The Healing Power of the Ocean

As a native island girl, I have a natural love for the beach, the sound of the waves and all things ocean. Little did I know that, the very water I frolicked in as a child and had crazy teen adventures, would be one of the most powerful elements to nurse me back to health. Mental health and eventually, physical health.

The unexpected news of a divorce after eleven years of marriage, four kids and living in a foreign land saw my health taking a downward spiral. I was shell shocked, by the news? yes, but more by the way my body responded. Somehow, I always thought I was superwoman. The disorientation, deep depression and the physical signs of distress my body bore was not what I expected. My skin was breaking out, my hair was falling out, I lost an abnormal amount of weight and anxiety attacks were coming one on top of the other. I did not know what to do, where to go and fear of the looming unknown paralyzed me.

After transitioning through the stages of grief and experiencing powerful negative emotions I did not know I could have. I was surprised that I still had some strength and desire to get out of the house. One morning after I dropped my girls to school, I absentmindedly drove to a little beach front I visited from time to time.

I rolled down all the windows.

The strong sea breeze was gusting through the car.

I starred at the waves rolling onto the shore.

I sat there in stoic silence.

When I looked at the time, 45 minutes had passed.

That day, I went back home feeling refreshed and somehow, the sun shone brighter.

After that accidental wander, I visited the sea every weekday in the morning with my baby boys. For approximately four weeks I routinely made my trek to the ocean. With each day that passed, I felt more and more energized, clear in my thinking and even happy that I had something to look forward to. I had something no one could take away. The ocean.

I didn’t realize then what was happening or why I went there in the first place. Hopefully, you would forgive my dullness as it certainly never crossed my mind to journal my progress in the midst of the mess. What I do know for sure is that I felt better with every passing day. Soon, I had enough strength to look outside myself and appreciate that there is still so much beauty around despite my situation, beauty that would always be there. It filled me with such reassurance and hope. I started looking for a new job, doing things around the house and taking care of myself. I felt like all the garbage in my life was been dragged away every time the waves pounded on the shore and retreated to its depths.

Soon I built up so much strength that, I aced all my courses that semester, which was the hardest one yet, found a new job and moved out of my marital abode in a day (with very short notice and proper planning of course). With no fear, definite clarity and an active consciousness I started my new life feeling free and happy with no regrets. This may all seem like a trivial achievement, but when you’ve been in the place I’ve been and you see the outcome of others who have been in similar ordeals, you get to appreciate what I was able to do in a short space of time. As for me, I’m very proud of myself and I believe you can be to. Presently, I am “getting my feet wet” doing so many things I used to dream about. Like this blog for instance, I never thought I’d be bold enough to put myself out there, business, new music and other projects with some really great people.

In the Caribbean, going to the seaside is a way of life. Every parent carry their new-born to get their first sea bath and their first walk along the shore. My love for the ocean runs as far and as deep as those days my father carried me before I knew myself. The experience reminded me that there are so many things in this world we take for granted because of its simplicity, because it is always there. The sky, the stars, the moon, the sun, rivers, mountains, fields of flowers and forests full of fragrant trees. I now have a deep respect for the restoration each of these can bring but for now, I attribute a large part of my healing to my trips to the ocean. I still go the beach every chance I get. Maybe you should book a vacation and visit the beach sometime too. What new journey will you begin?

Check out this link that I discovered three years after. The benefits of visiting the ocean.

GRAVEYARD GIRL

Day One

One day, on your way to work, you pass by the cemetery. It’s your usual route and you normally pass straight, about your hustle and bustle. On this day out the corner of your eye, you notice a girl sitting on the ground next to a grave. This stirs your curiosity because, as you’re going about your routine day, somehow, it looks like a usual day for her as well. The girl isn’t crying or holding flowers, in fact, she looks like she lives there, in the cemetery.

The next day you pass again and this time you look out for her. Sure enough she’s there. “Was this girl always here?” you ask yourself. Evening time comes and on your drive back home, you look again and there she is, “why is she there?”

The next few weeks passes by and you’re so busy you forget to glance over to the cemetery until one night, you dream the girl, just sitting there. The dream wakes you out of your sleep and you ask yourself if the girl is still there.

The next morning you look for her and there she is. You decide that on your way back home you will stop by and try to find out what is going on. The evening comes and as you’re driving, your nerves are all jarred. For some reason you’re jittery as hell, “what will I say? Why am I even doing this? Suppose this goes bad.” The thoughts flood your mind. Thankfully, the street is quieter than usual as you bring your car to a stop. You look around as you come out and the girl is there sitting by a grave. Suddenly, your mouth goes dry, there’s a lump in your throat and you consider jumping back in your car and forgetting this silly whatever it is.

“Hello,” you hear yourself say. The sound of your own voice startles you, but not her. She calmly turns and looks at you as you stand outside the cemetery walls. “Hi,” you hear yourself say again and inside you shake your head and wonder if those are the only two words in your vocabulary. You have her attention now as she looks at you very calmly standing outside the cemetery walls.

You look around to see if there is a guard or a landscaper. No one. “Hi,” you hear yourself say again and this time the word is annoying you so you proceed to climb over the wall. At this point, the girl’s whole demeanor changes and she shoots up in the air looking at you as you climb over the cemetery wall. You look at her and realize she’s standing there wringing her hands looking like she’s seeing a ghost.

“Can I speak to you?” you hear yourself say as you clumsily make a landing. The girl is scared stiff but if someone could wring off their hands, this would be the time. “I won’t hurt you, I just want to ask you a question.” You realize the girl is terrified so you walk towards her slowly. You’re so captured in the moment that you don’t hear a voice screeching behind you.

“What’s going on there!” a stone lands next to your feet. You turn around and see a woman standing outside the cemetery wall hollering. “What’s going on there!” You feel your face go flush and the embarrassment wells up inside you. By the time you look back, the girl is gone and the woman is looking at you like you’re a criminal.

You take the walk of shame back to the wall where the woman waits, eyebrows furrowed. “Oh boy, this can’t be good,” you think to yourself. You climb over the wall and the woman is looking at you like she’s expecting you to say something. “What?” you hear yourself say.

“Sir, that girl has been living in this cemetery for years, what do you think you’re doing?” the lady asked.

“I’ve been living here for years and I only noticed her a few weeks ago,” you hear yourself say.

The lady shakes her head in agreement.

“Yes, most people don’t notice her but she’s there. Whatever it is you think you’re doing sir, be careful.”

The warning makes your throat go even drier.

“I wasn’t going to hurt her, I just wanted to talk to her, find out why she’s there, she may need help.”

The lady shakes her head in agreement.

“Whatever it is you think you’re doing sir, be careful.”

She looks at you sternly and walks away. You stand there, looking at the lady walk off and your mind is in a daze. What just happened there? You look back towards the cemetery, shake your head and get into your car.

You drive home that evening wondering if you should leave the girl alone or if you should go back.

You decide, you’ll go back.

ArmyManDaughter II- The Call

It was normal Saturday bustling around and I, RA1.0, was trying to get my household chores done. Now afternoon, I was finishing up and looking forward to a long “stare into space” sit down. I was exhausted. My phone rang and I was tempted to just let it ring and check the voicemail after. The last thing I wanted to do was engage in any talk but I took the call anyway. What happened next put everything around me in slow motion.

On the line, the man identified himself as a member of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force. He asked me to verify that I was the daughter of the late Lance Cpl Nazim Ali. I answered yes but I remember feeling myself going into a blur of confusion. He then proceeded to tell me that the service was planning a commemoration service for my father and other fallen officers of the Camp Omega explosion. I stood there feeling very perplexed. A commemoration service after all these years? Why? He quickly explained what they were planning and asked for my assistance in providing my father’s personal information. I asked him if he spoke to my mother and he said that she referred him to me.

I then asked him to explain himself again because even though I was hearing his words, everything felt surreal. I wasn’t sure if I was hearing what I was hearing. After I was convinced that I was in fact being invited to my father’s commemoration service, I asked the Officer the date and time of the event. I then asked where the service would be held. Camp Omega was his reply. The pang that hit me at that moment was so unexpected I could no longer control my emotion. The Major had to listen to me cry for ten minutes. That’s a lot of cry. Surprisingly, he was very patient. I couldn’t understand why they thought it would be a good idea to carry the families of the deceased back to a place where they lost their loved one so suddenly, especially after all these years. I asked him twice again to confirm the venue and both times he said the same thing. He then closed off the conversation by telling me he will keep in touch. He hung up and with the dial tone humming in my ear, I swear the whole street was quiet and listening. Not one sound. I felt like I was like floating in a proper daze.

Then I went and did what I wanted to do before I took the call.

I took a long “stare into space” sit down.

 

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RA2.0

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Introduction of RA2.0- Is the current manifestation of Ricia. She is now living not just existing. This model is characterized by a keen sense of rebirth and adventure that one could compare to a Phoenix rising from the ashes. She will now be living life on her terms. This is a stark contrast to the maiden model Ricia 1.0, viewed by many as open minded yet conservative (read caged) Source: Wikipedia.

Author: My friend, Mersha Ramsey-Louis

In my introductory blog, the concept of RA2.0 was briefly mentioned. I indicated that RA2.0 should imply that there was once an RA1.0. Simply put it’s the old me versus the new me. It’s the result after my defining moment transition that I now fondly refer to as my “portal travel” experience. I say fondly because at the time, it definitely would not be one of those things I stick my hand up in the air and say “pick me! pick me!” I didn’t think of my experience as that until one of my friends drew it to my attention. He said “It’s like you went through a portal and came out with powers.” When I did think about what he said long and hard, I realized it really was a lot like what you see in those movies when someone was falling through some wormhole from one world to another in outer space.

After falling off all social media platforms and limited communication for more than a year, I resurfaced looking “different”. A lot happened in that time period. My friend was evidently moved by the sight of RA2.0 and he sent me a message noting the change. I knew I was not the same but I did not realize that it was that noticeable. Soon after, I started receiving all sorts of unsolicited reviews, some good, some confused and some negative but most of them were encouraging. I say encouraging because ALL reviews encourage me and help me to know where I am in the scheme of things. Additionally, I soon realized that the “negative” reviews no longer injected the sting it once did, one I was accustomed to as RA1.0. In fact, I have developed my personal policy on the treatment of negative reviews and the carriers of them. People’s reaction to me started to change too. It’s like they are unsure, not knowing what to expect from me. My new found fire did not help me make new friends and certainly caused many of my RA1.0 buddies to stay on the sidelines trying to figure how to approach “this”. I get it.

Evidently, I was crossing a milestone in maturation. One I was not able to achieve all these years despite my greatest and deliberate efforts. As the days passed, the bitterness of my hateful years dissolved and I was presented with an empathy and love for the person I am. A person who, having strengths, weaknesses, nuances, good experiences and bad ones, survived and is rebuilding.

An awakening and an awareness of myself now causes me to take care of the whole me and every time the impulse to revert to my former version tries to override my newly awoken self, I am conscious of it and take a different course of action, one that is in alignment with my new self. I often find myself at a crossroad, asking myself questions like “what do you want?” “what upset you about that situation?” “what are you going to do about it?” I try not to suppress my initial emotion as RA1.0 was accustomed doing. I let myself go through the emotion then do what I need to do to make myself feel better. Sometimes, it takes me days, even weeks to get to a place of resolve. I liken it to great soul wrenching conflict because I feel like I am fighting mentally to see my way. I literally feel drained of all my energy. At my points of exasperation I try to ground myself to calm down, keep a level head, accept that the situation is out of my control and leave it. RA1.0 would never have done that but RA2.0, I now accept that many things are out of my control and will fall into place into due course. I even feel a peace about it.

Then some days it’s like a quick pull trigger. Bang! Bullseye. *Sips wine*.

Either way, I am learning more about myself and my path. I am indeed grateful for the opportunity. There is a saying, “weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning,” I’d like to say, “weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the mourning.” Why? Because if and when you allow yourself to grieve, mourn and accept your loss, your healing and thus your joy will come. If someone told me that in the height of my grief I would not have believed so I understand. Let me tell you, it will be alright. This is not RA1.0 trying to dupe herself into thinking it will be okay. This is RA2.0 saying it will be alright having warred with isolation, panic attacks, anger, denial, grief, losses, decline in health, postpartum depression, disorientation, disillusionment, identity crisis, snowballing issues, divorce, court, and many a flirts with the Grimm Reaper as an escape route. I continue fighting, growing and living and I continue to hope that everything will be alright.

ArmyManDaughter

The following news stories provide some insight into “ArmyManDaughter” . My father, Lance Cpl. Nazim Ali (Trinidad) and his friend, Lt. Gerald Waldron (Tobago) both died in an explosion on the Camp Omega army base in 1988. The incident was never thoroughly investigated and there have been conflicting stories and conspiracy theories surrounding the explosion.

Feeling forgotten is a heavy weight to bear and that’s the sinking spiral of silence I felt as the years rolled by with no closure, no calls, no visits and no explanation except to read a surface level summary of what took place that day.

Though I was advised that living in the past is unproductive, there is always a nagging tug when you feel something is unresolved. I felt stuck, like I was on a reset cycle and I couldn’t shake it. At the age of six, my father was mine and he was taken from me. I picked up from where I left off , a blurred threshold of the “in between,” and tried to build a life without him. Until one day, I received a call.

Adobe Spark (10)The Camp Omega Tragedy

On April 26, 1988, a brush fire in the vicinity of Camp Omega, Chaguaramas, quickly spread to the nearby Camp Omega Arms and Ammunition Bunker resulting in a horrific explosion. Four Fire-Fighters and two Soldiers perished while valiantly attempting to bring the situation under control. Several other National Security Officers suffered injuries as a result of the explosion. This explosion was so catastrophic that it was recorded on the Richter Scale and parts of the bunker were found hundreds of metres away from ground zero.

This incident became the darkest day for National Security Officers as it marked the single most tragic event to date. Six National Security Officers made the ultimate sacrifice in the pursuit of safety for the citizenry. In honour of these six heroes, the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago has dedicated April 26th each year as National Security Officers Day of Appreciation.
News provided by: Ministry of National Security of Trinidad and Tobago

  A Trinidad Guardian newspaper clipping (partial) dated May 01, 1988 of the incident

 

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad — An army ammunition bunker exploded amid a mountain brush fire, killing at least six people, injuring 20, and flattening the military camp, the state-run radio network reported Wednesday.

The National Broadcasting Service said 14 soldiers and firemen were missing after the Tuesday afternoon blast at Camp Omega, an army training site 7 miles northwest of the Trinidad capital of Port-of-Spain.

Two soldiers in a jeep and four firemen on a fire truck were killed when the explosion hurled their vehicles 650 feet, the radio station reported. At least 20 firemen and soldiers wounded in the blast were in critical condition in area hospitals.

‘I am absolutely astounded by the incident,’ National Security Minister Herbert Atwell told reporters Wednesday after touring the blast site.

The blast was apparently set off by a brush fire being fought by soldiers and firemen in the 1,500-foot mountains ringing the bunker.

The blast, felt up to 10 miles away, was the worst explosion at an army facility in the history of Trinidad and Tobago, a two-island nation off the coast of Venezuela.

The bunker at Camp Omega, site of a World War II U.S. military base, contained gelignite — a powerful explosive — and detonators.

The search for other victims continued Wednesday as authorities sealed off the blast site.

Prime Minister A.N.R. Robinson met Tuesday night with Atwell, army chief commander Mervyn Williams, and Health Minister Emmanuel Hosein to discuss the blast.

The bunker was located on military property but was under the jurisdiction of the national police.

News provided by: UPI

“High Fire Regent”- The Defining Moment

What is this “High Fire Regent”? That is the question you may be asking yourself. The name encapsulates a wide cross section of my personal experiences and it’s my way of classifying my “new identity”. I am not sure if any of you out there have experienced this in your “defining moment” process. A defining moment can be expressed as “ a point at which the essential nature or character of a person is revealed or identified,” Dictionary.com.  In my case, the disassociation and disorientation I experienced after my defining moment was so apparent to me, that the only way to heal was by building back my mind, regaining my soul and strengthening my body. In theory, I knew this is what I had to do but in practicality it was like starting from scratch and it is very hard, implying that the effort is a continuous state of mind.  I had to draw deep within myself to build back myself. I had to ask myself hard questions and answer them in order to be intentional in my effort and direction.

High Fire is my name for the sunset sky. If you look at it in a literal sense, the sky is high and the sunset looks like fire, therefore, “High Fire”. No rocket science there, in fact, it’s quite elementary now that you think of it, right? Nevertheless, it’s indicative of how simple I had to break down the complexities my mind in order to keep up with living day to day. My love for the sky as a limitless place where there is freedom also spoke to my desire to be free from the involvedness of my life.

Nevertheless, the sky was not enough as it can be a vacuous place and so I needed to identify a figure of strength that spoke to my experience. At first, I thought of the eagle as it prevailed in being the most powerful bird of the sky territories but somehow it fell short of my “defining moment” experience. My search eventually ended on the Phoenix. My experience, genuinely felt like the journey of a Phoenix, not the glorified element of it but the painful, humbling part. I am aware that one can be sincerely wrong, as I have been numerous times in the past, but again, my experience and feelings going through the process, the feedback I’ve received from others and the transformation that I have experienced within cannot be denied, and I did try to deny it since I’d grown pretty good at self-betrayal.

The regent element of my identity speaks to the influence my father has on my life. My father is a deceased member of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence force, so yeah, I’m an army man’s daughter. My appreciation for a disciplined life, protocol, strength, passion, determination, loyalty and sheer grit came from my father. The responsibility and powers vested in an officer to execute their assignment spoke to me deeply. If the earthly realm has an appreciation for order then I am sure that Sovereign God is the author of it. Consequently, if I have a purpose on this earth then I am certain that the Sovereign God has vested me with the capacity and abilities to fulfill my purpose and achieve my goals.

In conclusion, the concept of  the “High Fire Regent” is the marriage of a Phoenix and regent. If you have had a defining moment, how was that process like for you? What did you do to move on? Did you try to identify with someone, something or a higher being to guide you.

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Introduction

This site features snapshots into the life, work and transformation of RA2.0. The term, “High Fire Regent” was coined by Ricia Ali, the author of this blog. As you journey on, the snapshots will provide greater context and hopefully an appreciation of my life’s walk. The site name, RA2.0 implies that there once was an RA1.0. The changes, experiences and the defining moment that took place leading to the death of RA1.0 will be explored. We all have defining moments. This one’s mine.

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