as i was walking to work this morning i had a quiet humbling experience. and it made me question not only myself but humanity as a whole. i was approaching the intersection by the church, which itself is almost telling, and there was a serious traffic backup due to an elderly man getting out of his ride and crossing the street...rather shuffling across the street. traffic was backed up in three directions as he shuffled slowly to make his way around the car and across the street. i walked by slowly taking note of his steps, the shakiness of his body, and the patience of the people in the vehicles that were paused due to his plight. as i passed and thought to myself that i should turn around and assist him across the road, i watched an elderly man, much his own stature link arms and help him cross. as i walked with a newfound smile on my face i watched as everyone sat in their car...waiting. in a place where people are constantly honking at each other for the slightest vehicular pause it was amazing to see no one get anxious or upset. i watched a woman standing next to a van explaining what was going on...and the world paused. the world paused for this man in this moment.

so i started to question myself. why did i have the desire to help him and yet not step to duty? why did we all watch, younger and more apt to assist, while another elderly gentleman stepped to his aid? it fed into the conversation i had once i got to work regarding st lucia as a whole and the plight of the youth here. how my co-worker has seen the attitude of his people become laissez-faire and complacent and how this has spread to the youth. how there is not a push to help each other rise and push each other to grow exponentially. how there are no heroes for kids to look up to. how we won't even stop to help an elderly man cross the street.

so it brought to light the fact that this year is coming to an end. a year that came with great expectations and wound out with longing to do more. so for this next year i vow to do everything in my power to extend my hand and heart in effort to connect and touch those around me. to push with an attitude of perseverance and dedication in order to affect the youth around me in a way that they may too push further and harder than they ever thought they could. i vow to help these kids be bigger, brighter, and fuller human beings so that they may then begin to affect those around them. and more than anything i promise that the next time i see someone shuffling across the street i step to their aid. i will not hesitate for fear. i will not live in fear. i will lead in love. and i will leave my mark in 2012.

happy holidays all. remember how fortunate we are to be.
in love and light.


from one home to another...

something magical has happened....well...not like leprechaun and unicorn magical...but magical nonetheless. this friday passed was my birthday. anyone who knows me knows this is a monumental earth changing event every year. because...let's face it...i'm kind of a big deal. so anyways...as this birthday approached i had high hopes of a huge party with a blend of lucian and american friends...something i wasn't sure i would pull off...and not sure anyone would even come to. i mean...this isn't my native land...soooo...i awoke friday morning with my standard i am awesome feeling but realized quickly it wouldn't be like a birthday back in the states where my phone is blowing up with birthday messages and good tidings. let's face it...first of all i have been through so many phones most people don't even know which number to use...and i don't know as many peeps here as back home. or so i thought. within moments of waking up my phone started going...with love and messages from my lucian family. wait...what?
all day i got texts and phone calls and emails from the people i am connected to here wishing me love and happiness. so i started to think...this is that magical moment i heard about...where you wake up one day and you realize...this is home. i am home. and so it was. as night came my group of friends from all around came over and ate and drank and joined me in what proved to be one of the most fun birthdays i have had to date. we even crashed a wedding...yes. really.

i say all of this not to remind you all of how awesome i am but to make this point....i am leaving today to go to north carolina. thanksgiving with some of my best friends and family. an annual event that is not to be missed. but as i pack my bag and get ready to go...there is a piece tugging at me to stay. a piece attached to this home and the people that make it so. i know when i land in the states i will feel a sense of calm and gratitude for the people i am soon about to hug and love and celebrate. but  i also know that piece i am leaving here will be tugging at me and calling to come back home. what a beautiful thing to have two homes in completely different worlds. full of love and light and beauty.

thank you st lucia for making a spot for me.


ode to october

dear october.
you were tough. you gave me way more than i could have ever bargained for and left me longing for november. not just because november is my birth month, not just because november sends me on a trip home, not just because november comes with the leonid meteor showers...but because you seemingly carried five years worth of life lessons in your thirty-one days. life lessons i haven't even begun to grasp or understand but ones that i know without a doubt will leave me a bigger, better, more loving, kinder human being. once i get on the other side of them. which i hope will be here...with you november. and the beginning of a new year for me.
a new year. new light. new life. new perspective.
welcome. and october...good riddance...please don't come hard like that next year or you aren't invited to 2012.
much love and blessings.


where are we going...

it's been so long since i have written...anything. it's not for lack of things to write about...more for contentment, contempt, and all things in between. the struggle of daily life sometimes seems so full that i tend to forget that right down the street from me is a beautiful beach that will quickly put all things back into perspective. as it did today...
so i write. right.
the past few months have come with struggle. a new term began at the court diversion program and with it some difficulties that have still not smoothed themselves out. we have some of the same kids that have returned and some new that have arrived. it is definitely the case that 3 months away from the structure of the program undid some of what was done...but interestingly most of the returning kids seem to have bounced back or are working on bouncing back. i am seeing more hurt and pain and suffering in the kids this time around. i don't know if it's because i know them better, because i am leading my own classes, or because they truly are suffering more now than then. either way it's proving to be a bit more challenging and with that comes uncertainty of self and on most days a distinct wondering if i know what i am doing. so i guess i too have come a little undone from the summer.
the books are supposed to arrive this week and probably one of the most profound experiences i have had thus far is teaching a couple of boys how to read. it's tangible so i can chart progress and feel like i can see some of the good i am doing. so i am clearly really excited for some reading material to come in to make that adventure a little more interesting. the rest of the work that i am doing is intangible counseling work which never really seems to be taking much form and leaves me reminding myself daily that i may never see the fruits of that labor. but i try. and that's really all i can do. there are so many barriers in working with these kids and trying to get them to go deep into themselves. the largest of which is they do not live in a society that promotes free, constructive, critical thought so it's kind of like pulling a rabbit out of hat. it's frustrating and difficult but i keep trying.
i am constantly trying to come up with new ideas to bring discussion and critical thought into the classroom. recently i showed a video of sean corne, an amazing yoga teacher, giving a speech at occupy wall street. with kids who feel that fighting and violence are the only way to ever handle anything, i wanted to show them another option. and a huge one. it was so fascinating the variety of responses i got. the group of suspended school kids seemed to hold the least amount of ability to think or speak critically and were more interested in making fun of the asian woman in the audience or pointing out that there were black people there which made no sense to them. they couldn't grasp the concept of peaceful protesting and shared with me that it makes more sense to just attack or bomb people to deal with the issues that come up. when prompted why they felt this way they shared with me that all they know is violence...that's how people handle things in their world and that's all they have ever known. sad.
when i brought the video to the group of boys that are our kids...regulars who are committed to the program...it was an incredibly different discussion. they watched in awe of the size of new york city and the variety of people that were there. and then we had another discussion regarding how something like that would never happen here because all people do here is fight each other down. they will not join with their brother to lift him up because they are too concerned with lifting themselves up. they shared that the only way this would ever change is if people started to unite and work together to create jobs and change the country for the better. from the mouths of babes.
profoundly different conversations and experiences which impressed on me how deeply and quickly those kids have to grow up. they are forced to see the world through adult eyes from a young age. they are wise to the ways of the world and are so astutely observant of what is going on around them at all times. and no one listens. no one gives them a voice to speak out or speak up. so they fight. they struggle to find ways to be heard and seen by all those who are leaving them behind. and the truth is they are the future. and they have the ideas. but if they continue to be stifled it might be too late when someone is finally ready to listen.


letting go.

realizations of a wandered gypsy...there is always so much more to yourself than you ever thought you knew. i am beginning to see the effects and aspects this life is having on me. after numerous conversations with numerous people from numerous places i have realized that this experience is effectively shifting me to that place of quiet humility i had asked to connect to before i left home. it was in the space of a new year in a new place with a new awareness that i tapped into this quiet space of self that told me the upcoming years would be filled with love, and learning, and quiet humility. to be. quietly. humble. i questioned what that meant on numerous occasions but soon realized it wasn't a logical, pragmatic puzzle to solve but an essence to embody. and so here i am...month seven of life in another place and time with this quieting of the big I and this connecting to the little...and quiet space in between. 

i am learning the art of self. the art of listening intently without judgment. the art of letting go of ideas of self. letting go of ideas of others. letting go of expectations and wants vs. needs. i am learning the art of softening myself in the corners and crevasses that had built themselves on the notion of their rough exteriors. i am learning the value in silence and quiet side smiles. i am learning the art of loving unconditionally every aspect of this earth because it was all created with purpose and reason. i am learning to truly walk from that space of certainty and asuredness  as i see that the more i quiet my self the more connected i become to my essence...to the deep inner workings of my soul and my heart and everything they have to offer.

i have begun to see the value of my experience here in a completely different space and time than i had ever considered. i have learned to own what is mine emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually and to allow others to hold what is theirs. i am learning to see myself from a space of truth and honesty without the cloudiness of what society says i should be or how i should act. i thought i already lived from this space but stepping into a world that is not my own....taking up space that pushes on the ideas and boundaries of others i see the impact it has and drew back. drew in to that quietly humble space. and from that space i am seeing this emergence of self that is non dogmatic...non judgmental...all inclusive....and all love. and i am finding my root, my core self emerging from a new place of honesty and love and truth. with a declaration of softness and quiet. 



gentle glances.

i wonder if the stranger on the street who offers up a smile has any idea how deeply they can change the course of a day. the simplicity of eye contact and a smile in a world of frowns and uncertainty is a gentle reminder that if you look around you...you will always see beauty...because it's always there. it's just a matter of which vision you are choosing to look through.


ask and receive...

tumultuous tides turned my soul around this week. this peace corps life/experience always has a new twist or turn that i hadn't expected and always leaves me humbled at the divine presence that is always surrounding me. we are powerful beyond belief and need to always remember how much power lies in our words and intentions for they truly do become manifest...sometimes in the strangest of ways. if you read my previous post...which was literally only a few days ago you will see that i had mentioned discomfort in my living situation and a longing to move further up north toward gros islet where i have found more comfort and community. oddly enough...if you ask...you shall receive. last week, the day that i actually posted that exact request, the universal order of things set up a blessing in disguise.

tuesday the entire country was shut down due to the effects of the tropical storm that had passed thru. i spent my day inside resting, writing, cooking, and enjoying a super extended weekend. as the nite progressed sheldon (that's my boyfriend who seems to be showing up more and more in these posts now...) and i decided to walk down to the store in my community to get something to snack on. i don't go out in my community because it's not the kind of welcoming place that you really want to be wandering around in but i figured with sheldon by my side it would be okay. so we went to the store, got some snacks, came home, ate, talked, and went to bed. around 3 a.m. i kept hearing a noise sounding like someone was throwing something at my house. while i should have paid attention to the noise, i wrote it off and went back to sleep. when i was getting ready to walk out the door the next morning for work i noticed that the front screen was ripped off. strange but since i have burglar bars on each window, i didn't really think much of it. until i tried to find my purse. which is when i realized that noise i heard the previous nite was someone breaking into my window and fishing out my purse. gone. taken. so i made all the necessary calls, filed a police report and expected i would never see that bag again. which really sucked because it was a brand new bag i had just bought with a matching wallet. super cute. as the day went on and i dealt with the police and the scene of the crime my phone started ringing with an unrecognized number. lo and behold someone had "found" my purse and wanted to return it to me. good samaritan...until nite fell and he was clear about the fact that he wanted a $1000.00 finders fee. for a $40. bag...no thanks. i'll pass. so with his obvious awareness of where i live and his want of extortion the peace corps acted swiftly and decided to move me immediately for safety reasons. by thursday i was packed and moved into a new house. up north. in marisule, gros islet. exactly what i had asked for. in a new house super close to the beach with coconut trees and kind people all around me, with  beautiful views and a sense of peace and calm i hadn't felt since being here, i settled into my new surroundings with love and gratitude. and the next day, my bag was returned via the st lucia police who did an amazing job finding and catching the guy who created this whole mess. so while having my house broken into was distressing, mr. thief, you actually did me a favor. you moved me into a more welcoming community where i feel closer to god and light and love. you are saving me money. you have helped me remember that piece of me that was being stifled in ciceron by people like you. so thank you. i hope you find some peace of mind and reevaluate your lot in life. maybe you will find inspiration to do more, be more, live more fully. use my journal that you took to record your thoughts and ideas. and ask. because as you helped me see...when you put your wants out to the universe...she listens...and provides.

so as i sit in my new house with the crickets singing all around me, after watching a beautiful sunset from my front door i remember the power i hold in this world. and how much stronger it can be when i am tapped into the source that is always providing for me. so thank you for reopening my eyes and showing me all the tiny pieces that keep me living in love. all ways. blessed be.


summertime...and the livin is...sloooooooow...

it's been quite a while since i've written. i'd love to say it's because i have been overwhelmed with projects and plans and parties and friends but the truth is it's more-so because i am in a lull. it's summer time here which means my primary work at the CDP is down for two months...technically now one left...and so the daily duties of interaction and work with those kids is on hold. in the meantime...there really isn't much going on. i tried to put a camp together for them so they would at least have a connection point midway thru the summer but that never came to fruition. most of my time now is spent either in an office googling worksheets and playing on facebook or helping out in the vegan restaurant in gros islet. needless to say, this portion of my peace corps experience is quite different from the way i started but much more in line with the stories i have heard of too much downtime.

i have one more month and two weeks to get thru before the kids come back and we start our work again. that seems like a lifetime. it's made me realize how much i appreciate and love the work that i am doing on the 3rd floor of the Liat building though. how grateful i am to walk up those stairs every morning and hear "good morning miss." i have plans for this next year...we'll see how far we get. donations are slowly rolling in for the library we are building so that will be one of my major undertakings in the beginning. building up the library of books in my office, having the kids help catalogue and organize, and then assigning weekly responsibility to someone to handle the checking out and checking in of books. i hope that this library will ignite some flame of interest in reading and learning. from what i have seen all of these kids are hungry for information so hopefully giving them the ability to access it on their own will develop an even deeper hunger for knowledge. we'll see how it all unfolds...i'll keep you updated as it unravels.

in the meantime...i have been spending a lot of time at a vegan restaurant owned by my boyfriend...wait...wha...yes...my boyfriend. that's a whole nother story that i am not posting on this blog. he is a pretty incredible chef so he has been teaching me about food combining and helping me develop flavor into my foods...something i have been seriously lacking...forever. it's interesting because his restaurant is in gros islet which is north of my hood and where i spend a lot of my time. it has become like a second home and i feel more a part of that community than my own. it's been nice to be up there and connect with people and have recognition and comfort in an area of st lucia. i have had some really amazing conversations with all kinds of people and feel like i have been able to get a different view into st lucia from my time up there. it'd be nice if we could choose our communities because i would definitely move closer to that area. it's a sleepy little community right on the water full of rastas and children and life and street dogs. it has such character. every friday night they have a street party and i am always up there helping in the restaurant and meeting new people. there are two little boys who are connected to the shop next door, ajahni and tyreke. i love them. they have dance offs and karate competitions on the daily. it's nice to feel a part of something like i do up there. i wish my own community was more like that.

there is really nothing profound happening these days. like i said...it's down time. we just recently had a tropical wave pass over and while the peace corps was on excessive guard with their predictions that it would 100% turn into a hurricane and that it was heading directly for us, today the entire country has been shut down due to flooding. so while we didn't get that 100% they were suggesting, we did get an extra day off of work and an inability to travel throughout the entire country. imagine closing down the entire country. i've never heard of such a thing. i am grateful that we got by without any serious damage but i have to say...as a girl who lives for storms...it would have been nice to have a little bit to back up the hype. a little thunder, lighting, wind...something. it was essentially just a lot of rain. not even sideways rain or rain in heavy bands. just rain. that shut down the country. crazy.

so, while i say there is nothing life changing or earth shattering going on here these days i will say that i am changing. this experience and my interactions and relationships are definitely shifting my being. when you see me again i will be calmer, wiser, more grounded, and quietly humble. living on an island away from most of what you know will have that effect on you.

blessed love.


As I grow...I learn to let go...

"The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress and grow brave by reflection." - Thomas Paine

No one ever said the Peace Corps would be easy, and I am not sure that I ever honestly believed that to be the truth, but there was a period where I felt I was so settled, it seemed as though I was home. Then, in true Peace Corps form, I was rocked back into the reality that I am in another culture, another world, far away from the one I have grown up in my whole life. A few weeks ago I had an experience that seemingly changed the course of my views, insight, and attitude here in St Lucia. In the moments of and following the said incident, my soul felt as though it had been rocked to the core, and in a way that I had never truly felt. My mind began to race as I tried to understand why, in this world that I long to make my home, I could not just blend and settle with those around me. I wondered if I had been targeted, if I was the centerpiece of someone's anger and hatred, if people's perceptions of me were truly so far off from the essence of who I know I am...then the days passed. Life went on. As I talked to more people around me I started to cleanse off the dusty, soiled layer that incident had grown around my heart and mind and I started to see things as they truly were. Random. 

Random. Such a hard concept to decipher when you come from a belief that all things happen for a reason. The question then becomes...do all things happen for a reason or do we make a reason out of the things that happen? Interesting place to take your brain some time. So what I learned from my experience was that though this incident was seemingly random, it was one that I needed to remind me to watch my back. Stay alert. And never, ever lose the essence of who I am. I was posed with aggression and rather than acting back with aggression I acted back with patience, and peace, and learned that this concept is somewhat foreign here. The more I spoke with people about what had happened, the more I was asked if I hit back and if not, why. So, as this incident served to 'wake me up' in my surrounding, it also appeared to open a door to dialogue regarding the strength in non-violence. Ahimsa.

I took my situation to the kids at the CDP, and out in the world of people that I know here in St Lucia and I began to have the conversation around why acting out with violence against violence was not a part of my nature. Why it takes more strength to walk away rather than hit back. Why it may not always be the case that if you give a knock for a knock you will get respect. In the midst of all of this, I was also reminded of that principle of ahimsa, of non-harming, and the importance of truly understanding a situation and treating it with empathy. While I would be kidding if I said that I was fine in the beginning days, as time went on I began to see that even if I was the target of someone's rage, my ability to remain calm and with peace allowed me to show myself and those around me the strength in non-violence. I am so grateful for my yoga practice and the awareness it has brought me so that I am able to experience these pieces of life that are seemingly random and manifest growth and meaning from them. That experience was the beginning insight that while I like to believe that I am integrated and a part of something here, I am an outsider. I look, sound, and act differently than those around me. I am not St Lucian. I am American....and that means so many different things. So, I am now beginning to understand the importance of working toward that Peace Corps goal of sharing American culture with the one you are in. Because it appears to me that there is a limited understanding of what it means to be American...and I clearly represent something outside of the boxed understanding most people around me have. So, this becomes a subtler piece of my life here. The piece where I stay true to my essence, walk in peace, and keep my head high, regardless of what is thrown at me, including discrimination and racism. 

It is such a profound and interesting experience to be somewhere where you truly are not the same. To be in a place where people judge you and make assumptions based on the color of your skin. To be somewhere that having a conversation consists of a lot of backtracking and attempts to understand the other side of the line which yourself and your communicative counterpart keep trying to traverse while lost in a sea of cultural differences. I have never known what it is like to be judged based on the color of your skin. I have never known to treat people differently because they are dark or light. Though I would be lying if I said I didn't see skin color, it has never held any sort of weight to me regarding who the person is or how close I might get to them. I am gaining a new understanding now. It does not change my own essence, only fills me with more empathy for those who are not heard or seen simply based on the way they look which is such a detriment to the human spirit because more times than not, that person who is being overlooked, has something profound to say, and no one will listen. 

I love St Lucia for all it has shown me thus far and all that I have yet to learn. This experience truly is changing my life. It is teaching me more than I could have ever expected about myself, about the world, and most importantly about staying true to yourself against all barriers. I don't know how this experience will effectively weave into my service here but I am seeing the strings beginning to ravel around one another. I am becoming stronger here while learning to express my vulnerability from a place of truth and rawness. I am growing in softness. I am letting go and opening to the core of who I am while allowing my essence to guide. Walking in love all the while. 


Down Time

It's been a while since I have captured any of the goings on of my life here in St Lucia. Partially because most things have become ordinary and day to day and don't seem too interesting to talk about. Partially because I am becoming caught up in my day to day and many times forget that I have a blog, that people are interested in what I am doing, or that I am in the Peace Corps. This is not to say that there aren't monumental things happening or  incredible moments in every day but everything has become so much the norm, even the excessive advances by men, that it seems to just be a part of the every day. I forget that those of you who are actually interested in keeping up with me aren't here and might be wondering and/or even fascinated by what an every day is like for me. So, I thought I would dedicate this blog to an understanding of the way my life is unfolding here in the Eastern Caribbean branch of the Peace Corps...

I am working incredibly hard at the CDP. I wish more and more that my Tuesdays, which are supposed to be dedicated to Ciceron Secondary, could also be there because I am finding it to be one of the most incredible challenges of my life. I work with an amazing staff of dedicated, caring, and inspirational people. There are four of us working full-time on things such as remedial math, english, life skills, behavior change, and overall keeping the peace. The thing that gets us all at the end of the day is the amount of work and attention that each of these kids needs. They are tough. They come from tough communities, tough families, and tough lives. All of them. So when they show up day to day their moods, energy, and insights shift in a way that keeps the four of us on our toes and having to be creatively and constantly innovative in our interactions and teaching methods. I have had my days where I was sure I was going to break. Days when I wondered what exactly I am doing and if I have any qualifications at all to be working with this caliber of child. Then I have a moment like last week, where a boy walks up to me after reading him some of the Tao of Wu (thanks Bobby, it's been a hit..and a curse...more of that later) and asks me if I will teach him to read.

He's 16. And he's been relentless ever since. We sat down and worked on writing a letter and he worked tirelessly to finish it then asked if we could work together every Monday. This is a huge deal for a number of reasons. Most of these kids cannot read but do not want to admit so and will not ask for help. He is asking for help in front of his peers and working with me in front of his peers to learn to read. If they never ask for help, they are learning by default. Secondly, most of these kids pick and choose when they come. They aren't consistent. The fact that this boy is asking me to commit to working with him every Monday means he will be there. He will show up because it's important to him. In the midst of us working together another boy finished his work and wanted something more to do so I gave him the same letter we were working on to write for himself. It was an exercise in writing a letter about the dangers of smoking and why people should quit. So this boy, who can read and write, sat down and wrote one of the most profoundly intellectual and emotional appeal to those who might listen. It was incredible. And when I told him so he was so proud of himself it was all he could talk about. At our meeting yesterday I found out he told everyone in the building. Days like those I don't really care if I know what I am doing because I see that I am having an impact on someone's life, if even for a moment, and I hold on to the hope that they will think of those moments when the time comes to make some of the bigger decisions they have to make on the streets.

Then there's the rest of the day to day. I wake up in the mornings, have coffee, get ready, catch the bus into town. Walk to work. Go to the store for food. Go to the ATM for money. Go to the beach when I can. Catch the bus back home. Do yoga. Read. Dance around my living room. It's the daily life that I lead that doesn't seem too distant from my former that makes me forget at times that I am on an island in the Caribbean. And if I spend too much time in my house away from locals, I really forget until I hear the accent again. Then I settle a bit.

Some of the interesting challenges I have encountered have come in the form of faith, which I knew was to be expected, but I have been blessed to come from a world where you are so free to express your religious views that I never thought about having to censor them. So the book the Tao of Wu is a book written by the RZA from Wu Tang Clan. It's got knowledge from a myriad of faiths in it...which to me is amazing and just drives home the teachings. When I was reading them at the CDP, I was informed that was not acceptable because we are a Christian nation and sharing other faiths may come across as inappropriate. I make this point not to say good/bad, right/wrong but more so to voice how fortunate you all are to live in a place where you are absolutely free to learn, grow, and express yourselves in whatever means you see fit for you. If you wanted to dress up in an animal suit and profess your undying love and dedication to the god of all things fuzzy you'd be allowed to do so. It's something I know I have taken for granted my entire life and definitely something that strengthens my resolve in who I am and what I believe.

So, this blog has taken on a different form than I thought it would but has allowed me to see that in fact, my life here is anything but ordinary. I don't really understand at this point what it means to be in the Peace Corps because I feel like I am here working really hard and I'm not too sure what makes that different from anywhere else except I am doing so in St Lucia, but I love it and am sure at some point it will make sense. I am fulfilling the goals of sharing my skills and culture so I guess I am on the right track.

I had my first unraveling this week where I truly felt the distance between myself and all of you. It's hard sometimes but I know I am fulfilling my life's purpose and I know you are all with me in my heart. My only request would be that some of you book some plane tickets and come visit me in this beautiful world I am living in. It 's not the same without you. I love you all and thank you with every fiber of my being for supporting me in this journey.


Camp d'Life

I spent this the second weekend in my new home...away from home. I guess I should rewind a bit. I've moved into my own place in Ciceron...the best community EVER. I have a sweet lil one bedroom that is fully locked and loaded care of my incredible landlord Gertrude. She has ensured that I have every single thing I could think of, including hot water. This may not seem like a big deal but I am one of the few that I know of on island who enjoys this luxury. Interestingly enough, because I have become accustomed to cold showers and hot days, I don't find myself turning the knob on the left very often in the shower. My community is amazing...full of people and action and 24 hour bus service (another luxury many on island do not get to participate in). I truly look forward to becoming a part of the goings-on of Ciceron which will hopefully include the teaching of a yoga class or two at the community center down the hill from my crib. I was privy to assist in a yoga class this weekend for teenagers living with diabetes...hence the name of the blog.

On Friday afternoon I headed to Gros Islet to begin what would be a weekend of non-stop fun, interaction, and education with 18 young people currently living with types I and II diabetes. Let me preface all of this by saying that before Friday I knew about a thumbnails worth of information regarding diabetes. I spent my weekend learning from these amazing kids who immediately bonded with one another and trusted us enough to open up and share their lives for three and a half days. We spent the days playing games, learning, talking, dancing, swimming, and enjoying each other. These kids taught me how easy it is to prick your finger numerous times a day to check blood glucose. They taught me that needles really aren't that scary. They taught me that nothing can keep you down or hold you back if you won't let it. They taught me to live in the moment. They taught me about the resiliency of young people in St Lucia and the non-importance of labels. Most of all they reminded me of the fact that no matter where we come from, how old we are, or what we look like we are all one family. We are all intricately connected to one another through the bond of humanity and only when we are able to peel away ALL layers and labels are we able to truly find ourselves and the light that is our given right when we step onto this planet. I had an amazing weekend with an entire group of people I barely know and feel certain that from that experience I have not only strengthened the bond with myself but also with the whole of humanity. Thank you St Lucia for allowing me to be a part of your family and thank you Camp d'Life for trusting in me and showing me the way.


Too Legit...

i'm official. that's right. after 9ish painstaking weeks of training...i have officially been sworn in as a volunteer!!! today was my first actual day in the 'real' world and it was pretty amazing. i spent the day at the cdp and within a few hours of my being there was asked to lead an impromptu session on drugs and their effects...right up my alley. so i got a chance to engage with a group of mostly boys (and one girl) about their experiences, knowledge, and ideas regarding drugs...mainly weed. the best part of this class was that i was entrusted by a staff member with the sole purpose of finding out what they knew and seemingly what they would share. it was incredible because it gave me my first opportunity to show some of my skills and allow at least one staff member to see what i am capable of. it was completely on the fly...but the kids really opened up and shared a lot of their thoughts and feelings with me. they were incredibly honest which was a blessing and made me think either they felt safe enough to open up...or...they own their choices as much as they are capable of at 15. either way...we engaged in a pretty incredible discussion which led the staff member at the end to comment on how much i was able to get out of them. amazing what a little reflective listening and non-judgment will get you. i love my placement so much and i am so grateful to be working with these kids.

tomorrow morning i am heading to a retreat for the form 5 kids at ciceron secondary to give a presentation on stress management. this was another semi-impromptu request from the counselor there who is my counterpart. things are clearly falling into place. thank you universe for all of the paths, thoughts, decisions, and falls that got me here. now...please help me manifest a community space to begin teaching yoga in.

all love. all ways.


that's weak...translates as no problem...dichotomy...

The most dichotomous life this St Lucia living. As my day began in difficulty at the Court Diversion Program, which I have lovingly renamed ‘Choosing Different Paths’ I saw a bumpy road ahead. Today was the day of my service learning activity which is one of the final assessment pieces before I am officially sworn in as a Peace Corps Volunteer. This day arrived on the last leg of the roller coaster I had been riding since its inception but as is always the case in this beautiful universe we live in, all things were falling into place at the last minute. I knew there was a reason I never changed my procrastinating ways…they have always served me in the end. My day started early lugging 12 balls into the office and then heading to the store for water and to RC Boys School to assure we were on for the day. When all errands were done and things seemingly in place, I headed to work. Three of the boys that were expected to be a part of the activity were at the center so it seems to be my day…all things as they should be. So let’s start this day shall we???
I began my morning in Mr. Simon’s class as I usually do. We were working on reading a simple passage and trying to derive comprehension from it. There were five boys in the class. Four of them began fidgeting and becoming increasingly uncomfortable at the prospect of having to read this story about Chuck the pig who went to school. It became clear to me very quickly that four of these five boys could not read. My initial reaction was to pull one of them out and into my office to work with him on putting words together and understanding the sounds of the letters, but I hesitated because we are still in the observation mode of Peace Corps life and I have been told time and time again of the importance of observation. So I hesitated and watched as he recoiled and became more distracted and fidgety. The lesson went on to inquire about what was learned from the story based on some seemingly simple questions. Again, blankness. When another story was read and more comprehension questions asked, I looked around the room to see that the boys who were supposed to be writing their answers were laughing, drawing, and looking around the room for something to copy. What I have learned is that while they cannot read, they have become very savvy at copying the words in front of them so it appears as if they are engaged. So today I may have found project number two…work on literacy.

As 2:30 approached, I realized another boy who was in the original plan for the service learning activity had arrived which once again supported my theory that only in the last minute will things actually get done, and get done well. So, we gather ourselves and our materials and headed over to RC Boys School to get our football clinic on. Here is where things become amazing. If you weren’t there…which you weren’t…and if you haven’t been here…which you haven’t…none of this might seem as amazing to you but let me give a little background. Getting this project off the ground and running has come with a series of ups and downs…hurdles if you will. Tuesday when the boys and I finally got together to practice, it became apparent that they were struggling with the concept of teaching each skill verbally. The goal of this activity was to have the older boys from the CDP teach the younger boys at RC Boys basic football skills that would eventually end in a scrimmage. The key here was the older boys verbally teaching the younger ones. Tuesday I realized this might not be a reality so I altered the plan so that I would verbalize the skills while the boys demonstrated and then broke off into smaller groups to work with the kids individually. That was the plan walking to the school today. That was the plan for the first 10 minutes of the project…and then…something amazing happened. Each of the four boys from the CDP took charge of his group and patiently and confidently began imparting knowledge on these young teams of children in front of them. With ease and assuredness they went through each of the skills without prompting, arranging and rearranging the boys in lines and circles to pass, throw, and take penalties. Without any level of direction and of their own accord each one of those boys took control of not only himself and the project, but a group of 6 young boys. It was the most amazing thing I have seen since I have been here. These four boys who have been labeled in one way or another by society, shining and utilizing every ounce of goodness they have to share themselves with others. At no cost and with no prospect of reward or payoff. I couldn’t have been more proud or more satisfied with the way they handled themselves. So here we are with this group of ‘troubled’ kids who are anything but in this context. Shining. Brightly.

St Lucia is full of contrasts, of stark dichotomies. It is beautiful that way because you know there is always another way of seeing something, another layer. I have no idea what direction today will take me but I know those four boys forever changed my life today. They made me believe in myself in a way I never have before and they let free that light that I have seen all along. I am so grateful for this life and for the opportunity to be working in such an amazing capacity with such an incredible group of kids. Stay tuned for my next chapter as an official Peace Corps Volunteer...



holy sweetness monday 21 march 2011. i love you. thank you for being so good to me.

anse la raye:



so begins the hitting of road bumps, blocks, and all things that may hinder the progression of something that seemed to be sweetly and directly on it's path. i knew this day would come. i had been warned about holding on too tight to an expectation or an outcome. the good thing is i know...in my heart and soul...without any doubt everything always works out. the longer i am here the more connected i become to that reality and the lack of worry or pushing too hard that comes with my american way. today was tough...the things i thought were agreed upon and the plans i had set forth were not. and so....i go back to the drawing board, work on not being defeated, and try again.

i think i am finally hitting that point where i am wondering what it is that i am doing and if i will really be able to make a difference here. but when i walked into the cdp and some of the kids said hello to me and smiled, i knew...it's not about the quality or quantity of what i create beyond the connections and relationships that i am building day by day.


sweet sunday

I took today for myself. Nervously approaching the decision to find Reduit Beach myself, and realizing how ridiculously uncomfortable I am with unknowing…uncertainty, I ventured out. I asked to reconnect with god today. To settle back into that open space of divinity that outlines my true essence. As I was walking to the bus stop I asked god to guide, to lead me thru the awkwardness that arises from uncertainty regarding exactly where one is going. Lo and behold, immediately upon crossing the street a bus is there to lead me on my way. This is incredibly uncommon on a Sunday, and I forever believing in signs give thanks for such a swift intervention. I get to town and find my way to the next bus which after asking for a little more guidance lands me at the appropriate bus stop from which I can walk to what has become my favorite beach. A beautiful, picturesque green bay full of sailboats with lush green mountains hovering protection to the left and a calming view of Pigeon Island as the backdrop across the water. I sat, swam, rested, read for hours today. Quietly alone. Only a few words left my mouth to the few passers-by who stopped to comment on my tattoos. Essentially a day of rest. To reflect quietly and work on letting go. Letting go of the holding on – the wanting, the wondering, the needing. Letting go of expectation and shape-shifting to fit into someone else’s corner. Letting go. Of the need to be someone, someway, somehow. Remembering and trusting in my essence, my nature, my beauty, my light, my truth. I forgot how comforting and peaceful a Sunday alone at the beach can be. 


Oh this day. Every emotion that could represent itself showed up today. I saw the pain, sadness and struggles of St Lucia’s children today. I saw the fear and anger of broken families. I saw the brokenness and longing of the judicial system. I saw joy, pain, heartbreak, love, loss, uncertainty. I witnessed people fighting for what they want to believe in with nothing but uncertainty in what it is they truly believe. I heard of love and abuse. Of one mother with five babies from five different fathers – holding the most precious bright-eyed, newest of the flock while she fought for custody of one of the others. I watched two of my boys who are not beyond the light I see longing to escape from the depths they’ve buried it be sent away for one year a piece to a boys residential facility in the hopes the might grown, learn, shift, shine. And then I watched as a 13 year old girl, baby girl, child had the entire court – magistrate, counsel, mother – dumbstruck. A mere child who has escaped from every facility she has been in who is lost had the entire room searching for an answer to save her life, her light, her soul. St Lucia has no residential facilities for girls – nowhere for her to go – to rest, recharge, regroup, reignite the passion and fire she should have heading into her teenage years. The motion was made to send her to the prison. The magistrate, after careful consideration, decided this decision – this monumental decision would create the necessary waves to shift the mountains that need to shift to save these girls lives. She would be the one to represent all the young girls in St Lucia who deserve the support, protection, and guidance their country owes them. At one point during all of this the judge reached out to me – as if in plea for help, for resources, for support. He pointed out how many facilities we have in the states, how many options there are for young people, and he’s right. From state-funded to exorbitant high dollar centers we’ve got hundreds. They can’t even get support for one. One center where these troubled girls can go to start to build themselves up from the inside out. And so this child, for lack of anywhere else to send her is remanded to the prison. It immediately made the news and the story is already becoming twisted, but know now – the intentions were honorable. They are not only trying to save the life of this little girl, but all those who come after her. I know I have a big purpose in this world. I know it starts here in St Lucia and I don’t know how to begin this mission but I see it and I am asking for guidance in helping these girls. Please god guide me to the resources and people I need to help.

(The first part of this day was so incredibly heavy, but that afternoon I went to the CDP to work and fell even more in love with the kids, staff, and work that I will be a part of there. I am not kidding myself that any of this work is going to unfold over night or happen easily but I know without a doubt that I am exactly where I am supposed to be and I am looking forward to the dents and waves I will create while I am here)


ease in...

major sense of accomplishment today. i don't know how long it will last or what hurdles will fall in front of me as i proceed, but the way this day, this life, these moments are unfolding are nothing less than divinely perfect. i am beginning my fifth week here. hard to believe that i have been here for five weeks which seem like an eternity. there are days that i am perfectly settled and others that i am completely unsettled. it's been a while since i have been so consumed by these perfectly placed moments that create ease and awareness of how strategically aligned my purpose is here. in those unsettled moments i have wondered if i am in over my head, i have lost the perspective of work and dedication that got me here. in those moments i lost the ability to breathe and trust and instead fell into thought...the thoughts that can perfectly create and destroy a mood, a moment, a lifetime....

in the settled moments, the moments where i remember to breathe and trust, the moments where i open to not knowing and guidance, in those moments...i have days like today. one of the elements of pre-service training is to create and implement a service learning project with some of the youth i have been working with. they could be from my school, from my work-site, or from my community. the purpose is to 1) show that you are capable of pulling something like this off and 2) ensure that there are elements of both learning and service within the project. what does all of this mean? it means i have to be creative, resourceful, and savvy. all elements that i am certain will come into play hundreds of times while in service here. i also need that ability to be flexibly adaptable which i am sure will show up at some point during this project...but as of yet...it's falling with ease. 

i knew that i wanted to create this activity with the youth at the cdp which is my primary work site. these are youth who have been targeted as at-risk either because they have dropped out of school, they are at risk of dropping out of school, or they have become involved with probation services in some way. although we have our days, they are all amazing kids who have an array of talent that would blow any performing arts school out of the water. when the project was first presented to us i was overwhelmed, and by our second meeting i was sure i was in trouble. i had no ideas, no direction, only a steadfast assuredness that i wanted the kids from the cdp to be involved. this in itself may prove to be a challenge because of the nature of the kids and their inconsistencies in attending the program, but i have faith. i have faith in them and their ability to help me pull this off. so...last thursday, with a sense of unsettled nature surrounding this project, i went to the kids at the cdp and asked them for help. i explained what service learning was and what i needed to accomplish. they were instrumental in coming up with an idea...a brilliant idea too i must add. why don't we hold a football clinic for the younger boys at the r.c. boys school across the way? yeah...why don't we do that? our learning component can be teamwork which is an important aspect in life, in the cdp, and most importantly in assuring that i can pull this idea off. 

today i went to the cdp to speak with mr. simon who just so happened to be in the process of creating a football program with a national coach for the boys there. mr. simon used to teach at r.c. boys so he knew who i needed to talk to over there. so here i am in downtown castries...heading from my work-site over to the school to speak with the principal about what if any interest she might have in my idea and supporting this project. she wasn't at the school on my first attempt so i headed to the square to sit and read and wait. while i was sitting there i also realized how hungry i was...so, so hungry. lo and behold a woman selling what might be the most amazing cornbread in the world sits down at my bench and offers me a piece of her goods as a taste. mmmmmm. after finishing this bit of goodness i head back to the school where i speak with mrs. gill who is completely on board with my idea. no convincing needed. so in a matter of a week i have come up with an idea, connected with some of the people i will need to connect with to make this happen, and figured out what my next steps are. this is a big task that will require a number of pieces, some of which i am certain will prove to be a little more difficult to jump through but it's coming together. and if i can pull this off with some sense of certainty, this could be a sustainable project that continues with the boys at the cdp. i know that it will give them an incredible sense of accomplishment and self worth to teach something that they are so passionate about to those that are younger than them. 

so here i am. my first project with the peace corps. based in something that i don't really know too much about but with a sense of openness and wonder that i have been missing for quite some time. and within this i remember how important it is to breathe, slow the pace, and trust. this is going to be good. this whole world i have stepped into is going to be so good. with it's ups and downs and hits and misses. it's so perfectly placed for me. thank you universe for helping me direct my life, even in the times it seemed so off course, to be perfectly woven for this time now. i am so grateful. 



New surroundings.  Finding grounding on the street. Another perfect clarification that I am nowhere other than exactly where I am supposed to be. My host mom, Lucilla, picked me up from the center today and she couldn’t be more fitted for me. First things first-we must go to the market and get a fresh coconut. Wander around a bit and look at the various breadfruit and dasheen that I will soon be learning to cook and eat. I find myself working in the building next door to hers which makes travel to work even easier than I could have imagined.
Our neighborhood is quiet and sweet. Roosters out front. Francis’s splendid garden in back. Grandma quilting on the couch. In either direction from our drive is the most spectacular view of the sea. Walking out to explore I had my first encounter with a Ras.
“Good afternoon.”
The two sweet dogs at the end of the drive act as though they’ve known me for lifetimes. Reggae is playing thru our speakers-the breeze is pushing nothing but kindness and the tease of a brief rain.
I am home. Without a doubt I have found myself settled into my soul that has always, always known this is where I belong.


st lucia or bust

so here i am. sitting in the miami airport with 43 other peace corps volunteers awaiting the arrival of our plane that will take us on to the islands mon. it's amazing how all of this still doesn't seem real....
landing in miami....sitting in a room with 40 other people who share the idealistic goals and spirit as me...arriving in the dark to the airport with seemingly hundreds upon hundreds of pounds of luggage...which will surely be too much...sitting here. sitting here....this is really happening. we are really all here about to embark on the journey of a lifetime. it's impressed upon me how intricately unique i am and how much i have to offer this world.
thank you universe for seeing me. thank you for inspiring me. and thank you for supporting me in all that has gotten me here.
i will do you proud.

next time i write....i'll be in st lucia!!!


so. much. stuff.

here i am....two days out. i don't know if i have even written about the amazing unfolding of events that have led up to this evening. i had a final interview with Sharmon, the Peace Corps director in St Lucia to talk about my experience and assure that i was fitted appropriately to an assignment. after talking for a little while she told me of a program that is starting on Feb 1...just days after i arrive, that is a jail diversion program for court ordered youth that have been previously incarcerated and are now in the system. basically i would be doing exactly what i do here except i would get the opportunity to do more training and program development as well as groups. she asked if it was something i would be interested....
i started to cry.
this entire process has been absolute universal validation that i am on the path that is absolutely, divinely perfect for my soul. that being said...these last two days of trying to fit everything i want to bring into two bags weighing under 80 lbs total has been a complete stress inducer. i have know along the way to stop and breathe and be present....
it doesn't help. partly because i know that 60% or more of the stuff i am bringing i will probably not need. i pride myself on the ability to pack light and need little and yet....i am wandering off into the Peace Corps with one too many pairs of really cute shoes...a plethora of work outfits...too many bikinis....and trying with all of my might not to bring the 600 books i want to bring.
i have such a knowledge of the concept of stuff. i have too much of it. even after i have purged nearly everything i own...i still find myself riddled with a million things i need to take to my parents house to store. it will be interesting to see what becomes of all this stuff as i make my descent and my final landing to the place i will call home for the next two years. inevitably a lot of it will wind up in the hands of others...as it always does ...and i will once again be left with the essentials that make me simply happy.

one more night in my own bed. one night in another and then i will be sleeping in beds that are foreign to me for quite some time. i will be living with people that i have never known before but that will soon become my second family. i will learn and love and grow deeper and stronger and more intensely than i have up to this point of my life. and i will know that every single event that has woven into my life has brought me to this point. so with gratitude and love and light i say to you....

good night.



i am 18 days and counting. working for two hours on lightening my load even a little more. certain that the amount that i take will still be too much but hopefully useful. feeling like the books are outnumbering the clothes. ah....a life well lived thus far.

dear st lucia.
i love you already.