i want to give a big shout out to all who made the show a great success! a special thanks to Dorothy and Peter who hosted the exhibit and provided miles and miles of love, support and encouragement! i also want to thank Dorothy and Peter's crew Erik,Ros,Robert,Brenda and Paula who also blessed the weekend with their presence and hard work to make the show what it was; vibrant, alive and full of soul!
Much love and thanks to Chris and Natalie who arrived unexpectedly and blessed me with their familiar love!!!!
The exhibit will be hanging for the next two weeks in the offices of TurnerFleischer Architects Inc., 67 Lesmill Rd., Toronto. Contact Dorothy Boothroyd or Peter Turner for a showing at firstname.lastname@example.org , email@example.com . i will put up the paintings still available soon on my website.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Heading to Toronto to share my heart work! One Woman Show: Let your Peace be..... Thought i would blog my invite. As usual i am honoured to share the spirit of my paintings and spread the positive vibes!!!
Let Your Peace Be....
by Canadian/Grenadian artist
Maureen St. Clair
Maureen St. Clair
Hosted at the offices ofTurner Fleischer Architects Inc.
67 Lesmill Rd, Toronto (Near 401 and Leslie Street)
Opening Friday, December 2, 2011, 7 to 9 pm
Saturday December 3, 11 am to 4 pm and Sunday, December 4, 11 am to 4 pm
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
“and if we do act, in however small way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvellous victory.” Howard zinn
Flipping through my journal from the past few months I am called to write and share the synchronized teachings that take root in the soil around me. A theme surfacing regularly these days is cross cultural relationship building. Over the past two years I have developed deep rooted friendships with First Nation Elders, children, and youths. I continue to learn transformative life lessons through sharing ceremonies, attending gatherings, grieving deaths and violent histories, celebrating births and weddings, listening to teachings of Mother Earth, attending and dialoguing in alternative, safe, diverse spaces, and becoming an ally.
The Peace and Friendship Gathering at the Tatamagouche Centre is one of those alternative, safe, relationship building spaces. This year we sat in council with the sacred fire for four days, guided by Wampanoag Elder and friend gkisedtanamoogk . We spoke of the devastating effects of national and global structures and policies that continue to steal, destroy, and plunder the very land needed to nourish, protect and sustain all living species and generations to come. Indigenous people globally know all too well the violent destruction of culture, of human dignity and life from a history of unjust and abusive colonial structures that continue to play havoc on so many lives in the name of thriving economies and development.
We spoke of the devastating effects of hydraulic fracking here in Canada ( read “stop fracking in Nova Scotia” or check out websites www.ecologyaction.ca or www.sierraclub.ca/en/we-are-fracking-out) and the Canadian mining companies like Goldcorp who are responsible for atrocious human right violations in countries like Guatemala; and who we Canadians support through pension plans like Canadian Pension that heavily invest in Goldcorp. (for more information about Goldcorp and the Marlin mine, visit the blog of the Coalition Against Unjust Mining in Guatemala at www.goldcorpoutofguatemala.com ).
The dialogue moved around the fire as we traveled by the guidance of a talking stick and spoke of our potential to build relationships and alliances between First Nations and non-native people. We discussed the challenges of finding the courage to not cooperate with the abusive political, economic, environmental and societal structures in our countries and world today. We looked at success stories guided by Sherri Pictou, a Mi’Kmaq Elder from Bear River who spoke passionately about finding meaning from the present and past stories that defy the powers that be. She talked of building alliances and developing non-violent ways of resisting oppressive structures. Sherri spoke of the Marshall Jr. case in Bear River and native and non-native people coming together to defend their rights as fisherfolk, who both have been affected drastically by the privatization and commodification of their very livelihoods ( see www.inthesameboat.net).
The circle moved into discussions about love and peace and how these words have become superficial and shallow in our world today. We discussed how to take back the power and meaning of these words and make them an essential part of our lives, our schools, our communities, our workplaces? How do we make peace a way of life? How do we make love the basis for justice? How do we translate love and peace into justice structures? How do we find our way back to love and its redemptive qualities? Can we begin to see love as a political path? Can we listen and truly understand what it means to live and speak from the heart as Martin Luther King taught us? How can being conscious of the relationships we build all around us lead us back to truly understanding what it means to take care of one another and the earth that sustains us? Can building cross cultural, cross racial, cross gender, cross class, cross sexual, cross able and disabled, bring us closer to this understanding of peace, justice, love?
I can only write and speak from my own heart and what I witness daily from my own experiences. This being the power and transformative potential of relationship building through creating, meeting, and dialoguing with one another in alternative safe spaces where people’s voices are heard, respected and integrated into social, political, environmental, personal, and spiritual activism!
I believe the Occupied Space Movement today spreading like wild flowers throughout the world is a movement that is doing just that, allowing people of many diverse backgrounds to come together and share a space of wanting, planning and moving towards just and equitable changes in our world today.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
The past three months have been filled with opportunities of peace, transformation, and teachings that speak to the heart and move to the outer worlds that surround me. In my mind I make note of potential blog pieces, but then time swallows me whole leaving little time to organize reflections and create written images. However today is the day I commit to writing and sharing the vibe, finding those spaces in between getting ready for One Woman show in Toronto (stay tuned), being a temporary single mom and organizing for journey back to Grenada! I commit to writing and sharing the past powerful experiences that continue to evolve into a larger commitment of personal and social change.
Last month I took part in an Open Space forum at the Coady International Institute. One of the small discussion groups was led by a catholic priest and community activist from India and a community educator and activist from Papua New Guinea. Their topic was on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights. I was moved deeply by Father’s open hearted and brave introduction to this discussion; “As community workers and agents of change, we need to look deep within ourselves to see where our own oppressive attitudes, and assumptions come from and explore how we can work to transform these attitudes in order to open our hearts and minds to the whole of human race regardless of sexuality, race, class, disability, religion. If we call ourselves human rights activists then how can we disassociate ourselves from any part of the human race that does not fit in with our world view” He talked about the GLBT groups as a vulnerable group in our global society and that we needed to continue breaking down the walls of personal and societal discrimination. Father’s courageous words felt like an extended burst of rain pouring down on a parched wilted garden.
My mind moves to the Being Brave: Transforming our World retreat I took part in early August and how Father’s words were a clear example of finding the courage to examine one’s own mind and committing oneself to breaking down cultural, societal, religious conditioning and exploring one’s own interior landscape as a means to social transformation. How can we recognize our own fears, our own anger and sadness, our pre-conceived notions of ourselves and others? How can we slow down long enough to really see what is going on in our minds and thus what is going on outside our minds? How can we feel other people’s sadness, anger, jealousy, greed, hate, if we can’t feel our own? And why can’t we feel our own?
Pema Chodron says the foundation of empathy is to be able to see our own confusion, addictions, longings, aggressions, pre-judgments, self-doubts. She says getting to know our own humanity allows us to work with one another in a less judgmental way, allows us to see the full human complexity within ourselves and others, “a kinder heart towards human fraility.” Pema also made clear that none of this works If you don’t like yourself. She says we need to make friends with ourselves. If one is unable to recognize the inherent strength and goodness in oneself then difficult to see this in others.
The teachings of the young catholic priest and the Being Brave Retreat relate to transforming society, sharing teachings that could bring about an era of courage in which people could experience their goodness and extend themselves to others. May these teachings take root in you and others leading to the possibility of a future full of hope, equality, equity, strength and goodness. .
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
i give thanks and praise to Grandfather sun for sharing his warmth and generosity over the holiday weekend;
i give thanks and praise to fire soft colours begging us to pay attention, to gather, to walk, to dance, to sing underneath a canopy of sun drenched delicacies of orange green yellow red mauve and purples;
i give thanks and praise to global family from Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nepal, Zambia, Sierra Leone, Grenada, Russia, Germany and Canada celebrating life, community, holidays of thanks ;
i give thanks and praise to Cameron Lake where Maya and i draped ourselves across the warmth of the water’s dock talking, laughing, documenting our thankfulness to Mother Earth;
i give thanks and praise to this path of generosity, this path of peace that runs deep in all of us begging us to pay attention, to pay attention…..
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Monday, August 22, 2011
Being Brave, Transforming our World
August came and went in a flurry, and in her wake spirited moments like snow on the first day of spring. They now sit cross legged in my mind waiting to be held in offering.
In early August I took part in a five day Sangha Retreat guided by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, Acharya Pema Chodron and Acharya Adam Lobel. As the theme of the retreat, “Being Brave, Transforming our World” unfolded so did the notion of self-courage and confidence and in its wake the notion of changing our world by how we live our lives today, now.
How do i begin to write about this transformative week? How do i convey the teachings, the insights, the self-revelations and self-doubts? How do I take my seat in the middle of this incredibly messy destructive world and still witness and give praise to the miracles of life? How do I stay present to both? How do I acknowledge and breathe in the violence and suffering and still maintain a belief in the inherent goodness and strength of humanity? How do I use the gifts bestowed on me by the luck of a privileged birth to fight the injustices of this unjust world, to seek my role as a warrior of transformation both in my own small self and the larger world? These questions become the path to opening my mind and heart, exploring my humanness and humanity.
I offer reflections plucked from my journal from the Sangha Retreat and shaped into blog pieces beginning with the Shambhala teachings on the courageous notion that all human beings are inherently good, strong, worthy; this notion of believing in ourselves and believing in the good ness and strength of humanity.
The first day of Sakyong’s teachings pinned me to the cushion as I imagined a world, a society, a culture where we the inhabitants are made to believe from birth that we are good, strong, worthy people; where contemplating our basic goodness is natural and normal. I imagined an education system that offered our children a confidence based foundation; teaching our kids about their inner strength, goodness, power and ability to honour their own needs and also to honour and experience the needs of others and the needs of Mother Earth. I imagined a world, society, culture abundant with safe positive nurturing spaces where kids are not bombarded by self-defeating messages telling them over and over that they are not beautiful, smart, good or happy enough.
Ani Pema Chodron gave a beautiful example of a child’s first teachings of basic goodness through sharing the story of a friend who at the age of 7 arrived home from school frustrated and bewildered at the kids who bullied in the school yard. After acknowledging her daughters feelings, the mother said to her, “we are all good people but some of us are just very confused.” This struck me deeply as I take more time to understand people’s stories and the many difficult and complicated historical, social, economic, political, emotional, psychological layers we all come from, some of us dealing with many more layers than others and many more obstacles to overcoming those layers.
On the third day of the retreat a brave Australian woman stood up to share her deep grief and suffering after witnessing some of her coworkers, friends and local afghan children blown up by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan. She started by saying she was sure the man who blew himself up didn’t mean to kill these people. I remember the whole room sinking into a long and deep silence, many of us weeping not only for this woman’s pain at not being able to let go of the horrid images but also for her ability to feel compassion for the man responsible for the destruction. The Sakyong led us in a compassion meditation and as a community of 900 people we breathed long and full all those who are deeply affected by war, by fear, confusion and chaos.
However breathing in and being present to the pain of this world and ourselves is not enough. As Adam Lobel says, “There is a danger in finding inner peace but then letting everything else around us go to pieces; being completely calm while the ship is going down”. The Sakyong said the basis of social transformation is how we feel about ourselves, how we feel about humanity, that this notion of self-worth is pivotal to the way our day and world unfolds. If we as individuals and as part of a global community do not feel worthy then we cease to be of use. How do we transmit the notion of human worthiness within ourselves and others? The Shambhala perspective believes we already have enough compassion, goodness, wisdom to make a difference, to transform society and that there are countless examples of empathy, love and compassion to learn from.
How do we create in our own minds this notion of bravery, this notion of possibility? How can we create environments of possibility in these hard times? How can we be fully present to the sadness and suffering of this world and not shut down but become active agents of change? What is the next step?
I look forward to writing part two of these reflections, teachings, and numerous questions in my next blog entry. Ani Pema Chodron has been a gentle warrior force and source in my life over the years and I look forward to sharing more of her teachings along with Adam Lobel and the Sakyong; teachings that bring me closer to this notion of bravery and transforming the world.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
“The greatest gift we bear is our ability to grow in relationship with others”
How do you define family?
Does it include the Ryan-Valella bloodlines reaching far and wide into my very being inspiring dreams of travel to southern Italy in search of my maternal grandparents’ small mountainous village in the province of Calabria or journeying north to the island of Ireland to visit my father’s ancestral grounds in the Wexford County; journeying to reacquaint myself with the ancestors of our blood clans?
Does it also include the wide variety of friends i proudly call ‘Farm Family’ who embrace our yearly visits with open arms, beds to nest in, land to eat from, animals to tend to, memories to cultivate, tears of joy and sorrow to share and learn from?
Does it also include the gathering of new friends who welcome us into their lives through sacred fires, through ceremonies of peace and healing, of blessings and renewl; through the sharing of painful histories that include my ancestors and their intimate part of unforgivable pain; through developing new paths, new understandings to peace and friendship?
Does it also include friends who insist you come for dinner while passing through their small fishing village to find long extended hugs and people you know immediately even if you are meeting them for the first time, the priest from Kerala, India, the friends of friend’s daughters who we picked up hitchhiking on the side of the road; to the of sharing food, gathering stories, exchanging addresses?
Does it also include the Village kids that come and go from our home looking for simple connections of love and praise, for mangoes and grapefruits, for a piece of food from our daily pot, for paper and crayons, for cold glasses of water, for the basic ingredients of love, presence?
Does it also include village brethren sitting at the edge of get-togethers talking their talk, sharing their laughter; or sistren arms draped around one another waiting for the next piece of advice, suggestion, soft offerings of well thought out opinions?
Does it also include best friends from the beginning of childhood who throughout the years simply know your story, deeply entwined even with the passing of time and long stretches of distance, the sharing of daughters; a simple intuitive act of mothering one another’s tribe.
Does it also include definitions of family growing, expanding, blending, weaving into a kaleidoscope of meaning; embracing the word family in all its unique forms, in all its funny magnificent shapes spilling over into many worlds knowing we are all one world, one family.
How do you define family?