Phone lover

At home alone and so much to do,

and yet out I go, in search of you,

Who you are, I do not know,

But find you I will, wherever I go,

My wants are small, my needs not much,

I look, a smile if not a touch,

a passing gaze, to show we exist

a look in the eyes, as if we have kissed,

But you passed me by, you saw me not,

Your phone is your love,

and that I forgot.

The Melanated Club

I have seen so many incredibly looking black people in this Facebook club,  possessing perfectly formed bodies, with varying degrees of blackness, ranging from fair tanned shades to dark velvet blackness. Adorned in some of the most stylish colourful and exotic fabrics on this planet combined with their natural afro looking hairstyles.

I think this group was created to stimulate the ‘Beauty of being black’. As even more dark ugly history continues to be revealed and exposed (as if it was not bad enough already) combined with the subtle deep rooted attitudes and racism that still exists today, that contributed to the birth of movements like ‘Black lives matter’ being based on unbelievable statistics regarding the chances of getting shot , incarceration and severity of punishment in comparison to their white counterparts, I slowly began to understand why this site is so important to them to help them build up and maintaining their dignity, self worth and pride.

I say ‘them’ although being black myself because of being born and brought up outside of the U.S. being born in Europe from parents who were also the offsprings of victims of that same international slave trade were spared the severity of racism and segregation that the African Americans were and still are experiencing.

So for me in general I took our self worth, beauty, looks and style some what for granted. Strangely enough being naive to the continued suffering of African American. I clearly remember watching American films and shows admiring all these amazing black artists with their looks, beauty and styles and ignorantly reasoning how great and exciting life must be there compared to dull and boring England.

Despite the fact that racism towards black people was and still is present here in the parts of Europe that I am familiar with, the ‘Black Americans’ were viewed differently and highly respected. They were the ‘Cool Blacks’ that was “as acceptable to be identify with and admired amongst the white caucasian population. It was their natural style, accent, musical talents and general charisme that just transformed them into a an Elite group of black people. Even the ‘boys from the hood’ were looked up to with their cool accents, clothing styles, rapping, singing and amazing dance abilities.

Admittedly there was another very popular black community that European loved, Jamaican Rastas with their Reggae music, dreadlocks and I guess ganga with some white men and women dreadlocking their hair own white hair and wearing the colours of the Rastafarian religion. Even many black Africans coming directly from the African continent loved and intimated their hair and style.

But even outside this group my parents, uncles and aunties did come to settle down in the U.K. and feel a certain level of acceptance and recognition for their talents, skills and social interaction in their communities. Subtle racism still existed but was never so blatant and agressive as experience in America.

I clearly remember growing up from childhood, looking at old vintage black and white photographs from the 50s and 60s of my parents, aunties and uncles and being amazed, impressed and proud of their looks, attractiveness and style.

But their beauty was very personal to me because it involved more than their physical looks. It included who they were and what they did for me. They were my parents and they were responsible for my existence, they loved, cared and raised me as best they could based on their finances and circumstances.

So for me personally I need something more to admire these photographs fully. I need to know who they really are. I need to know what their inner substance is made off . I need to know their history, their unique personal background, experiences and challenges. I need to know how they were able to deal with both success and failures in their lives and what carried them through. I need to know what inspiration they can give me.

But for me you don’t have to be rich and famous to be inspiring. I recently saw a brief interview of a black homeless man and how he still was able to carry himself with a certain amount of pride despite his misfortune. His response to someone that yelled at him calling him a bum and go get a job was so powerful. He replied “God bless you sir” . According to the clip that same man returned ten minutes later apologised and gave him some money to eat and to pay for a room for the night.

Thats the substance and shows your inner six pack and beauty and inspires us.

For me these are the factors that make ‘The man’ or ‘woman’.

We are all continually growing, maturing and realizing more and more that it is not all about ‘a pretty face’ or ‘how well toned your muscles are’ we realise that the primary factor is and should always be about inner beauty and strength.

Our outer beauty is just a sideline facet, a small brooch, a necklace, chain or ring that adds that finishing touch to the whole real picture.

because no matter how perfect your Instagram photo maybe it’s who you really are inside that will determine what people will finally see, in the long run when they look at you …..

and then I guess when you have built up a reputation of accomplishment and success like John Legend you can almost get away with wearing anything …..almost 😃

unfortunately I had to omit that image of John Legend due to possible copyright issues but you can view that image here, posted around end of January 2020 https://www.facebook.com/MelantedClub/

Why I want to be a Mindful, Minimalistic travellor.

I will quickly add that this has nothing to do with how we can reduce “Global warming”, through the burning of less fossils fuels, or reducing pollution and waste caused by global transportation and tourism. Or maybe it could have some influence on how much we fossils fuels we still would burn when we get there??

Just thinking out aloud again, writing personal observations combined with one or two famous quotes and a change in thinking that has been embraced by some. Its based on a simple observation how SOME people seem to be ticking of their bucket list of “must see” travel destinations before they ….

“kick the bucket”

I repeat SOME travellors seem to have raced around the entire globe

“in 90 days “

while actually not taking the time to really experience being there.

This is combined with another observation how SOME people live their journeys to their destinations. The do not seem to understand or appreciate the very wise words of

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Its the not the Destination, It’s the journey.

I think he is telling us that instead of transporting ourself several hours ahead of time thinking about everything we plan to do and when we get there that we should come out of that mental state of thinking and return to the present moment at hand, the journey. Although we are in motion, moving forward we should try to stand still in the moment that is currently taken place before us.

Yes its based on the philosophy of “Mindfulness” that encourages us to live in the “now” moment observing, savouring and fully engaging in every positive experience that is crossing our paths.

Yes our vacation actually starts right from the moment we leave our home.

We need to sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.

Take the time to enjoy the scenary passing by, if its a night flight or journey and we are really tired then show gratitude even if it is only to ourselves for the opportunity of sleep. If we can’t sleep then lets try and connect with our fellow passengers on board, spouse, siblings, our children, best friend or even that complete stranger sitting next to us. So many interesting and intriguing conversations have developed from such spontaneous interaction with each party sharing their own personal unique life story and experiences. These conversations have sometimes lead to the development of long lasting friendships, friendships that were established hours before the the plane landed at the airport or the train or bus arrived at the station.

And when we do finally arrive at our destination do we take the time to savour that specific moment. We are at the starting block of the destination part of our vacation it is still not over, we have several days or weeks to look forward to. Its a wonderful moment to remember savour and store in our heart and mind.

Admittedly it can be very difficult to fully relax when this is probably our first and only visit to this particular “Port of Call” We may have a huge list of and places to visit and activities to do in a very limited time scale.

We have one of three choices;

Stick to the plan, do not get side tracked, do not slow down or rest up, there is no time, we must be determined to keep to the timetable. We have to get the maximum value of money spent and time sacrificed in relation to the number of monuments, landmarks, breathtaking scenaries and action packed activities that will take place and that will all be perfectly recorded, stored and shared on our Instagram accounts.

But don’t worry because when we get back home we will have a whole year to relax, view and savour the moments on our smartphones, tablets and laptops.

Or maybe we are a simply a inbetweener. (I know I just made that word up) We want to see some of the local attractions and landmarks but we have very limited interest, enthusiame and involvement because all we completely shattered and all we really want to do is “crash out” with only every now and then making some physical effort to get up, stagger to the pool or sea to experience some form of partial or complete liquid submergance. Its either that or we just wanted to go for a pea. We could have stayed in our own country or county and just booked into Sunparks. However Sunparks backgrounds just don’t “cut it” on Instagram, thats just “not done”

Or we can choose to ignore a large part of our “to visit” and “to do” list and just “visit” and “do” what my so called Minimalistic method of travelling allows. When we visit or do something we open our heart and minds fully to that place or experience being fully present.

When we are standing in that Roman Arena or Aztec Temple or Egyptian Pyramid we close our eyes (figureratively speaking) traveling back in time ( yes now we can leave the present for a moment) and imagine ourself actually being there surrounded by spectators that are cheering on the gladiators, we imagine the smell of fear of the prisoners and can feel the suspense in the air. Or maybe we imagine the hustle and bussle of an ancient market packed with produce, livestock and ornaments spread out on tables and stalls before us.

We slowly climb that one cliff at sunset and embrace the panoramic master piece being painted across the horizon in front of us.

We strip half or fully naked and dive into that one laggoon despite the fact that there are several more unique laggoons and waterfalls to see further up the trail that we will never get to see because we could not resist the first one we encountered . But we simply don’t care because we have this one laggoon all for ourself at this moment in time, today, now.

The fact is, the vast majority of us will never get to travel and experience even one tenth of this planets natural wonders and beauties and I question even those that did if they were really had enough time to fully be present preserving those moments in their heart and mind, instead of just on their smartphones or cameras.

However I do recognise and acknowlegde that everyone is different. For some thousands of brief moment is enough and fully satisfying for them.

Which leads me to the following;

“Each to their own”

“If thats what makes you happy then continue doing that way”

And in fact “who am I” to question anybodies way of doing things?

And admittedly this alternative slower pace of travelling means one will see even less of this beautiful planet.

But I will purposely choose this method of travelling because,

according to the Minimalistic lifestyle,

Less is more!!

From breakfast cereal to spirituality

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I do not consider myself a health freak or a sport addict but when I learn that something is good for you I try it and when I learn that something is bad for you I endeavour to avoid it. My eating habits have changed over the years and will probably continue to do so and as regards sport I think I engage in it on a daily basis in one way at work because it’s not about extremes but simply about keeping yourself active on a daily basis. However I do engage in real sport as well on a regular basis. Although no guarantee in itself I do believe it helps in reducing the risks of certain types of illnesses.

There are other equally important factors involved that if ignored can adversely affect our chances of long term health. Study and research in these additional areas is an ongoing journey of discovery but also a realisation of things that we subconsciously already knew and  already applied in our daily lives.

Why do we find it so important to satisfy this internal desire to be socialble and connect with other beings that starts with our own parents and siblings and develops into searching for even more connection outside that circle with friends and relatives and finally resulting in searching for that special relationship of love and connection generally satisfied in the opposite sex. When these fundamental needs our not adequately satisfied we tend to suffer health wise with one aspect generally leading to another, from emotional to mental to physically issues.

If you have found a good relationship do not take it for granted. Unfortunately many of us do not entertain that luxury but we still have hope.  We can still endeavour to maintain good ties with our existing family and friends that can bring out the best in us and our self worth in a positive way.

Also the satisfaction in the act of giving and helping others as a opposed to the ‘selfish me’ first lifestyle has really helped ones to find a positive up building purpose in their lives that in turn contributes to good health. It does not always have to be something spectacular though, even just ‘giving’ some of our precious time and personal attention can do wonders for another human being. It seems fairly obvious that the results we witness and the gratitude received from our efforts can only produce positive health benefits in ourselves. The inner emotional joy in our soul can only have positive effects on our mental well being which in turn can only be good for are physical health even though we may at times be exhausted from the physical exertion involved. I am thinking of that expression ‘Hard work never killed anyone’ .

These things can help us in our goal to build and maintain a positive emotional and mental attitude in life, whatever are situation maybe while at the same time growing instead of stagnating in self pity, continually endeavouring to move forward making positive changes in our lives.

 Art, music, culture, traditions, travel, dance or sport. Have you discovered your personal passion yet, something that touches your heart and soul every time you see hear or actively participate in it? Even if we discover and start these things later on in life the benefits to our health our invaluable due to the deep inner joy and satisfaction experienced. 

And then there is ‘Spirituality’ something that everyone has to decide for themselves whether they choose to recognise it or not and respecting everyone else’s choice in this matter. For many it has played a very important role in their general well being in addition to the positive effect they radiate to those around them.

I don’t know how I got from sharing a photo of my breakfast cereal to talking about basic spirituality. I guess I just wanted to say;

“Take good care of yourself, your body, your life and well being but remember that there is a lot more involved than just a healthy diet and frequent exercise.”

I bet you won’t share this post……

Please forgive me if I don’t respond? like, agree, disagree or copy, paste and pass on your posts concerning “real issues” about life, lost, suffering, injustice and our dying planet here on Facebook. When someone writes at the end of their post “….. I bet you won’t share this….” that’s just what I do. I don’t. I never share anything when someone tries to coerce me or try to make me feel guilty. That just has the opposite effect on me.

However my lack of response does not mean that I don’t care. Its just that I still cannot view this platform as a reliable and worthy source of factual, unbiased and non manipulative news and information source. Combine this with the sometimes very emotionally charged discussions that arise
involving large amounts of ……basically complete strangers posting a large percentage of comments that have no real proven factual backing or basis. Then I try not to get involved.
For me Facebook will remain loyal to its name and synonymous with the word “SELFIE” 😆.
A place where my face sticks out trying to get your attention to “look at me!” “look at me!” with yet another “selfie” photograph.
It’s also a great medium of escape from that harsh reality of life where we can forget all these troubles for a moment and yes, even share are selfie holiday and family photographs, or something funny and something positive and upbuilding, that gives some hope showing that there is still some humanity and goodness out there.
Disclaimer.
This is just my personal viewpoint. I am not mocking or criticising anyone else in how they
choose to use social media. Many have accomplished great things by means of it.
Always viewing and treating everyone with RESPECT.

The Alternative Blossom Season Route

It is the blossoms season again with many people visiting the fruits tree vineyards of Haspengouw from Alken to St Truiden Hoepertingen, Vechmaal, Heks and Borgloon regions in Flemish Belgium, to admire the breathtaking views of clusters of trees engulf in their sunday best costume of blossoms.

In addition Hasselt has its own compact Oriental Paradise in the form of the Japanese Garden with its own explosion of cherry tree blossoms at this time of year. A yearly treat for locals and tourists alike.

My only slight problem with this blossom phenomenon is that I don’t know where to look…… it’s like an optical overdosis of colours filling up the whole spectrum of my naked eye. It’s like having to eat a whole jar of honey in one go or being plunged into a swimming pool of smarties and being asked to immediately figure out just how many different colours there really are. Dare I say it’s too intense, it’s too beautiful and because of the huge numbers of trees involved that are all fighting for your attention you just lose focus. These individual trees actually get lost in the masses to the point that we don’t actually see them individually anymore.

Being the very odd and eccentric person that I am, I have discovered a new way to enjoy the blossoms with greater appreciation.

By stepping out of my front door and going for a walk or jumping on my bike and start riding around my neighbourhood. The concrete jungle of my home town. In any street, alleyway, open town square, shop, church, house, office block, or the other side of someones garden wall or fence can be a breeding ground for these seasonal appearances. Naturally I would have to include the small playgrounds and parks with my town center.

Disclaimer
Before you look at the examples shown below let me hasten to add that I have absolutely no professional or amateur photography skills in addition to the poorest possible photographic material ever created ….. my smartphone. These primitive photos cannot compensate visually to being able to observe these flowering trees in blossom with the naked eye or through the lens of an amateur or professional photographer. Its merely an additional visual aid in trying to convey a simple point. The second disclaimer. I did not pay enough attention at school several decades ago so I don’t know the difference between a fruit tree and a non bearing fruit tree and if that even exists. All I know and can see is that a particular tree is in flower. End of disclaimer.
Anyway the first two examples are from Haspengouw and the rest are situated in various locations in and around Hasselt town centre.

I purposely choose this first example in the town centre to demonstrate a point about the amazing effect that a flowering tree has on it’s environment. It seems to somehow erase any ugliness in it’s vicinity and redirect all visual attention to itself.

It’s almost as if you can hear the tree saying “Look at me, Look at me!!”
…….it’s either that or I am going through the second stage of schizophrenia!!

But even when the physical surroundings our acceptable, a tree in blossom still stands out.

It’s like a subtle street battle where these trees always wins.

W

And whats your home town blossoms like??

Another normal working day ??

It’s just a another working day in a simple suburban town somewhere in Belgium.

Its cloudy, cold and damp and you can almost feel it through the photograph, with the droplets of rain still resting on the body and windscreen of the car revealing the last recent shower.

But all off this just fades into insignificance as we behold the stunning appearance and beauty of this employee, a woman that somehow does not seem to belong in this background that she finds herself in, smiling very subtly, holding a lovely bouquet of flowers that although seemingly small are filled with just the right combination of colours perfectly arranged to match her hair, makeup and outfit.

No it’s not just a another working day its;

“International Womens Day”

Jamaica, the minibus vs The Knutsford Express experience

Part 1
If you want to describe the extremes in opposites we sometimes talk about the day and night, being black or white, the highs and lows of mind altering substances, the politics of far right and far left and the list goes on but when it comes to Jamaica’s private regional transportation provisions we have the ability to talk about anothe type of extreme contrast or experience in travelling.
In this first article I want to share my recent observations and personal experience with the Jamaican minibus service.
Backpacking, student, and budget minded world travellers are very familiar with the transportational standard of local minibus services as regards seating (or in some cases and standing or standing only arrangements), comfort, average speed of travel, punctuality of departure and arrival times.
Well Jamaica is no different. A minibus with a minimum age of at least 10 to 20 or more years and that was original designed to seat for example 25 people will simply not depart from the marketplace Bus Station until at least another ten people have and been squeezed into the bus with just enough space so that half of the skinny of the ‘bus conductor’ skinny body can hang on to the railing by the bus door entrance, with the other half acting like some sort of wind breaker, but as far as I could see having completely no effect on the top speed capabilities of this vehicle.
The aisle that originally existed allowing access to the various seats in the middle and rear of the bus suddenly vanishes. Makeshift planks are now being placed on every row of seats half resting on the two end seats instantly transforming the vehicle into a 25 + + seater minibus. Believe it or not having an additional passenger wedge in next to you like this completely nullifies any sideway inertia momentum. This force can become quite extreme at times due to the fact that Jamican minibuses travel at the same speed around corners as they do on the straight runs, maybe due to the fact that using their brakes could have some possible negative effect on the ecological environmental footprint of the planet…. ( increased production and disposal of brake blocks.. ?) or maybe it might have something to do with a possible slightly later arrival time (already running behind schedule due to later departure time waiting for that one last passenger to fit into the last bit of breathing space left in the bus) .
I love the storage management capabilities these minibuses and I cannot understand why people say there is no place to store your luggage. Despite the fact that the bus is now completely full there is still a large amount of storage space left for your suitcase and it’s staring you right in your face ..………the space inbetween your chest, the back of the seat in front of you and your lap upwards,…. provided of course that you have had the first class luxury of a seat….no sorry of a seated position. And I must say that this arrangement does increase your transport safety considerably due to the fact that you now have the modern services of an airbag in the event of an accident.
This was my actual experience during my last visit to Jamaica when I decided to catch a minibus in the morining as opposed to waiting until the late afternoon for the first Knutsford express service from Montego Bay to Mandeville. I knew what to expect based on previous experience and what I have seen and heard from others and strangely enough I did not have any personally issues with the whole trip, I knew what to expect, it just seemed like the normal Carribean minibus driving trip.
However I did begin to get a bit concerned when the ‘local’ passengers, native Jamaicans that use these services on a daily started reacting basis we reacting to th: bus drivers riding style. Shortly after departing many started of them started openly complaining to one another and the driver for his erratic driving style. One woman was begging the bus driver to stop the bus so that she could get off, stating that she wanted to get to her destination alive and demanding a refund. Another woman was relating how she had been driving for seventeen years with that particular driver and she had never experienced anything like this. Apparently even local people on the side of the road were making disapproving gestures at him for his dangerous driving style.
He was certainly overtaking every moving vehicle on the road including smaller Red number plate Route taxis that are also known for their formula one driving styles. I am quite sure he even overtook one motorbike rider. Well at least he did not swerve from side to side trying to avoid the many potholes…….he just drove right over them at the same speed, one after the other with the accompanying banging of the shock absorbers and woes and cries from the shocked and imprisoned passengers.

And no, this had absolute no effect on the driver, despite all the complaints, woes and screaming from his customers. He just muttered and laughed to himself periodically while overtaking yet another Taxi .The only time he started drive at a more reasonable speed was the final long uphill crawl going up Spur Tree Hill. This somehow had a calming Alzheimer effect on the passengers because everyone went quiet, all the way to the final slightly downhill descent into Mandeville with no one seeming to remember what had just taken place in the previous 2 hours.

We had all paid our 800 j$ ticket and arrived in Mandeville alive and in one piece in record time……so what was all that all fuss about ??

So what is this sharp contrast with ‘Knutsford Express driving experience’ ? What moral did I get out of this experience?

Well that’s my topic and theme for part two and thats going to be for another day.….😃
Thanks for reading.