EXCITED to highlight a fellow blogger! Kirsten Jackson is a plus-size lifestyle blogger who loves to share her part of the world with everyone. Her blog, The Low Country Socialite, is all about making sure that plus-size women are confident, live a life they enjoy and love themselves silly! You can find everything from fashion to makeup to travel and that’s just the beginning! Read all about Kirsten on her Chronicles Too! feature at the link below!
Last weekend, I watched an episode of the Netflix foodie series Chef’s Table about a female African American chef who co-owns a restaurant in Historic Downtown Savannah, Georgia called The Grey. If you haven’t watched Chef’s Table, I recommend it; each episode highlights the personal story of some of the most renowned chefs of current times.
Chef Mashama Bailey was born in the Bronx, New York (homegirl!) and spent her younger years in Savannah. Her family moved back to New York and after a stint in the social work arena, Mashama decided to do a culinary apprenticeship in France. I don’t want to tell you the whole story if you’re going to watch (I hate spoilers!), so I’ll just end by saying Mashama became a chef, and eventually returned to Savannah. She and her partner opened The Grey, which is housed in a Jim Crow-era Greyhound Bus Terminal that was restored to its original luster (www.thegreyrestaurant.com). The foods on the menu are largely fancy Southern, but are also inspired by Mashama’s culinary tutelage and inspirations from the South, across the waters and New York and ancestral African touches. You might say that she married the cuisines and cultures of all of the places she has been and placed them on the menu. The thing I liked best about her story was that Mashama was happy to be back home.
My father was born and raised in Crewe, Virgina, a small town about 50 miles from Richmond. The last time I was there, they still only had one traffic light. My father was a country boy and although he moved to New York City in the 1940’s after he got out of the Army, he was still a country boy at heart. He sopped the last bits of food and gravy from his plate with the last piece of roll or biscuit. He poured his coffee from the cup into the saucer so it would cool off enough to drink. Dessert for him and my grandfather when we went to Crewe to visit was a piece of chicken and a piece of cake (the salt and the sweet). All of my grandfather’s vegetables came from the garden in the backyard. Despite how much I claim New York as home, New York Red has Southern blood running through her veins.
During the Great Migration of the early to mid 1900’s, African American people relocated from the South to northern industrial areas such as New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Detroit for jobs and better opportunities. They arrived in the North ingrained with the same strength and survival skills of their ancestors who were brought over to America as slaves. Imagine how tough our slave ancestors had to be to forge for themselves and adapt to a strange new land where they were indentured against their will and didn’t speak the language. They concocted meals for themselves from the food scraps they were given and many of those dishes became what is known today as Southern cuisine or soul food.
After the Great Migration ended around 1970, Black people began to trickle back down to the South for some of the same reasons they left for the North – opportunity and better living. The population in Atlanta has grown so rapidly over the last 30 years that people who live in Atlanta tell others who live elsewhere that it’s okay for them to visit, but they’re not allowed to stay – we are full! Ha!
But when I think about it, when people from the Northern cities move to the South, they’re not moving somewhere new. The South is in our blood. As African American people, we can rightfully claim with pride that our roots originated in Africa. While this may be true, we cannot deny the blood, sweat and tears of our slave ancestors that worked its way into Southern soil. We can’t deny what our forefathers unknowingly did to survive; which, in essence, became tradition for us here in America. Think of how colorful we all are as a result of the marriage of traditions and cultures and flavors they left behind. So, like Chef Mashama Bailey, some of us have come back home. Like Mashama Bailey’s food, it’s a marriage between the South and the North. North is the place we went for a while, but now we are back. The generations before us are speaking to us and telling us that we can come home now.
It’s Valentine’s Day…and you’re single…just like me. How will you celebrate this day of love? You may have decided to romance yourself today, or spend the day with loved ones, friends or your children. Or to you, it may be a day just like any other. Whatever you do, tomorrow you will probably be as single as you are today. And you know what? It’s more than okay. You may have been unexpectedly thrust into your single-ness when a relationship or marriage ended. Or, when there were no prospects, you made the choice to stop looking for love and remain single for a time.
People will have you believe there’s something wrong with you if you’re single…not to mention all of the questions single people are asked:
“Why is an amazing man/woman like you still single?”
“Are you ever going to get married?”
“Well, you know, you can’t just sit in the house and expect to meet someone!”
“You probably need to relax your standards!”
“I should introduce you to my co-worker who’s single…”
“You’re probably really lonely…”
Society also plays a role in single shaming – back in the olden days, a woman who hadn’t married by the time she reached the age of 40ish was called a spinster, and was usually portrayed in photos as a prune-faced angry old woman. People will also try to analyze “why you ain’t got nobody.” Maybe you’re “crazy,” or you lack domestic skills. Or you need to do this or learn to do that – like there is some magic potion to latching onto someone to love or marry. Well, friends, there is no magic potion. But there are things you can do to prepare yourself when Cupid does come along with his bow and arrow and shoots you in the you-know-where…
I’ve been married twice, divorced twice. Through my experiences I have learned that there are three things (among many) everyone should do if they find themselves single.
First, if you just got out of a relationship, give yourself time to remove the blinders of anger or sadness or thoughts of revenge, and realize that you played a part in the demise of the relationship. Yes, you! Let’s face it, it takes two to tango (ever tried to tango without a partner?). That finger you keep wagging in accusation at the other person? Wag it in your direction too! It’s time to analyze what your role was in the ending of the relationship, and if it’s something you can fix, it may serve you to fix it before trying to get into a relationship again. If not, you may find yourself right back where you started; which may or may not have been miserable the first time, but will be miserable to repeat.
Second, educate yourself. I have a theory that just because I’m not currently married doesn’t mean I don’t educate myself on tips about a successful married life. Think about it: before you embarked on your career, you attended a trade school or university to learn how to do what you do, right? If it is your plan to one day be in a relationship or to marry again, it’s important to educate yourself so that, as mentioned above, you don’t find yourself right back where you started.
Finally and most importantly, take care of, forgive and love yourself. So many of our spirits are tainted by bad childhoods, bad marriages, bad relationships, rejection, insecurities, and all manner of misfortunes. Yet, it is the wise person who knows they have to take the time (however long it takes) to get past these issues and love on themselves before trying to embark on a relationship with someone new. You need to be whole within yourself – so you present yourself as a complement to another – not get into a relationship to have someone complete you.
One last word – if you have set your sights on a committed relationship, don’t involve yourself in any other type of “interaction” (I will just leave that right there) that doesn’t serve the direction in which you are headed. Not only is it a waste of time and effort, it will not allow you to get your head on straight enough to do all the other work you need to do for the real thing.
Maybe next year on Valentine’s Day, there will be a love in your life. But if there isn’t, it doesn’t mean there won’t ever be. It just means there is more work for you to do. Or – it could mean the person you’re supposed to connect with for the romance of a lifetime – for your lifetime – has more work to do to come for you!
And don’t believe what others may say about someone like me who’s been married twice and divorced twice – that if I failed that means I can’t advise – not true! I’m the perfect mouthpiece! Marriage is beautiful, it’s really the people in it that muck it up! Through it all, I have learned that I’ve messed up enough that there’s nowhere else to go but up. Believe me, I’ve been working – so my husband-to-be that’s out there and who’s coming for me – he’d better watch out! But meanwhile, I’m going to enjoy my single-ness. I’m here, right where I’m supposed to be.
“My name is Ariane, but feel free to call me Ari.”
Ari’s love affair with the beauty industry spans two decades. What began as a “side hustle” while in college proved to be a lucrative career for Ari. After nine years of working behind the scenes on some of the most noted films and television series (she is currently working on Bad Boys 3!), Ari launched The Holistic Beauty Collective, a unique online resource committed to empowering women with the necessary tools to find joy in holistic living. Her goal is to help women on their personal journey to explore the intrinsic connection between health, beauty and wellness and to live a life with focus on looking good while living well. Ari is a woman of many accomplishments; read all about her and The Holistic Beauty Collective on the headliner of Chronicles Too! Click on the link below:
Matters of the heart…
Just Heart Foundation is dedicated to helping families in crisis, particularly those with a hospitalized child. They are a dynamic nonprofit organization with a program in place to “pay it forward” and provide assistance to families in crisis by paying their mortgage or rent, utilities, or in some other appropriate way. Their primary focus is on children with neonatal and cardiac issues.
In turn the families they assist are encouraged (not required) to pledge to raise funds, when they are able, to help other families, in the hopes of creating a chain of giving, making a difference in the lives of others indefinitely.
For more information on the Just Heart Foundation, and how you can help by donating, visit their website at www.justheartorg.
Landing in New Zealand, our move through customs was pretty seamless, except for a bit of a wait to x-ray our bags on the way out. We caught the super shuttle from the airport to our hotel, the Apollo, located in the city center.
After checking into our hotel and freshening up, we took a short walk to breakfast at Scarecrow on Victoria Street. The hungry travelers that we were, our palates weren’t satisfied at Scarecrow, so we trekked around until we found a Denny’s location, where we enjoyed a more American breakfast fare. The price was pretty reasonable, even though we were in a touristy area – something like 17 USD bucks per person.
After breakfast, we walked about the streets of Auckland, sightseeing and souvenir shopping. We came across some pretty interesting people, in particular a cartoonist, who was creating sidewalk drawings using chalk, and his hand as an eraser.
Once we left the cartoonist, we continued up Queen Street in search of what we were told were the best donuts in the world. I can’t deny it – and this is coming from a person who grew up on Dunkin’ Donuts on Chicago’s Southside – between this place and Tim Horton’s (which I consider to be the Holy Grail of donuts and coffee) the Pie Piper on K Road in Auckland is a very close second…if not better.
We left the donut shop and passed a place called The White House, which is a nice spot to get out and enjoy Auckland nightlife while in town. The White House is located right on Queen Street, about two blocks from K Road. Back at the hotel, we crashed for the night to be ready for the next day’s adventures.
Waitomo and Rotorua
In the morning, we rented a car at the airport, and headed down to the south of North Island; destination Waitomo and Rotorua.
For the first 100km, the drive was pretty foggy, but then the sun broke through and the drive turned out to be smooth. We stopped at a small cafe on the way, where the staff allowed us to enter before business hours to use the restroom and take in the sights. Of course, it was only fair and proper to sit down for breakfast to show our gratitude. If you ever find yourself on Route 1 South in North Island, make sure you stop and check out this quaint little cafe. Not only was the food really good, if you walk out back to the other section of the restaurant, you can be treated to a quick lesson on New Zealand culture.
After eating, we hit the road again; headed down to Waitomo to see the glow worm caves. When traveling the countryside of New Zealand, keep in mind to add an hour to travel time; you will definitely want to carve out time to take in the sights. New Zealand is full of mountains and breathtaking views of hills and plenty of cows. We finally made it down to the Waitomo caves around noon.
There are over 50 cave systems in the Waitomo region. Interestingly, if someone purchases land in Waitomo that has a cave on it, the buyer will also take possession of the cave and has free reign over what to do with it. On one of the tours, we had the pleasure of meeting the owner of the cave we explored. Ross “the Boss” was a very gracious guide, and took time to explain all there is to know about the caves, the glow worms and the region.
After trekking the cave with Ross, he took us out for a spot of tea. The property held a house that was a replica of houses the Maori people would have had in the past. He explained the various types of trees used for insulation and construction, and told us about Koi Koi plant. This plant is used for a various array of ailments, Ross said. Rubbing it on your skin will remove infection overnight, clear up eczema and/or cure other skin disorders. Nowadays, they take the leaves of the plant and crush them up to make a tea, which is beneficial in balancing emotions. For example, if you’re feeling down or a lack of energy, drinking the tea will lift your spirits or give you energy. After a quick spot of tea, and a cultural lesson from Ross, we ventured out on a self-guided nature walk and got chance to see some rapids and small caves.
After leaving the Waitomo caves, we started our road trip to Rotorua. We rolled through countless small provinces, such as Ortohanga and Cambridge. Each province has its own unique style, but all filled with the Maori culture.
Rotorua is a completely geo-thermal city; there is an active volcano under this section of the North Island. This lends to an almost suffocating smell of sulfur all over the city; the worst of the smell coming from the waters of Lake Rotorua. There all kinds of sulfur ponds around the city, with steam rising everywhere. It is definitely a sight to see, but be sure to bring a mask with you!
On our second day in Rotorua, it rained the entire time, but it didn’t stop us from sightseeing. If traveling to Rotorua, pack a rain jacket and hiking shoes or boots. The terrain is ever changing – one minute there is flat ground under your feet, and in a split second, you’re on on gravel and rock, or leaves and brush. Our first sight was the Te Puia cultural center, where you will learn all there is to know about the Maori people – where they originated and how they settled in New Zealand from Tahiti. There are seven major tribes of the Maori people – six of the tribes settled in the North Island, with the final tribe settling in the South island.
Additional attractions are the natural sulfur geysers and the mud pools. We came upon a pitch dark room that housed two kiwi birds. Nocturnal animals, as are many animals in this region, kiwi birds thrive in enclosures that are kept completely dark.
We left the Te Puia cultural center, and then drove around to the Redwood Forest. Here, the redwood trees have been growing for years; some as much as 236 feet high, with girths that range up to six to 10 feet. After getting soaked in the rainy Redwood Forest, we took the drive down to Matamata, also known as Hobbiton, the location where the Lord of The Rings movies were filmed.
As our trip drew to a close, we realized there were many hidden gems in New Zealand that did not disappoint. It is such a great country, filled with beautiful scenery and delightful people. If travel to New Zealand is not on your bucket list of things to do, places to go and people to see, I suggest you add a new destination on your list.
By: Craig Henry
CEO, The Travel Junkees
Get in touch with The Travel Junkees!
P.O. BOX 1554
Mableton, Georgia USA- 30126
Telephone: +888-548-7855 ext 700 / 705
JOIN CLASSY LIVING SOCIETY’S GIVE BACK CLUB!
Our Give Back Club initiative is in full swing with an exciting offer for you! During the next few months, CLS are offering free leasing space for an entire year for businesses that give back to the community. With this offer, you have the potential to expand your business and gain maximum exposure! Don’t miss out on this free advertisement opportunity! For more information and to sign up, click on the link below and be a part of our Give Back Club initiative! Sign up now!
[button link=”https://cls-volunteer.org/the-give-back-club-add-new-listing-free/” type=”big” color=”silver” newwindow=”yes”] CLICK HERE TO LIST YOUR BUSINESS FOR FREE IN 2019[/button]
Images by: Big Time Images, Images by Winston Photography, Priceless Photos, Bosey Wales Photography, Beauty-Flies Makeup, MUA, Livi Blue Photography