October 31, 2017

Beyond Awareness

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I could not let this month close without publishing a post on Breast Cancer Awareness, something I am a very strong advocate for.

I recently heard from a coworker that when her daughter in law turned 40 yrs old, she decided to invest in her health a little more.  She scheduled an appointment for her very first mammogram and was found to have stage IV breast cancer. I can not imagine the wild whirlwind her life has taken on in the last month or so going from diagnosis to quickly undergoing an aggressive course of treatment. My heart aches for her and her family. 

Sadly, this is not a standalone case. There are many people who go to the doctor for a routine visit and leave with a life changing diagnosis; sometimes because they overlooked that spot, or that odd pain. The point I am trying to make is that we need to take care of ourselves. Sometimes we get so caught up in our busy schedules, or we just coast along because we’ve felt relatively healthy "all our lives", and we fail to take care of this body that takes us through those busy schedules.

Do not neglect your self.

Make time for those routine check-ups.

If something in your body does not seem right, get it checked out. It is better to have a routine check-up now when that pain is just a tiny nuisance than to have it progress later on.  

I understand that we are beyond awareness now, in regards to Breast and other types of cancers, but I still wanted to highlight the need for vigilance.  There are many things in this world that can contribute to that dreaded cancer diagnosis and there is no miracle drug that can prevent it. I honestly believe it is just the luck of the draw these days. However, I implore you to make those routine appointments and to do your self-checks, so that if you are ill, it may at least be diagnosed at an earlier stage.

September 27, 2017

The Getting

In 2015, I moved from the idea of creating New Year's Resolutions to setting goals. I wrote a checklist of dreams and desires for myself in the back of my planner and intermittently checked the status of them throughout the year. It wasn't a long list by any means, but it included aspirations that I have had for a while. Big item things that I would have really liked to accomplish at some point in life (ie. near future). By the end of the year, I think all but two things were checked off. I thought that was impressive, but not good enough. Not having those last two items checked off felt like a failure to me (because sadly, I have a severe misconception about the the goodness of my life most times). 

This evening as I drove home from work, my mind drifted into deep thought as it normally does. I don't remember the sequence in which my thoughts came, but I ended with the realization that I had achieved one of the last goals on that list. I had the job title that I was seeking for some time now. And though the position is nothing like what I had imagined, it is what I wanted, and what I researched endlessly, and what I prayed for. I wanted this, and I got it. Granted, it's not what I thought it would be in terms of salary and perks and the like, but this was it. I got so caught up in what it lacked, and how it didn't make me feel, and how it was in comparison to other titles, that I lost sight of the fact that it was actually in my possession.

How thankless we are sometimes! -- or, at least I know I am. We are always on the hunt for the next level, the next best thing, and we forget to appreciate what we have now. We forget to see and acknowledge the blessing (for lack of a better term) that we have before us. 

As I try to work through this revelation, for the remainder of the week or however long it takes to chew and digest all of this, my one hope is that I don't forget the humble beginnings. I hope I don't forget the journey that got me to whatever milestone I reach. I want to remember the wanting, because it was the wanting that leads to the getting.

August 26, 2017

Zelda Pig


We adopted a little guinea, called Zelda, one year ago. There was a pair of them (the other was called "Link"... haha). They were under the care of a bioinformatic postdoc at the hospital who inherited them from a friend who moved to California. But because he travels to India every year for an extended period of time, he was looking to give them up to someone who could take care of them. During the long inquiry process (where I was doing research and trying to decide if I really wanted to take on caring for guinea pigs), I was notified that Link developed a lower body issue that made it difficult for her to move, and so the vet had her euthanized. The postdoc was very honest with me about this during this time, and that allowed me to trust him through the rest of the adoption process. I also met with him during tea time one afternoon to discuss care and essentials, and that also eased my worries.

So, on August 24, 2016, I took Zelda home with a cage, a pigloo, and full bag of baby carrots (her fave). She was very nervous during her first days with us... months even. She was very clean, but her nails was super long! It almost seemed like she was neglected. Our first order of business was getting her nails clipped. I did research, watched a couple youtube videos, and tried to do it myself, but she was very frightened, and very fast. We could not catch her to cut her nails ourselves or even to take her to a vet for them to cut it. It got overwhelming very quickly. I remember reaching out to one of my college friends who recently got two guinea pigs to ask for advice on overall guinea  pig care. She mentioned going to an animal shelter to  get a friend to replace Link since guinea pigs are social and Zelda would most likely get lonely. Friends, hearing that, the only thing on my mind was bringing Zelda to a shelter so that I could give her up for adoption. It had not even been 4 days since we had her and I was thinking about giving her away (how horrible). It just seemed like too much work at the time.  I'm glad we didn't give her up, however. I did research on these animal shelters and read that most guinea pigs would not make it because they're so overcrowded. I could not do that to this sweet piggie who had already lost a friend.

As the weeks went by, we decided to keep Zelda, and I'm so glad that we did. She brought some adventure to our mundane lives. Almost immediately, we weren't just worrying about ourselves anymore. And even though people mostly say that after having babies, it can also be said about a pet. She makes us laugh at her greediness, and curiosity, and gives us a great stretch/workout when trying to catch her to clean her cage. I think the greatest change is how hubs has warmed up to her. He is not a fan of pets at all. He was more than apprehensive about us getting one, but has warmed up to her over time. I actually think he's her favorite. He spoils her with all the treats, and ear rubs, and she is very responsive to his voice.


I am not sure how much time she has left with us. She was said to be 2.5 to 3 years old  (lifespan: 4-8 years) when we adopted her. I've thought about getting her a companion for some time now, but all of the ones in the pet stores are very young (6 months). I don't want to start the never ending cycle of bringing in a new guinea pig every time one passes away. That cycle can go on for years, and we are not here for it! I think after Zelda pig passes on, that will be our first and last pet for a time. We enjoy the company and the bits of joy that having one brings, but we're not too fond of the responsibility, especially in regards to care when away on vacation.

We love our Zelda pig though, and are very glad that she's in our lives. 
She doesn't even have a clue. 
We're just food providers.


May 21, 2017

Weekend Getaway: Washington, DC

In an effort to spend more time together (which is surprisingly really hard to do these days), beau and I decided to take a weekend trip away to the nation's capital. We booked two nights in a hotel in Maryland - about a 30 minute drive from D.C. a couple weeks in advance and excitedly waited in anticipation for this time away from home. I haven't been to DC in 10+ years (I attended a pre-college program at the University of Maryland College Park during the summer of my junior and senior year of high school and we always took trips to the museums in DC).

 After work Friday evening, we sat down and had leftovers for dinner, packed up a few last minute items and got on the road around 7:30 pm. Despite my fear of being stuck in traffic, the ride south was pretty easy and smooth. We arrived at our hotel at around 10 pm and tucked in for the night. 

Saturday morning, we woke up pretty early. It was almost like clockwork. Clearly sleeping in wasn't in the stars for us, even if we tried. That was okay though, as we had plans to see a really cool art exhibit at the Hirshorn (Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrorsand knew we had to stand in line for tickets. We arrived at the museum at around 9 am, and no-lie, the line to the museum spanned 2.5 really long city blocks. We decided to give it a shot anyway and stood in line for an hour. Within the first five minutes of getting in the queue, we moved about up about the length of 1-1.5 blocks, so that was amazing to us. We were sure we would get in at that rate. But at about 40 minutes in, and only moving up a few feet as patrons seemingly lost their patience and got out of line, I decided to take a walk down to the entrance to see exactly how many more people were ahead of us. Needless to say, there were a LOT! I mean, the line ahead of us stretched about one long city block down (0.2 miles), then wrapped around the gate to the museum, and then around the circular shaped building. That was enough for me to give up on seeing the exhibit. With that many people in line, we were not guaranteed to get in. Plus, it would be a huge waste to our day. So, we excused ourselves from the line and made our way towards the Washington Monument. (Btw, the line was about 2.5 blocks long BEHIND us!!!)

We spent the rest of the day walking around the city, stopping at all the monuments and memorials. The distance between each seemed a little daunting, especially as we ventured over to the Thomas Jefferson memorial and still wanted to get to the White House and the Capitol Building. But we toughed it out and got our steps in! My legs almost failed me by the time we got to the Capitol. A part of me was a little happy that they had closed the steps off, because I honestly don't think I would have made it.

We took a little rest break at the Capitol then started making our way to the car. We passed by the U.S. Bontanic Garden just a few blocks ahead and had to stop inside! I am glad we did. It's what #urbanjungleblog dreams are made of! We finished the evening off with dinner and an Asian fusion place back in Maryland, played a few rounds of a card game (it's our thing) and then went to bed. The next day, we took it easy. Check--out was at noon, so we slept in (and honestly spent a good chunk of time trying to find a brunch spot that wasn't fully booked for Mother's Day), had brunch, then drove home.

This kind of trip is not everyone's cup of tea, but we enjoyed it. We love going to places we've never been before to explore. The break away from the stresses of life is also nice. I find that I am much more pleasant when I'm away, and Beau's mind is more at ease. Also, I'm pretty sure I lost a couple inches in my trouble areas from that walk!

March 26, 2017

Korean BBQ

The food culture in America, especially in larger cities like Philadelphia is so great. It is comprised of a blend of cuisines from all around the world. I used to be the person who stuck to what I knew. Wherever we went, I would order a chicken dish... like, I was THAT plain. Even though I am a Jamaican and we eat pretty peculiar dishes like pigstail, tripe and beef liver and kidney I would eat those things, but stay clear from everything else that was unfamiliar. Calamari?- no way! sushi?- definitely not! I think it was after I began dating Beau that I became a little more adventurous. So much so that I now crave sushi, and I am willing to try things like escargot when we go on super fancy dinner dates. 

I have tried many regional cuisines since we started dating, but one cuisine I have yet to try was Korean- specifically Korean barbecue.  After viewing a few Youtube videos with Korean foodfare (eg. clothesencounters), I decided I really wanted to try it. Hubs found us a deal to Miga in the Fairmount Park section of Philadelphia. We went on a Sunday evening and I was pretty excited to go. The menu was a little daunting because they did not have normal meats like beef or pork, they were listed as bulgogi and galbi -- and what actually is that?! We decided on the Korean bbq for two and had our ingredients mis en place in no time. 

We started out a little dainty, placing one or two meats and a few vegetables at a time. The waiter then came over and seized our utensils-- tongs and a pair of meat cutting scissors-- and threw a couple more things on the fire, chopped up the large pieces of beef into smaller ones and started brushing the sauces on. ------------I guess we weren't doing it right!! 😂--------------------- After that , we got a little more comfortable with how everything worked and made sure that guy did not have to come back again. We ate and were strangely satisfied, even though it didn't seem like a lot of food at the time.

Overall, it was a good experience. I can finally say that I tried Korean barbecue! But will I ever go back there again? Probably not to this specific locatio-- for two reasons only: (1) the portions of the sides seemed so meager. I'm talking like, ONE piece of bell pepper and a very sad 5 stalks of broccoli; and (2) I felt like it was missing something. Maybe the company of others friends/family, or maybe additional sides (like you see in googled images of Korean bbq). Whatever it was, I do believe our experience could have been a little better. I will probably eat these words in a couple years if  someone mentions going out for Korean barbecue and I end up going, but for now, it's up there with Hibachi, where the first time experience is fun and exciting, but it's not something you would want to do on a monthly basis. Maybe once a year or every six months so the experience and excitement is fresh again.

Have you ever dined at a Korean BBQ?

February 26, 2017

What We've Been Through

To the people who say "Thank God I don't look like what I've been through", who are you?? How was that even possible?? Every bit of what I've gone through is stamped ALL over my face. Every nook. every crevice... the depths of my eyes reveal it all. 

... But everyone is too caught up in their own worlds to see it. 

February 12, 2017

Life Is Not Always A Straight Path

"Life is not always a straight path..."

These wise words were spoken by the man--  the brilliant scientist--  who gave me my start in the science field almost 6 years ago. I paid him a visit during my lunch break to have an open conversation about my frustrations in trying to start my career and to seek advice from someone who has been in the field for over 50 years. I told him how I finished school the year after my summer internship there. How I applied to over 860 jobs during that time period, and only ended up with a job as a bank teller. How I don't even know what I want to pursue anymore because everything that I've gone after thus far has been one big disappointment; and how I was grateful to be back in the hospital where I started, but it was still not where I wanted to be. He listened quietly and after I had said all that was on my heart, he spoke softly and said "Life is not always a straight path, but you will get to your destination at the right time."

Those words have stuck with me since, and has sort of become my mantra. I now see life- especially in regards to goals and dreams- as a really long journey. One will lots of rest stops, flat tires, and detours. We are not just born and then zip-lined through all the major milestones  and goals to our death. No! We have to fall and scrape our knees before we learn to walk, and we have to have our hearts broken by silly boys in high school, before we meet the loving husband of our forever. We have to go through the disappointments and rejections to grow thick skin. And we have to start from the bottom to be able to survive at the top.

Tomorrow, I begin a new position in Clinical Research. This comes only 10 months after I left the bank and started working as a data coordinator. I am incredibly grateful to be one step closer to my career goals. Which, to be honest, I don't even know what that looks like anymore, but I know that this is a step in the right direction, and just one of the many curves that life has thrown me into.

As I enter into this new chapter of life, I can't help but look at where I have come from. As a bank teller, I learned to speak up, get over my severe social anxiety, handle various personalities, and become well versed in finance- something I was never interested in before. As data coordinator, I was able to take my communication skills up several notches. Working with a multidisciplinary team of doctors, lab technicians, secretaries, and sales reps would have worn this introvert out if I did not have the experience of working at an extremely busy branch and dealing with strong-willed, loud mouth customers. Not only was I able to interact with different personalities in that new role, but I was able to communicate information effectively and properly manage the work-flow of a lab that was becoming increasingly busy.

I'm not sure why advancing from the bank took 2.5 yrs and advancing from data coordinator only took 10 months, but I am more than certain that the lessons learned are absolutely necessary for where life will take me.

Here's to another stepping stone. Another meaningful curve to life's path.

January 29, 2017


It is my 'golden birthday'. I am 29 on the 29th!

As the year turned and my birthday approached, I reflected on life over the past few years. I felt as though nothing has changed in terms of personality and characteristics. I looked in the mirror over the last 5 years and saw the same Jhan. My mind felt like the same Jhan.  I could see the physical changes, especially on my face, but internally, I still felt unsure of myself. I still felt young, a little apprehensive, and  very afraid of stepping out of my comfort zone. But a shift happened in the last few days. (Is that how birthdays work when you're approaching a major milestone??) I am beginning to feel my age. A little more strong willed, and a little more like an adult. What the actual heck?! I am getting old! [insert distraught emoji] I am definitely still unsure of myself most days, but I am definitely more out-spoken and strong-willed. Baby steps. 

This is 29. 

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