Part 2 – Happy New Year! My 36th year.
My beautiful island in the sun
My 2017 started off so well and now when I look back, I think it was too good to be true! I felt the healthiest I had been in years and looked the best that I had in such a long time. I had now lost 5 stone and felt absolutely amazing!! I was incredibly happy in my relationship and pretty happy with life in general, naturally, there were things that I wanted to change, after all, there is always room for improvement. But generally, I would say I was most certainly happy – the happiest I had been in years!
Another year, more memories
Anyone who knows me well knows how much I despise the cold weather and how easily I get the January blues. So I jump at any opportunity to escape the cold weather, celebrate my birthday in sunny climes and to visit my love who lives in Jamaica, my beautiful island in the sun. January birthdays are the worst as everyone’s feeling down and counting down the days to payday after the Christmas and New Year celebrations, so planning birthday celebrations here in the UK are kind of pointless, to be honest, so it gives me the perfect excuse to book a flight somewhere hot and tropical!
My 36th birthday is the fourth birthday I have celebrated in sunny climes, with the exception of Barcelona and Egypt this was the second time I have celebrated my birthday here in Jamaica. And believe you and me after the past year I’ve had, I plan to celebrate as many birthdays in the sunshine as possible!
I celebrated my 36th birthday with my partner in Jamaica. It was such a beautiful and relaxing day, I spent the day with my love where he cooked me a wonderful meal, with plenty of rum, sweet reggae music, giggles and sunshine. It was simply wonderful and if I would have known then what I know now…I would have savoured every single moment so much more!
Practising the art mindfulness is something that I’m working on improving every single day, after all the present moment is all that we have.
“The simple tings are your blessing, you better notice your blessing.” Tarrus Riley
Rebel Salute – the preservation of reggae music
My birthday celebrations continued later in the week to the Rebel Salute reggae music festival held in St Ann Jamaica. This music festival is held in January each year and is great if you love ‘real’ Reggae music and would like to experience a little Rastafarian culture. I also met Luciano – a big Reggae artiste in Jamaica, he has such a humble and caring spirit.
Every year is a blessing – cherish it!
Be grateful for every single birthday. When I was in my twenties I used to hate the thought of getting another year older and would often have conversations with friends about how we were getting old. When I turned 30 it was as if the world was going to end! I can laugh now…it’s only with age and life experience that you come to realise what is truly important in life. Living to see another year is most definitely a blessing!
So the next time you complain about getting old…take a moment, pause and give thanks for being blessed to see another year and having the opportunity to experience all the wonderful things life has to offer. Remember not everyone has the privilege of growing another year older. I was very nearly one of those people!
So many women that I have come across during the course of my life whether it be through my work or my personal life tend to have a negative association with getting another year older. There are the obvious downsides that come part and parcel of ageing, but there are also so many positives which really do get pushed aside, especially here in the UK.
I even had the conversation with a colleague a few weeks ago and she said “let’s be honest women don’t get better with age, do we? Unlike men of course…”
My response was “speak for yourself, I’m the oldest I’ll ever be at this moment in time and apart from some health issues I’ve had this past year, I feel younger and that I have a more positive and youthful outlook on life than I did when I was in my 20’s.”
Unfortunately, we live in a society where so much about a person is defined by both their social status and biological age, age is much more than that. It’s about life experiences, learning and growing, the people we meet and the memories we make. Having both a positive and youthful outlook on life will really help in keeping you young at heart and that’s a mindset that I personally believe in and live by.
Jamaica – no problem mon
That’s another one of endless things that I love about my beautiful island in the sun, there is no barrier where age is concerned. The attitude in Jamaica is that if you’re alive and willing, anything is possible and the great sense of community with all ages coming together also helps to overcome this barrier.
I’m telling you now, go to Jamaica and ask a woman her age…she will tell you her true age with so much pride whether she is 22 or 92 – no problem mon.
A step back in time, returning to my roots.
I’m going to rewind a little, to 7 years ago, just because I think this story fits in nicely here. After a huge change in my life in 2011, I decided to travel to Jamaica. I had been wanting to return for so long and something told me that now was a perfect time. In 2012 I returned to Jamaica for the first time in 22 years. During this trip I visited my grandfather, I was surprised that I remembered the route to his house as I was only 10 years old the last time that I was there.
I didn’t have a close relationship with my grandfather, after all, I was one of roughly 20 grandchildren and he left England to retire in Jamaica when I was about 8 years old. But when I visited him a whole 22 years later I felt this huge sense of belonging as we sat and talked for hours about life.
When I left and proceeded to walk back down the hill he stood by the gate and watched me walk away. As I descended into the distance I would keep looking back until I couldn’t see him anymore. I remembered thinking if it wasn’t for that man right there I wouldn’t be living the life that I have right now, the struggle and the hardship both him and my grandmother faced to give their 10 children and future grandchildren/great grandchildren the lives we have today. I have so much respect for this generation, I was his legacy right in front of him.
Two years later, another trip to Jamaica.
I later returned to Jamaica in 2014 where I saw him for the last time, his health had deteriorated rapidly and he was a mere shell of his former self, it was so heartbreaking to see. I later received the news that he had passed away two days after I landed back in the UK. I felt so sad but at the same time, I was glad that his suffering was over and that he lived a long and for the majority a healthy life.
Two things that I’ll take from my grandfather which I honestly believe is why he lived to the age of 96 was his healthy lifestyle and his outlook on life. He would always say;
“I don’t want to only surround myself with old people – I like to be around people of all ages, it keeps me young at heart.”
Not in those exact words, but you get the picture – just throw some Jamaican Patwa in there. Lol
My grandfather, Mr George Grant, you were absolutely right! Thank you for being an inspiration and I feel so grateful that I had the opportunity to see you one last time before you left us. Until we meet again Granty, I love you.
One thing that I’d like you to take away from this story is that time does not wait for anyone. So when you think that you are too busy to make the effort with family and friends, think twice because you never know when it will be the last time that you’ll see them, that last chance could be taken away from you when you least expect it.
Create memories, live, laugh and love!
Giving someone your time is the most precious and wonderful thing you can do after all none of us are going to be here forever. I know that many people struggle with the notion of mortality, but it is a harsh reality of life that we have to be open and honest about. For me, this reality is now more prominent than ever!
The marriage proposal
Right sorry for the diversion…I’ll fast forward back to January 2017 to the morning I was leaving Jamaica after spending two weeks with my partner.
On the morning that I was leaving Jamaica, my partner woke me out of my sleep, turned and held me tightly…then I heard the words…
“Danielle will you do me the honour of becoming my wife, will you marry me?”
My heart raced and I was overcome by so much joy, I was fit to burst!! As the tears ran down my face I muttered yes and held him so tightly as I knew it wouldn’t be long before I’d have to leave for my flight and return to the UK. I left Jamaica feeling on top of the world and engaged to marry my love.
We said our goodbyes at the airport and I was incredibly upset to leave as always, even more so after the proposal that morning. We held each other for so long at the gates and I was crying more than usual, something felt different I didn’t know what it was at the time but I had this sinking feeling. Little did I know that could have been the last time that I’d ever see him…
I then proceeded to board my flight back to the UK and saw the lady that I was talking to on the flight to Jamaica. She had just left her husband so she knew exactly how I felt.
She was concerned about me because I was so upset and walked with me to board the flight, this was so nice of her, plus it took my mind off leaving my love behind.
She then came to look for me a few hours after take off to make sure I was okay. Such a lovely women, bless her!January 24, 2018 7:30 pm