Art · christianity · church · film making · films · Inspiration · Life · Literature · religion · Uncategorized

God vs. Avengers: Infinity War

“Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life” – Oscar Wilde.
If you haven’t seen Avengers: Infinity War I HIGHLY suggest you save this blog until you do. MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!!

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a major movie enthusiast, especially if it includes superheroes (Marvel over DC every time…sorry, not sorry). So when Avengers: Infinity War was released I knew I had to see it as soon as possible.

If you know me also know that as a filmmaker myself, it’s very hard for me to sit and watch a film or tv series without overanalyzing everything and hence I usually figure out the big twists before the climax (Blessing and a curse). That being said, I DID NOT see the ending for Infinity War coming, and I was just as shook as everyone else. However, it was during the analysis process that a few things stood out to me, including some parallels that I could draw between the film and my spiritual life.

  1. Life is a series of choices; your choices make all the difference – As much as we like to believe we have very little control over our own lives, this isn’t always necessarily true. Does everyone start off on the same plane? No. Is it always fair? Absolutely not. But at the end of the day, what you do with whatever situations you’ve been placed in is ultimately YOUR decision. As I’ve stated before in a previous blog (https://asdawkins.wordpress.com/2017/06/20/life-blog-work-the-deck/), some people have some extremely unfortunate situations (to put it lightly) that truly change the course of their lives, but even in those situations, there are choices to be made. [PS. My heart goes out to everyone facing what seems like an impossible situation right now.]

2. We don’t always understand, and that’s okay – There were more than a few moments during Infinity War when I wanted to throw something at the screen and scream “What the hell are you doing??!” The truth is, we don’t always understand people’s actions, but we sometimes get clarity when we understand their motives. Many times we’re quick to judge each other because the action doesn’t seem to make any sort of sense. However, if we understand someone’s motive for doing something a specific way, the action would make more sense. Sometimes we have to allow people to make their own mistakes and learn their own lessons without casting judgment, especially when we don’t understand their backstory.

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3. Most importantly, ALL things work together for good. – This was probably the most important lesson I learned from this movie. I know by now you may all be thinking I’ve completely lost my mind. “Did she even SEE the end of the movie??” Let me explain. [SPOILER]

There’s a scene in the film where some of the Avengers were trying to figure out how to defeat Thanos. The conversation went something like:

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Dr. Strange: I went forward in time to see all the possible outcomes of the present situation.

Peter: How many did you see?

Dr. Strange: Fourteen million six hundred and five.

Tony: How many do we win?

Dr. Strange: One.

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Those chances are less than slim. They’re literally next to impossible. And when you see the end of the movie it makes you question so many decisions made, including why in the world would Dr. Strange just hand over the Time Stone to Thanos??

But it made me really think, if Strange knew the ONLY outcome that would be the best outcome for the universe – the one where they would all win, would he really willingly hand over the stone and leave the universe in doom forever? Himself included?

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This is where my parallel was drawn. I’ve often heard people say “Why would an All powerful, all knowing God allow the evil to happen in the world?” And trust me, I get it. There are a lot of horrible, horrific things that happen on a day to day basis. There are so many things I just do not understand, and so many things I can’t wait to question God about. But why would an all knowing, all powerful God allow these things to happen and then promise the outcome is for OUR good? It seems almost sadistic. Sometimes it seems like with all the good we (The Avengers) do in the world, it can never outweigh the bad. Sometimes it seems like we’re fighting a losing battle.

The truth is Jesus is the true Avenger. God is the ONLY one who has walked to the end of TIME and seen ALL the different possibilities and He still allows some things to happen, while still promising us that in the end, it will be for our good. Just like in Infinity War, I didn’t understand what Dr. Strange did. I couldn’t understand the end of the film. HOW are they going to fix this when half of the universe has literally disappeared and it seems like the bad guy (Thanos) has won? But just as I’m trusting Dr. Strange and Marvel to come up with the most creative way to fix the situation and give the victory to the good guys, it’s the same way my faith in God works. All is not lost. I choose to trust the all-powerful, Omniscient God of the Universe to work EVERYTHING out for good in the end and place victory where it truly belongs. I trust Him to write and “right” the script of this world, and in the end, we will all look back at His MARVELous works in celebration.

The real power is not in controlling free will, but causing all the chaos and madness that our free will creates to still have the absolute best outcome in the end.

Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)

8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

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Art · food blog · Inspiration · jamaica · Life · Literature · Uncategorized

#GasThemUP – Cakes N’ Bakes By Mel

I’ve been sitting on this blog for quite a while, partially because I couldn’t quite figure out how to do this in an original, but still interesting enough way, in that it wasn’t like a typical interview. Then the idea came to me to merge my love of storytelling along with the captivating interview, so that’s what I did!

***

I interviewed my friend and amazing pastry chef Melissa Cunningham about her business “Cakes N’ Bakes by Melissa”. This is a part of an ongoing series called “Gas Them Up” where I interview my friends who are entrepreneurs. The answers to the questions are 100% theirs but the setting of the interview is completely from my imagination. Enjoy!

Please follow CakesNBakesByMelissa on Instagram!

***

The Life

Starting the weekend right is the perfect remedy for ensuring your Monday doesn’t suck. This was the thought that went through Ali’s mind on Friday evening as she sat and glanced around, completely surrounded by friends she considered family, with amazing food and wine at her fingertips. Ali, Rach, Ash, Mel and Yan all grew up in the same neighbourhood, and while life had been wonderful to them, they no longer lived in close proximity to each other. It had since become a tradition for these five ladies to meet and de-stress at least once a month, and she had to admit it was one of their best ideas yet.

She scanned the table filled with a pastry junkie’s dream – key lime pie, strawberry shortcake, Bailey’s cheesecake and a chocolate Ganache Drip Cake, and whispered to herself as she swirled her wine, “This is the life.”

“Right?” Her friend, Rach agreed. Ali nodded and smiled. She hadn’t realised anyone would have heard her.

“I’m going leave here fat but totally satisfied, so I don’t care.” Ash, chimed in.

Mel joined them on the deck, carrying a bottle of Moscato.

“Girl, I must ask what would you be wasting your amazing talent on if you weren’t a pastry chef?” Ali asked, as she bit into another slice her key lime pie. She closed her eyes savouring the incredible taste and the flavours that made her taste buds dance.

Mel unscrewed the bottle and poured herself a glass. “While I always loved being in the kitchen, I actually thought about dentistry then I got braces and considered becoming Orthodontist.” She laughed as the memory resurfaced. “Then I realized the sciences weren’t for me and focused on what I thought would just be a hobby: cooking. I began pursuing an Executive Chef future but along the way it still didn’t feel right. I guess it came to me one night that I was in the right place doing the wrong job. Then I went fully into baking after I graduated University.”

She took a small sip of the wine and reached for the strawberry shortcake. She took special care to ensure she caught a slice that was filled with actual strawberries in the middle.

“The world would seriously be missing out.” Yan agreed, while cutting into the cheesecake.

The ladies all nodded in agreement.

Ash sat back in her chair and pondered. “Was your family always supportive of your career choice?”

Mel licked strawberry frosting from her index finger before replying. “More or less. They encouraged me to do what I loved always, but also saw the downside: long hours, underpaid et cetera and so they encouraged me to keep my options open, in terms of maybe not working in the kitchen, but in the food & beverage department. I’d still be in the food service industry but not doing the physical work.”

“Oh, understandable,” Ash replied.

“What has been your proudest moment thus far?” Rach asked.

Mel smiled as she reached for her phone and pulled up her Instagram page to show her friends. “Having my work photographed by Dwayne Watkins and having a feature in Indulge magazine.”

“Oh my gosh, yaaaas girl!” Ali exclaimed.

Yan reached for her wine glass. “I think this is a perfect opportunity to toast.”

“You just want a reason to get more wine.” Ash rolled her eyes and laughed at her friend.

“I never need a reason.” Yan replied, topping up her glass.

They all laughed and clinked their glasses together. “To Mel.” They said in unison.

“Tell me something though, what’s your secret ingredient?” Rach inquired.

“If I tell you it won’t be a secret.” Mel swirled her wine and winked.

“True, true.” Rach agreed.

Ali leaned back in her chair and crossed her arms over her chest as she watched Ash pull a game of Taboo from her bag.

“The more things change, the more they stay the same.” She said.

They all laughed together. This was truly The Life.

Uncategorized

My Love/Hate Relationship …(with my first novel)

It’s been eight years since I started writing this novel. (Holy crap!) It’s been through so many changes over the years, so many mood swings, so many depression episodes, so many relationships… just, a lot. And today I finally decided “you know what? Screw this, I’m uploading it!”
To be fair, I began uploading it chapter by chapter maybe three years ago. I kept going back and changing things but it never quite got to where I wanted it. But I’m sharing it now and I’m also going to share what this eight-year journey has been like.

Year 1 (2009) – For some odd reason I always associate me beginning this book with Hurricane Dean (2007), but truly this book was birthed out of a combination of boredom, a need to challenge myself as a writer, and a need to escape the hell that was my life at the time. I was severely depressed, I HATED school, my home life felt even worse, and I just needed a safe place in my mind to visit sometimes. And so I created Taj. Taj was everything I wished I could be: fearless, badass, attractive, confrontational, super protective. To put it simply, Taj was LIT (at least in my mind she was).

Year 2 (2010) – 11th grade, oh joy. The year I decided I should probably start taking school a tad bit more seriously. The year I decided I wouldn’t let depression win. The year I sent out God knows how many letters to publishing companies and got ONE call back! In the end, I decided not to go through with it (for varying reasons, mainly the cost factor), but for just a moment I felt like my work was good enough that a publishing company was willing to take a chance on me, and that felt GOOD.

Year 3 (2011) – The year my dad passed away. The year I thought to myself “daddy, I’m going to make you really proud one day.” The year I decided this book wasn’t going to be the thing that made daddy proud. The year I decided to hang up the creative writer dream and become a journalist(Ha!). The year I took an extended break from writing.

Years 4 & 5 (2012 -2013) – *Extended break continues* 

Year 6 (2014) – I added “Taj’s Memoir” as a back story to “Twisted Reunion”. I pretty much just fell in love with the character all over again. Maybe it’s because (again) I was going through a really crappy period in my life (I tend to write better when I’m depressed *shrug*) or maybe I just missed writing overall. Either way, “Taj’s Memoir” is my favourite part of the entire book. I wanted to know what made Taj the hardass, strict, amazing woman she was and so I decided to go back to Zefron (you’ll get it once you read the book).

(Late 2014) – I decided to publish “Taj’s Memoir” as a draft and prelude for “Twisted Reunion” on Wattpad. I won’t lie, I was proud of it. I was enjoying my writing style and just getting back to my first love. So, I swallowed every bit of fear that would scream at me that I wasn’t good enough and I published it.

Year 7 (2015) – I went through another period of horrible anxiety, scared that if I died no one would remember me. And I mean no one. That fear drove me to begin publishing chapter by chapter (after a bit of revision) with the thoughts of “I don’t want to be forgotten.” “I need to be remembered” driving each upload. 

Year 8 (2016) – I decided I didn’t care what people thought anymore. I knew “Twisted Reunion” wasn’t the best (actually in my mind I think it’s pretty bad, but hey), but I decided to let another narrative drive the reason I post: “You are good enough.” “This is a reference point.” “This is only the beginning.”

Year 9 (2017 & current) –  I wrote an entire book (49k words) as a teen with very little experience, horrible grammar (I was ok at spelling though lol…), and a need to escape reality. It’s time I switched things up on anxiety. I’ve gotten tremendous support from my friends and family (I’ll remember you all at the Oscars and Golden Globes), I have people who’ve been waiting YEARS for me to finish uploading this book and it’s time to deliver. I have decided that as much as I hate the ending (And Zillina annoys me to bits… I realise now why I wrote her the way I did but that’s for another blog), I will not change a thing more.

I’m ready to dive right back in and take it to a whole new level. With more experience and training now, I’m sure I can really outdo myself. I’m ready to take on the silver screen. But until then…

Ladies and gentlemen, Twisted Reunion: https://www.wattpad.com/story/26043178-twisted-reuinion

black girl magic · Inspiration · jamaica · Life · money · relationships · school · Uncategorized

Rich & Switch – The Ultimate Jamaican Betrayal?

Black people, I love you. We are the most creative, hilarious, hardworking set of people to exist (don’t debate me). But, we have some of the strangest mindsets that we hang onto for dear life, for fear of losing our identity. Today, I’m speaking directly to my black Jamaican community.

We need to release this weird false sense of entitlement we have to being addicted to the struggle. We’re so averse to being successful that when people get the opportunity to upgrade out of their dismal surroundings we refer to them as “rich and switch”. I’ve been a part of multiple conversations (some turn arguments) where I’ve been TEASED for being “uptown” or not being able to relate to certain struggles in life. There have been times when I literally felt ashamed of being raised in what is considered an “upper middle class” community, going to a prep school, and only ever having turkey neck once in my entire life after begging my mother to cook it just so I could see what all the noise was about. (My mother doesn’t cook turkey neck, not because it is considered “poor people oxtail” but because she genuinely isn’t a fan).

And then one day it hit me like an Audi S3: I would be doing my parents the ultimate disservice if I continued to let people make me feel ashamed, less black or less Jamaican for being raised the way I was.

And here’s why – Both my parents came from harsh beginnings and worked especially hard to get us where we are today.

Here’s a bit of background on my father: (In the interest of not making this blog too long I’ll focus mostly on his story.) Daddy grew up in the small rural community of Top Hill, Manchester. If you’ve ever been to Top Hill, you’d know that he grew up in the definition of “the struggle”. Even to this day, electricity is a luxury, there’s barely running water, and black and white TVs are still a staple in most homes. Poverty, yeah hey! (QQ Voice).

He was the first of 12 children and he left Top Hill at age 14 to escape the hardships of the community, and an abusive (and slightly psychotic) father to come to Kingston to live with his aunt and uncle. He didn’t have much to begin with, but he decided there had to be more to life than his current circumstances, and so he went in pursuit of it. He barely went to primary school, and thus didn’t qualify to attend high school, but being the brilliant mind he was, he was able to learn “a trade” in masonry and building construction. From there he literally built his life from the ground up, from being the “likkle man” on the construction sites to becoming a building contractor for the government and the private sector (and the MANY odd jobs in between that I can’t even begin to list). And dad learned early on that making connections was important in climbing the ladder (anti-social as he was), and soon he was driving around the governor general and shaking hands with the prime minister. (Random cool fact: Dad was a part of the promotion team that brought THE Michael Jackson to Jamaica in the 70’s). I don’t care what Beyonce says, Gerald Dawkins was the definition of a hustler.

Things didn’t always work out the way he wanted, but my father was always determined to make it work in order to provide a good life for his family. It is because of the hard work and support of my parents why I was able to attend a prep school, and why I went to university without having to apply for student loans, and for that I am forever grateful. (FYI, there is NOTHING wrong with primary schools and NO SHAME in student loans).

It would not only be disrespectful but an absolute waste if I was to settle for any quality of life lower than that which my father worked super hard to ensure that I was able to enjoy. Were there hard times in the past? Absolutely! Especially after he became ill and was unable to work like he used to. But those aren’t the times I want to meditate on. Honestly, if I could just forget all the times that we were so broke that mom had to use coins to buy groceries at the supermarket, or the times when they had to borrow cash from family and amazing neighbours (big up unuh self) to clear medical expenses, I gladly would. If that makes me a “rich and switch” then so be it.

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My point is, we should never be ashamed of where we come from, but we should also never feel comfortable to settle where we are. We must ALWAYS be aiming higher, pushing further and evolving from our current situation. And more importantly we must learn to support the people around us that are making moves. Encourage your friends to be winners. Encourage your friends never to settle. And GAS THEM UP when they’re doing great! Stop being hateful and jealous. Use their success to fuel you to want to become more successful. It’s time we stopped apologising for being prosperous, especially when we come from harsh upbringing. And please, stop brainwashing children into believing that escaping poverty is the ultimate betrayal to their past or their “blackness”.

Best believe I intend to spend some Sunday mornings out on my yacht, being boujie as hell, drinking orange juice (not mimosas) from a champagne flute and sunbathing to improve my melanin.

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Will there be hard times? I suspect there will. But to stay there because I’m afraid of people seeing me as “uptown” or not true to my “culture” would be beyond ridiculous. In honour of my father (RIP dad), black girl magic, my name, Jesus’ life death and Resurrection, and my future family, I WILL be successful and I WILL be stunting like nobody’s business.

shemoney

christianity · dating · film making · Inspiration · Life · money · relationships · Uncategorized

From a Living Single: Don’t Slide Into My DMs! Unless…

It goes down in the DMs – everybody knows the song. And if you’re on twitter you’re probably just at your wits end with these twitter stories of how people met their “bae” via twitter DMs or “shooting their shot” in their crush’s mentions. Coincidentally, this week alone I’ve had 3 guys slide into my DMs on 3 different social media platforms, and trust me, it ain’t all that.

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And before anyone can guilt me into thinking I should be grateful men find me attractive enough/interesting enough to slip into my DMs like a direct deposit slip at an ATM, let me just gently lay down some rules before you even consider hitting me up.

  1. Maybe find out if I’m single first?
    I know what you’re thinking. “How are they going to know if you’re single without hitting you up first?” Great question! By all means please feel free to let that be one of your first 3 questions. “Good afternoon, how are you?” “I just saw you on my feed and thought you’d be interesting to get to know. Is that okay?” “Are you single?” Then I can give my answer and we can both move on with our lives. I have no issues with you being forward just as long as you’re ready for my answer. Instead of the “hey ma! Been a while! Take my number and holla.”

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2. Don’t pretend you just want a friend, I’m not stupid.
Listen, it’s the blessing or curse of our generation. We’ve learned to communicate in interesting ways using the interweb. If a guy says he wants to watch Netflix with me I automatically take it as a euphemism to mean he wants to get laid. If you “slide into my DMs” I automatically think you’re looking for a relationship. Just want to get to know me? How about you hit me up in my mentions where EVERYONE can see? (Some of my closest friends right now I met through twitter mentions. It’s not that complicated)

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3. Thirdly, and most importantly, don’t waste my time.
The reason I’m so picky about my relationships and who I let into my circle is because I literally don’t have the time to waste. I’m too busy ensuring my mental, spiritual, financial and physical health is on 100.
I’m building my relationship with God while building empires for my grandkids and shooting films so I can stunt on my naysayers and help put Jamaica on the map at the Oscars, while still gassing up my friends and family when they’re out here being amazing. I have ZERO tolerance for time wasters in my life. If you can’t add to what I’m doing in ANY way shape or form, you already know you’re up to no good in my DMs. If you’re just trying to get laid, check Tinder, I got shit to do.

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If you’re not trying to be a better human being just in your day to day life, don’t bother. And for the love of God, if you’re not already building something or have plans of building these aspects of your life where I can help in some way, don’t bother. I’m not trying to be a trophy wife. I’m too busy, too tired and far too old to be playing games.

boom

christianity · Inspiration · Life · Uncategorized

Life Blog: Work the Deck

Work the Deck (1)

 

We live in a time period where everybody wants everything and they all want it right now. We’re so plugged into social media where people only show the best portions of their lives and we convince ourselves that only what we see on Instagram is real life. Then, we get angry when we can’t pop bottles or take yachts out with our girlfriends or go on vacations in Cancun with our soulmate.  We’re so hung up on people’s lives that we get frustrated with our own, believing that life owes us something.

News flash! Life owes you absolutely nothing.gasp

My advice to you: Work the deck. 

Every deck has fifty-two cards. We may have been dealt a bad hand initially, but at the end of the day we all have access to the same fifty-two cards. Some may have to work harder to swap out their Jokers for Kings, but the Kings are still present. Learn to work the deck. 

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  1. If you understand the joker you understand life. The joker card is seen as the most useless card in the deck. Majority of card games don’t use the joker and so it is cast aside. However, sometimes the things that seem the most useless in life are the things that teach us the most valuable lessons. If you’ve never had a Joker card it can be hard to appreciate the King.source
  2. Don’t be phased by someone else’s hand. Some people are dealt a great hand but they waste it and end up with a losing game. While on the flip side some people have a hand full of jokers but they work their way up to a royal flush. What makes the difference is how we play the game. We all enter the world the same, but how we exit is up to us. What do you want people to remember? Who do you want to impact? What do you want to change for the better? These answers are all up to you.
  3. We are all here to please an audience of One – the true Ace. If you want your hand to improve you need to focus on the Ace in the deck. Even if you have a hand full of jokers, having an Ace can make all the difference in your hand. Get familiar with your Ace and even if you have to drop every other card in your hand, hold on to your Ace. This will be the thing that drives you and gives you purpose – the ruler of the deck and the reason for the game.

In essence, the outcome of your life is in your hands once you know how to utilize what you have. We all come from different backgrounds and go through varying degrees of shitty experiences, but in the end ensure whatever happens in your life that you CAN control is your decision. Work the deck. Play the game. Finish on top. 

mic drop

 

dating · Inspiration · Life · relationships · Uncategorized

From a Living Single: The Talking Phase

I remember being in prep school and learning about the water cycle and thinking just how simple it was because each stage had a distinct purpose. I remember thinking: “I’ll never forget this!” because it was so straightforward. If only we could apply this concept to every area of our daily lives… especially our dating lives. It seems as if every time I go to bed and wake up, a new phase of the dating process appears.

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I’m well aware that I’ve already done a blog about “21st Century Dating Rules” but my generation truly continues to confuse me. Maybe I’m just a little old school, but this new phase of dating that’s not really “dating” but you’re not exactly “just friends” but you’re not “exclusively committed” to each other but also not into an “open relationship” is hella confusing. This, from what I gather is the “talking” phase.

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My head is spinning just writing all of that, so how do people actually live it out? If the case is that you’ve just met and you’re slightly interested but not sure that you truly want to get into a committed relationship then I believe it’s fine to test the waters a little. The truth is after 3 dates and conversing with each other if you’re still not sure you want to actually “date” this person then you need to just move on.

Ladies and gentlemen, if you’ve been “talking” to somebody for 5 months, that person is not serious about your feelings, your growth or you. They’re literally taking you for a big claffy and are very likely “talking” to other people as well. 

So what can we do to fix this entire confusing phase of “talking”? Glad you asked!

  1. BE COMPLETELY HONEST WITH YOUR DATE. Figure out what stage of the relationship you are in by having an open and honest conversation. Just because someone asks you “Where is this going?” or “What are we doing?” doesn’t mean they’re ready to get married next week. Chill out and be mature about your answers. As I’ve previously mentioned, that gray area is fine for someone you’ve just met and are just getting to know but the truth is even after you’re married you’ll still be learning about your spouse. If you’re afraid to commit because you haven’t known them for years, you’ll forever be waiting to settle down. People are always evolving and always changing and if you’re with somebody that cannot change, they’re stifling your growth. Run.
  2. LONELINESS IS NOT AN EXCUSE. If you’re lonely get a pet. If your only reason for “talking” to the person that you’re currently involved with is to quell your loneliness, I suggest you listen to Tweet, read some Christine Feehan, spend some time with God or visit your nearest library for their best self help book. Being lonely is not a good enough reason to want to date, especially since loneliness is an internal issue. And if you just need company for dinner or someone to warm your bed a few nights a week there are apps for that. Don’t string along a good person just because you have an itch that needs attention.
  3. IT’S OKAY TO PACE YOURSELF. The rationale for “talking” came about because people are afraid of rushing into something they are not completely sure about. This is why I believe in pacing yourself and – prepares for the lynch mob – dating around. Jamaica doesn’t present a dating culture but I praise the places that do. Contrary to popular belief, dating around doesn’t necessarily mean you’re sleeping around. When you choose to date around however, it is important to be very honest with the people you are dating. Let them know they aren’t the only one that has caught your eye. Usually by the end of date number 1 you know whether or not you would like to keep in contact with the person and this helps to extend your gray area a tad bit. Once you decide to commit, stay committed.

I don’t pretend to be a relationship coach but the fact is relationships are hard enough as it is, let’s stop complicating them even more.

#KillTheTalkingPhase2017