December 3, 2015

It's ma birthday!



Ah, Dec 3rd.

December borns are always fighting an uphill battle to claim their glory before Christmas. I'm on the cusp of what is usually considered socially acceptable and I make it known that anything Christmas can not begin until Dec 4th.  Since embracing more religions and cultures in my life, I'm also appreciating that Hannukah gives me a bit of lee way depending on the lunar calendar.

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November 27, 2015

10 ways you can give back this holiday season



’Tis the season of goodwill – the time for family and friends to come together and celebrate all that they are thankful for. 'Tis also the season for giving and the holidays are a great time to focus on compassion and selflessness.

Sometimes you may not find the time to give back in the way that you would like to over the holiday season because of all of the social, family and corporate events that you have to attend, the food that you need to prepare, the presents that need to be bought and wrapped, etc. On top of that, not everyone has the money or the resources to donate or contribute to charities and charitable causes during the holidays, so here are a few different ways that you can support your favourite charity/ties in Barbados:

(1) Donate everyday items


Not all charities need the same items and simply giving your favourite charity a call to see what they may need can save unwanted and unnecessary stuff, whilst also clearing out your cupboards for the holidays. Women’s toiletries are also especially lovely to give to those struggling at this time of year and sanitary products and nappies are very helpful too.

The Barbados RSPCA for example, always needs old towels and sheets for the animals.

(2) Charity Cards and Calendars




When wrapping your gifts and sending out business cards this season, why not support your favourite charity by buying their seasonal card packs? A few local charities also print annual calendars, so be sure to snatch those up (They make great Christmas gifts!)

The children at Ellerton Primary School made gift tags this year and all proceeds are going back to the school. Help support these budding entrepreneurs by buying a pack of 4 cards for Bds$10. They're available at ArtSplash Centre on the South Coast and at the O.P.I. in Limegrove on the West Coast. You can also order them directly at 421 8188.

(3) Volunteer


You can become a general volunteer at one of the charities, offer transport or your skills in a particular area – hairdressing, healthcare or catering, for example. Keep your eyes peeled for a volunteer centre being launched in the new year to help with this!

(4) Give Blood


Many blood donors miss their appointments over the busy festive season, proving that taking the time to stop and donate blood is all the more essential.


(5) Give small


You will be surprised how a small donation from me, added to a small donation from you, can make a big difference to someone or something. Why not start a donation pot with a group of friends, or at a family event? That way everyone can add what they wish to the pot.


(6) Attend Charity supported events this season

You can try to find out about events that support charities over the holiday season. For example, Carols by Candlelight is a family favourite over the Christmas season in Barbados. Not only do the funds raised at the event support various Rotary International approved community projects but people are also invited to bring a wrapped gift (marked for a girl or boy) which are then distributed to the local children's homes, churches and charities)

(7) Don't waste food


There are a surprising number of people who would go hungry every day without the support of charities such as The Barbados Vagrants and Homeless Society and Streetlamp Ministries. If you have a surplus of food from a family dinner or a catered business event, why not give either of these charities a call to see if you can donate any excess food after the event? Please note that this is referring to untouched food that is in a presentable, hygienic condition.

(8) Spread the word!


Many nonprofits provide their followers with opportunities to give back through social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. If you love what a charity is doing you can help raise awareness and share their posts/page/updates with your friends. You never know who may be passionate about the same causes.

#GivingTuesday is a new global movement dedicated to giving back (it comes after Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday) On Tuesday, December 1, 2015, charities, families, businesses, community centres, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.

It’s a simple idea. Just find a way for your family, your community, your company or your organisation to come together to give something more. Then tell everyone you can about how you are giving. Share the love on social media using #GivingTuesday.

(9) Support local


Helping out your neighbours becomes even easier, and more important, during the holiday season, when there's a spirit of community and giving. Shopping locally helps your community in a number of ways; It puts money back in to the economy, helps maintain local jobs and keeps non-chain ventures thriving. Shopping locally for your gifts and specialty holiday items also allows you to be sure of the quality of the items you buy. I recommend Brighton Farmer's Market, Hastings Farmer's Market and Holders House Farmer's Market. The Providence Christmas Gift Show is an upcoming event where you can find local gifts and items.

Local singers, musicians, painters, craftsmen and other artists are the people who bring culture and creativity to their communities. Support your local artistic community during the holiday season by attending their special concerts and events, buying the things they make and donating to them financially.

(10) Spread the love


The holidays are the biggest giving time of the year, but it can be overwhelming to respond to all the requests for contributions while your budgets are stretched thin for the holidays. Why not aim to support your favourite charities throughout the year, little bits at a time? That way the charities can get the support that they need during their slower seasons and you can more likely achieve your philanthropic goals. The needs of many charities are there year-round, not just at the holidays.

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November 18, 2015

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park


As most of my friends know, I'm not much of a hiker, walker or climber, so when Jus suggested we include Pfeiffer State Park at the end of our Big Sur road trip, I was more excited about the prospect of taking some fun photos of Redwood trees more than anything else. 
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November 17, 2015

California Dreamin': Big Sur & the 17 mile drive


After months of planning, prepping and researching, we were finally in California!
This trip was on our bucket list since J's sister & my bestie relocated to San Francisco at the beginning of this year; we were SO excited to explore a new city and to get a taste of their new lives on the West Coast!


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November 1, 2015

October Recap


It's been a month since I returned from India and these past weeks have been a blur of doctor's visits, meetings, missing dogs, coffee dates and lots of time spent at home cooking and playing catch up with work and life in general.

When I first got home, I was having issues with my back (thanks to my 50lb backpack) and it slowly worsened to the point where I couldn't really walk properly without excruciating pain. I spent weeks visiting chiropractors, physical therapists and finally an amazing acupuncturist who solved the problem. I went from being stuck at home to being able to jog and swim again (in little bursts) within the space of two weeks thanks to lots of tweaking and a pressure gun. I have a newfound respect for those who suffer from injuries and chronic pain; not only is it a daily battle to keep your restrictions in mind but the patience required to heal properly is something I struggled with.


To add to my back issues, I spent two weeks 'catching up' on all of the food I missed while I was away (Fish! Pie! Wine! Chocolate!) I was eating chocolate and drinking wine on a daily basis and kept fooling myself into thinking that I had lost enough weight in India to justify my gluttonous behaviour. Besides, my back hurt (a lot) and I wanted to distract myself with yummy food. I finally hit rock bottom when I sat through an entire take away meal of fried chicken, fries, mayo, coke, ice cream and a chocolate. Instead of feeling satisfied, I felt gross and realised I was using my excuse of 'catching up on my favourite foods' to fool myself into ignoring my cravings and lack of self control.

By mid October J and I had decided to give Whole30 a try. I first learnt about Whole30 through my friend Michelle, who blogs over on For Blog's Sake. Michelle's daily dose of inspiration, recipes and anecdotes chronicling her Whole30 journey during the month of September (while I was in India) really made me think about my relationship with food. She was honest about the challenge and her realistic and relatable posts convinced me to give this challenge a shot. I'm two weeks in and it's been a pretty cool experience, but I'll be blogging about it in more detail once it's over.


All of this down time has forced me to stop and re assess some of my goals for 2015. I feel like I talk about the struggles of maintaining a good blog more than I actually blog, but finding the time to blog properly is a constant battle for me. That said, I challenged myself to blog more consistently in November and December and to try my best to recap my summer travels before the end of the year. I'm taking a leaf out of my friend Setarra's book with her awesome travel recaps and hope that I can get my blogging skills up to that level!

Annnnnd finally, what's an October recap without any mention of Halloween? I loveeee Halloween! At last minute scramble for costumes and party tickets had some pretty hilarious results.

Jouvert wanted a piece of my heart - a sweet potato wrapped in tissue & a sandwich bag, covered in Siracha sauce
Queen of Hearts
Posing off with my creepy clown & Jonny Bravo

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October 26, 2015

Lessons learned from a missing dog in Barbados




Last Tuesday evening, our lovable pooch Molly decided to take a stroll through the neighbourhood and never returned.

We had Molly for about two months and she frequently escaped the property for a couple of hours when we weren't home, no matter what we tried. She was the 'houdini' of hounds and always managed to take her collar off and get out, no matter what we tried. We were relying on dog training to help us with this issue, and she had just completed her first session when she went missing again.

We were pretty worried, as she is a beautiful Bull Mastiff/Ridgeback female - a desirable mix in Barbados where breeders and dog fighters alike look for big, strong dogs to add to their collection. Dog kidnapping and theft is pretty common here, and we immediately feared the worst. We searched the surrounding areas and notified our neighbours, hoping that she would be back in the morning.

When she failed to show up on Wednesday morning, we put together a basic flyer, printed a bunch and also shared it on social media - namely my personal profile and in a 'Lost & Found Pets' group, as well as local animal shelters. This was then shared by dog lovers and friends alike, with everyone reassuring me that she would come back soon. We were offering a reward to anyone who could return Molly to us.



We drove through the surrounding neighbourhoods handing out flyers. We stopped at every construction site on the development behind our house, talking to the men on site and asking them to keep an eye out. We live behind a mall, and the flyers were distributed to various shops and restaurants at the mall.

The question that kept bugging me was this: "Who would take a dog?"

The answer can be split into two groups:

(A) someone who wants to save her, and will likely turn her in to an animal shelter

or

(B) someone who saw a money making opportunity for a new breeding or fighting dog, and has no intention of giving her back, unless there was a monetary incentive.

We weren't worried about Person A too much, as they would eventually turn Molly in if they had picked her up. It was Person B we were worried about, and we needed to reach them somehow.



Spreading the word was a bit of a strategic game - we had to think of who we were targeting and how best to reach them. 

Would they be listening to the radio? Possibly, but there were too many radio stations to choose from.

Would they be online? Possibly, but only if they fit into certain age groups and demographics. We often forget how insular our social media networks are, even with thousands of online friends. 

A newspaper ad would be ineffective, because it would take a day or two to get the ad in the paper.

They were most likely to have a smartphone of some sort. Most Barbadians use Whatsapp, so we contacted 'influencers' - people who were connected to a wide, diverse network of people. We asked them to send out the flyer via Whatsapp and to reiterate the reward being offered for her safe return.

We asked friends to send the message out to groups, gym buddies, work colleagues, employees, neighbours, family and friends. We found this to be the most effective tool that casted a wide net, and we had a great response using this medium. It was surprising to hear how far the message had spread! 

In the end, good ol' school flyers saved the day.

Molly was picked up by an elderly gentleman on Wednesday. He saw her roaming along the highway and was worried about her safety, so he piled her into his car and brought her home. Molly is incredibly gentle, and the gentleman's granddaughter took to her immediately. He owned pitbulls and figured Molly would fit in to the pack quite nicely.

On Thursday, he went to the mall (behind our house) and saw one of the flyers that we had distributed. He immediately recognised Molly and (later told us) that he knew he had to return our pet to us. He thought of his own dogs and would have hated for someone to take one of them away from him.

We got a call from him on Thursday evening and we picked Molly up.

Our story has a very happy ending, because Molly was extremely lucky to be picked up by someone who cared.



The reactions to our search for a missing pet were varied - I was met with sarcastic, skeptical, shocking comments such as: 

"What, are we in America now? Looking for missing dogs?" 

"ha, she's definitely locked up in a dog house somewhere"

"That looks like a great dog for fighting." (When I retorted that she was too gentle to fight, the response was "Any dog can be trained to fight, she can be 'made' aggressive, you know.")

"She looks like a great dog to breed"

On the flip side, kind strangers reached out to help and the support was very comforting. I only hope that the local attitude towards pets, breeding and dog fighting continues to evolve and that one day Barbados will be a more dog/animal friendly society.

This experience not only restored my faith in my small island community, but it also reiterated the power of networks and media. In a country with a pretty high internet and mobile penetration rate, news can spread like wildfire, but it seems like a mix method of traditional and new media is still the way to go if you want to reach every Barbadian possible.

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October 12, 2015

Manic Monday: The worst kind of jet lag...


One week ago, Samarah and I left the chaos of Delhi.

We boarded flights heading in the opposite direction; Sam flew to London and I flew East, to begin a 3 day journey home via the US.

It's crazy to think that that was already a week ago, and I'm still on a come down from the last 2.5 months. It's back to reality, normalcy and the comforts of home. 

The thought of recapping everything from California to India is overwhelming and daunting, but I can't get certain things out of my mind and I can't wait to share them with you.

Please be patient, my 'bad blogger' habits will be in overdrive as I try to juggle work, life and dusting off the cobwebs on this blog.



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September 21, 2015

#onlyinbarbados 2015



Excited to see my itty bitty photo (can you guess which one?) featured at a local photography exhibit. The Frame & Art Co is showcasing photographs captured on mobile phones for by local professional and amateur artists in‪#‎Barbados‬. The ‪#‎onlyinbarbados‬ exhibition highlighting the unique personality of the island: from the everyday to the extraordinary, these images that show the character of Barbados from its fun loving people to its island charm. Be sure to check it out and support local talent.

The exhibition ends on October 17th, so I'll be able to check it out when I get home. 

Proceeds from the sale of my photo go to Dance4life Barbados - an awesome organisation that unites young people through music and dance and empowers them to push back the spread of HIV and AIDS. You should check them out too! They're located in major cities all over the world and do some pretty amazing stuff.

ps: here's my photo, taken in Bridgetown in November 2014 using my Nexus 5.



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September 9, 2015

From Hong Kong to New Delhi

Image of Hong Kong via 

As a rule, I don't generally sit down to write any blog posts during my trips, as I like to be as 'unplugged' as possible (even though I'm snapping away on my cameras like a maniac wherever I go - I know you're rolling your eyes at this Zo) but this time, things got a bit out of hand and I flung myself into 2.5 months of travel with a lot less planning than I am used to. 

Usually, I'm better organised and have a few posts scheduled before my trip but this time around I feel like I'm missing out by not getting the inside scoop on some of the places I've been/plan on going to.
With all of this said, I'm asking for your advice (food related & less 'touristy' activities in particular) on the following places in India, where I will be for the next month with my good friend Samarah (more on this later!):
  • New Delhi
  • Agra
  • Varanasi
  • Udaipur
  • Mumbai
Are any of my readers familiar with these places? Anyone up for meeting up or putting me in touch with anyone local to these areas?
Thanks for your feedback on my summer travel posts and photos so far, it really means a lot to me! I always appreciate hearing from those who read this blog and take the time to share their opinions and knowledge with me.

It's 5:45 am: I'm currently typing away and sipping a much needed coffee at Hong Kong International Airport, after a 15 hour flight from Los Angeles with two screaming (but adorable) babies sitting on either side of me. I'm frantically trying to catch up on a few things before heading out to explore the city on a 12 hour layover. I say this to warn you of any rambling or typos coming up...

Luckily, J and I have incredible friends and family who pretty much showed us one of the best trips we've ever had; our West Coast adventure was nothing short of amazing. (Follow up posts on this coming up soon! I'll be better than I was with our Euro trip last year, I promise).



One of my favourite aspects of travel blogging is asking for advice from my Facebook/blogger community before I travel, whether it's via Facebook, my blog or Twitter, so I can plan a robust itinerary comprised of local favourites and popular 'must dos'.

With that, I'm off to check out Hong Kong in a nutshell. Any last minute suggestions? You can reach me at @skiptomalouuu

Next stop: New Delhi!
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August 24, 2015

Recap of the Annual Curator's Meeting in Geneva



I represented Barbados at the World Economic Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland last week as Curator of the Global Shapers Bridgetown Hub and the experience was nothing short of incredible.
The Global Shapers Community is an initiative of the World Economic Forum and is developed and led by young people who are selected on the basis of their achievements and commitment to make a difference in their local communities. The Community of over 5000 young people under the age of 33 is divided into a network of Hubs in every major city around the world. Each Hub manages projects that focus on various issues such as youth development, entrepreneurship and sustainable development.
With my Caribbean posse: L-R: Aruba, Suriname, Kingston Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Montego Bay Jamaica, Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago and Dominican Republic.
The Bridgetown Hub was founded in 2013 and is managed by 5 hub members. I took over the role as Curator in July for a year and received full funding to attend the Annual Curator’s Meeting in Geneva.
Over 450 Curators from 142 countries came together to share challenges faced in ongoing projects and to develop strategies on how best to enhance and accelerate their impact. Working together in an environment of trust and understanding to build practical solutions that have global impact is one of the key features of the Shapers community. I now have Hub partners and great friends in Africa, North America, the Middle East and ASEAN community who are there to share resources, experience and skills.
Not only was it a priority for me to ensure that Barbados had a seat at the table, but to raise the profile of the Caribbean youth on a whole. I attended a provocative session on long term investing, infrastructure and development with industry leaders based at the World Economic Forum who focussed on the ‘blended economy’ concept. We had the opportunity to discuss specific issues faced by the islands in the Caribbean and potential ways in which the regional Shapers can work together to come up with sustainable solutions. The focus is on creating long term, scalable impact.
The 5 day event consisted of panel discussions, team building exercises, workshops and community service in Geneva and surrounding areas.
On the final day I was part of a small group of Shapers who volunteered for a creative session at a shelter for asylum seekers being housed in a bunker beneath a hospital on the French border.
Interacting with this group of young men from Eritrea, India and Ethiopia who were currently ‘in limbo’ and had been through so much adversity was an incredibly humbling experience. We had Shapers from Italy, Mozambique, USA, Morocco, Indonesia, Norway and Canada in our team who were pretty taken aback at first; we didn’t quite know what we were in for. Luckily, the Curator from Mozambique had facilitated similar group ‘sessions’ with at risk youth and within a few minutes we were all dancing to music from our respective countries and sharing dance moves. I made sure to introduce them to ‘All ah we’ by Peter Ram! Seeing the Curators applying their leadership skills in a difficult situation like that reaffirmed my passion for this compassionate, global community.

The images of our community service session above were taken by Hugh Weber.
The Bridgetown Hub will be focussing on growing membership significantly in the next year and will be recruiting young people between the ages of 18-30 who are not only passionate about building a better Barbados, but have also proven themselves to be leaders and capable of getting things done as part of a team.
Get in touch with the Bridgetown Hub via Facebook.com/GlobalShapersBB or Twitter @GlobalShapersBB
You can find out more about the Global Shapers Community via @GlobalShapers or globalshapers.org
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August 14, 2015

Postcards from Geneva | ACM Day 1

As I mentioned in my previous post, I popped over to Geneva for the Annual Curator's Meeting as part of the Global Shapers community.

I say popped, but that was most definitely not the case. After over 24 hours of flying, I was a complete zombie when I finally arrived in Switzerland. It was grey and muggy, and I was miserable. 2 flights, 3 buses and a taxi later, I slumped up to my hotel room around noon, crossing my fingers that I had a tolerable roommate for the week.

After brief introductions, my new amazing, sweet and pretty incredible roomie quickly sussed out my current mood and suggested we explore the town, reminding me that this would be one of the few afternoons off during the ACM. I knew our newfound friendship was off to a great start when she listed the different cafes and food options she had researched ahead of time. I was so right!

We explored Geneva for the rest of the afternoon, after picking up some baguettes and taking in the scenes as we sat in a park along the river, before heading back to the hotel for a quick powernap before the ACM opening ceremony. 

I was immediately drawn to the water in the city centre, it was crystal clear and bright blue! Though Geneva was peaceful and certain parts seemed quaint, I felt like I needed to give the city another chance before deciding whether I liked it or not. 


I'd be lying if I said I wasn't expecting this Annual Curators Meeting experience to be similar to my life changing One Young World weekend in Pittsburgh a few years ago. The Global Shapers community has a similar vibe to it and I was really excited to be inspired and connected with cool people doing their bit to change the world. 


Maybe my power nap didn't set me in the right mood to begin with, but I felt really irritated by the patronising tone used during the ceremony. It felt like 'they' were trying to entertain children.  We had to sit through a gruelling 'concert' by two of the Global Leaders who had clearly stopped chasing their childhood dreams of musical superstardom. The music was awful, and it was a wasted opportunity to highlight one of the many local musical talents in Geneva. Not only that, but there was a ridiculous clip of a female silhouette dancing provocatively used as the backdrop to one of the acts. My inner feminist was fuming by the time the show was over.  I don't blame anyone who met me for the first time right after that concert for thinking that I was a serious debbie downer, but I was really hungry and pissed off by the time it was over. 

On a more positive note, the opening ceremony and cocktail reception was held at the beautiful Bâtiment des Forces Motrices - an old hydroelectric station dating back to 1886 that appears to swim in the middle of the Rhone River. I took a stroll around before and after the event and took in this magnificent building.



After a class of wine and too many canapés, I felt much better and started to take in the now buzzing atmosphere of the night. Over 400+ people were there from every corner of the globe, and though this was incredibly interesting, the conversations generally followed this routine:

"Where are you from?"
"What do you do?"
"What projects is your Hub working on?"

These three questions help someone decide whether they really want to talk to you or not. Events like this are just as much about the networking as they are about team building and Global Shapers camaraderie. Most people and a strategy in mind, and they weren't shy about it. I generally don't work like this and tend to get sucked up in storytelling, but I don't mind when people are pretty frank and clear about what they want from you. Coming from a small island that many people had never heard of before, I tend to get asked the same questions repeatedly. I understand that people are curious, but sometimes it gets kind of boring, so I tend to ask pretty random questions to shake things up a bit. Those who buy into my random questioning generally become friends, like this awesome chick pictured below:


Highlights of the first day: meeting and connecting with my awesome roommate and leaving the first event feeling buzzed and excited for the week ahead!

Please note that these opinions are my own and do not reflect the opinions of the Global Shapers Bridgetown Hub.
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August 12, 2015

Annual Curator's Meeting in Geneva

After a whirlwind week recovering from Crop Over, it's time to get serious again.
As I type this, my hands are shaking because I'm so excited for the week ahead! I'm going to Genevaaaaaaaaaaa!

Since 2013, I have been a part of the Global Shapers network and at the beginning of July I took over as the Curator/President of the Bridgetown Hub. You can read more about the Hub here.
The Global Shapers Community is unique in its reliance on empowered young people to shape and lead their Hubs under the guidance of the Community Charter. Each Hub is organized in an autonomous way under a Curatorship. The Curator is the functional lead of the Hub for one year, with a mandate starting on 1 July and ending on 30 June.


Once a year, the current Curators are brought together in Geneva in order to discuss the purpose, mission, values and culture of the Community in order to ensure the success and sustainability of each Hub and the greater network at an event called the “Annual Curators Meeting”. The Meeting provides an opportunity for the next generation of Curators to exchange best practices on relevant issues, from selecting Shapers to Hub Governance, to exchange insights with World Economic Forum colleagues on varied regional issues and pressing world challenges, and an opportunity for Curators to create local impact in the host city of Geneva by serving the local community. 
I was fortunate enough to be sponsored by the World Economic Forum this year and I will be in Geneva from Aug 13th - 17th!
I can't help but expect it to be similar to my life changing One Young World experience and even if it isn't, I am so honoured to represent Barbados as part of a community that I feel very strongly about.


This will be my first time in Geneva and I know that the Geneva Shapers have a packed itinerary planned for us so I can't wait to see what's in store. Thought we won't have much spare time to ourselves, I'd appreciate any tips and tricks for those who may be familiar with the city in case I get a chance to explore. Especially food, ANY food suggestions are encouraged :)
I'll be tweeting and posting as much as possible, so follow along via @skiptomalouuu and skiptomalouuu on Instagram.

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