We Won’t Apologize!

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Based on Oscar Brown Jrs – I Apologize
WE WON’T APOLOGIZE! (c)2020 Oni Lasana 8/8

We won’t apologize for being Black
We are natural wonders, nothing we lack
Please sir, please ma’m don’t give us no slack
cuz we won’t apologize!

We won’t apologize for being poor
It was your laws who gave YOU more.
Yes, we had to be slick, wise to all tricks,
We give and give and you still want more
Shutting the door, but we know the score,
and we won’t apologize!

We’ll never apologize because we bear
The beauty of Africa in our skin and hair
Lovely lips…beautiful nose…chocolate to fair
Our standard of beauty is beyond compare
And we’ll never apologize!

We’ll never apologize for how we look
For all the bullets and beatings we took
Finally….its all an open book, read our story
take a look, cuz we won’t apologize!

We won’t apologize for all we gave
we never wanted to be your slave
You keep trying to send us to an early grave
But we don’t die, we multiply…
and we won’t apologize!

We’ll never apologize for being caught
Our people are worth more than you thought
It was from Africa you were taught
And we’ll never ever apologize

We’ll never apologize for all we did
We build this country, the truth YOU hid
We will spoil your un-righteous fun
Teaching lies with the power of your gun
And no, we will not apologize!

We won’t apologize, to seal our fate
For being wise, for fighting hate
Because we know we are greater than great
So, we’ll never apologize!

Never will we apologize and tip our hat
Till you show respect, get your knee off our neck.
Haters, traitors, and jealous beast,
At our table, you came to feast.
Knowing…we are NOT the least
Still, we offer you love, forgiveness, and peace.
But,
we will never apologize.

(c) 2020 oni lasana

LOL4REAL! with Oni @ 4th Session

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LOL4REAL! with Oni @ 4th Session

This is not the 4th session of “LOL4REAL! with Oni” of laughing our way to wellness, with Laughter Yoga. This 4th session is only for this word press diary, it’s actually a recap of the 6th session that took place on October 30, 2017, a Monday morning.  By the 30th, I led 5 sessions with Laughter Ladies at the local senior center, in the country/burbs community outside of Philadelphia. While I write this, tomorrow, Friday will be my 7th session. As I look back at Monday’s gathering, it was not a gathering.

It was an epiphany, an eye opener, a tug at my heartstrings which softly validated deep in my heart and soul that Laughter Yoga, is what I was born to do. Laughter Yoga is what I need to do. I was called to it, by accident, seeking and finding answers to how I can bring more JOY into my own life.

In the past, I have made a humble attempt to touch hearts with my art as a storyteller, a performing artist and now as an OFFICIAL… Laughter Yoga Leader. I practice with others as a “guide” as not everyone will be comfortable to follow the leader, until they release inhibitions in child like play. Some jump right in, some take time.

For me, to “perform” live, is a precious moment in time. It comes and goes. You can guess, by a standing ovation or an exageratted overlong applause how your “show” has affected folks. I am not an actress, I prefer ARTress, as I am self taught.  So my on going motto in my storytelling career is the one plaque that I have in my studio which is a quote from Maya Angelou “The desire to reach for the stars is ambitious. The desire to reach hearts is wise.”  

Laughter Yoga has given me an intuitive wisdom beyond my 64 years. Maybe I had it all along. Now, my little group of Laughter Ladies turned on the light *!* in me too.

Last Monday, Laughter Yoga attendance was low. So low, the only person that sat across from me in the circle, was Missy.  Missy is very soft spoken, never showing her teeth, shyly grinning,  moving calmly and quietly laughing through all the exercises. Missy being the only one who showed up, I took it as a sign, a special time for me to get to know her. I needed to practice more than she, or maybe not.  “Were you always this quiet even as a child?” I asked her.”  “Yes” she whispered. “Oh, well I was always loud and silly as a child” I admitted to her. She softly smiled, looked down and shrugged her shoulders as if to say, “So what?”

Moving on, I shared with Missy the brand new second hand book I had recently purchased at Amazon, The Great Big Anthology of Laughter Exercises by Jeffrey Briar with Dr. Madan Kataria and others.  The book boasted over 500 laughter practices for health, fun and friendship. Its photos showed a diverse group of LY folks recorded in living color, it jumped off the pages.  Missy wasn’t impressed, not smiling until she recognized the photos of folks doing the “Lion Laughter.” Proof, once again I wasn’t making this stuff up!

Missy and I sat face to face. I scooted closer as we viewed the ones we knew and tried out the new ones we discovered, together. I enjoyed the one on one with Missy. In our break time, she told me Bunny had a doctor’s appointment and quietly told me why Carol and a few others were absent.  One of the ladies, Shirley, who was at the first session, waved a pass on joining us. She was sitting with two of her friends as they finished breakfast.

Shirley was limited in her movement, she smiled at us from a nearby table. When Missy and I did a “cheerleader” exercise to “Happy People” I ran over and handed out pom pom’s to the ladies. They all shook the pom pom’s as Missy and I did the ho, ho, ha, ha, her, her “Ants in your pants” to music, cheer leading exercise.

Missy and I had bonded for 30 minutes, when Mae walked in, right hand leaning on her cane with her left arm in a sling. I asked Mae when she will be able to take off her cast. Mae sat down and exclaimed, “Never. Girl they say I have to wear this the rest of my life. I had a stroke in 2013. When I first came here to the center, I was in a wheelchair.”

“Really, well you know our bodies have the ability to heal itself, look at you now” as I looked her in the eyes. “Well, that may be true Oni, because when I first came here to do Laughter Yoga with you, I couldn’t move the left side of my face, I couldn’t even talk good.”  I stared at her this time. What was she saying?

“Really? You mean to say that Laughter Yoga has helped you move your mouth?” I asked.

“Yes” Mae said calmly,  “I do Ho, ho, ho, (she poked out her lips), ha, ha, ha (she widened her mouth and revealed a full set of pearly whites) and he, he, he…(her “fake it till you make it” smile stretched back to her ears) even at home and now I can move my mouth and speak without a slur.” she leaned back and smiled at me and Missy. I was speechless! Could this “crazy” practice have such an profound effect on Mae, only 61 and is helping in her recovering from a stroke?  It took me a few days, but I knew I had to share this on this blog/journal, with Dr. Kataria website, with Alexa and most of all with you. Norman Cousin’s who wrote Anatomy of An Illness, was so right, laughter is a healer.

3 little back stories in closing…but never ending!

1)

Last year in 2016 I was hired to present my karaoke program with stroke victims in the Aphasia Group at McGee Rehab Hospital in Philadelphia. I had seen first hand the therapeutic benefits of music. One elderly lady’s daughter flagged me away and said her mother would never sing with me. Near the end of the program, I put the mic before her mother’s mouth, smile and encouraged her with eye contact. Her mother sang out Frank Sinatra’s “I did it my way.” I watched as the daughter’s eyes filled with tears and her mother and I sang bad karaoke – joyfully LOUD with all in the room.

2)

The lady at the Senior center who didn’t participate and said Laughter Yoga was “crazy”, she stopped me as I was leaving. She told me she enjoyed watching and listening to my stories and especially the Laughter Yoga, with her buddies. She said she has a heart problem, she has a implant.  It is the real reason she is afraid to participate. We hugged.

3)

Is Laughter Yoga for ladies only? No way! As Mae, Missy and I did our cool down awareness meditation, I opened my eyes to see two gentlemen, cooling down. inhaling and exhaling with us. Just leaving their weight exercise program at 11:30…they said they would like to participate in Laughter Yoga. Would it be possible for me to change the time as it conflicted with their weight training exercises.  I’m not sure, as of this writing, if the time will change.

In closing..again…;-)

Oh…November 2017 will be full of LOL4REAL! with Oni.

BUT, I’ll have to leave them soon. I spoke with Bill, the Executive Director and I let him I will return, eventually. But if my Laughter Yoga crew misses laughing, they can play Dr. Kataria, Robert Rivest, Alexa Drubay and other crazy Laughter Yoga folks on You Tube,  up on the big screen TV. I hope they will feel free to keep practicing Laughter Yoga with the pros!

To be continued…LOL4REAL! with Oni @ 5th Session

Please leave a comment. I’d like to hear your thoughts!  

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Thanks*!*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LOL4REAL! with Oni @ 3rd Session

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LOL4REAL! with Oni @ 3rd Session

The Laughter Ladies followed along as I described, demonstrated and together we did it! Laughter Yoga! “LOL4Real! with Oni Lasana” was in full effect! A respiratory exercise with childlike playfulness that was like “internal jogging.” Some of the adventurous ladies have standing difficulties, no problem, we moved in our chairs and those who could move, moved, we inhaled and exhaled in between the serious silliness of Laughter Yoga!

One lady, Carol, was instantly full of giggles at the right time, loud and infectious. I loved her energy right away and told her one day she could come with me on the road as an assistant. Another lady playing solitaire at a nearby table shook her head and when asked if was going to join in, she said she wasn’t interested because we were CRAZY.

We warmed up, laughing like we were crazy, but with creativity and serious focus. Smiling, clapping and throwing our hands in the air, “Very good, very good, yeah!” between each exercise. Elderly Mary Jane in her 80’s, a toothless mother of 9, kept  saying to me, “You sure have some pretty teeth, almost as pretty as mine” as she flashed a full set of pink gums. Comedians are welcomed at Laughter Yoga, after the session.  I closed up playing “Wistaria Reef” by Steve Kindler and a wing and a silent prayer in my head.  I found the words to focus on the awareness meditation of self love, inhaling in and exhaling out. It proved to be a “very good, very good, yeah” kinda day.

Everyone was smiling, I hugged each lady in the group. A Laughter Hug is part of the concept too.  An older gentlemen coming out of exercise class, looking in and told me he’ll join us if he can get a hug too. LOL4real.  Neighborhood men playing pool at the other end of the room, behind the partition in the Billiard Club, peeked out smiling and waving. The ladies behind the kitchen preparing lunch, smiled told me we made them laugh too. One nice lady in her fancy apron promised to join us one day when she wasn’t too busy preparing lunch. Brittany and George took photos and posted on the center’s Facebook page. It was, Missy, Bunny, Vivian, Mae, Mary Jane, Carol and Shirley, only 7 including me, 8. Just right, for a little laughter love.

As I was leaving, I hear all the ladies bragging to the late comers, but early for lunch bunch, about how they were doing Laughter Yoga. Some were curious as they came out of the weight exercise room. I overheard one lady say, “I know how to laugh, I don’t need no one teaching me to laugh, I’m blessed!” The center was buzzing with joyful excitement. The receptionist said we were making her laugh, just listening to us laugh.

I stepped out into the crisp autumn air feeling revived, happy and fully embraced by the group. So what would I do next week? Oct. 20th came fast as I repeated the set up. We had saved the name tags for the ladies but only 6 showed up. No worries, I asked them what they liked about Laughter Yoga and they all said it made them feel good. Carol liked that she was able to act like a child again and I could tell by how loud and infectious she laughed. Missy, a very quiet young lady spoke very softly that she enjoyed it too. Bunny, a proud grandmother said she needed to have her grandchildren running doing backward flips, to really make her laugh.

Brittany asked me if I could come more often. Monday and Fridays are my free days so I told her Monday was good…really good for me too. She was so happy to know I could come at the beginning of the week and at the end of the week. I let her know I will  be leaving the country in December to visit family.  She said the ladies will be sad to see me go and if I could arrange to have someone come to continue Laughter Yoga.  I offered to share the concept with the regular yoga teacher who comes in the afternoon, but Brittany didn’t feel the yoga teacher would be interested, plus she wanted to keep the sessions separate activities for the seniors who didn’t want to do weight exercise and didn’t have much else to do before lunch  I asked my teacher, Alexa to put out a call to other leaders she may  now of in the area to see if they can volunteer when I leave. Haven’t heard if anyone has stepped up as yet.

I arrive on the first Monday, on Oct. 23rd…5 showed up. Seems Mondays are the least busy days at the center, with doctor’s appointments and travel issues. After a few warm up exercises everyone remembered, I took out the huge smilie face parachute and we stood in place and laughed as the ball rolled around inside and we pulled and yanked it back and forth. We all wrapped it back up and as we were tiring out. We circled back up in our chairs and I told two short stories on teamwork and why its good to know a second language. Everyone laughed and enjoyed them both.  Bunny showed me how she would like to lift her legs up and laugh. So we did. The Bunny leg lift laughter…Laughter Yoga allows for creative input by ALL!  Many have issues standing, so later that evening I researched at Laughter Yoga International website on how to do LY exercises sitting down. Thank you Dr. Kataria!

Oct. 27th Friday, 8 showed up a bit exhausted on having to repeat or perfect the exercises with the ladies.  I come up with all kinds of ideas in my head, usually when I’m trying to fall asleep. So it was a good thing, I remembered in the morning as I decided to bring my laptop and show them You Tube video’s of Dr. Kataria.   I thought it would be a good idea, to prove Laughter Yoga  is a legitimate practice and not some weird experiment I’m using to take advantage of a captured audience! Yes, it was my time to prove that I wasn’t the only knucklehead running around the planet laughing out loud 4 real, 4 nothing!

It worked. We all sat around the table and viewed Dr. Kataria lead sessions with other seniors, we opened with Robert Rivest’s 20 minute sessions.  I told them all how great Rivest and Dr. Kataria were at doing Laughter Yoga, Carol blurted out (breaking the rule for “no talking” she exclaimed loudly…. “NOT BETTER THAN YOU ONI!”  I love Carol too.

We had to add chairs as those passing by stopped to watch and join in. Anne came for the first time, having seen it in the Sr. Center’s newsletter. When I asked her if she would sign a release, she said “It’s ok, my daughter said I could do it”. I smiled and decided to wait till next time she joins in.  Some of the receptionists and a few of the ladies in the kitchen came to see the video. It was a LOL4REAL! time. Hugs all around.

To be continued….LOL4Real #4 Session  

www.LOL4REAL.com

LOL4REAL! with Oni @ 2nd Session

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LOL4REAL! with Oni @ 2nd Session

All the Activity Directors at the Senior Center sounded upbeat and interested but no one was calling back! All of September I drove to schools, senior centers, giving and mailing out postcards. No one called.  Not one to give up on anything I set my mind to do, I continued alone practicing at home and rehearsing for a major storytelling gig at the Mercer Museum. Once the show was off the books on Oct. 5th, it was forward, to focusing on LOL4REAL! my new Laughter Yoga program.

So ok, if I’m going to practise this wonderful thing, I need to get out of the confines of my personal Laughter studio/jewelry making/bass practise/TV/reading room/kids & grandkids ex-playroom space and step out on faith to share this JOY bubbling inside of me!

That’s when I decided I’d VOLUNTEER…yep…give UP any notion of laughing my way to the bank and just do it for HEALTH and FUN benefits…share Laughter Yoga with real people cause I love it, and turn off the You Tube! So I did.

Now the thing about volunteering…you don’t want to waste gas driving far away, especially since you won’t be getting any money to buy gas…that just don’t make no sense now does it? So I called my local, right down the hill senior center to see what’s shaking. George answered the phone and when I explained to him the mission I was on, to bring the JOY of Laughter Yoga to the world, or at least to the senior center, George was also fascinated…especially since I was volunteering!! That night as I practised solo, I was feeling the respiratory benefits in my lungs and airways…Laughter Yoga was working for me in a wonderful way. LOL4REAL!

George gave me the AD’s (Activity Director’s) name and the time I could reach her. I did. The very next day I spoke with Brittany, a child of great vision and curiosity, she was very, very interested so we set up a time on Fridays….for a hour. 10:30am. October 13th…two months to the day I became certified!

I showed up in full LOL4Real! gear…baseball hat, t-shirt, my sign, my blue tooth soundtrack and hooked it UP!  Heads started bopping to a hip hop version of “Lovely Day” by Bill Withers, “Happy” by Pharell, “I love to Laugh” by Mary Poppin’s, “Happy People” by R. Kelly and Little Big Town….It was invigorating!  LOL4REAL! was starting up in a airy, spotless, and bright corner of the dining room at my local senior center!

As the music played, my girl, Brittany the AD, had all interested ones who were too keen on the regular exercise program in the next room, to sign the LOL4REAL! Liability and photo release forms. Brittany wrote names on my $1 store stick it name tags and put stuck them on: Carol, Missy, Vivian, Bunny, Lucy, Mary Jane and Mae! We pushed aside the round dining tables towards the bay windows and circled up the chairs.

Sitting in the circle, I turned down the music and calmly introduced myself. Pointing to the LOL4REAL! banner of rules I  explained the origin and purpose of this exciting wellness practice.

Thank YOU, Dr. Madan Kataria! Lynn Ford & Alexa Drubay!!!!

With smiles and personal direct eye contact, I showed them my stack of index cards with 40 exercises written in my own hand. I let them know it was my sincere intention to guide them, but most of all, I would be learning Laughter Yoga WITH them.

To be continued….@ #3 Session

www.LOL4REAL.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LOL 4 REAL! with Oni @ 1st Session

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LOL 4 REAL! with Oni @ 1st Session

August 13, 2017 I was on cloud 9!!!! (if you don’t know what it mean google Temptations;-). Yep, struttin’ my stuff as a newly certified Laughter Yoga Leader by Alexa Drubay of Dr. Madan Kataria Laughter Yoga International University.

Weeks before, I learned of the practice when I visited the website of fellow storyteller, Lynn Ford of Ohio. Totally intrigued, fascinated and overjoyed to stumble upon a exercise that not only would benefit my own respiratory issues but also do something I love to do, LAUGH! Sometimes, to keep from crying, more times with silly friends, family and many times, at myself. Laugh at my mistakes, fumbling through life, knowing and not knowing when I will triumph or fail, or ever…overcome.

With the deposit from a recent storytelling gig, I decided to re-invest in a new program of good cheer and wellness.  I  purchased yoga insurance, designed marketing tools, postcards, business cards, a banner for rules, logo baseball hat, t-shirt, canvas bag, uploaded “happy” music and relaxation tracks to my new iphone, (gift from the hubby:-) hooked up a blue tooth, portable water proof bass boom Sony RED speaker.

I was ready like Freddy!

For two weeks, I visited local elementary schools, senior centers, senior assistant living, speaking with principals, activity directors and all were intrigued by the concept of yoga with no floor work or bending and twisting and turning. But no one called. I waited. Every evening I read Norman Cousins book, Anatomy of an Illness, watched the movie, watched TED Talks and laughed like a mad person, privately in my studio with Dr. Kataria, Alexa and Michael Rivest on You Tube.

To be continued….Session 2

www.LOL4REAL.com

 

 

Another Woman Thang

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ANOTHER WOMAN THANG by Oni Lasana ©1996

I am Woo-man…here I stand
Super Woman Mother Earth, Blessed Mary of your birth
I have nursed you to life before I will knock down every door
To make you hear what I whisper to say, you must respect me in every way
I am WOMAN I captured your seed to give you many mouths to feed
While you work…toil…strife I wear the brand name of, WIFE

I raise your children I raise your mood I am required to prepare all food
You may grumble…you may growl…I will love you anyhow.
I am WOE-man…Woe-man am I hear me holler…watch me cry
I am never satisfied I am always on the rag I am witch I am hag
I know the mysteries of Mother Earth I am a Goddess I know what I’m worth
I charge the hungry who buy I am what you crave your pie in the sky

I am WOMB-MAN…hear me roar. Sure, you heard it all before
Yet, you allow my sensitivities, my sensualities my butt
My strut…my tender breast my endless pit of loving it
Keep you writing…begging songs to me
You keep singing about what you gonna do to me
When like Nike. You just do it.
Yet, without my boundless energies
Not very well.

I am WOMAN…watch out!
All you female impersonators & female-in-person haters
You will never find a line as soft as mine
I am woman, look out! All my sisters never satisfied with your body?
Our body is a work of art sold in every book mart
Everyone praises, Playboy, Cosmo, Essence, to name a few
So what my beautiful sister is ailing you?
The power is between our arms, the power is between our thighs
The power is between our ears, the power is…WOMAN.

If Not He, Then Who?

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A tribute poem to poet Paul Laurence Dunbar by Oni Lasana

 

From a divine well of talent

Dunbar drew

Poetic pictures of old times

Colorfully made anew

 

Voices he gave to a people

No one knew

Home tales of slavery

Some happy…all blue
Hidden from the world he grew

Fed by his parents voice

Slavery’s addendum…racist realities

Born free…he had no choice

 

Love professed in witty ways

His labor beyond them grew

If not he…to share our story

I ask myself…then who?

 

Others revealed their peoples ways

City life country days

What mattered most…was all he knew

Inside hearts with a birds eye view

 

Stories, folktales, poetry and songs

He wrote and spoke in public view

Reading in prose…drew a rose

If not he…above the few, then who?

 

Harris, Lanier, Chestnutt, Davis and Hay

Wrote plantation stories back in the day

Make believe stories in broken words

English, Irish and German, Dunbar was heard

 

Over his grave they made remarks

Saying his words were not so smart

Others cursed the rhymes he spew

Common verses rang too true

 

He set his pen to move with God

A blessing his lyrics are to me

So to critics who criticize

Tell me…who else could write it, but he?

(c) 1999 Real Tales of Rhymes & Reasons by Oni Lasana

2.28.99 – Heidelberg, Germany. Oni Lasana wrote this poem after reading “Crossing The Color Line” A biography of Paul Laurence Dunbar by Felton O. Best

Doin’ Dunbar @ a Senior Center

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April 20, 2017
 
Oni Lasana Doin’ Dunbar as ‘Lias’ Mother @ New Courtland, Germantown PA
 
Only my drama mama’s, The West Chester Community Performers, who I’ve directed and trained to recite the poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar’s dialect poetry. Especially Sheri Lawrence, who also charms as the “Coquette Conquered”….will understand all this story tells. 
So I get gigs as an artist on the Art-Reach roster, listed under storytelling and theater. One of the programs I offer is “Doin’ Dunbar as ‘Lias’ Mother”
Since 1994 I have enjoying bringing Dunbar’s southern dialect, narrative poetry to life for youngsters in libraries, schools, theater’s and senior centers. Art-Reach, a Philadelphia non-profit agency founded by Joyce Burg, a lady who years ago, I heard on the radio talking about the mission of her start up; to offers arts and culture programs to those who are disadvantaged, immobile or handicapped, and don’t have access to public plays or cultural shows. Art-Reach brings artists to the facility. I’m so pleased to be on the roster for many years now. 
 
April 19, 2016 I was booked to return to the New Courtland Life facility at Germantown Homes in Philadelphia. My 99 year old step-dad had spent only a month in this facility before he died from the chemo therapy treatment for a cancer tumor on his bladder. Last we spoke, he was still walking tall in his suit jacket and ties, talking sensible,  we joked and laughed. He never mentioned he was not feeling well. He was too old for surgery and for chemo. His funeral is in a few days. I will miss visiting him at his apartment, chatting on the phone about what he’s up to, bringing him roasted Kentucky chicken, honey & lemon when he has a cold and most of all, reminiscing about his daughter, Doni and my mother, who both have fallen asleep in death.
 
When I do Dunbar I enjoy involving the audience, breaking down the 4th wall as they say in theater lingo. When I arrived at New Courtland Life the room was packed and the seniors and the aides, who remembered me from the first time were smiling and ready for ‘Lias’ Mother. After my introduction I went into seeking out my son, Elias for the poem In The Morning. It was a variety of elder men to choose from. I look for someone who isn’t wearing a baseball cap, the Elias’ I choose was nervous to leave his seat until I asked him to “play” with me.
He said “yes mam” and pretended to eat from the tin plate. The audience helped him remember what I sent him to get from Mr. Jones shop. He accepted his applause and gladly left the stage and went back to his seat. 
 
One of the lady aides, standing behind another gentlemen, mouthed to me that I should of picked him to be my Elias. Aides are very familiar with their clients and know who the show-offs are. 
So as I knocked on the table, the sound effect for Sam, to appear…the character in “Coquette Conquered”  at my door. I chose the gentleman the aide brought to my attention, he takes off his baseball cap and steps up to me smiling, a star is born!
 
“Sam” is hiding under his coat, a gift he brings to ask ‘Lias’ Mother to marry him. Could it be a possum? Her favorite delicacy? A shoat? Rabbit? “Something for the pan or pot? “‘Lias’ Mother is expecting it’s something to eat…hopefully a possum! 
 
This cheeky Sam, digs into his pocket leans to the side slyly showing me his hand. It was filled with a thick wad of $20 bills! 
(c) Oni Lasana 2017
 

What Are You Eating?

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WHAT ARE YOU EATING?
December 12, 2013
Years ago, I took a allergy test. I tested positively allergic to wheat, corn, pork and of all things string beans, along with a host of airborne pest, weeds and trees.  Last month, because I desire to break free from allergy and asthma meds that drive me crazy….(that’s another story)…..my doctor suggested I’d jump on the latest craze and try a gluten-free diet for 3 months. Just to see how I’ll feel…how I will feel? How about will I STILL be alive???

Dr. Control Freak also warned me…”don’t eat rice”…she’s nut’s. My people hold stock in a rice company in Louisiana! So you tell me, what Geechee/Creole/Caribbean lady do you know who can go without eating rice?

Not even BROWN rice?…No, it’s whole grain…Maybe a little WHITE rice (the grain or gluten is removed)
Little did she know that I’ve avoided white rice for over 40 years, it only brown rice for me, before Uncle Ben got on the bandwagon!…..Little did I know the whole grain of brown rice is full of gluten! Confused? Well now you know how I feel.

So, Dr. Progressive Medicine’s advice is gluten free for 3 months…just TRY it. It may stop the inflammation that is causing my allergies, asthma, arthritis, skin problems, weight gain and any future ailments that are waiting around the corner at Old Age & Senior Avenue.She recommended a book called “It Starts With Food”…it was $30 more than I wanted to spend on a book. Besides, I’ve always had more than a keen interest in nutrition, organic cooking and was a whole grain health nut for so many years…it seems like all my life. So I  put the book back on the Barnes & Noble bookshelf and revisited my bookshelf at home. I have plenty of books on natural cooking. I read “Wheat Belly” online last year, (as my laptop rested on my swollen belly) …and still, I continued to eat wheat!

At first I was sad and frustrated. No rice? What was I going to eat WITH all the veggies, fruits, organic chicken and beef that I CAN eat …air?

Gluten-free is popular but I was never one to follow the crowd. Besides the line of cinnamon rice cereal I enjoy with unsweetened rice milk for breakfast. The package products of gluten free foods taste and look terrible. And the high prices with everything costing 5$ and up…is a huge turnoff to eating gluten free.

I love to cook natural foods, nothing from a box or can (maybe tomato paste or a soup, or bake beans now and then) and most everyone I know loves to eat my tasty non-recipe, Soul/Caribbean dishes. (30 years of marriage to a Trinidadian, makes for an eclectic style of cooking my dear)

So after digging out my copy of “Gluten Free For Dummies” I decided to focus on the foods I COULD eat and keep things basic and simple.

My husband and I are snowbirds…we fly to a little island called Tobago, for three months out of the year to get away from the cold of Pennsylvania winters. He’s the baker in the family and he is helping me with a few things I CAN eat by using whatever we can find here in the Caribbean that doesn’t have wheat and now I ponder as the posh proclaim…..”is it gluten-free?”

I decided to lift my spirits higher over this new venture by taking photos of the “food we mek” as we prepare it and right before we eat it…this is not a cookbook, I just list the ingredients so you can throw it together and maybe even like it too…but feel free to make it to your taste to suits your personal palate. (whatever that means;-)

So enjoy looking (wish computers had a “smell” button) at simply down home, Gluten-free Caribbean/Soul cooking and enjoy…or as they say down in Tobago…. “lick a finger!”