The first time I went to Belize (Central America), I got off the plane with a runny nose, constant sneezing and beginnings of a sore throat. 🤧 It was the month of June. The weather was hot when I left Las Vegas and it was certainly hot when arriving in Belize. With no change of temperature, the culprit was likely the particles floating around in that confined plane due to the air circulating from those overhead fans.
Fortunately for me, one of our first stops on the ground (after scouring through a couple stores on a desperate hunt for tissues) was to visit my friend Certified Nutritionist and raw food gourmet extraordinaire, Chef India (third from the left).
She hooked me up with a homemade concoction in her Vitamix that rid me of that cruddiness.
I cannot remember exactly what she called the drink but it’s been since labeled by me as “the flu shot” (and perhaps that’s what she called it as well). After drinking it, all sneezing, nasal drip and scratchy throat left in less than ten minutes! Never to return. Whoohoo!
What’s in it, you ask? Well, here you go…
1 c fresh pineapple – not from a can and not concentrate!
You’re only going to need a “shot” of it to drink–like 4 oz. So, you don’t need to make a whole lot. Measure it to taste with the pineapple and cucumber being at a larger ratio than the rest of the ingredients. Blend it in your NutriBullet or Vitamix and then drink it quickly. You’ll feel better in no time!
So, anytime you feel those cold symptoms approaching, knock it right out of you in this most natural and effective way! If you try this, let me know how it works for you.
Now, for a little added bonus…
Here’s a video with some shocking information for you about what’s in those “real” flu shots. Those vaccinations the medical industry is always forcing you to get. I would never tell someone NOT to get a flu shot; however, I will caution everyone to truly “investigate BEFORE you vaccinate.” And after doing so, you just may skip that needle altogether and opt for a natural alternative.
Listen to this brief broadcast I recorded back in January 2018 for a Podcast series:
Now, first and foremost, about your traveling info…
You haven’t gotten your ticket yet? What are you waiting for? Here’s some tidbits of helpful information if you’re still at that juncture of your planning.
Right away, you must book your flight! For the best flight prices, check out Cheap Ticketshttp://cheaptickets.com. Hopper is a great app to download to your phone for cheap fares as well. After you sign up and enter your destination, Hopper will ding you anytime it finds cheaper rates among all the airlines for your destination so you can keep comparing prices until you’re ready to book the flight. Also, what has helped me find cheaper rates is to piece together my itinerary. For instance, I booked a one-way ticket from Las Vegas to Belize, then a one-way ticket back home. Don’t ask me why but it’s worked in my favor twice for me now.
Second most importantly, make sure you have a valid passport. That’s all that is needed—no Visa. If you haven’t used your passport in a while, doublecheck the date to make sure it’s not expired. It would be horrible to discover at the last minute that your passport is no good. Processing time to get a new one varies tremendously.
All US flights into Belize come into Belize city (BZE), Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport. Once you arrive at BZE (9 miles north of the city), we will all head to the island of Ambergris Caye (pronounced am-BER-gris kee) together via flight (in a puddle jumper plane) or water taxi. That is where we will spend the majority, if not all, of our time—there in the town of San Pedro.
The island of Ambergris Caye, and its town of San Pedro, are 35 miles northeast of Belize City. The island is 25 miles long and only 4.5 miles at its widest point. It is considered the “Queen of the Cayes.” So that should tell you there is lots to do there.
My preference is to get there by way of water taxi, but I still need to weigh all the options of cost and convenience. Either way, ideally, if everyone can arrive on Thurs June 20th, somewhere between 10am and 4pm, we can all travel to the island together—unless, of course, you are okay with going on your own to the destination on the island. Once I get a solid headcount, I can start sending you more succinct information about getting to our final destination in San Pedro.
If your flight gets in early in the day (around 10am ish) and you want to wait around for the later folks to arrive from the US around 4pm, there are day tours to the ruins and other points of interest there near Belize City we can have set up through my local contact there. Again, once it gets closer to that day and I have a better headcount, I’ll share some adventure options.
The two options for getting to Ambergris Caye…
Fly Tropic Air or Maya Air (in country puddle jumpers).
You can board them from right inside the international airport
Flight time: approx. 20 minutes
Fare/person: approx. $65 there and $125 return.
You can travel about a mile north of the city center to the Belize City municipal airport and take those two domestic flights from there.
Flight time: approx. 20 minutes
Fare: $37.50 there and $72.50 return (10% to 40% cheaper than the flights at the international airport). Plus, don’t forget to factor in a fixed fare taxi cost of $25 each way between the international and the municipal airport.
Travel on a fast ferry-type boat that holds 50 to 100 people. Six to seven trips per day.
San Pedro Belize Express boats depart from a nearby Brown Sugar dock at 111 North Front Street near the Tourism Village.
Travel time: 75-90 mins (with a drop off at one of the other islands)
Fare: $27.50 roundtrip. Plus, don’t forget to factor in a $30 taxi ride to the water taxi terminal.
Closer to the date, I’ll take a poll on this travel biz between Belize and the island. No need to fret over it right now. Whew, it can certainly have your head spinning if you’re not careful.
Next, your sleeping accommodations…
Accommodations are very inexpensive there around in Belize. San Pedro is much the same price-wise but slightly more when it comes to food because of everything having to be shipped there to the island.
I have an AirBNB secured already. It sleeps 4 and I believe at this point is full. I am in the process of securing a second unit by that same AirBNB property owner, so have no fear, there’s still room for you! The cost is approx $200/person for the entire four days. Whoohoo! Can’t beat that! Here’s a photo of the unit that is already full. The other location should be similar.
Finally, just some fun stuff for you to know about!
The best sources of information, regarding the island where we will be staying, are online. Here are three that will give you plenty of insight.
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Terri Eileen Liggins is a writer, editor, and blogger for a billion dollar online retailer, Zappos, Inc. She is also Founder and Publisher at The Literary Front Publishing Company and Founder at The Law & Raw Institute for Balanced Healthy Living.
Elderberry is the dark purple berry from the European tree called the Sambucus tree. Sambucus is a genus of flowering plants in the family Adoxaceae. The various species are commonly called the elder tree or elderberry. The genus was formerly placed in the honeysuckle family, Caprifoliaceae, but was reclassified as Adoxaceae due to genetic and morphological comparisons to plants in the genus Adoxa.
People have used elderberries for years to for their health-boosting properties, primarily for colds and flu. The elderberry fruit contains high levels of flavonoids, which means it likely has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. That translates to healthy cells from those harmful free radicals that cause acne. Because of its antiseptic effects, the American Nutrition Association (ANA) suggests using an elderberry face wash to help fight acne.
Elderberries also contain high levels of vitamin A. The ANA also says elderberries soothe the skin, helping ease the appearance of age spots, and prevent or lessen wrinkles.
Here is a list of 20 ailments the elderberry fruit, when used as medicine, has been known to be effective:
the common cold
the flu” (influenza)
H1N1 “swine” flu
HIV/AIDS in boosting the immune system
back and leg pain (sciatica)
nerve pain (neuralgia)
chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)
hay fever (allergic rhinitis)
increase urine flow
to cause sweating
According to WebMD, elderberry fruit extract is generally safe when taken by mouth for up to 12 weeks. It’s not known if taking elderberry fruit extract is safe when used for longer periods of time. Elderberry is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when the leaves, stems, unripe fruit, or uncooked fruit is eaten. The cooked elderberry fruit seems to be safe, but raw and unripe fruit might cause nausea, vomiting, or severe diarrhea.
The following doses have been studied in scientific research for adult medicine dosing:
For constipation: A tea made from elderberry flowers, anise fruit, fennel fruit, and senna flowers (Laboratórios Klein) mixed in 150 mL of boiling water has been taken three times daily for 5 days.
For the flu: One tablespoon (15 mL) of a specific elderberry juice-containing syrup (Sambucol by Nature’s Way) has been taken four times daily for 3-5 days. Also, a specific lozenge (ViraBLOC by HerbalScience) containing 175 mg of elderberry extract has been taken four times daily for 2 days. Also, one teaspoon (5 mL) of a product containing echinacea and elderberry (Echinaforce Hot Drink by A. Vogel Bioforce AG) mixed with 150 mL of hot water has been taken five times daily for 3 days then three times daily for 7 days.
A cup of elderberries contains the following vitamins and minerals:
870 mg of vitamin A
406 mg of potassium
52.2 mg of vitamin C
9 mg of folate
55 mg of calcium
2.32 mg of iron
10.2 g of dietary fiber
Elderberries are commercially available as capsules, lozenges, and syrups for treating a cold or the flu. Elderberry is sold topically as skin care products.
Be sure never to eat raw elderberries, as they can be poisonous. That’s why I wouldn’t suggest homemade remedies with elderberries unless a person really knew what they were doing. For the expert naturopath, there are various ways to prepare elderberries.
To make elderberry syrup:
remove the stalks
cook the berries in water and sugar
boil the liquid to reduce it until it takes on a syrup-like consistency
People can then drizzle the syrup over plain yogurt or add it to a smoothie.
So, the next time you feel those horrible cold or flu-like symptoms coming on, don’t reach for those over-the-counter drugs with all their nagging side effects. Instead, reach for the elderberries. Relieve symptoms and at the same time, gain nutritional value.
You may have heard the phrase “Born with a silver spoon in his/her mouth.” You may not, however, have thought twice about the fact that the phrase relates to one’s heath—but it does.
During the Middle Ages, silver spoons were given by wealthy relatives and godparents to babies as christening gifts. Because of silver’s purifying and antibiotic properties, if those wealthy babies became ill, their health was known to be restored by placing those silver spoons in their mouths for a length of time. As one would imagine, babies born into poverty would sometimes die of the same illness as the wealthy babies without the benefit of silver.
Even though silver was one of the few antimicrobial treatments used by physicians before the discovery of antibiotic drugs, it is frowned upon by today’s Western Medical Industry. They think it is dangerous and has no healing merit.
So, do your own research carefully if you’re making the decision to use Colloidal Silver instead of over-the-counter or prescribed antibiotics. With all due respect to those experts in their field, they do have a huge financial interest in keeping you sick and medicated on traditional prescription drugs over a long period of time.
Also, yes, there have been those rare cases, out of tens of thousands of normal experiences, where the skin of individuals taking Colloidal Silver actually turned blue. Yikes! How much were they ingesting and for how long?
Here are MY reasons for continuing to use this natural element, relying on the historic findings on silver, in general, and Colloidal Silver, in particular, not the opinions of individuals who have a financial stake in the game with the treatment of illnesses and diseases.
HIPPOCRATES – Studies show Hippocrates, the “father of medicine,” believed silver had beneficial healing and anti-disease properties. He proved silver was good for tissue repair and wound healing.
NASA – The engineers at Johnson Space Center developed a lightweight generator in the mid-1960s that would dispense silver ions into the drinking water aboard the Apollo spacecraft to kill bacteria. In 2015, NASA approved the use of a silver-based water purification system aboard the International Space Station.
AMERICA’S HISTORY WITH SILVER –
By the 1800s, silver nitrate was used to treat wounds and skin ulcers.
In 1852, it was discovered that using fine silver wires for sutures helped heal repaired flesh.
In the Old West, silver coins were dropped into drinking water barrels for protection against water-borne illness
During the Civil War, silver was used to treat syphilis.
In the 1880s, the use of silver nitrate in the eyes of newborn infants to prevent post-delivery infections was introduced.
Colloidal Silver was first discovered in the 1890’s.
Silver was used to treat infections on the World War I battlefields, but medicinal usage of silver declined shortly thereafter with the discovery of antibiotics.
By the 1930s, Colloidal silver was the preferred choice of physicians for empowering the immune system and supporting the body’s innate healing process.
Silver based Sulfadiazine has been the standard of care in burn centers worldwide since 1968.
Next time you feel a cold or flu coming on, or if you suffer from any auto immune disorders, hopefully you feel educated enough to give silver a try.
Close your eyes for a moment and imagine your ideal day.
Mine would be to wake up to the brightness of the sunrise and the clashing of the ocean waves and not have to do anything all day except meditate and explore my deepest thoughts with paper and pen in hand.
I’m going to come real close to that ideal day of mine during the four days I plan to spend in Central America, June 20-24, 2019, celebrating my 60th trip around the sun. San Pedro, to be exact. On the island of Ambergris Caye, in the country of Belize.
First of all, I would love to have YOU celebrate alongside me! Mark your calendar; book your flight and come on down. The American dollar is very strong there (for every Belizian dollar, you pay only 50 cents in US dollars). So even though you haven’t had a really long time to plan this trip (it’s still 90 days out, though), it won’t break your bank. I have a beautiful, modern AirBNB apartment that sleeps four for $195 per night. First come, first served, for sharing it with me. There are other nearby inexpensive places as well.
Secondly, your days there can be as laid back or as touristy as you want. You get the best of both worlds. During the time we’re there, San Pedro will be hosting their annual LobsterFest. Even though my actual birthday is May 28th, I delayed going on this trip until LobsterFest because I heard and read about how fun that festival is. Now mind you, as a near-seven-year rawtarian (eating raw, plant-based foods; no meat, no fish) I haven’t eaten lobster in seven or more years. So, I was truly thinking about my lobster-loving friends when including this activity. And who knows? With the clear waters of the Caribbean Sea, I just may try and eat a couple forkfuls of it.
Finally, because journaling on the beach is such a relaxing, self-care, self-reflective thing to do, I thought how appropriate it’d be to engage in this as a group. It’s strictly volunteer, but during our four days spent there, I’m hosting a FREE ($79 value) two-day, four-hour per day journaling session. A time for Writing Out The Storms of your life in such a peaceful place. I’ll provide the journaling sheets, pens and writing exercises–you bring your thoughts, issues and even struggles if you have them (and who doesn’t?).
So, how ’bout it? Are you in? Whether you are or not, comment on my “Contact” page (click CONTACT tab at the top). I have several follow-up emails to send out sharing about where to go and what to do on the island; and all about that famous Chocolate Factory there (mmm mmm).
I’d hate to bombard people in a group email with info they don’t want, so let me hear from you.
P.s. When checking flights, book to Belize City (BZE) only, NOT San Pedro. (Once in Belize, we then take a one-hour water taxis to the island ($27 round trip).) You may still catch some flight deals but hurry, as prices are going up due to LobsterFest. Save time and start with cheaptickets.com (trust me, I’ve spent hours searching around). Also, booking outbound and return flights separately as one-way tickets may save you money like it did for me.
Remember, send me a message on my CONTACT page, letting me know if 1) You’re in Like Flynn, 3) Maybe You’ll Go, or 4) Not at All Interested. Thanks!
You’ve heard the old axiom about how people come into your life: for a reason, a season or a lifetime, right? Well, I have known Les Brown, one of the greatest motivational speakers of our time, throughout many seasons; for various reasons; and through it all, I believe both our working relationship and friendship will last a lifetime.
Las Vegas, 2018.
Working in the Chicago office of Les Brown Enterprises, LLC., as his Executive Administrator and Senior Writer in 2007 and 2008, and still today as his Writing Consultant/Ghostwriter, has certainly not been a chance arrangement by this Universe. No, it was definitely a destined occurrence along my life’s journey;an occurrence, no doubt, orchestrated by God. How do I know this? Because out of all the people in the world, I was the one purposed with delivering a piece of vital information to Les that would literally change the dynamics of a portion of his personal life. That’s all I’m going to say about that right now. If you haven’t heard me or him tell the story then you’ll just have to wait for me to share it in one of my books down the road.
Right now, in honor of Les’ 74th solar return on February 17th, I wanted to share a little “Vintage Les.” The time period: early to mid 1970’s. The location: Columbus, Ohio. As a high-schooler, I woke up every weekday morning to pink bedroom walls and the trendy hip hop sounds of R&B amplified through my alarm clock radio. Disc jockey Les, and Columbus’ soulful radio station, WVKO, were synonymous back in the day.
We knew and loved him as Les Brown, The Man About Town; that Platter-Playing Pappa who didn’t just deliver great tunes for our enjoyment but “spit” a great message of hope and determination into our ears as well. A message that took him all the way to winning a seat in the Ohio State House of Representative, where he passed more bills than any other junior state legislator.
However, there was one very brief message of his that I remembered most as a teenager: “Get up, up, up!” It reverberated daily, in a rich baritone manner. He said it often, between his cajoling and song playing. As a morning DJ one would think he was saying “Get up” as in get out of bed and get to school or work. After following him from afar and up close for 46 years now, I know for a fact, “Get up” was a message that was bigger than most of us at that time. Who knows, maybe even bigger than Les, himself? Either way, it was a message every young black boy and girl needed to hear to prepare for solid footing in that great big unjust real world awaiting their arrival. Every black adult needed to hear it as encouragement to stand strong, stay knowledgeable and remain uplifted knowing.
Those words were telling us that when life knocks us down–and it will–we had to learn how to fall on our backs becauseif we can look up, then we can get up. Those words assured us to stay in the game and know that it ain’t over until we win. Oh, those old messages just keep on giving! He’s still hitting us with new profound quotes today.
If your day, today, hasn’t been instantly made a little happier and a little brighter, it’s because you haven’t heard Les Brown’s voice. Give it a try right now–even for just five minutes. Google any of his books, CDs, or his PBS specials, “You Deserve” and “It’s Possible.” Check out his multitude of videos on YouTube. And if you’ve not had the privilege of hearing him at all (BTW, where have you been? Living under a rock?), you will be blessed to listen to his Georgia Dome speech from back in the 90’s where he spoke to a crowd of 80,000 people. Wow! And a cheering crowd at that!
There are also many famous and motivating quotes by Les. One only has to put in the words “Les Brown quotes” in a web browser and a multitude are at your fingertips. One that sticks out to me is one that I’ve heard him say often–not from a stage but directly to me, or to someone else. That is, “How you do anything, is how you do everything.” To this day, I strive to live by that powerful statement.
Here are some photos I gathered off the Internet of Les back in the day: 1970’s and 80’s–his early days of making his indelible mark upon this planet. When all seemed impossible–given his poor and humble beginnings as an infant; the crippling mislabeling of educable mentally retarded cast upon him as a child; and his supposed disadvantaged non-college-degreed start into the business world–he made it possible! Was it hard for him? He answers that in his speeches with a resounding “Yes!” Was it necessary? He would say with even more fervid compassion, “Yes!”
Here’s to you, Mrs. Mamie Brown’s Baby Boy.
Happy 74th birthday!!
You are right, Les… there were none before you and there will certainly be none after you,
so please stay HUNGRY and stay around with us for a long, long time.
I bid farewell to you! You, who stifled and suffocated—even snuffed out—so much talent, potential, and greatness within me; keeping it buried inside while robbing the world of it. I bid farewell to the shyness, the uncertainty of speech and dialogue for fear that my answers would be wrong, my opinions judged harshly, or my outlook on life not in line with the “norm” or status quo (however, now I know staying away from the norm is a good thing!). From my current day posture, with nearly 60 years of getting through this thing called life, I empathize with you and dislike you simultaneously.
Recently, a former college buddy shared a brief 1979 film promoting Ohio University. He alerted me to the fact that I’m actually in that film! No sound during the 20 second-or-so footage of me talking, but still pretty dope!
In viewing that film, I can clearly see me speaking with shyness and timidity—not boldness and surety. Wow. What insight. How cool to be able to see me candidly on film during that moment 40 years ago.
It’s a new day. No longer, Past Me, are my words hidden inside for none to hear or read. No longer am I afraid to look right into the camera. I do so often now, grinning ear to ear to let the world know that yes, I’m happy, I’m joyful and I have a beautiful smile to express it.
I guess I was beautiful back then. I was kind, as well. I’m proud of those characteristics. I was also rather reserved and far from promiscuous during my college years. I can definitely be proud of that! I was very smart, pulling straight A’s my freshman year while many classmates were not adjusting so well to the privilege of no parental rules to keep them studying instead of partying. Yes, I can pat my back for that.
Yet, Past Me never really felt beautiful or accomplished. Past Me was never enough. That’s perhaps why–as these photos show–I didn’t smile much.
At times, Present Me takes on that same burden of feeling less than beautiful and unaccomplished. That is until the wonderful people I surround myself with remind me otherwise.
Finally, thanks a lot, Past Me, for causing my artistic drawing and painting skills to drift away into a sea of doubt. Gratefully, though, a love for writing emerged in their place; albeit held to a minimum until age 40 when an illness canceled me out of Corporate America giving way to a fulltime writing hobby—a hobby that grew into a successful 18-year ghostwriting stint. I thank God for that.
Present Me has endured this journey of phases, shifts, eclipses, and enlightenment.
I’m probably creating “Future Me 5.0” by now with maybe 4 or 5 more versions to go before I’m truly satisfied. But that’s okay because Present Me is filled with self-love, self-respect, self-worth and a lot of work towards self-care.
So, again, goodbye once and for all, Past Me! Watch out, Present Me! Future Me is on the fast track!
Ps. In case you’re interested, here’s that 1979 promotional film:
…and to think most people don’t know it even exists. To say “most people” may be an exaggeration but I don’t think it would be too far a cry from the truth as this place is so hidden—literally right under the Golden Gate Bridge.
I lived in San Francisco back in the 80’s and have visited it many times thereafter but never heard of this wonderful historic site until my most recent visit during the 4th of July holiday, visiting my son, now a Bay Area resident. I had Googled best sites to watch the fireworks and Fort Point came up. I began reading about it and was very intrigued. While we didn’t go there for the fireworks (chose Crissy Field instead, which was an excellent spot), I made it a point to put Fort Point on our to-do list when my daughter joined us a couple days later. And boy, was I glad we went!
View from atop Fort Point. That arch structure above is the bottom of the Golden Gate Bridge.
A Golden Treasure
In 1933, as foundation construction began on the Golden Gate Bridge, this now 157-year-old fort was right smack in the way and therefore scheduled to meet its demise. Because of its excellent military architecture, the American Institute of Architects had proposed preservation of Fort Point in 1926 but funds were not available to carry out that gesture. At the threat of its removal, Joseph Strauss, Chief Engineer of the bridge project, redesigned the Golden Gate Bridge to be built over Fort Point; thereby, saving the structure. How cool is that?
On October 16, 1970, President Nixon signed the bill making Fort Point a National Historic Site. After sustaining only moderate damage in the devastating 7.9 level San Francisco earthquake in 1906, this building’s use over the next 40 years was for barracks, military training and storage. Then, during World War II, soldiers from the US Coast Artillery were stationed there to guard minefields and anti-submarine net. It currently serves to guard the Golden Gate Bridge and to welcome hundreds of guests daily, most days of the year.
Here’s a brief history of how this masterpiece came to be, without ever really serving its initial purpose…
A funny thing happened on the way to war
Between 1817 and 1867, to protect United States harbors, the coastal defense system built some 30 forts along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts and only one—Fort Point—on the West Coast. California had just become the 31st state in 1850, after the US won the Mexican-American war in 1848. During that time, the US Army and Navy officials had set up strategic points to secure the San Francisco Bay. Those points consisted of Lime Point, Angel Island, Alcatraz, Point San Jose, Presidio and Fort Point.
However, construction on Fort Point didn’t began until 1853, at the outbreak of the Civil War, by the US Army Corps of Engineers. A 90-foot cliff at the entrance to the San Francisco Bay was blasted 30 feet below sea level to make way for the fort’s foundation. In 1861, 200 previously unemployed miners, who labored for eight years on this project, finally mounted the fort’s first cannon. It was the US Army’s most sophisticated coastal fortification, yet this massive, impenetrable brick-walled structure, with new artillery including 102 smooth-bore cannons mounted atop, never saw action.
In August 1865, the captain and crew of the Confederate raider, C.S.S. Shenandoah prowled the waters of the Pacific looking for Yankee whaling ships. They planned an attack on San Francisco. On their way to the harbor, the captain was informed by a British vessel that the South had lost and the Civil War was now over. Whew! Talk about being saved by the bell.
So, there you have it
To this day, Fort Point, an impressive survivor of weather and war, remains the admiration and pride of the Pacific Coast. Standing inside its massive and unscathed courtyard was quite humbling–especially when thinking about the labor required to build this and the eight million bricks that perfectly hold it together a century and a half later.
Wow! Fort Point. Certainly a point of interest worthy of your visit.
Terri Liggins, aka t-RAW
Reach And Win your transition to a healthier, wealthier you!
Would you agree we could use more Unity in our society today?
Would you agree that Self-Determination leads to creations, inventions?
Would you agree that Collective Work & Responsibility improves communities?
Would you agree that Cooperative Economics encourages prosperity?
Would you agree that having a Purpose is necessary to achieve goals?
Would you agree that Creativity is a positive force towards betterment?
Would you agree that Faith can move mountains?
If you answered “yes” to one or all of the above, then you just ascribed to the principles of Kwanzaa.
Kwanzaa is a festive and meaningful holiday we celebrate each year in my household. Much to my chagrin, for most of my adult life, I never took the time to learn what Kwanzaa was, let alone celebrate it. I don’t have a good answer as to why I didn’t, other than just pure ignorance of how it related to me. That is why I now love sharing the basics of this holiday so others don’t have to remain in the dark as I was for so long.
What is Kwanzaa?
Kwanzaa is a week-long African American cultural celebration held in the United States from December 26 through January 1. The name is derived from matunda ya kwanza, a Swahili phrase that means “first fruits.”Based on traditional African harvest festivals, combining various cultural customs, this holiday, observed by over 18 million people, has reached its 50th anniversary of existence this year.
Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday, nor does it replace Christmas. Instead, it was created during the black movement of the mid 1960s to combat the commercialism of Christmas by honoring our African heritage and culture with the seven basic principles, expressed in Swahili as nguzo saba. These principles are actually applicable to everyday life, not just at Christmastime.
How is Kwanzaa observed?
Together, the family observes daily rituals which include lighting candles, making Kwanzaa gifts, planning special theme meals, dressing in traditional garb and honoring ancestors and elders. A table remains set with an array of fresh fruits. In the center of the table is a kinara, a candleholder for seven candles.
In the kinara are three green candles on the right side, three red candles on the left side and one black candle in the center. Green stands for the fertile land of Africa. Red symbolizes the bloodshed spilled in the struggle for freedom. Black is for the color of the people. The family gathers around as one candle is lit each day, beginning with the outer most candles, working inward to the center. As the candle is lit, that day’s corresponding principle is spoken of.
A great gathering of food and guests is held on December 31. It is called the karamu. Celebrants donned in vibrantly-colored traditional African attire enjoy cultural dishes, typically using ingredients brought to the United States from the motherland, such as sesame seeds (benne), peanuts (groundnuts), sweet potatoes, collard greens and spicy sauces.
New Year’s Day is the final day of the Kwanzaa holiday. Traditionally, educational and cultural gifts are given to children on this final day of celebration.
7 Principles of Kwanzaa
Day 1: Umoja! (oo–MO–jah)
To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race. Whether in the home or the workplace, teamwork promotes unity. It is important to the ongoing success and longevity of the family unit or company, the community that family or company serves, and the state and country in which they reside.
Day 2: Kujichagulia! (koo–gee–cha–goo–LEE–yah)
To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves. Instead of being defined, named, created for and spoken for by others. We must plug into our self-worth. We have to be determined and stay determined to make a positive difference in our life’s journey — whether a child or adult; male or female; working at a nine-to-five job or as a self-employed entity.
Day 3: Ujima! (oo–GEE–mah)
Means: Collective Work and Responsibility
To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems and to solve them together. We are all fingers on a hand in this journey called life. There are so many ways we can reach out and help others; doing so is simply easier when organized through group effort.
Day 4: Ujamaa! (oo–JAH–mah)
Means: Cooperative Economics
To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together. What better way to instill pride in something than through ownership? This is important for our global economy and so very empowering to ourselves.
Day 5: Nia! (nee–YAH)
To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community to restore our people to their traditional greatness. If we don’t ever learn the truth about our history of our ancestors or kings and queens who ruled entire empires, how can we ever set clear, positive goals for our own lives that awaken the greatness within ourselves and the tremendous potential that lies therein? We then can set goals that benefit the whole community.
Day 6: Kuumba! (koo–OOM–bah)
To always do as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it. We must use our time, creativity, finances and resources to make our community out of just survival mode and into massive productivity.
Day 7: Imani! (ee–MAH–nee)
To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle. We must believe that a better world can be created both now and in the future
7 Symbols of Kwanzaa
Kikombe cha umoja.
Means: the unity cup
Celebrants drink from this cup in honor of their African ancestors. Before drinking, each person says “harambee,” which means, “let’s pull together.”
Means: the candleholder that holds seven candles
This symbolizes stalks of corn that branch off to form new stalks, the same way the human family recreates and branches off.
Means: the seven candles that represent the seven principles
Three candles on the left are green; three on the right are red; and in the middle is a black candle. A different candle is lit each day.
Means: fruits, nuts and vegetables
This type of food reminds celebrants of the harvest fruits that nourished the people of Africa.
The mkeka, made of straw or African cloth, symbolizes the foundation upon which communities are built. The various symbols of Kwanzaa are arranged upon it.
Vibunzi. (plural, muhindi)
Means: ear of corn
Traditionally, one ear of corn for each child in the family is placed on the mkeka.
The gifts that are shared are traditionally only educational in nature and/or handmade.
What’s the Word?
So, there you have it — your crash course in Kwanzaa! One last thing … Kwanzaa participants throughout the week greet each other with this question: “Habari gani?” That is Swahili for “What’s the word?” When asked this question, you excitedly respond with one word: the Swahili principle for that day.
Now that you know, I challenge you to greet a new person each day starting December 26, with “Habari gani?” and let the good news begin!
I typically go to bed super early, sometimes as early as 7:30pm. So, I have no idea what goes on in the household during the evening hours. Nothing incenses me more than to go to bed with something in the fridge that I put there expecting to eat or drink it in the morning and when morning comes…
Well, this morning, I woke up mouth all watering for MY watermelon, the watermelon I enjoy as MY super-early morning routine. So, I skipped to the fridge all happy and $h!t and then…
Now, my creative brain is all messed up and interrupted and I start eating some peanuts instead because they’re nearby and I have this book deadline but I can’t think straight and now my bowels are probably not going to cooperate (do you guys know how great of a natural laxative watermelon is?) and I’m scheduled to be on a health forum panel later this morning and I’m not feeling healthy right now. Ugh!
There’s a grapefruit. I don’t want a grapefruit. There’s a persimmon. I don’t want a persimmon. There’s a very dried up pomegranate that’s been in the fruit bowl for months. I don’t feel like dealing with all those little seeds, which is why the thing is all dried up–I don’t ever feel like dealing with those seeds. I just need my watermelon, but someone decided they needed it more than me.
Now, I know how my dad felt back in the day when he’d come home from work at the end of the night (11pm), all ready to unwind with Johnny Carson, his pretzels and a tall glass of Pepsi, and there was not a drop of Pepsi left in the house. He would pitch a fit and one of us kids would be heading out to the convenient store (even if it was midnight) to buy him some Pepsi. I feel ya. Dad.
There’s no one to send to the store but me since everyone else is sleep. I’ve been known to wake a person. But it’s 3am and no stores are open. Sigh.
I remember a time when my children were in high school and wanted to go out Fri night. I was heading to bed early and told them to finish the laundry before they go. I woke up to damp towels not finished drying. It was 4am on a Sat and I woke their butts up to re-do the entire laundry process on those towels. Who cares they probably just got to sleep two hrs earlier. smh
There’s a movie recently released called Wonder Woman. It’s about a young woman raised in paradise but trained to be an amazingly unconquerable warrior. Finally, the time comes for her to fight in a war of all wars. It was there her true power and destiny was revealed to the world but probably most importantly to herself.
Do we have to wait until we go into battle over the trials in this world before we really discover and appreciate our true inner strength and power? How can we best be super and powerful just because we woke up in the morning? Just because we were born into this world? Just because I am me, you are you, we are we? Well, for starters we can start declaring it so. Starting today, this moment, make knowledge of your powerfulness a daily affirmation. I will do the same.
With the permission of author, Aaron Paquette, here is his superbly written rendition of why we truly are powerful warriors. He’s reminding you and me to recognize it. Own it. Step into our warrior-ship role and rule our domain! Ase.
Yes, I realize there are no well-developed bicep muscles but just let me imagine, okay?
Please read and enjoy.
Some people make the mistake of thinking women are only gatherers … gardeners … that they can only dig and pick and cultivate and hide.
I tell you that women are the strongest, smartest and most dangerous hunters the world has ever seen.
Individually, they may be physically overpowered, but in planning, in vision, in purpose and explosive action, they can’t be beat.
Any honest man will admit there is nothing that fills them with awe so much as their partner when she has made up her mind. She has become an unstoppable, indomitable will. If it’s against him, he’d better start running!
There’s a narrative that women are weak, that they’re vulnerable, that they are somehow less intelligent or capable than a man.
Well, they said that about serfs, about slaves, about people from other races. They say it about anyone they want to control.
You see, it’s the storytellers that rule the world.
And we repeat their stories.
It’s time for a new chapter.
It’s time to write a new reality.
It’s time to stand up and tell your story.
You are only vulnerable when you let others define you as vulnerable.
You are only weak if you let them convince you it’s true.
You are only ‘less than’ if you believe it.
Women are warriors. They are the ones who run with wolves, the ones who follow the moon. They are the ones who give life and they are the first story tellers their children will hear.
Women have all the power of humanity. All the power to shape the world.
Are you waiting for permission? Give it to yourself.
Are you waiting for your time? It’s now.
Are you waiting for a sign? Look around.
You are the linch-pin, the tipping of the scales.
The moment you say you’ve had enough. The moment you rise …
We are in a battle for a future that our children, grandchildren and theirs can grow in, be safe in, be challenged in.
Part of it means taking time for yourself, for silence, to breathe and renew. Part of it means to let go for a while. You’ve been carrying heavy burdens.
There will be men who cling desperately to the idea that they have power over you. Outsmart them. Outmaneuver them. Out plan and out-strategize.
There are so many more good men willing to be your allies, willing to be your support, willing to be your partners. We are your sons, after all.
We are in a battle for the soul of the planet.
And you are that soul.
You are the warriors.
And this is your time.
Feel free to print this out, to share it, to hang it where you can see it.
Aaron Paquette is a First Nations Metis artist, author and speaker. Based in Edmonton, Alberta, his Bestselling Novel ‘Lightfinder’ was published 2014 through Kegedonce Press and is now in 2nd printing.
To order Lightfinder: http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/lightfinder/9780986874079-item.html
Can your health really affect your eye color? Most health experts you ask may say no. I’m living proof that my eye color has changed pretty significantly since becoming a rawtarian. So much so, that about 90% of the people I meet for the first time, or encounter for even just a few seconds, say, “Wow! Your eyes are beautiful!”
No matter how many times I hear those comments, they still catch me off guard. I’m always flattered, sometimes embarrassed. My eye color is called hazel, a reflective pigmentation which changes according to the lighting I’m in or the colors I’m wearing. While they’ve been shifting colors my whole life, I don’t recall them being quite this light–especially to the point where so many people make mention of them.
The iris is the colored component of the eye. It is determined by the pigment called melanin. As we grow, the iris is subject to change because the melanin concentration in it keeps changing. The iris also controls the pupil size according to the light intensity in a given environment. When the pupil changes; the pigments of the iris are forced to readjust to the new space, slightly changing the color of the eye.
Some health experts, though, do believe if you want to change your eye color exceptionally and in a small amount of time, all you need to do is introduce a few changes to your diet. Here are few of the foods they suggest–ones that have many other attributes as well. I’ve been including in my raw lifestyle on a regular basis over the past five years…
Ginger is a rhizome, a modified subterranean stem of a plant usually found underground. It is responsible for curing and preventing a whole host of conditions like inflammation and diseases like colon cancer.
Nuts are high in protein. As an agent for heart healthiness, they contain omega 3 fatty acids and L-arginine.
Spinach has a high content of iron. Like other dark leafy greens, it’s also rich in protein, vitamins and minerals all important for healthy skin, hair and bones.
Organic honey is a rich source (about 69%) of glucose and fructose, allowing it to be a healthy sweetener substitute for normal white sugar. Its attributes include calming acid reflux and digesting the fat stored in your body, among many other attributes.
Olive oil contains linolenic acid that renders a soft hue to the color of the iris. It helps prevent strokes and diabetes, could improve the arterial function and fights osteoporosis, to name just a few benefits.
Chamomile tea lowers a number of stress hormones in the bloodstream. A long list of its other benefits include: Fighting anxiety and depression, natural allergy fighter, anti-inflammatory, muscle spasms treatment, PMS natural remedy and other menstrual disorders, as well as a cure for insomnia, skin disorders and ulcers.
Onions main constituent is folic acid which promotes cell and tissue growth. They are also rich in sulfur and chromium, which assists in regulating blood sugar. For centuries, onions have been used to reduce inflammation and heal infections.
So, if you want overall good health, and pretty eyes to boot, pay attention to what you digest!
Some people even go as far as saying they’d rather die than have to speak in front of a large crowd. While chances are a person is certainly exaggerating any time they use the phrase, “I’d rather die than…” we must, nonetheless, know that their fear IS real!
What could be the source of this profound and widely shared fear of public speaking? In my unscientific estimation, it can be summed up in one word: validation.
Somewhere along the road we were taught to wait for validation from others. You know, that constructive criticism evaluating our work that then urges us to continue on our path or to sit on down. So before even getting started, we stifle our gifts, our goals and our voice out of dread for the negative things that “they” may say or think.
Somewhere along the road, we became conditioned (perhaps by one or many who have no vision) to believe our vision shouldn’t be too big or too far out there. After all, what if it never comes to fruition? Then you’ve just gone and embarrassed yourself, right? Don’t you dare share publicly your goals, visions or your gifts. Remember, everyone’s watching YOU. Because we don’t have enough to do in our own daily lives, we’ll follow your life every step of the way, watching and waiting to tell you when you’ve messed up.
Never mind that by sharing, you may find like-minded people who could help you fulfill your goals. Never mind that by sharing, you may encourage someone else to accept a bigger vision to one day accomplish great things. That you just may set someone free of internal, as well as external, inhibitions with your encouragement, insight, gifts, skills and talent.
Enter journaling onto the scene!
Journaling is a great antidote to fear. Something magical happens during this transfer of feelings from heart to paper, without your mind’s fears interrupting the process. Journaling allows your inner voice to be heard in an uninhibited fashion. It needs no validation or constructive criticism.
Years ago, when I began hosting journaling workshops, I sought the opinion of several successful people to get their take on this form of expressive writing. I wanted to help novice journal enthusiasts understand it’s not hype but simply a very beneficial process.
I asked Sandra Yancy, an award-winning international entrepreneur, author, movie producer, speaker, as well as founder and CEO of a five-plus million membership networking organization called eWomenNetwork Inc. Here’s what she had to say about journaling:
Terri, I have been journaling for many years. It has served as a valuable vehicle to share gratitude, express disappointment, capture dreams, and ‘own’ who I am at any other particular moment in my life. By doing so, I can look back through my pages and see how I’ve overcome obstacles and recorded important learnings. Journaling has served as an internal pathway that has led to many improvements and successes. When I reflect on the gifts I have bestowed on my children, the gift of journaling is certainly one of my best! I applaud you for hosting a workshop of this kind so that others, too, can reap the rewards that such a practice provides.
I reached out to world-renowned motivational speaker and author, Les Brown, as well. He’s the recipient of the National Speakers Association’s highest honor: The Council of Peers Award of Excellence, and one of “America’s Top Five Speakers” voted by Toastmasters International. Here are his comments:
I commend you, Terri, for conducting this workshop to help individuals step into their greatness! Too often people find their lives stuck in neutral, going nowhere fast. It’s like the mechanism is there to drive their dreams forward; they just need instruction on how to use it. Self-reflection, through writing, is one such mechanism that can empower you with courage and resiliency to make it against all odds.
While I did not have the great fortune to speak directly to movie producer, director, actor and playwright, Tyler Perry, I read a magazine article about his practice of journaling. This is what he shared with the interviewer about why he journals:
Psalm 119:105 ‘The word is a lamp unto my feet and a light into my pathway.’… I have always walked by faith. Sometimes there was only a little light, a little hope that kept me moving. There were so many times that I didn’t know how I was going to make it. So many times I didn’t know where my next meal was coming from, if my hope would be realized or if my dreams would come true. But no matter how dark it got, I kept moving. That is one of the keys to making your dreams come true. JUST KEEP MOVING FORWARD! … At the top of every year, I stop and go away to reflect. I will usually take out my journal and read over some of the past years and look at all the things God brought me through, no matter how dark the times. What rereading my journal taught me is that there was always a lamp at my feet. I think if you look at your life, you’ll see a lamp too.
With journaling, you’re writing to yourself about yourself, setting yourself free in the process. Journaling works well that way. The great news is that you don’t have to wait to do it. Start right now! As you allow journaling to become a habit, you’ll begin validating yourself. One day, that validation becomes all you need to publicly share your writings and your story without fear.
There you have it: The joy of journaling! It will make public speaking less of a fear for you. Kick your fears to the curb, get unstuck, reap rewards and keep that lamp burning bright for all to see!
When I think Kate Spade, I think colorful prints and playful sophistication.
From handbags and clothing to jewelry, fashion accessories, fragrance, eyewear, shoes, and more, their high-quality radiant splash of charm exudes.
In 1993, Kate Brosnahan Spade, a former accessories editor at Mademoiselle, fulfilled her desire to design the “perfect” handbag. Starting with just six silhouettes, she forged ahead using palettes in a way rarely explored before: a sleek, practical look with lots of colors. Her first shop quickly followed in 1996, as fashion magazine editors and female consumers gravitated to this fresh, modern style.
By 2007, it became Kate Spade & Company. Under the direction of new officers, the company launched a full clothing and jewelry collection, later followed by bedding, legwear and fragrances. Today, the parent company designs and sells under two global lifestyle brands: Kate Spade New York and Jack Spade. All these additions have proven successful. As Kate herself said, “The bar is high. If it were low, we’d only trip over it.”
By January 2015, Kate Spade employed 3,500 employees within 93 U.S. specialty retail stores, 32 foreign specialty retail stores, 57 U.S. outlet stores, and 14 foreign outlet stores. They manufacture in conjunction with approximately 151 suppliers in 15 countries. Their presence graces every continent and every time zone.
In their factories, all employees are encouraged to speak up when there are internal grievances. Their procedures give workers the opportunity to report their concerns in confidence, even directly to Kate herself.
In 2014, Kate Spade developed On Purpose, a program designed to empower women through trade. This program brought together community artisans within the town of Masoro, in the West African nation of Rwanda. This partnership would help in the crafting of handmade goods supplied to both Kate Spade and Jack Spade brands.
In addition to crafting, the women were taught how to build profitable for-profit businesses. The organization’s goal is for the women’s economic stability to positively transform the entire community of more than 20,000 people. Giving back doesn’t end with Masoro. Kate Spade plans on continuing this trend in other communities.
Today, Kate Spade has grown into a highly-respected global name. Their goal is to continue inspiring colorful living through their timeless and durable, yet stylish and witty merchandise. They are impressively reaching that goal.
Do you know what else is impressive? That I have a Kate Spade purse bought back in 1997, which remains a favorite of mine. Yes, 20 years later, it’s holding up and still adding an exuberant splash of color to my wardrobe.
I love the quiet and stillness of the wee hours, which is why for years my daily routine starts me at 1 or 2am-ish. While meditating or working on my computer, I’ve become very keen to the morning sounds, and lack thereof. A runner jogs by every weekday at the same time. From the 2nd floor window of my home office, I briefly hear the pats of his sneakers hitting the pavement and the jingling of the dog collar of his now obvious running companion. Like clockwork, I come to expect the timed garden sprinklers to start, as my ear is attuned to the thump noise of the water pipe even from a fair distance.
This morning, right about 3am, an unusual sound struck my ears–at least unusual for this area at this time of year. In the total silence, I heard: rat-a-tat tat-tat (space) ta-tatatatatatatat. Hmmm, usually anytime I hear something similar to that, it’s in July or during a few other celebratory times in the summer. I would first think, “Is that..?” Then, “Naw, that’s just firecrackers.”
This morning, though, in December, I knew the ratatats were not fireworks. Oh my! The sound was far off in the distance, yet close enough for it to be distinctive. Then back to the usual silence and my mind goes quickly back to my work–well, kinda. I briefly thought, “Well, if that was what I thought it was, I hope everyone is okay.”
Then, less than five minutes later, a police siren in the distance. “Oh boy, it was what I thought.” Then another minute or so, here comes the helicopter. “Hmm, this really is major. The shooter’s on the loose?” The helicopter sound gets louder as it gets closer, then fades again. You can tell they’re widening their scope. I began praying over that incident–whatever it was.
Well, there’s goes my list of business tasks I was working on this morning, as here comes my raw thoughts pouring forth…
I passed by the TV set the other day and Keidi had some western movie on. Rifles were just-a firin’, and the pointed guns were just-a shootin’. I looked at the fighting for a moment then looked at him and said, “How can you watch that? That is just so barbaric!” Grown, supposedly sensible men shooting at each other like freaking vultures is so inhumane to me!
I used to like westerns–TV shows and movies. My favorite western movie being Tomstone with favorite character, Doc Holliday. But today, I have a hard time relating! Killing people is soooo far removed from my spirit that it’s SICKENING to think of someone having the ability to consciously point ANY weapon, be it knife, gun, car, drone, etc, knowing it has the potential to wipe out a living, breathing being, who was born of this earth with the same God-given right to be here!
I see on social media everyday total strangers judging people on their looks, telling them they are stupid, they’re liars, even calling them names based on something that was posted, without even knowing that person’s personal journey. I see the general public convicting a person in their minds before that person ever has their day in court, just because mass media fed the public the juicy scoop, while withholding the truthful details. Then on the other hand, bodycams, videotapes and other super duper convincing evidence cannot bring about a single justifiable conviction, as long as certain victim’s lives are not perceived to matter.
I turn on the TV and a 2004 Kevin Hart comedy movie called, Soul Plane, is on; portraying blacks as jiggaboos, sex fein s and sophisticated thugs. That’s supposed to be funny? Total degradation of a race of people by our people and we laugh! Place that movie side by side with the 1915 landmark film, Birth of a Nation, and there are frightening similarities! So, we’re outraged with one and not the other? So, we wonder why certain people don’t think our lives matter? Seems to me folks are boycotting the wrong things. Stores and restaurants don’t negatively influence our youth. So, why are folks boycotting them and not the media??
(40 mins later, the helicopter is still heard hovering in the distance.)
I live in a nation so torn and divided by moral values, religious doctrine, spiritual practices, and other standards that people who are supposed to be leaders go around sounding like robots for lack of knowing what else to do. Their certain talking points and beliefs based not so much on respect for another human being but on traditions or associations. Habits–bad habits are birthed out of traditions, you know. Traditions that folks either don’t know the origins of, or haven’t considered new evidence that should cause them to do a 180 from that tradition. A nation fighting for or against an unborn’s life and the right of the expectant, without one iota of personal experience about that which they fight and vote for. I have it, and trust me, it ain’t pretty and it certainly ain’t justified.
I hear people speaking about their diseases, illnesses and surgeries so matter-of-factly. Cutting up flesh; carving out organs; all the slicing and dicing; chemically burning and scraping done under the auspices of healthcare. It has all become so commonplace! That is, until, oops, knife slipped, too many pills, too much radiation, this one didn’t make it. Then everyone’s in an uproar. But if I tell that same patient a scientifically proven nutritional way to rid those same diseases and illness without the “oops” and they look at me like I’m the enemy. Yep, I’m the coo-coo one from outer space, proposing an achievable goal that would actually require a person to CHANGE.
Well, I am from outer space–a supernatural space. A place where I cannot wrap my brain around the concept that I should judge who deserves to breathe or not breathe based on MY perspective of who they are, where they came from, or what they did–and then use a weapon to back up my judgment. I’m in a place–a spiritual space where I belong to my God, my Creator and you don’t get to judge how I worship Him. I’m in a place where it’s normal to connect with nature and Mother Earth, as I seek out and hear God. I am purposed for Him, anointed by Him, on a journey that can only be confirmed through Him–not through this world or the people in it.
I love life. I love people so much that I would love for them to have life–and yes, have it abundantly so they can enjoy it freely. God judges. I love.
May God bless you and may God bless this crazy America!
Terri Eileen Liggins is a writer, editor, and blogger for a billion dollar online retailer, Zappos, Inc. She is also Founder and Publisher at The Literary Front Publishing Company and Founder at The Law & Raw Institute for Balanced Healthy Living.