6 Things I Learned at 28; Reflections of a Pre-Birthday Celebration

Hello friends,

I’ve always loved the determination, humour and drive of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. One of my absolute fave quotes of LIFE that has definitely championed me this past year is this beaut right here;

imagesI find my birthday to be a time of personal reflection, growth and motivation for what is to come. I can still feel the cool, rough concrete steps of the large front porch I grew up on as a child. I cried when I turned 13 because I felt the weight of the responsibility of what life had for me as I left childhood and entered the dreaded teenage-dom. Now on the brink of the oh-so-interesting *cough* cough* Dirty Thirty, I have an odd calmness. I am not as sad as I thought I would be as my last birthday of my twenties approaches in less than 2 hours.

Each birthday, I also reflect on my life’s motto/quote of the year. For instance, five years ago, it was “When you want to say no, say yes.” This lead me to meet some incredible people, embark on great adventures, and even work with Hoarders (yes, the same as those seen on TV). Two years ago, it was, “You were given this life because you were strong enough to live it.” Last year’s was that great Rock quote above.

And so, with the dawn of another year on the beautifully wide expanse of an open sky over crystal clear turquoise water (because everything in my life is beachy), I sit at my laptop, to savour that mental picture and to solidify the goals for the coming year. Epic words of Carry Bradshaw come to mind,



I have learned several remarkable things about myself over this last year- things I felt worth sharing;

  1. I am worthy of love. Of friends. Of lovers. Of my babies. Of my family. Of myself.
  2. I am not broken. I have something worthwhile to offer.
  3. I am not someone tightly confined to a box; My creativity is not static but fluid.
  4. I am naturally not good at cleaning. That is ok.
  5. Enjoy the process. Enjoy the little things.
  6. Celebrate often.


These are things that are yes very personal, but also applicable to the masses. As so, friends, I will leave you with my quote for this coming year,


I seek to expand my creative muscles, delve deeper into what it means to embrace #blacklivesmatter and Caribbean-Canadian culture, pursue my post secondary studies towards grad school, fall even more deeper in love with those 3 lil stunners, and above all else, throw some love/kindness/sparkles (sparkles in Jesus’ name of course) because the world needs more love not less.


Dreams & Tomatoes

Aristotle once said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit” and further Socrates stated, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

These two quotes have been ruminating around my head for the past few weeks, as I am constantly under construction and would characterize my life as always needs improvement as I strive daily to become greater than the person I was yesterday. When we are not actively and intentionally striving towards the best version of ourselves, towards purpose and destiny, then we can fall subject to regression. In my opinion, if you are going backwards, at least there is movement and you are not *dun-dun*DUN* (insert ominous music) living a life of mediocrity.

20160721_151024Stagnation is one of the fears of most creative people. We thrive on inspiration, on always improving our art form and constantly growing; if not in leaps and bounds, possibly we develop a brush stroke or engage in cardio to improve our instrumental stamina. Whatever the case may be, for a creative person to get writer’s block, or be unable to create, it is a slow painful death that eats away at the core of who we are.

I am sharing this to say. I grew 4 tomato plants. While these two concepts may not seem parallel, please bear with me as I digress🙂 And so, in the same way that tomatoes need sunlight, watering, good filtration/drainage and some loving, so too do our dreams. They need nourishment and attention. We cannot say, “I hope to play electric guitar in a band one day” but never practice, and never pick up the beautiful instrument. I know because I “played” the clarinet in middle school. By played, I mean I picked it up maybe three times outside of school and that was it. I never practiced. What came out were squeaks and awfulness. However, when I decided I wanted to play the piano, I practiced until my fingers were numb. I would take a break, and continue.20160721_134420

A few months ago, a friend asked me where I saw my business going, and what the moment look like when I knew I had made it. She asked me to visualize it. To write it down; what did it look like, what people were there, what did it smell like? I won’t spoil the surprise, but I know for a fact that a day will come when my dreams become a reality.

Gardiner Lana’s dreams became a reality today when I was able to eat 3 small cherry tomatoes from my own garden. I planted them when they were small and have been watering them (probably too much, who knows) daily. I talk to them (don’t tell my neighbours), and I waited. But what a wait! Those little nuggets burst like dawn over a horizon in my mouth. They were crisp and sweet.

All good things are worth the wait. How crisp and sweet will your dreams be once you reach them?


Two Hands

I’ve had major writer’s block lately. Alas, I found a half done poem and finished it. Enjoy!


Two hands attached to different bodies capture my mind’s attention. The vast differences yet striking similarities are unsettling. The first, whose hands are callused, are rough to the touch. As my finger traces over each calloused ridge on the palm, my mind sprints through a serious of white-hot flashbacks in quick succession. Each more intense than the last. I exhale with gusto. As if to feel each




in staccato fashion. A punch spews onyx to my eyes. A slap leaves a thick handprint of crimson on my cheek. Sullied extremities create a unique splotched pattern on the entire canvas that is my person.

The body forgets these splatters of pain. The mind does not.

Sitting in a cafe munching a salad, a kick sprays indigo.

The Romaine has lost its flavour.

Paint flavoured salad is disgusting at best.

As if in two different worlds is the stark contrast of the second hand to the first. Those hands are smooth to the touch. They are moisturized and sun kissed by kindness. My cheeks are caressed with understanding. The thought of those hands curl the corners of my mouth upward. The rest of my lips follow without prompting.

My fingers follow downwards and trace the lines on the palm. Again. Flashback. Yet these are familial

lines of green.



Laughter of children.

No longer staccato, these lines linger on the mind as Georgia does.


Like a Bird set FREE

Hello beautiful friend,

How has life been on your end? Hectic would be a GROSS mischaracterization of my last few months to say the least. And yet, we are almost approaching FEBRUARY. I know. I cannot believe it either. I blinked and <<BAZINGA>> There went January. Alas, it is January 22. I am about to shock pretty much everyone I know when I do this. I am going to talk about birds AND New Year’s Resolutions. My mother *might* have a heart attack. Quick. Someone feed her chocolate.

Anyone who knows me knows how much I absolutely detest animals of the feathery persuasion with an avid hatred and pure discuss that rivals carnival bathrooms after a chili cook off on a steamy August evening. I also have spent almost every New Year’s intentionally uncelebrating. (If that’s not a word, it should be.) I must preface this blog post by stating that I don’t hate animals, I just don’t intentionally like them. Except they are delish. NO one tell PETA.

You might be sitting in your home wondering how New Years and birds are related. We’re getting to the good stuff. It was on my mind last week that I should blog, but I honestly had no idea about what to write. Literally there was nothing. Well, there was silky smooth, warm, delectable caffeinated goodness with a caramel undertone, but nothing else. And then a close girlfriend played a song by Sia called, Bird Set Free. It has been on repeat since then.



When words fail

Clipped wings, I was a broken thing
Had a voice, had a voice but I could not sing
You would wind me down
I struggled on the ground
So lost, the line had been crossed
Had a voice, had a voice but I could not talk
You held me down
I struggle to fly now

I did have a few thoughts as I contemplated the lyrics and their subsequent relevance for my own life. I have attached the lyrics and song below. We all have haters in our lives who would like nothing better than to see you fail. I once read that some haters actually paid for a front row seat to watch you fail. I struggled to wrap my head around that concept. They don’t want to see us successful for two reasons:

  1. It makes them look bad.
  2. It forces them to analyze the status quo that has settled like a bad foot fungus in their own lives.

We all know people like that. That is not new. However, I am here to give you that friendly kick in the pants we all need from time to time. We do not have to succumb to their crazy notion of what they believe we should be. Those awful voices of negativity that keep us down. They tell us we aren’t good enough. We are not capable of achieving our dreams. I have a funny meme on my tablet desktop that says, “No matter how far you’ve come, there’s still someone back in your hometown trying to make it as a rapper.” Mind. BLOWN.

So. Will you join with me and leave those voices of negativity in 2015? Will you put on your big girl boots (or man boots if that’s how you roll), and pursue your purpose and the things you are passionate about? Everyone and even their grandma makes New Year’s Resolutions. What will be different about yours is that you will refuse to listen to the haters. We will wave to them as we pass towards the person we are meant to be. Here are three easy tips you can do RIGHT NOW to proceed in making your dreams/Resolutions become a reality.

  1. Write it down. What is your goal? Be as specific as possible. “Be better” doesn’t exactly have an connectivity in the real world. You’re welcome. I’m glad we got that one out of the way hehe. Are you looking to maintain/sustain a previously attained goal? Are you looking to be more social and join a class? It’s reaDiem (2)lly up to you.
  2. Date that baby! Now that we have a goal, we need to have a measure of whether we are actually working towards that goal. For example, by February 25 I want to be drinking 16 oz of water every morning by 12:00pm.
  3. You better tell somebody! Not hard. Text. Call a friend. Email them. Snail mail that bad boy. Let your people know what you want to do. If you fell off the wagon 21 days in, that is OK. Get right back on. Dust yourself off. Get your friend to feed ya something yummy and start again. But this time, you will have a friend by your side.

You have a beautiful soul. You are unique. You have something only you can offer to your friends, family and sphere of influence. Do not let the haters and naysayers keep you down. Fly. Be free in 2016. You’ve GOT this.

But there’s a scream inside that we all try to hide
We hold on so tight, we cannot deny
Eats us alive, oh it eats us alive
Yes, there’s a scream inside that we all try to hide
We hold on so tight, but I don’t wanna die, no
I don’t wanna die, I don’t wanna die

No I don’t care if I sing off key
I find myself in my melodies
I sing for love, I sing for me
I’ll shout it out like a bird set free
I’ll shout it out like a bird set free
I’ll shout it out like a bird set free

Now I fly, hit the high notes
I have a voice, have a voice, hear me roar tonight
You held me down
But I fought back loud

Know Your Worth

It has been quite a month, let me say that friend! We had Canadian Thanksgiving, and I had a vast array of papers, midterms, busy fam jam things happening to keep me on my toes. I was encouraged by a wonderful pastor in my life with these beautiful words, “When life speeds up, we need to intentionally slow down.” I have also found a new song called, Intentional by Travis Greene. The hook states, “God works out all things for my good. He’s intentional. He’s never failing.”

And so, with these two mantras behind me, I have felt rather pensive as the previous month escaped. I have been especially encouraged to be kinder to myself. To love myself. To know I am worthy of love; from others, but more importantly, from self. Far too often, we as women, are pressured by society to feel like we aren’t good enough unless we have all the latest beauty products or clothes. We ascribe to anther’s standard of what beauty is. What self worth is. It is attached to a dollar sign and jean tag size.

But what if we chose to go a different route? What if, we choose to love ourselves. To feel comfortable in our own skin? What if we choose to let go of our past mistakes and left our hands open to what is in store for our present reality, but also of our future dreams?

I am a lady who likes quotes. There are a myriad of famous dead people (and some still kicking around hehe), who have said brilliant things; things I aspire to integrate into my own life. I post these things around my house. They are written on Post-It notes on my headboard, A Beautiful Mind style. They are written in dry erase marker on almost all my mirrors. They are in common places; a constant reminder that I am moving forward.

You are uncommonly beautiful.

You are not the sum of your past mistakes.

You were given this life because you were strong enough to live it.

She believed she could, so she did.

Let go of the thoughts that don’t make you strong.

These gentle prods to my soul began to seep in when I least expected it. I began to be kinder to myself. To relinquish those thoughts that didn’t make me strong. I am NOT the sum of my past mistakes. I am uncommonly beautiful. I believed I could, so I did.

What would happen if we all choose to be a little more kind to ourselves and gave ourselves patience, peace, less pressure, more kindness and gentleness? In my opinion, we would be a better calibre of person. We would laugh more. We would become better partners, friends, lovers, parents.

You are worthy of self love. You can do this. Lovesome.


Shadows and Dreams

Hello Friends,

The summer was winding down nicely, and Pumpkin Spice EVERYTHING is in full swing. School has begun, and things have a certain freshness or newness. I have been toying with different ideas as to what to blog about for the last month or so, but nothing really stuck. At first, I thought I would discuss purpose as it relates to my birthday as I make “birthday resolutions” not so much New Year’s Resolutions because I feel they are more individual to me. Birthdays are always a time of reflection; what my goals were for the previous year, how did I achieve them, or what is my life statement going to be for the coming year. But speaking to purpose did not captivate the essence of the blog I wanted to write.

And so it came to be… Ok, that sounds SO dramatic, when really it was this chick snuggled in her sweats, chilling in the hammock chair with wine, a fuzzy blanket and a notebook with NOTHING written in it. As I sat pondering some of life’s quandaries, I found myself staring at the sky. It was this incredible shade of light pink and baby blue hues splashed across the sky. I did not get up from my hammock chair, but took a picture.


I edited the settings on my camera and took a few more.


Restless, I still could not put into words the swarms of nothingness in my head. I could not write. I could not focus on what it was I was supposed to write about. And then finally, a LOUD voice said, “Lana. Just stand up and turn around already.” I blinked. I was comfortable. I was ok with what was. But I was intrigued. I stood up and turned around. This was the awe-inspiring sight that stood before me. If you were on Facebook yesterday, I’m sure you saw a myriad of other similar pictures of nature’s magnificence.


I drank in the scene before me. I took the following picture. My mind immediately went to what I could blog about- Shadows. Have you ever read Plato’s Allegory of the Cave? If you haven’t, you absolutely need this metaphor in your life, but I will summarize for you now. Basically, there are two people who are chained at the back of a cave. They live their whole pitiful lives, unbeknownst to them, in this cave, watching other people live their lives, while their shadows project on the wall of the cave in front of the two chained figures. One day, one of the people are set free and step outside the cave. Insert Hallelujah chorus and happy dance here people! And so, this person’s eyes has to adjust to life, but what a life it IS. No more chains. The arms, the feet, the air. All such a fresh experience to see, smell, taste, embrace and savour. This person then goes back to the cave to tell their friend how depraved their original cave life has been. The friend, however, is content to live in these conditions.

Fast forward out of Platonic times and into 2015. What would have happened if I had just remained content to sit in my hammock chair? Sure, the light pink in the sky was nice, but nothing compared to the absolutely astounding sunset that was last night. Mentally, I have been replaying this image and this notion in my head. What if I choose to embrace the amazing- the goals, the dreams that seem larger than life and not settle for the mundane, the comfortable, the complacent?

What if I you set out to do the same? In the words of Einstein, “We we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astonish ourselves.”

I will conclude with one of my favourite poems by Countee Cullen, entitled, Hey, Black Child. I recently sent this in a letter to my oldest daughter this week to encourage her little soul as she begins school for another year. May it uplift your spirit and soul as it did hers and mine.


Hey Black Child

Do you know who you are

Who you really are

Do you know you can be

What you want to be

If you try to be

What you can be

Hey Black Child

Do you know you are strong

I mean really strong

Do you know you can do

What you want to do

If you try to do

What you can do

Hey Black Child

Be what you can be

Learn what you must learn

Do what you can do

And tomorrow your nation

will be what you want it to be

Coach Carter- “And as we let our lights shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same.”