Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Baby Zola is Here

Baby Zola Layla arrived three weeks ago!
I am officially a Grand Goddess Mother!
Kayla made it to the hospital early morning on February 9th, 2012. She was told at 1 am by a nurse at the Mirabeau Hospital that she would need to find her own way to main hospital in St. George’s (an hour from here). She was told that although there was an ambulance available there was no driver to drive the ambulance. Minutes later a voice sailed through our bedroom window. I jumped out of bed to find Kayla and her friends looking for a drive to the capital. Unfortunately we did not have enough gas in the jeep to make the journey (no gas stations open at 1am). Kayla and her two friends found a taxi man to drive them and made it to the hospital with plenty of time. Baby Zola Layla arrived on the eve of the next day.

While writing this blog I began to explore questions related to the ‘whys’ of difficult paths chosen by youth worldwide; and in particular the path of teenage pregnancy. I also began to reflect on my own path and recognized the likelihood of being 16 and pregnant if I too grew up within the same context as Kayla and other young women here in the village.

In the end I decided to leave the ‘whys’ right where they were and instead write about the strength, courage, and resilience of young women worldwide! Teenage moms who don’t give up, who move forward with grace and dignity despite the hardships that follow them around like a domino set tipped to the right; despite the heavy whys and the exhausting stereotypes that put up road blocks to the very paths they continue to conquer turn after turn; despite the difficult context of their lives; despite the judgements that dismiss the whys and places blame on individuals rather than structures. Despite all this, young mothers growing into warrior mothers sheltering and protecting, not only their own children, but the many children who find themselves attracted to years of maternal wisdom and experience.

Despite but not forgetting the ‘whys’, Baby Zola Layla is here and she is wrapped tightly in the collective butterfly wings of her extended family and she is safe and there are many aunties, grandmas, great grandmas, cousins and a grand goddess mother to care and support. And there is young mother Kayla doing the best with what she has radiating, courage, strength and resiliency in every step.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

you are free

Once we accept that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue to exist, we can live wonderfully side by side. As long as we succeed in loving the distance between one another, each of us can see each other as whole against the sky.
Rainer Maria Rilke

Not long ago I wrote a letter to a friend sharing what I appreciated most about Theo, “he is a freedom enabler and within this freedom I not only fell deeply in love with him but also with myself.” Whenever Theo and i find ourselves in those difficult emotional places, three empowering and enabling words come to his lips, “you are free.” Free to be me, free to express myself, free to cry, free to speak loud, free to laugh, to leave, accuse, blame, say sorry, say nothing…free. Theo not only says these words but embodies them through the secure confident love he possesses for those he loves and for his own free self.

It is within this context of love I found the greatest love, self- love! With this new sense of self that rises and falls like the ebbing of the tide, I learn how to feed inevitable longings that occur within this deep well of freedom; longings that stretch far and wide within Theo and I’s vast yet cherished differences. I realize now intimacy is so much more than reaching out to what one believed to be familiar within a western romantic context.

And then a book comes along giving language to these feelings and speaks of this word ‘intimacy’ and our universal longing for intimacy. In the book, Becoming an Adult in Relationship: Five Keys to Mindful Loving, David Richo identifies five A’s, affection, appreciation, acceptance, attention, and allowing as the five keys to mindful loving. Richo believes the five A’s are foundational to meeting our universal need for intimacy. However he also believes that we should expect only 25% of these needs to be met by our partner and the other percentange should be found through work, friendships, community, family, interests, hobbies, and our own inner resources.

Richo states our need for affection, appreciation, acceptance, attention, and allowing begins at birth and moves into our childhood. He believes if these needs are not met or abused, ignored, punished, ridiculed then we grow up either fearing intimacy or deeply longing for more and more. Within the past year I have learned that I do not need to find familiar cultural romantic contexts in order to find nutrients for these longings. As Sinead Oconor sings so beautifully, “I am enough for myself” and with that enoughness I find this human longing for intimacy nurtured through writing poetry, fiction, political and social essays; reading soul-reaching, courageous, and critical literature; conversing one on one with past friends over tall cups of green tea; listening and singing revolutionary songs with sistren on the path; painting my fierce soul women across canvases; walking on old country roads with warrior girlfriends; coordinating and facilitating peace and conflict programs workshops, activities; being intimately connected with community both here in the Village and Antigonish.

And so where is the love between two people in all this you may be thingking? Well it is here, here amidst his or her own passions. And in Theo’s case he is here doing his own thing; farming nutmeg, cocoa and banana; coaching school and village teams; tending to his goats and cow, inhaling the spirit of his rasta culture and then of course there is the 25% reserved for one another! And yes we are together loving one another the best we can; inevitably falling and then rising again and again; learning how to recognize, nurture, honour the distances between us as well as the similarities that weave a strong pattern of love; both of us familiar with the largeness of the sky behind and before us singing “you are free!”

Friday, February 10, 2012

i am a love poem

In celebration of love, Maya and I wrote love poems using one of our favourite metaphor activities that asks multiple questions that begin “if you were a…….”
If you were an island what island would you be?
If you were a song what song would you be?
Each stanza begins with ‘I am’ and you can have as many lines in a stanza as you want!

This is a great exercise to do with kids, adults, and self if you find yourself in learning environments where creativity means getting ‘it’ (whatever it is??) right for someone other then one’s own glorious natural full bloom imaginative self!

We share our love poems with you!

I Am a Love Poem

I am a love poem
swimming in the Caribbean sea
riding my green horse into Ireland;

I am a love poem
eating sugar apples
relaxing in a hurricane
while landing into St. Lucia;

I am a love poem
China Ann McClain
Playing a drum set
licking cookie dough ice cream
on Grand Anse beach;

I am a love poem
tasting macaroni pie
while smelling a hibiscus
and reading the diary of Ann Frank
sitting by the waterfalls.

By Maya St. Clair

I Am a Love Poem

I am a love poem
floating in the south pacific
Painting the sky magenta
running with wild coyotes in Zimbabwe;

I am a love poem
sucking cherry red pomegranate seeds
waiting for a sun shower
drumming to the beat of St. Lucia;

I am a love poem
playing my mandolin
to the soft rhthyms of Etana
mocha fudge cream wrapped around my tongue
cartwheeling on the shores of Pomquet;

I am a love poem
crisp as vegetable spring rolls
bold as giant wild sunflowers
Free as the house of spirits
Ancient as carib stones.

By maureen st.clair

Monday, February 6, 2012

Building Communities of Peace Educators

photos from 2011 community conflict transformation and peace building course

Dear Grenadian, Caribbean and International Friends

In recent decades, the world has experienced an increase in intra- and inter- family, community, organizational, state and global conflict. Now more than ever there is a need to integrate peace education programs, activities, workshops, courses within the mainstream of our society. We need to make peace education a serious part of our children, youth and adult lives so we can learn to address conflict in non-violent and transformative ways and break the cycle of violence that is prevalent in our societies and globe today.

In Grenada specifically we have witnessed a turbulent start to the new year, with police beatings, a workers strike, a young boy’s suicide, a local business women murdered, a young man stabbed and killed and the continuous strife between political parties. There is a dire need to explore, examine, and create paths to building cultures of peace within our relationships, families, schools, communities, organizations and country.

For the past 18 years I have lived and worked in Grenada, working within various capacities such as teacher, community program coordinator/ facilitator with adult literacy, women's participatory education, youth empowerment programs and children’s community peace programs. I am also a full time artist and believe strongly in the power of art to empower and inspire peace. For the past few years I have been travelling back and forth between Grenada and Canada, working on short contracts for the Coady International Institute, a world-renowned Centre in community leadership education situated in Nova Scotia, Canada. In September 2011, I co-facilitated the community conflict transformation and peace building certificate course with friend and mentor Dr. Thomas Turay, an internationally- renown peace educator from Sierra Leone who believes strongly in promoting people-and earth-centred development by nurturing cultures of non-violence through peace education. Coady Institute will be offering the course again in May 22nd until June 1st, 2012.

Scholarship are available for eligible candidates.

For more informaion on the Community Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding certificate course as well as other certificate courses and diploma programs offered at the Coady international Institute go to www.coady.stfx.ca/education/

Looking forward to building communities of peace educators with you!
One Love

One Family

Maureen St. Clair