December 22, 2012

Christmas Surprise


I'm pretty bad at keeping certain secrets, mainly because I get too excited to contain myself and my facial expression is a dead giveaway. So I realised I was up for a challenge when the opportunity arose to surprise my Mum and brothers for Christmas. 
I wasn't planning on going home this year because of my internship and had, after a long period of denial, accepted the fact that I would be experiencing my first cold Christmas. But it seems that Fate had other things in mind and after a change of plans, I was face with the prospect of actually spending Christmas with my family in Barbados. My Dad and step mum Ana very kindly offered to help me with my ticket - I cried a lot of happy tears when I was told this and continued to do so whenever it hit me thereafter. Just over a week later my ticket was booked, I quit my internship and was on my way home. I hadn't seen my brothers and some of my best friends in a year and I was filled with a sense of relief and a joy that I hadn't felt in a while.
At this point my friends and immediate family were sure that I wouldn't be making it and the pity card had been played well in order to pull of my planned surprise. I even had friends offer to pay for my ticket! I had to write down a record  of my 'lie'plan, so that I didn't mess up and tell a different story at any point - I was spending Christmas in The Hague and New Year's Eve in London as far as they were all concerned.

The 18 hour trek home dragged on at an excruciatingly slow pace; waking up in Amsterdam at 3.30 am, waiting in Frankfurt for what seemed like a week and then transferring in St.Lucia before finally touching down in Bimshire. That enormous sense of relief that washes over me when I first glimpse our little rock from the plane window never fades makes all the chaos of travel disappear. It's so worth it - I'm home!

Kathy (my neighbour) had developed quite an elaborate plan for my surprise; I was to be picked up from the airport, smuggled to their house and hidden in a box disguised as a giant Christmas gift. I was worried about someone 'spotting' me at the airport and telling my family before I got home - goes to show how small Barbados is! Being the techie geek that I am and wanting my Dad, Ana and Alfie to feel as involved as possible after helping me, we set up some cameras & the ipad beforehand to capture the moment of truth:




I am so incredibly grateful to be home to celebrate another Caribbean Christmas in the sun.

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December 20, 2012

Quarter Century Crisis




Without realising it and definitely without intention, I walked head on into a quarter century crisis. This feels a bit repetitive because I've explained my situation to so many people already but I want to post about it so that everything I write about hereafter falls into place.

I cried at my desk every day when I returned from my birthday weekend in Rome. I was overcome with dread and a knot in my stomach as my train pulled in to the city of Eindhoven and it didn't go away all week. I wasn't sleeping properly and was giving myself migraines from stressing out so much. I was suddenly 25 and very unhappy. I hated the situation I was in and hated myself even more for hating it so much. I'm usually pretty positive but I felt exhausted from trying to find something positive to focus on here; I just couldn't find it. I wanted to be elsewhere, doing other things with other people. I felt like I was lying to myself by continuing this internship. I knew I could be so much more productive over the coming 5 months by doing something I felt passionate about. I was stuck in a grey environment, doing work that I wasn't interested in at all, trying to put other plans into place that couldn't work without my full attention. I felt like a quitter though, even after giving it my all. Reactions from friends and family ranged from being supportive to telling me I was downright mad for want to give up an opportunity with a company such as Philips. I know that it seems silly to some but I'd rather have something on my CV that I'm really proud of than something I did for the sake of good branding.

I finally plucked up the courage to tell one of my managers about how I felt and that I couldn't continue with this internship. Luckily, she was very understanding (albeit shocked to see me in such a state) I walked out of there with a smile that rivaled the Chesire cat's; an enormous weight had just been lifted off of my shoulders and I felt normal again. I then had another meeting with senior managers the following week, presented my case and specific reasons for leaving and was granted leave 5 days later.
I feel really good about my decision and even though this experience wasn't at all what I expected, it was a learning experience nonetheless. In a roundabout way, this has clearly shown me what I do and don't want to do with the next chapter in my life, how it needs to be done and what it may take to get there.
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December 19, 2012

Shine bright: Barbados



Ri Ri has won over many haters with this video showing off her homeland, in collaboration with the Barbados Tourism Association. Well done girl, way to represent your roots :) 
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December 18, 2012

5 teeny tiny travel tips



Pack light
Seems obvious and yet I rarely travel light. That is, until I'm faced with the dire reality of limited baggage allowance on Ryanair. You'd be surprised at what a girl can fit into a regular Longchamp...Also, they rarely make you weigh your handbag, so you can sneak a few heavier items in there.
Walking through the airport with a small bag is a breeze and you're never caught in one of those awkward moments when you look like a clumsy loser lugging an overstuffed suitcase up a flight of stairs (Or is that just me?)

Pre-order vegetarian food on flights
I'm a borderline veggie so I usually felt ill after eating the meat served on flights. The solution to the age old airplane food conundrum is simple: pre order vegetarian, kosher or halal food on long haul flights. Extra care is usually taken to prepare these meals because of the risk of food allergies and lawsuits and you can usually tell. It's still not home style cooking by any means but at least you're not chewing on an unidentifiable piece of plastic.

Get drunk in style
A small bottle of wine with dinner or a few beers to help you relax are pretty standard but it really irks me to be stuck next to an obnoxious, stinky drunkard who forgot that having a tipple at 30,000 ft is not the same as having one-too-many at home in the pub. 

Bring a blow up neck pillow
No neck cramp, you can sleep anywhere and it takes up less space than the standard beanie ones. You'll thank me for this one day. Unless you travel with someone like Christina who makes sure to move your pillow everrrr so slightly so that you end up snoring and drooling on a stranger's shoulder.


Dress properly
This can mean a lot of things but I'm narrowing it down to 2 tips: Dress smartly and practically. Smartly because you're more likely to get an upgrade if you're wearing something decent which will make it seem like you were planning to sit in 1st Class anyway. Fact: Most airline staff would admit that an upgrade is based on appearance and attitude before anything else. 
Secondly, nobody likes to go through security, far less to be stuck behind an idiot who wore boots, a thick belt & a gazillion pieces of jewelry to travel. Yes, we're judging you silently because you had to get scanned 3 times before informing security of your genital piercing (Seriously?!) Wear flats and get your shit together before you reach security and make everyone's day run a bit smoother. 
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December 15, 2012

Kay-OS






This last week was a mix of chaos, freezing weather & lots and lots of planning trying to plan.
I have no idea where I'm going, what I'm doing or what 2013 is going to bring but what I do know is that I'm happier than I have been in a long time.
I quit my internship at Philips, for too many reasons to talk about on here right now, I've packed my bags, I have a kick ass best friend who's coming to pick me up shortly from this shithole city that is Eindhoven and I have some pretty cool plans in the pipelines.
I'm moving back to Amsterdam and getting my shit together.
YE-A!
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December 14, 2012

Zeitgeist 2012: Year in Review



I'm a sucker for all things Google so I admit that I got a bit teary eyed when I saw this video. So much has happened in the last year and I can't wait to see what 2013 brings!

Happy Friday!
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December 10, 2012

One of those 'holy shit' Mondays


I slept over by a friend in Rotterdam last night, after a huge dinner and a food baby the size of an elephant. 
I still had my overnight bag since celebrating Sinterklaas in Den Haag and I.was.not.moving. 
So I crashed on her couch and took the early train to work in the morning. 
Sounds simple, right?
Well first of all, my train was half an hour late.
Which made me miss my other train connection.
Which made me late for the very last shuttle to my work site.
So I was stuck waiting on the regular bus, which takes a lot longer.
I then took the wrong bus, even after double checking with the bus driver.
I then realised that the bus driver mistook 'Bus towards airport' for 'Bus towards city.' 
He then informed me that he was not a tour guide after I asked him which bus I should switch to.
Screw you too Mr.Busdriver, I have a BlackBerry and am therefore rendered useless.
Shit.
I got out at the next available stop, after walking to the front of the bus to exit, which is apparently the wrong way to go on a Dutch bus.
"Get out via the back" Says Mr.A-hole Bus Driver.
And in my anger at Mr.A-hole Bus Driver, I failed to realise that this stop was in the middle of a 4 lane highway (I didn't know bus stops existed in such places)
Cue me getting pissed off, stomping limping across the highway to the other side, weekend suitcase in tow, making SO much noise, only to realise that this bus stop was 'shut down' and defunct.
Double Shit.
I then took out my shitty Blackberry and attempted to GPS Map my work.
YAY! It was just around the corner. FINALLY some good luck!
I smugly set off, determined to walk to work.
Walking turned into limping, as my knee started to swell and my hands & feet froze.
I realise that 'just around the corner' is in fact 5 kilometers.
Shit, I'm not going to make it.
I need to call my Manager and let her know, maybe even convince her to pick me up.
Except, my data decides to stop working and I can't Google anything.
(No, I didn't have my office number saved. We rarely use fixed lines at my office. Don't judge me)
Thankfully, Whatsapp seems to work.
I don't know how or why, as nothing in life makes sense to me at this point.
I continue to walk and type to one of my besties in London, who's frantically trying to Google phone numbers for me.

I tried at least 10 and not one of them work.
Then, FINALLY, I get through to a guy who works at my site but doesn't seem to know that my department exists.

He's annoyed that I've somehow gotten through to him of all people on this fine Monday morning.
"Do you even work at Philips?" he sighs.
"Yes, I p-p-promise you I do. I'm a stupid intern. Please, I'm just having a bad day, my hands are frozen and I need to get hold of Anna (my Manager)"
"Ok, the extension number is ---"
"BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAP"
A giant truck blows its horn as it zooms by, nearly knocking me over.
"Sorry, can you repeat that again please? I didn't hear you"
"Are you near a computer? You could do this yourself."
"Are you kidding? I'm on a highway, freezing my hands off just talking to you. Please help me out here."
"Ok the extension is 2456"
"Can you repeat that once more please?"
"Well, I'm not convinced you work here actually. You should know this number."
"Seriously?"
"Yes, I'm not convinced. Try someone else."
"Ok thanks asshole, have a great day!"
I hung up on him and continued to stomp/limp along, walking past a truck yard and some large houses that were hundreds of metres from the road.
I was fuming but also laughing at myself.
This was the most bizarre situation. I didn't know what to do and my friend was having a panic attack in London on my behalf.
Finally I walked towards this forested area lining the road, which turned out to be a garden for a strange office of sorts, which looked like the love child of a rehab centre and a Gentlemans' Club.
I walked towards the building, ignoring the stares of everyone working inside. Bespeckled men in suits stopped talking, turned around, stood up and STARED as I walked up the reception.
Cue the transvestite secretary who was reluctant to even buzz the door, looking at me as though I was something the cat had dragged in.
Something I've learned since living in Holland is that it's ALWAYS better to play dumb and speak English. They have little pity for a girl who's fluent in Dutch but can't find her words in stressful situations. So I put on my best foreigner look, explained my situation in brief and asked for her to call me a cab.
In Dutch, she/he explained to the cab driver that I was this poor English girl who had clearly lost my way and needed to be taken to Philips. Perhaps I was going to get my limping leg fixed, she said, as she eyed me up and down. She had no idea I understood her. I smiled innocently and kept saying thank you.
I FINALLY got in a taxi and made my way to work, 2.5 hours late.

Being 25 has so far proven to be awesome...
I'd like to thank my shitty Blackberry for being there for me in such trying times.
And to the bestie in London, who had my back across the channel :)
xxx
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December 8, 2012

Poppin' knees in the club, like a lizard.

No, I'm not on the toilet.


I dislocated my knee again on Friday night whilst in a changing room, in a store in the middle of Eindhoven. This has happened many times before thanks to super stretchy ligaments, which tend to fail at keeping my shoulders, knees & toes in place. They tend to pop out when I'm a.) drunk & forget that I'm not a dancing queen b.) when attempting any sport more extreme than riding a bike. 
This time however, I was completely taken by surprise.I was pulling on my boot and my knee cap popped out, swiveled around and I collapsed on the floor. Luckily I put it back in place instantly but I blacked out briefly and hit my head. Funnily enough, the first thought that went through my head as I came round was: "HolyyyShit, thank god I'm not naked!"
A manager helped me out but I had to hobble to the main road by myself to call a cab because the store was in a pedestrianized area. The fact that I was in so much pain in a shithole city, crying my eyes out, with no one to help me, reiterated the need to get the hell out of there. I have never felt so alone and pathetic in my life. (Note: never call your mother who is 4,000km away in cases like this. She will panic, freak out & probably call the National Guard to try to help you)
I'm now hobbling around with green sports tape that makes me look like a Christmas lizard. Schmexy.
It was a poopy start to an eventful weekend!
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December 7, 2012

Never say never


This is one of my favourite quotes in the world, particularly because I've recently seen things that startled me, felt things I've never felt before and met people with a different point of view.  I've fallen in love with the feeling of having everything turned upside down and having any preconceptions thrown out of the window. I'm a firm believer in 'never say never' and yet...I said never sometimes without realising it: 

"I'll never be that person..."
"I'd never do that..."
"Never in a million years would that happen..."
"I could never understand that!"

Screw never. 
The only certainty in life is that there is no certainty and you NEVER know what the day may bring. You never know who you may meet, what conversation you may have, what feelings you may develop, or what seeds may be planted in your mind that will never leave. 
You never know whether you'll wake up a healthy person, whether those you love will still be by your side at the end of the day or whether you'll be the same person tomorrow as you were today. 
Life throws us curve balls  in the form of people, places, ideas and new experiences which shake us up so much that we'll never be the same again.

From now on the only 'never' I'll believe in is to never take anything for granted, never let an opportunity pass you by, never lose sight of what you want, never stop learning, never give up on love and happiness and never, ever give up hope on the dream of making this world a better place.

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December 3, 2012

Roma Highlights

From the time our plane bounced along the runway like a drunken jellybean and prompted a 100 odd Italians to start cursing the Ryanair pilot, I knew I would like this place.

I'd booked this impromptu birthday trip to Rome a few days before, intent on distracting myself from the fact that I was falling head first into a quarter century crisis {More on this later}

It's amazing what a girl can fit into her suitcase when packing for a Ryanair flight by the way; I was so proud of myself for fitting a pair of heels, my SLR, my regular point & shoot camera, make-up, teeny tiny liquids, make-up & 5 outfits into my beat up old Longchamp Pliage :) Oh, plus a bottle of vodka and a tin of stroopwafels at the departure gate, because I stupidly forgot that the 'one-bag-as-hand luggage rule' also included any duty-free items! 




Cue lots of wine, good food, great company and a new city to discover. I was set, not realizing I'd get all of this and more in 4 days.

I went to visit Marvin, an American on exchange in Rome, who I met at the One Young World conference last month. He lived in a building with a gazillion other exchange students so the weekend was non-stop chaos, a flurry of food, alcohol, partying and political debate.
I was hungover for the majority of the time but this didn't stop me from dragging my ass to the Vatican on the Saturday in a bid to save my soul before turning 25. I somehow managed to convince Marvin that this was a great idea, seeing as he hadn't been to the Vatican as yet. He flirted with some Spanish nuns as we queued and they gave us tickets to the service. We didn't realise that we'd be bumping into Benny The Pope at said service. Suddenly my hangover took a turn for the worse but we were determined to see what all the fuss was about. As I sat there with the hungover shakes, a group of nuns from The Philipines also started shaking and crying next to me, overcome by his Holiness. I'll make sure not to vilify him as I'm aware that a bunch of Catholics are reading this but it honestly puts the facade of celebrity in a whole new light; The Pope glided past us with a blank look on his face, giving a similar wave to that of The Queen as hundreds of people around him wept.  It was a pretty surreal experience to say the least. 






Fast forward two days, after hours of walking around, snapping photos, getting lost, eating way too much food and regretting that extra glass of yummy vino, I was on my way back to The Dam, wishing I didn't have to leave. 
I know I only just saw the tip of the Italian iceberg and I can't wait to discover more of this country. Until next time Roma :)



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November 30, 2012

Yes, I'm from Barbados.


{via Nikola Simpson}



"Where are you from?"
"Barbados"
"Where is that exactly?" 
"It's an island in the Caribbean, sort of near Jamaica and Cuba, but much further South"
"Cool, so how long is the drive from Jamaica?"

---------------------------

"Ahhh Barbados, I've been there. I love the Bahamas!"

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"Do you know Rihanna?"

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"So I hear you're from Barbados"
"I am indeed :)"
"But...you're white."
"Yep, there is such a thing as a white Barbadian."
"Oh right, but one of your parents must be black then?"

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"So you're from Barbados...but why do you sound Irish?"

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"Do they have internet in Barbados?"

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"Bajan? Like Cajun chicken?"

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"OMG You're part of the Bermuda Triangle! Crazy!"

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"You're from Barbados? What the hell are you doing HERE?"

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"Ooooo you're from Barbados: IRIE, MON!"
"That's Jamaican and we don't talk like that"
"But aren't you part of Jamaica?"

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These are some little snippets of conversations I've had over the years when I mention where I'm from. Rarely do I get a standard response and everyone always has something to say; be it negative, positive or plain ignorant.
Barbados is teeny tiny & a lot of people couldn't point it out on a map but yet the island is world renowned for beautiful beaches, tropical weather, friendly people, yummy food,  awesome music, to name a few.
I love our little island and am so proud to be a Bajan :)

Happy 46th Independence Barbados!
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November 28, 2012

Inside Insides: Brussel Sprouts & Panda Bears

I previously mentioned that I'm working for Philips Healthcare without going into specifics of exactly what I'm doing. Without boring you, I'll just say that I'm in the Communications department of the MR division - dealing with everything to do with the cool Philips scanning machines used all over the world. Usually bodies are scanned for medical purposes, showing excruciatingly detailed networks of veins, muscles and every lump and bump in between. This involves a lot of time looking at weird images on the scans, trying to figure out what it all means - during my first few weeks all saw was funny looking aliens, puppies, owls & panda bears. It was like trying to find shapes in the clouds! Since then I've learned to recognize body parts but I'm still learning something new every day. Imagine my delight when I came across this blog showing wacky scanned images, proving that nothing everything is as it seems on the outside...



Andy Ellison, an MRI technologist at Boston University Medical School, uses a Philips 3 Tesla MRI and has created a blog with images of fruit, vegetables and flowers that he started scanning for research purposes. I can't believe how different these images are to what I'd expect; who'd have thought brussel sprouts would be so beautiful?


Brussel Sprouts

Try to guess what the rest of these are:
{Answers are at the bottom of the post}

Bunch of 'Pumpkin Trees' Similar to a pepper or an eggplant

Garlic

Sunflower 

Photobucket
This one reminds me of the octopus from Finding Nemo
Axial Acquisition of Lilly Buds


Answers: Bunch of 'Pumpkin Trees (Similar to a pepper & an eggplant), Garlic, Sunflower, Cucumber & my favourite, an Axial Acquisition of Lilly Buds.

Make sure to check out "Inside insides" for more photos & GIFs. Warning: You'll get distracted for a whileeeeeee!
You can even email Andy with suggestions of new fruit, flowers & veg to scan :)
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November 26, 2012

When in Rome...



After my recent rant about trying to find sunshine in a shithole, I decided to take the first step in staying positive and booked a weekend trip to Rome for my birthday :) Good food, good wine, beautiful setting and great company? Sounds like the perfect way to celebrate my quarter century crisis. 
I've never ventured to Italy, even though it's been on my list for years now! The one thing that's always put me off of visiting is the fact that's it's a huge tourist destination and I HATE being a tourist, or at least feeling like one. It's an age old travel conundrum: should one avoid popular tourist destinations purely because everyone goes there? Even though I've always been wary, I'd have to disagree with that because I come from one of the top tourist destinations in the world and believe that there are so many different ways to experience a country. The best way to is through the eyes of a local, and Barbados is a perfect example of this. Same goes for Thailand and other hot spots; my personal experience lies in stark contrast with those of locals or people who visited friends living there. Finding hidden hangouts and local watering holes, trying homemade meals, getting stuck on local transport & seeing how it's really done is the best part of travelling. And yet, the opportunity to visit someone in Italy hasn't sprung up yet - until now :) I'm super excited and can't wait to eat, drink, party, explore and discover everything Rome has to offer.

Can anyone offer me less obvious tips on what to see, eat & do when in Rome?

Gotta love Twitter for this -  I tweeted at Lonely Planet this morning asking for tips on where to eat, love &play and these are some of the responses I got:





Can't wait to start reading through the recommendations!

Any more suggestions?

Follow me on Twitter & join the conversation :)

xxx


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November 23, 2012

Tune-tastic


I'm a huge fan of discovering new music through other people.
My fave sources include 8tracks and Grooveshark - these babies introduce me to music I would never normally stumble upon.
Here are some random favourites for this week:






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November 22, 2012

Finding sunshine in a shithole



It's been a rough few weeks.
I packed my bags & moved out of my lovely apartment in Amsterdam to start a 6 month internship at Philips Healthcare in Eindhoven, on the less-than-glamorous end of Holland.
My friends and family gave me skeptical looks when I announced I would be moving because 3 hours a day on a train seemed like too much.
"Are you sure?"
"Of course I'm sure! It'll be fine"
Now I'm not so sure.
Cue rain (it seems rainier here), grey scenery, grumpy people and not much going on in a city that's nicknamed "Eindhoven de gekste" (the crazy). 
At this point, anything 'crazy' would be appreciated, this city is so boring! (Though I'm sure to get more than my fair share of it when the city apparently 'comes alive' for its annual carnival in February.)
Even though I am now only 1.5 hours away from Amsterdam, this new world I'm living in couldn't be more different. It's smaller, less dynamic and doesn't have the same buzz; the people don't seem as friendly and the neighborhoods are desolate. Everyone I've met so far has asked me why on earth I would move from Amsterdam to Eindhoven, not considering the long commute that would have entailed.
Let's call this move a much needed reality check: little island girl who has so far had nothing but luck, good fortune & amazing experiences in interesting places suddenly has the rose tinted glasses taken off and chucked in the bin. Without those glasses I'm suddenly faced with a really difficult, depressing situation and reality doesn't taste very good. 
The point of this post is not to moan or have anyone feel sorry for me (I've had enough pity from all those who asks me where I'm living right now) but rather, to declare that I refuse to let this get the better of me. I also see this as a taste of the life I never want to have and to have a new found appreciation for everywhere else I've lived so far. Every time I've had a negative thought about something I've found myself quickly ending it with "White girl problem." (For those of you who don't know, "White girl problems" = not an actual problem but something trivial relative to actual problems) And yes, it's really a case of mind over matter and focusing on the positive.
I hate where I'm living but I'm so incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to work with an international organisation, gain experience, network and earn decent money in the mean time. I also have great friends to cheer me up on Skype, my bezzies in the Dam who have an open door policy (I'm back there every weekend), family who can give me a push when I need it and a lot of exciting projects coming up in 2013. I'm only here for 6 months and I plan to make the most of it. I believe there is sunshine in this shithole and I will beat these white girl problems, one at a time.
And I will put back on my rose tinted glasses once this is over, thankyouverymuch.

Image via.
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November 19, 2012

Manic Monday: The orbital perspective

"For the 50 years that we've been flying in space astronauts & cosmonauts have always commented on how beautiful, how fragile, how peaceful, how tranquil and how breathtaking our planet is from space. These are not cliches that astronauts say because it feels good; it truly is moving to look at our planet from space....We could look down and feel empathy for the struggles that all people face and see that each and every one of us is riding through the universe together on this spaceship that we call earth. That we're all interconnected, that we're all in this together, that we're all family. That's what we call the orbital perspective."

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November 18, 2012

Sunday Snapshots*


Some recent snapshots of Amsterdam in Autumn

xxx

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November 14, 2012

Let's talk about diabetes






Today is World Diabetes Day - a day dedicated to raising awareness on this deadly disease which is rampant in the developing world. 

Though I myself am lucky enough not to have to worry about my blood sugar, there are tens of thousands of Barbadians who do. This disease is poisoning my little island paradise and it's not just our problem.

The latest research from the World Health Organisation states that 346 million people worldwide have diabetes and more than 80% of diabetes deaths occur in low- and middle-income countriesType 2 diabetes comprises 90% of people with diabetes around the world, resulting from a combination of genetic and environmental factors.  Although there is a small percentage of people with a strong genetic predisposition, Type 2 diabetes is largely the result of excess body weight and physical inactivityThat's a crazy amount of people dying from a disease that can be prevented with a healthier diet, regular physical activity and maintaining a normal body weight.  Type 1 Diabetes is a different story because the cause of Type 1 is unknown and there isn't a cure for it - yet. 


Unfortunately, it's the poorer countries that are being affected the most and are putting a huge financial burden on governments. Estimates show a direct cost of US$ 10.7 billion (!) in Latin America and the Caribbean. (Image what could be done with that money?! Read more on costs in this WHO report here.)
Not to mention other health complications; hundreds of limbs being chopped off every year, people going blind and dying of strokes & other cardiovascular diseases which are all a direct result of a disease that has been poorly managed. I could go on and on and on....you get the picture - It's pretty grim.
The problem in tackling this is that diabetes isn't a 'sexy' disease & if you don't know someone who has it, it's difficult to relate to. Unfortunately it also takes long term lifestyle changes to be implemented for the effects to be noticed. There is no instant solution; you can't have a healthy lunch, quit smoking or refuse alcohol & think "My chances of developing Type 2 diabetes just decreased by 0.2% - yippee!" It doesn't work like that. 
Being healthy is a lifestyle choice and the positive choices you make today are a smart part of a healthier lifestyle in the long run. 
It really bothers me that something like this is happening in a world where the resources are more than readily available to the majority of us and yet there are way too many people who don't understand that their lifestyle choices and behavior today could have serious implications for their health in the future. We need to be educated on the little things; drinking a glass of water over a coke, going for a nice walk a few times a week, putting more fruit and vegetables on our dinner plate and opting for less sugar in our coffee. Our relationship and understanding of food needs to change gradually in order for this to work.

{via}
I went to high school with a Type 1 diabetic who is harnessing her condition to educate others. Krystal Boyea is the embodiment of a powerful woman; intelligent, determined, athletic, outspoken, charismatic & feminine. She's showed her peers what it is to be in control of something and uses it to bring about positive change: she really makes you think "Go girl!" She's awesome and she's a champion for young diabetics around the world, doing amazing things like speaking at the UN about living with diabetes and representing North America and the Caribbean as a Youth Ambassador. Though her condition was not developed like Type 2 diabetes, Krystal has to be in control of her body every single second of the day since being diagnosed at age 11; watching what she eats, monitoring her blood sugar levels & researching what it is she's eating before she puts it into her body.

My question is, if someone like Krystal can manage to do this to the extreme, why can't the rest of us be more conscious of what we eat  on a daily basis?


The solution to preventing Type 2 diabetes is changing behavior through education. Pure and simple. 
There are so many great initiatives in Barbados and around the world which aim to do just this; Be The Change BarbadosThe Healthy Caribbean CoalitionJamie Oliver's Food Revolution and Thought for Food, to name a few. By joining in on these causes, spreading the love and sharing ideas you're already helping a worldwide problem with a simple step. 
It takes understanding and education to live a healthier lifestyle and if that means making something like diabetes seem 'sexier' and more relevant  then so be it. Our generation is already proving that we can work together for a brighter future so let's talk about this and empower others to make better choices. 


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6 lessons you learn from travelling

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Oh how I love Thought Catalog! It's my daily dose of inspiration, humour & 'kick-in-the-butt-to-go-do-something-cool'. If you still haven't discovered this awesome bible for twentysomethings make sure to put it on your list of distractions today. I had to re-blog this post by Evelyn Cheung on '6 lessons you learn from travelling' because I found myself nodding (and chuckling) in agreement with every single point. 
Hope you enjoy it as much as I did :)

"I have stepped on five continents within the past year, visited eleven countries, and met people from all over the world. It is hard to say all of that without sounding like a fully pretentious asshole. But besides the obviously enriching experiences I’ve had driving down Great Ocean Road in Australia or drinking hot wine while walking through the Christmas markets in Paris, I’ve found that the most important things I’ve learned are incredibly mundane:


1. Good company is hard to find, but easier when you know you’ll never see them again. 

We all know that finding good friends is a painstakingly difficult process. But when traveling, your fellow travelers are your best friends. The barista at the cafe who serves you your cafe au lait can be your replacement sister, and the guy you met on the metro can turn into your lover for a night or two. The appeal of everyone as a human being increases when you know your time together is fleeting. Or maybe it’s because everyone decides to be nicer because first impressions really matter when you only have so much time with someone. Yes, you will meet people you cannot stand, but you will meet people that you wish you could spend the rest of your life with. But you don’t. Because that is entirely unrealistic, since you will never be in the same place at the same time again.  Some things are better left short and unadulterated; it is what it is and what it was is perfect.

2. You learn to associate certain places with certain people. 

This gets dangerous, as you realize that you can never return to the places you love and have them be the same ever again. It goes something like this: Wait. That was the step of Sacre Coeur we sat on when we talked about your family, no? Isn’t that spot on Bondi Beach where we realized that absolutely had to move to Australia? Haven’t you been to Bondi? Hey, isn’t that where your friend Jennifer vomited on the steps of Lan Kwai Fong? God, I miss her. Shit, you don’t know her do you? You get the point. Makes for some pretty profound nostalgia. I had three relatively serious flings while traveling, all in different countries — Spain, Singapore, and Hong Kong. And it sucks just because I know I will think of those people every time I think of the place. They’re not just my cities or places. The construct of each place in my mind is based around that one person or group of people. But was it the person that made me fall in love with the place or the place that made me fall in love with the person?

3. Home is where you make it. 

Not just where your heart is. The definition of home tends to vary from person to person. But you learn to build and rebuild everywhere you go. You find new friends, new family, and places where you’ll be a regular. It’s all about relearning the things in new places that make your everyday life tick — like where the best latte is, the shortest walk to where you need to go, the longer scenic walk to where you need to go, where to buy groceries that have international imports that remind you of your actual home, and so on. This is an ongoing process. Some days you’ll hate the place, and it will feel nothing like home. And other days, you know there’s no place else that feels more like it.

4. Paradise is temporary; reality is there.

 So I went to the Thai island of Koh Phi Phi this past April. We were sitting at a bar on the beach when we heard that there was an 8.6 earthquake in Indonesia, which set off a tsunami warning. The siren went off across the entire island. Everyone was evacuated to higher ground. We sat in the jungle on a mountain for five hours. Paradise shattered. Sent a couple of “If anything happens, please know that I love you” texts (3G is awesome). Thankfully, no tsunami. But this realization that shit can happen even in places where you feel so far removed from reality was incredibly disconcerting.

5. You find the most important people in your life when you’re the furthest away from them. 

Distance makes the heart grow fonder, but distance also makes the heart grow colder. It could be “out of sight, out of mind.” You figure out who makes the effort to keep in touch with you and who doesn’t. But more importantly, you figure out who YOU make the effort to keep in touch with and who you don’t. You learn who you want to come back to.

6. If there is one thing that you could spend the rest of your money on for the rest of your life, it should be this. 

And by “this” I mean traveling, new experiences, and new places. There are few things more valuable than that. Although traveling does not necessarily make you a better person per se, it does color your life in new ways. Yes, it is a luxury, and yes, it does cost heaps of money. But how many times do you wake up in the morning wishing you were somewhere else? How many times do you wish you had booked that trip to Southeast Asia but never got around to doing it? 
Think about it. And go."



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