lisashikeIt may sound a little crazy, but sometimes when I’m out on a trail I close my eyes for as many steps as I feel brave enough to take to heighten the 4 remaining senses that naturally get diluted by the 5th. For me, my purpose for hiking is not only to get exercise that both my dog and I need, but to simply take notice. To notice the things I hadn’t, before now, seen or paid attention to, the natural things in nature. By taking in the smells, the sounds, the feeling, I inch towards a mindset that keeps me in the present moment. I like to think of each hike as a walking meditation, a time to just let go and feel. Interestingly, in the brief moments that I have walked with my eyes closed, I have indeed noticed some interesting things. One is that in the summer time, the leaves of different trees make different sounds in the wind and that these are less obvious in the fall when they all begin their decline. While this may not sound like the most intriguing of discoveries, I can say that for me, it deepened my connection with nature and most certainly contributed to my goal of keeping my mind in the present. I have also discovered a much broader variety of birdsongs on these walks and that some of the less appealing “songs” didn’t belong to birds at all. Who would have known that frogs can sound like birds too? Without my sight, my breath sounds get amplified and my stride significantly slows. Breathing in the smell of fresh cut grass fills my nose, the wind teaches me about things I thought I knew, the sun warms on the back of my dark shirt. I no longer take my steps for granted, in that moment I feel accomplished.

It’s kind of funny- I can’t remember many of the books that I used to read as a kid. This could be because there weren’t that many that went beyond C-A-T spells cat. Why would there be? All the reading material that I consumed came in the form of comic books surrounded by beautifully illustrated art work and given exotic names like Hulk, Spiderman or Dare-Devil. All characters that were in some way troubled – something that I could relate to. Trust me, thinking “Hey! What would Spiderman do?” has got me out of some tricky situations.spiderman

I can remember listen eagerly to the local news when some poor kid was injured jumping off a roof wearing a red cape thinking he was superman. I also remember telling my sister, “It serves the fool right for reading DC comics instead of Marvel.” I know, I know, don’t judge me for being a snot nosed kid, I was going through a phase!
One book I can definitely remember reading was ‘My Family and Other Animals’ the shenanigans in the wilds of Corfu. It held me captivated, but still it didn’t have any impact on my thoughts once the book was completed. A book that did blow my mind at the time and put me on the path of reading regularly was – Enter The Dragon which featured Bruce Lee kicking his way to justice. I see you rolling your eyes there, but come on — at least it set me the correct path. A teacher once told my class, ‘it doesn’t matter what you read so long as you read’. This could explain why many young men in that class ended up on the wrong side of the law!

I first got a taste of this great book when I was very young and my Mum and her sister had gone to watch the movie Enter The Dragon and returned with wild and wonderful stories. Laughing, they recalled how their running commentary of the film had almost gotten them thrown out of the theater. I sat in front of the living room coal fire and watched with my mouth hanging open as mom acted out all the fight sequences, kicking and punching the air – demolishing her imaginary foe. That was it! The very next day I went to the library in search of this book, but sadly they didn’t have it. Determined to read about these adventures, I had to dip into my hidden paper route money and muster a few coin to go buy the book. It’s no wonder why years later I started training in Karate. Sure it isn’t Kung- Fu but it’s close enough and lead me to represent Great Britain in many competitions.JetLee

There’s nothing like a movie and a dinner with my wife and two of our best friends to end a great Saturday evening.

MLD-01496_R.JPGGrowing up as an avid Marvel comics fan, Black Panther was never my favorite superhero. Much to the dismay of many, Spidey held that special bro-mance position for me. There was more to his character that I could relate to- a young boy, fighting to find his place in the world, while constantly being beaten down.  My opinion hasn’t changed after all these years.  The older I get, the more difficult I find it to be impressed by movies, but I have to say that Black Panther has restored my faith.  There is too much to rave about in just one blog entry but the script, the characters, and the special effects all meshed together to create some of the best entertainment for the two-plus hours I was in the theatre. It’s definitely up there in my top 5 Marvel movies.

This movie did what many can’t. It portrayed the African culture in a positive, powerful and beautiful light. The strength of communities coming together to preserve a way of life, while extending help to less prosperous areas of the world was breathtaking.  It was amazing to see the amount of power and responsibility that was betrothed to the female characters in the movie.  Not only were they considered to be equal to men but were also given positions of authority and dominance. I have three daughters who grew up in a world that often portrayed black women as being over the top, loud and obnoxious. The stereotypes were often comical and led them to become hyper-aware of their actions and the way they were preserved by the rest of the world.  Now, if a movie like Black Panther had been present during their childhood they may have grown up with the confidence of a warrior. They may not have felt shame because their hair was too thick, they may not have fought with their personal self-image, their self-worth and they may not have struggled to find other women who looked like them to look up to.  What this movie has done for black girls and women, black culture, in general, is both inspiring and auspicious.blackpanther4

With that being said, what didn’t impress me was a few bull-shit comments that I saw popping up on social media. Some of these left me shaking my head- I’m sure people just post crap just to get a reaction, no matter how head-up-their-own-ass these comments are.  I’m not sure why it is so difficult for the world to see progress and welcome it, especially amidst the negative and heart breaking events that are occurring world- wide.  I personally think that it’s because people refuse to put themselves into the shoes of others that these hateful comments are put out into social media.  Whether it’s regarding race, gender, sexual orientation- whatever the situation may be, more people NEED to put themselves in the position of those around them and try to understand what it’s like to be them.  Until we all find a way to understand and try to find a common connection between each other we shall continue to be divided.blackpanther3

Okay – less of my rant and more about my movie experience. The combination of various African tradition, artwork, and culture were great, after doing further research I discovered that those involved in the movie used elements from actual tribes to bring authenticity to the film. I even saw some elements of the Aztecs in there! Whether it’s strong black females, culture, adventure, action or understanding you’re looking for- then this is the film for you! Positive roll models – check. Insane villains – check. Moral compass – check. Fantastic special effects – check. You know what? Just go watch the movie.

Ps – I wonder if I can get my wife to shave her head!