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.