may borrow from a friend or the bank.

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Cover of the book, Rat and Roach by David Covell

Water Tank is Necessary

How can you live in Mandeville for years and not build a tank?! Other than Portland and St. Mary, Mandeville is probably the rainiest area in Jamaica. Mandeville also has a bad reputation when it comes to water shortages (strange, I know). Everyone knows how uncomfortable it can be when there is no running water.

I’m grateful for the experience and the lessons learnt have allowed me to wisely choose places for rent. As a result of my experience, I am very appreciative of the wonderful place that I am now living in. I also know there is power in the tongue so I will be a homeowner very soon 🙂

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Lessons Learnt from Boo Boo

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Stunning, isn’t she? 

My sister and only sibling, who I affectionately dub, Boo Boo, celebrated her birthday this past weekend. Even though I’m a year and six months older than her, we have a twin vibe, so much so that most times it feels like an age difference is non-existent. For as long as I can remember, we’ve communicated almost every day, even when we moved away from home and led separate lives. And of course sometimes we fight like cats and dogs but we always squash our little cold wars before the sun sets. I value her opinions more than anyone else’s. Here are few of the many lessons I’ve learnt from my Ride or Die:

You can’t put a price on quality

For many years I’ve prided myself for being very frugal when in actuality, according to Boo, I liked cheap things too much. It took me a while to agree with her, even when the sandals from Mr X’s shop gave way within a matter of weeks or when that particular brand of lotion made my skin ashier than before. She pointed out that there is a balance to be achieved – expensive doesn’t always equal top quality, neither is cheap synonymous with mediocrity. She also highlighted that “most times you can tell when an item is cheap in every sense of the word”. I know now that buying items of the best quality will last longer which means spending less in the long run. I guess I’ve achieved balance in my spending now lol!

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Boo Boo

Always try to look your best

“Why yuh wearing dat?” “Stop wasting your beauty!” “That top suits you better”. These are just a few things my sister would say, even if we are only running a few errands. At events that require causal wear she is ‘casually chic.’ To me she’s a fashionista because she’s very conversant with the latest fashion and beauty trends. Sometimes I consult her on what to wear or buy. She’s the one who introduced me to various beauty channels such as GlamTwinz334, Jackie Aina and MahoganyCurls, as well as clothing sites such as Forever21 and Lola Shoetique. She taught me that my physical features are assets, therefore I need to treat them as such.

Demand what you deserve

Our parents may have spoiled her a little more but now I know why- she asked for what she wanted while I took what was given. At a very young age she requested that she got first choice in parts of the chicken which was prepared on Sundays. She always listed specifics when relatives living in the US would ask us what they could bring for us on the next visit.

These examples may make her appear bossy (which she kinda is lol) but it emphasizes that we should go after what we want and we should understand our worth. The moment you cheapen your worth is the moment when others think they are entitled to discounts from you. Do your research on best practices and state what you expect as a salary in your next job interview, even if the interviewer raises an eye brow. Don’t stay with that man or woman if he or she doesn’t value you. Don’t allow others to put a price on you. I haven’t fully mastered the art of demanding what I deserve but with God’s help I will get there.

I am indeed blessed to have a sis like her. May God continue to shower His richest blessings on her life.

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Thanking God while Praying for Others

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Boy connects with God through prayer. Photo courtesy of Sharon Dominick / Getty Images

The other day I heard a radio talk show host stating how blessed Jamaica is to not be experiencing the heat wave that is costing lives in India or the flood in Texas, USA. Every now and then I hear similar statements- “Thank God we have life because many didn’t get a chance to see how beautiful the today is” or “Thank God I have a job because, trust me girl, there are so many people out there who love to be in my shoes.” As a child I listened to these statements but these days I’m having a challenge in relating to and agreeing with them. Statements such as these annoy me. Here is why:

  • I don’t believe that God blesses some and neglect others. Are we saying that those who experience misfortune are abandoned by God? If you have beauty/brawn and brains and your sibling has neither does it mean that God blessed you and ignored your sister or brother? I don’t think so.
  • We all endure hardships. For some, the misfortune experienced is extreme. Only God knows why bad things happen, but many who were inspired by Him to write the books in the Bible have given us hope. The Word teaches He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away– Revelation 21:4. There are many other scriptures that contain similar promises. I know it’s easier said than done but we can give faith and hope a try.
  • Additionally, we all are blessed in different ways. Your best friend may be blessed with wealth while your cousin may have a beautiful marriage that features an endless love that many sing about. Some people have it all. The Bible also points out that we can ask God for what we want and need. Mark 11 verse 24 says, Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. In my experience, God has provided me with most of the things I wanted and/or needed. Some of my prayers are yet to be answered but I try not to worry because it may mean that God will grant me my requests according to His time, not ours. Or He may have something better in mind.

I do agree that we must always, always thank God. I think however that it is insensitive to say we are blessed while in the same breath outline the difficulties that others are experiencing.  Let us sympathize with others and pray for them.

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Your Approval of My Appearance – Thanks?

I do not need approval regarding my appearance but it’s nice to hear them sometimes. I’ve come a long way since high school where I felt that something was wrong if no boy or man complimented me on my looks or attire. Fortunately, God has done such a fantastic job in gradually ridding me of my insecurities to the extent that I often wish that I would go about my business unnoticed (I still have some insecurities but I trust that God will help). However there are certainly some compliments that are lovely to hear and would certainly make any woman’s day, even if she doesn’t need to hear them.

I am beginning to believe that it is automatic for most men to comment on women’s appearances no matter where they are, type of occasion or who they are with. I have arrived at this conclusion because too many times when I have errands to run I’ve dragged on some very simple clothing – clothes that would make me disappear in a crowd instead of standing out and yet there are cheers of immense approval.  I don’t mind these compliments as long as they seem sincere and I am not pressured to give my number or to stop and chat for “just a minute.” What irks me however are some men, (mostly strangers) who express unfiltered repulsive thoughts to us women as though we are sex objects. To say that some of these comments about body parts or prowess are inappropriate would be a gross understatement!

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Me during my first photo shoot. Photo taken by Ikon Media

Sometimes I wonder if these men make these comments just to provoke us and see what our reactions would be. Other times I tell myself that they simply do not know any better, they genuinely believe that the filth they utter is worthy of blushes. It’s sometimes difficult to believe the latter because I know that many of these men and boys have sisters, mothers, etc and would punch whoever would dare to treat the significant females in their lives with such level of disrespect.

For those respectful men who can’t keep quiet when a woman passes by: thank you for the compliments. Your comments such as “looking good princess”, “hey beautiful”, “lovely lady” etc are appreciated. Thank you for acknowledging that women are invaluable and ought to be treated like ladies. And to men who say nothing: we sometimes catch your glances. Thank you for allowing us to go about our business because sometimes we just don’t want the attention.

We are urging you both (verbal and quiet observers) to let the disgraceful men know that women are humans and like to feel respected. Also the saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” works as well.

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Smile!

In recent times many terms have arisen, one of which is resting face. There is a word that is missing from this term that starts with ‘B’ but it deserves a bleep so I will not mention it lol. Anyway the term refers to the expressionless and sometimes mean look that many girls and women show. While there may be a few advantages to the resting face such as the likelihood of the prevention of wrinkles, I am still of the opinion that nothing beats a smile 😀

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Such a cutie! Photo Courtesy of rebloggy Top Tumblr Posts

Medical professionals have listed a myriad of reasons to smile such as the boost that immunity receives and the reduction of stress. I know I have experienced some of those benefits and have observed other benefits for myself.

I sound better on the phone

Whenever that ‘special someone’ or people I want to hear from call me I automatically smile and of course they can tell that I’m happy to hear from them. It’s different however when you have a job that requires you to make and receive telephone calls. Customer service experts say that customers or clients can hear the smile in your voice and it’s true! I don’t like telephone conversations but the clients on the line don’t seem to know because I’ve been complimented for having a pleasant sounding voice.

I am more approachable

I believe that my pleasant demeanour is one of the main reasons that I have friends. I am reserved yet I find that people of various types of personalities like talking to me, sometimes without me making the first move.

I sometimes get special treatment

Store attendants (especially men) will sometimes go to a greater extent in assisting me. I may get my way in getting a little more chicken with my order or the aesthetician may offer to use a little bit of the special masque reserved for the more pricey facials.

It improves my mood

Everyone has challenges so what’s the point of letting those problems get you down? I’ve experienced problems such as terrible heart breaks and financial struggles but after moping and grieving for a bit (we need to grieve in order to move on) I dust myself off and force myself to smile until it becomes genuine. Then eventually I develop a radiant glow that people envy!

I look better

This goes without saying!  With my smile comes pearly whites and dimples (I still don’t understand why dimples are valued but I still like them lol). Some say there is even a flicker of light in my eyes. And of course there is that glow.

I hope my experience as one who smiles will put the resting face to rest. Smiles can be automatic so install them today!

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Helping Just Because

It was a scorcher of a day and I had gone grocery shopping. I guess I must have thought I was superwoman because it didn’t occur to me that I would need help with my bags. “Anyone can walk over a 100 metres with bags! Simple thing!” Little did I know that the bags would be so heavy that my arms would feel as though they would break off. The bag handles even seemed as sharp as blades. “Am I there yet?” I kept asking. I grimaced, sweated (and I don’t sweat a lot) and felt very weak. To add to my distress, too many persons were on the street and I hate crowds. Instead of stopping somewhere to rest for a bit, I continued with the stupid S on my chest.

Half way through my trek I even imagined that I would faint and wake up in a hospital. Before I got the image of my groceries being stolen, a young man offered to assist with my bags. Usually I would be a little wary when men make these offers but I wasn’t at that time. He asked where I was headed and carried all my bags to my destination. Not once did he ask for my name or phone number. He didn’t even try to make conversation. I thanked him and he went on his way.

He saw that I needed help.

His act of kindness (and valour lol) got me thinking: What if people helped others just because? Many of us offer assistance because we hope that one day the people we help can ‘owe us one’. And those who are the beneficiaries of the assistance feel obligated to return the favour to those who helped them. I even question those who help others not because they want those persons to return the favour in the future, but because they want to feel good about themselves. I shouldn’t be pointing fingers because I too am guilty of these.

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Don’t get me wrong- I’m not saying that we should not feel good about helping others but it should be a bi-product of selflessness rather than the primary reason. And it’s alright for someone to want to return the favour as long as they understand that you helped him or her, just because. And when someone does pay it forward because of our kind deeds, we feel good right? Nothing is wrong with that. Our intention for helping others should be simply that- just to help. The parable of the Good Samaritan told in the Bible speaks of a man offering to help a battered man without expecting anything in return. Jesus told this parable as one of the guides to use when relating to others.

While I believe that it is easy to put our needs above others, I think that little by little, we can strive to be selfless. We can commend a friend who dresses well simply because he or she looks good, and not because we are fishing for compliments. Help your spouse with a chore because he or she is tired. If you can, offer to help someone who is struggling with finances. Help others just because. Pay it forward just because.

Can you imagine a world where people helped each other just because?

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