Chapter III – I am Blessed and Highly Favored!
I am Jude. I begin the next chapter of my ‘personal development blog’ by acknowledging my father’s 88th birthday. An amazing milestone by any measure!!
Charles Alleyne hails from Tobago. Trinidad’s much smaller and less sophisticated sibling. The dual Caribbean nation is located off the coast of Venezuela. He comes from a strong family whose descendants emigrated from the tiny island to create new realities for themselves and their children. My father arrived in Canada in the 60’s as a student, planted roots here and made it his home.
I believe his age is a testament to his lineage, a deep, unwavering faith and conscientious commitment to healthy living and religious study. He has always had a book in his hand, and more often than not it was the Bible. He has devoted his entire life to exploring his relationship with the Spirit.
Stimulating your mind matters. Exploring your connection to something bigger than yourself promotes mental wellness and rejuvenates you. I’m starting to believe it’s an elixir. You may be calling me Benjamin Button soon!
My father adopted a healthy lifestyle long before it was trendy. He recognized the benefits of educating yourself on nutrition, taking vitamins and supplements and being active. On a good day, he stills walks a couple kilometres. At 88!
For as long as I can remember, he has been vegan. I never understood it until I began reconsidering my diet after my wife’s illness. Almost in spite of myself, I have followed his example. I no longer have any interest in things I used to eat and there are so many fantastic vegan substitutes that the transition has been relatively seamless. It’s much easier than you think.
Shout out to Stripples, a soy-based breakfast meat substitute – even though I still have to order them from the Antarctic. WTH! It’s the only positive memory I have about the early vegan foods I was forced to eat whenever he was in our home. I can assure you there wasn’t Impossible Meat or cauliflower wings in the 70’s and 80’s. The shit was was horrible, but I digress….
The older I get, the more perspective I obtain about my life. Despite an uneven past characterized by fits and starts, I can’t overstate the influence my father has had on my life. I believe I am only now cultivating seeds that were planted in my childhood.
I am grateful for both my mother and my father and their personal investment in me. For better or for worse, I am a living example of their best efforts – and I am completely cool with that!
I love the adage, ‘I am Blessed and Highly Favored’ and we discussed it during one of our recent telephone conversations. Unlike my father, I am not religious. However, I recognize that I am one with ‘My Spirit’ and consider myself spiritual.
My Spirit has no pronouns, human attributes or limitations and operates outside of our understanding and imagination. It doesn’t accept one form of religion over another and doesn’t require absolutions or forgiveness.
There is no worship, formal structures or religious dogma. It’s personal. My Spirit simply IS and everything is connected through IT. We serve the Spirit and acknowledge the precious gift of life by demonstrating gratitude and striving to be the best version of ourselves. I am becoming more deliberate in Being Better one small step at a time.
Consider all of the perfectly timed events that have had to happen to lead you to where you are in this moment. When I reflect on all the good that’s happened to me and family and what could have gone terribly wrong – I am convinced I am Blessed and Highly Favored.
Side Hustle Update
One of the most rewarding parts of this process so far has been creating the website. As previously mentioned, I have had only limited interest in computers, social media or accessing content on the internet outside of a narrow band of interest. My wife has been exclusively responsible for troubleshooting and securing technical support.
Building the site took longer than I envisioned and I had to rely heavily on the support and expertise of others. However, I am taking the time to figure some things out for myself and I’m learning when I need to ask for help.
One of the biggest surprises has been people’s willingness to share their personal journeys and provide direction and support. I have been truly blessed in this regard. I am creating an online community and have begun accessing provincial resources. I have also reconnected with two childhood friends and their assistance has been invaluable.
To my Wife, Mama, Employee #1 and everyone else who has supported this undertaking, Thank You for being part of the next chapter of my story!
Your Next Best Read(s)
Stein in Writing by Sol Stein and On Writing by Stephen King
Both of these books are phenomenal if you want to improve your writing. They provide practical tools, funny anecdotes and examples of masterful prose.
Positive Reflections – What’s Good?
I recently helped organize a Black Barbershop event thanks to the NS Brotherhood and a local community member who offered his professional services to provide free cuts to anyone who attended. Thanks Flub.
A diverse group of approximately fifteen Afrikan men gathered in a common space and engaged in some constructive discussion about the intersectionality of race and mental health.
For many of the participants, it was the first opportunity in a long time to express closely held thoughts and feelings with other Black men. It was emotional and cathartic and I’m confident everyone who attended was touched.
However, the greater benefits have been the outcomes from the engagement session. The group agreed to meet again on November 13th 1-230 at the Orange Room in the Colchester Library. Hint Hint!!! Save the Date.
We re-established Community Strong, which was a collection of local Black men dedicated community development. We refocused the mandate to include mental wellness and a new Facebook page and email distribution list have been created. The Black Men Read Book Club is also now a thing.
My biggest personal takeaway was the positive energy we developed in sharing our struggles and how we promote mental wellness. Brothers demonstrated empathy, encouragement and mutual support and the event provided a meaningful opportunity for connection.
We all left a little better than we arrived. What more can you ask for….
Moving forward, the plan is to release a new Chapter of the BOOK of JUDE every Tuesday, life permitting. THANK YOU for the incredible support so far. The journey continues. I am Jude.