Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Here We Go - Cruisin! Part III

I love my journey! Okay, where was I? Oh yeah, continuing on my adventure. Okay, I went on the cruise, rode the banana boat, fell off of it and got back on it, and then went parasailing. Whew!

The cruise ship had a variety of clubs and musical shows to check out. The fun part was dressing up and looking cute. I wore a dress that I've never worn and probably won't get a chance to wear again (where would I go in Charlotte that requires dressing up?) Let's be honest, the best part was dressing up and taking pictures.

Second island destination: Nassau. We decided to forgo a beach excursion. We didn't want to pay the ships $65 ticket price just to be dropped off/picked up at the beach even if it was a private island. I was baked enough. Besides, as soon as we walked off the boat and down a cute little walk way, taxi drivers approached us. Rodney, a charismatic driver gave us a good vibe so we decided to take a 2 hr tour of Nassau with him.

Rodney took us, and several other cruisers, all over Nassau. We toured the middle class/million dollar homes and to the poorer areas. I sat right up front with Rodney because I love to talk and interview folks. Rodney never tired of my questions. It was crazy riding in front on the left side of the vehicle in a city with no obvious traffic laws, but Rodney was a gem. In fact, he had me already moving over to Nassau and even showed us the area that I would be living in if I decided to teach there. (What he didn't tell me that the cost of living was so high!) As a side note, did you know that Nassau didn't have taxes and the government covered healthcare costs? This excursion was truly about learning a little about the culture and sightseeing. What I found interesting was that I could count the number of folks that had natural dred locs. Most women had relaxers or wigs (wigs in that heat, really?!)

I've already decided that I'll be relocating somewhere outside of the U.S. when I get older. Hmmm...maybe Nassau will be in the running. I can't relocate until Dove goes to college and I've got my Master's Degree, etc. and etc.

We toured the absolutely astounding Atlantis. I can only dream of staying there right now. (Lawd, let me work hard as a writer and sell some books so that I can lounge at the Atlantis for a few days.) The rooms start at $499 a night! Other than that, we walked around Nassau finding the perfect souvenirs and t-shirts. My mom has this obsessive thing for t-shirts.

So, back on the ship the guy that my mom marked as a loser kept popping up. I didn't know his angle, but whatever it was my mom wasn't having it. Then a guy slid over to me and said, "You know, you have some sexy legs. I've been watching you all day...you had on some orange shorts, right? I wanna dance with you..." Okay, corny! I couldn't help but to squeeze through the crowd and lose him. Can you say, "stalker!"

Now, here's what you've been waiting for. (Ha! You didn't even know that you were waiting for something, did you?) I've been dancing and working out trying to wear a two-piece bikini by my birthday. I tried it on in the room and had Dove take a picture of me - and I chickened out. Then I kept on eating and getting a round belly. And, the days were passing by. Finally, I decided to wear it regardless of what I looked like. So, I put it on and went to the upper deck to ride the giant water slides and take pictures in my bikini. My first bikini ever!!!! (Ha, I waited until I was 40 to wear a two-piece so no judgement!)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Here We Go- Cruisin! Part II

When I went on my cruise, I knew that I was going to make it adventurous. I had to. This was the year that I marked as my beginning of living free, daring to live, trying new things, etc. and etc.

Freeport, Bahamas. Our first destination. Hot sun, clear waters and clean air. Since my mom and I cruised before, we were kind of familiar as to how it worked when we arrived at an island. You have to move beyond the port area to get to the action. A few cruisers were leery of the taxi drivers shouting and urging you to their vehicles so we had to let people know that this is how it works. There was nothing at the port, but a few shops and a little welcome band.

Dove, mom and I hopped in a taxi with a few other cruisers and headed to Freeport. We had one thing that we had to do - swim with the dolphins. Well, *ahem* pet the dolphins according to my mom. Although I wanted to swim, she was not quite ready to join me on the adventure. We made our way to the touristy area of Freeport and found the excursion office. (We didn't book any excursions through the cruise ship because they were too expensive.) That was a fail. We were sure that we could take the 2 PM and be back by 4 PM, leaving us 1 1/2 hours to play. However, the little lady at the counter insisted that we had to be back on the ship by four. Which was not the story at all. So, we missed it that excursion. We didn't have to be back on board until 5:30!!! Ugh!

We sauntered over to the beach area. Beautiful! The sand was white and although it was hot as a brick oven out there, the sand didn't burn my feet. And, the ocean - man oh man, the ocean was clear and amazing. I loved it all except for me feeling like a chicken on a rotisserie rack. The sun was broiling my skin! All I needed was a little olive oil and I would have been ready to serve on a hot platter! Whew!

We decided to take a ride on the banana boat to cool off. We boarded with several others to ride out to see dolphins, million dollar homes, and a pirate ship. We bounced on the waves and soared like the wind! It was great, except for my mother screaming from behind me, "Slow down! There are children on here!" I believe she was crying out more for herself, but used the excuse of the children. It was a good thing because at one point we turned around and a man with his 4 year-old son bounced off the back of the banana boat and was floating in the water. Poor baby! There was no way I would have put a baby on that thing.

Back to the ride, yeah, I did say that it was all fine and dandy, right? Well, that was until the ocean smacked me right in the face! Yep, we hit a curve and I could feel the boat turning over - it felt like slow motion - and I tried to slant the opposite way for balance. Problem is, I don't think everybody else was trying to balance it out. We hit the water - bam! And, I went under. My baby, Dove, went under, too! Thank goodness she was closer to the boat and reached it to get pulled in, but me - ha! Did I mention that I can't swim and panic when my feet can't touch the bottom of the pool? Even with the life vest, I was in the water feeling as if I was about to drown...the water was touching my chin and that was entirely too close to my face. I looked a hot, dramatic mess! But hey, I got back on. (Photo: notice the people still floating in the water.)

I got back on only because I couldn't stand to hear my mother's warning. "I knew something was going to happen, my spirit told me that it was going to turn over, that's why I got off. My spirit...blah, blah, blah..." I got back on to show her that things happen. If you ride a bike, you're gonna fall off. If you get on a banana boat, it may very well turn over. Things just happen!

Back on the beach, as we played around in the water, guess what happened? Another excursion boat pulled up exactly where I was standing. And, my Zumba peer, Diana Stewart, got off of it. I didn't even know that she was in Freeport. Isn't that the craziest thing? We hugged, took pictures and even Zumba'd on the beach. (What was crazier is that she was covering my Wednesday night Zumba class for me!!!) That chance meeting which really gave meaning to the phrase, "It's a small world."

Well, after our traumatic experience, my mom was rather toddlish cranky. She was hot, needed water and probably wanted to get out of the sun. But, I wanted to do something else. I talked Dove into parasailing with me. My mom didn't want to and went off to seek bottled water. I wish she went out with us to take pictures for I have none to show. (sad face) I love Dove, she is such a team player. She's down for trying new experiences.

We waited our turn out on the wooden, floating dock. We were in the middle of the ocean! Me - the one who fear the water. After a quick tutorial on how to take off and land, we were harnessed in and ready to fly. It was truly amazing taking off and going high in the air. I looked back at the balloon, down at the water, back up at the ropes and harness, and thought, "Man, this takes a lot of faith. There is nothing keeping us from plunging in the water, but these ropes." With that thought, a little panic set in. I glanced down and mumbled, "Holy, moly! What was I thinking." But, Dove was calm as a little dove. She said, "Close your eyes and let go of the harness, it'll feel like you're flying." Ha, the innocence of a little kid.

I did just that. I relaxed a little bit and trusted God to land us safely. I took in the heavens and the ocean below. I saw stingrays, turtles and the beautiful colors in the water. It was a sight!

These adventures were the best so far this year!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Celebration Station

Yep, the party is not over! I still have one more cha-bang left. My cousin Shinnel is throwing me my actual birthday party. I'm so psyched! I haven't had one since my BFF forever, Tracee, gave me a surprise party when I turned 26. So, yeah, I'm really ready for it.

However, in the meantime, I've had little moments of celebration. In especially, the cruise. My mom killed two birds with one stone by taking us on this vacation, we celebrated mine and Dove's birthday. Just us three gals on a cruise to the Bahamas. My mom flew in from the Motor City with the hugest, heaviest luggage. Can someone tell her that we don't pack like that anymore? Geesh, she didn't even wear most of the stuff she packed.

Any-hoo, this trip came at the right time. I was so overwhelmed with everything going on. I didn't feel stressed, but I could tell that I needed a little break. Lately I have been traveling, but it wasn't always pleasure. Funny thing is, I've been traveling more without the steady-income-job at the bank and I'm not living off credit cards. It doesn't add up on paper, but I'm living more free now than I did then. (Can someone holla, favor!)

Getting back to the cruise...I see that I'll have to take several installments to get all my thoughts out. When we first stepped on the boat, it was buzzing with excitement. People didn't know where to go first. Colorful drinks with cute umbrella's were popping up everywhere - but they weren't free. (Pace yourself, folks!) We were starving so we decided to eat first and check out the room once they were available.

Carnival Fantasy is an older ship so it wasn't as large as most cruise ships. I've gone on Royal Caribbean and it had so many other options for food and activities. But hey, this was a free trip - a cruise at that so who's complaining? Not me. It really wasn't about me because this was also a trip for my daughter. It was so wonderful to see her and my mom laughing and bonding. We don't get to see each other as much so this was definitely a winner for all three of us.

On the very first day we met three gals from Asheville. Can someone say, "Road Trip!" Thank goodness for Facebook, we're able to keep in touch. They were so fun that an instant bond was formed. Hilariously enough, they were all in their 20's and you have me -40- and my mom -much older- hanging out with younger gals. I do hope we didn't look like two old biddies trying to be young. Ugh!

Oh, another thing...a guy found his way to where I was sitting -reading- on the high deck. Dove was in the children's camp and my mom was in the art gallery so I found peace - alone. Well, I was found and I had to put down my book (The Grapes of Wrath) to carry on a conversation lest I be rude, right? Well, he bought a drink for me, nice. But, not necessary. Finally my mom came -the reference mom came up in our conversation several times as I talked about her - and joined us. He bought her a drink as well. All was fine and dandy until he called her "mom" one too many times. She rolled her neck and said, "Listen, don't call me mom again. I'm her mom, not yours...(under breath) sh** we're about the same age..." Hilarious! That man could do nothing right after that no many how many drinks he offered her. He had no chance with me because she ex'd him out with picking him apart the rest of the cruise. "Something isn't right with him...he's divorced twice..."

Thank goodness finding love was not on my agenda because she blocked my chances for that one! This was a family trip, just the girls, and family love was in the air.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Before I go into details about my adventures...

I must toot my horn that I'm a darn good single-mother! And, I have a daughter who is by my side without all of the drama kids bring. We make a very good team -even though her is infinitely messy, I still have to remind her to put on deodorant and she hasn't picked up on the motivation thing yet - we're so blessed to be partnered as mother and daughter.

Never had I imagined that I would be a single-mother. When she came into my life, I really wanted to be married or at least to get married before she turned 5 so that she could see an example of good, positive love. Well, that didn't happen and look how we turned out - fabulous and our home is full of love.

Last night, Dove had to turn her peanut money order in for Girl Scouts. Well, she'd told people the money was due last week in October because she didn't know and failed to confirm it. I called the troop leader to find that she had a week to collect the money! (Yep, still teaching her responsibility) Fast forward to last night, the order total and the money collected didn't match so she was short. "Who didn't pay?" I asked. Well, since she wasn't organized with making check marks by the name of the payers, she wasn't entirely sure. She had 3 people for sure that hadn't paid. (My responsibility? Nope, not this year...resposibility is my mantra.)

Dove had to make a decision. One person came to pay at the last-minute. She told her grandparents she pay for their order and she cancelled the last one. Cool, right? Nope, she didn't have enough money! She was still short at least $7. I know, I know, I could have paid it and told her to pay me back. But, would she have gotten the lesson? Nope. I know this is true because she doesn't have the motivation to earn allowances even though the chore list is posted on the wall and chores go undone. So, no, she wouldn't have learned a lesson.

"You don't have anymore money?"

"No, this is all I have."

"Well, I think you're going to have to use your quarter collection." This is the same collection that she collected forever of all the states. She offered her precious collection with crocodile tears pouring from her eyes. I had to console my baby. I really wanted to bail her out and sneak the quarters out to make her earn them back, but she had to personally turn that money in and feel the weight of her quarters leave her fingers. It hurt me to know that she made the ultimate sacrifice, but she HAD to learn the lesson.

Later that evening, I told her how proud I was of her for not blaming me for her lack of organization or asking me to give the money for her. She took the responsibility and owned up to her mistakes. That was a definite sign of maturity on her part. And, this will stick with her a long time. (Yep, I stuck to my guns.)

Later that evening, she crawled into my bed with more tears. "Dove, don't ever be so attached to the material things in this world that when they're removed from your possession that it utterly destroys you. Quarters, you can collect once again. But, think of the things that you can't get back. (She answered me, family, friends...yep, she's getting the point.) I remember when I got married, I had a car, apartment full of furniture, etc. When he decided that he wasn't ready for marriage, I had not money to support myself because we'd relocated to NY for me to go to school. When he left, I lost everything. Car, furniture, art work, collectibles, etc. If I allowed it to destroy me and give up on my dream, my life would be totally different today. I wouldn't have gone to acting school, met my friends, or even had you in my life. I learned how strong I was and that I am a survivor. So, don't let material things become so important that when you lose them you become lost and devastated. Understand?"

"Yes, I do," Dove said.

"Now, go wash your face and look in the mirror and remind yourself who you are. Tell yourself how strong you are, you're amazing..."

Sunday, October 3, 2010

So, Common didn't call me for my birthday...

but, I'm gonna be okay. Even though my friends posted my wish -for him to call me because of our bond from when he pulled me on stage a few years back - on his Facebook page several times, he still didn't call. But again, that is okay. I understand he's busy so I'm a patient gal.

Anyway, Happy belated birthday to me!!! Yes, I made it to 40 and I am soooo thankful. I have so many adventures to catch up on with my blogs, so be patient (to any and all persons who may actually read my blog) as I'm uploading pictures. While you're waiting, I'll go ahead and answer the BIG QUESTION. Do I feel different?

Why do people ask that anyway as if the body has an alarm clock that buzzes on the birth date? We all know that doesn't happen. But, do I feel differently? Actually, no. I still feel like a little girl trying to play grown-up. I'm still finding my way in life and wondering when will I get "deep" and "serious." When will everything click for me? Will I have to take an Eat-Pray-Love journey, too? Who knows, but I sure as heck don't feel differently.

Back when I was growing up, women in their 40's seemed to be so much more older, settled and well, serious. They were busy taking care of the home and being grown. Now, they say that 40 is the new 30, or 20. And, it seems so. I feel vibrant, fit and young. I'm not sure if I look it, but I feel it. Wait - when I say fit and young, I'm not talking about the stiffness that occurs in my body after I work out and seems to linger for days even through to the next work out. Nor am I talking about the pains that pop up in weird places in my body without a result of injury (like that pain in my thumb for no apparent reason), what is that about? Or, that my body can't handle certain foods anymore, or - okay, I do feel a little different, but it didn't happen on my birthday, issues have been accumulating for months.

Thank goodness for shows like Sex in the City for making 40's look stylish, sexy and fun. Since I decided to take this journey to explore my feelings this year I am astonished on how I don't feel old. I'm teaching dance fitness, hanging out with friends, meeting new people, traveling and enjoying new experiences. I'm not at home on the couch complaining of feeling old.

Let's revisit my bucket list for the 40's. I haven't actually created one to complete before I die. I'm actually looking for the next few years. Here goes:

2. Climb a wall - rock climbing
3. Parasailing - DONE
4. Jet skiing
5. Swim with the dolphins
6. Cage dancing - DONE
7. Take pole dancing class - DONE
8. Ride my own motorcycle - will learn once I get adequate health insurance
9. Race like a Nascar driver - DONE
10. Wear a bikini and look decent (down-graded from good) - DONE, will post pics
11. Learn to swim
12. Take Karate
13. Learn two foreign languages
14. Watch a baby being born in real life
15. Dance in Carnival (wearing thongs is not a necessary)
16. Ride in a hot air balloon
17. Thinking about skydiving - tandem only with a highly skilled professional
18. Kiss Common - (I really want to do this one)
19. Visit Taj Mahal, Egyptian Pyramids, Mayan Ruins, India, Greece, Italy and Ghana
20. Take boudoir pictures
21. Dance burlesque
22. Write a fiction book
23. Adding new ideas daily

Hmmm, if you have any suggestions for a good idea, let me know. Or, if you have a bucket list and want to share it, please do.