change agent...

i want to preface this blog by saying this is not to offend anyone...there are a number of wonderful and incredible things happening around me...but today...today was difficult...and i needed to share.

in relation to my last post i would like to expand on some things i am struggling with today...things that have always been present...but are boldly shouting at me in this moment. peace corps is an amazing experience overall. the ability and expectation of embedding yourself into a culture that is not your own. of working to help create change from the inside out. of building lifelong connections and friendships that root in ways you never imagined. but no matter how deeply you integrate into your community and your workplace...you will never be of this culture. there are ways and means that will always allude you...and on days like today...haunt you. when i signed up for this journey i had an entire two years planned out in my mind. i knew what i would be learning, what i would be teaching, and what i would most likely struggle with. all of those presumptions were off by a million miles. here i am...a year and a half into my service...and i am continually struggling with the same social issues i have been since day one...okay...that's not fair...in the beginning i was definitely on my honeymoon with saint lucia and she could do no wrong...so let's say since month four.
i think one of the greatest reasons peace corps is still in saint lucia 50 years later is to address the social issues that everyone is talking about but no one is doing anything about. today, the problem is...how can i be an agent of change as an outsider to a world i don't understand with issues i vehemently disagree with?
today i was on the bus when this whole dialogue started in my mind. i was watching things pass out the window when i noticed a group of guys sitting on the block. i see guys sitting on the block all the time. twenty to thirty somethings with no job, no education, nowhere to go...nothing to do. this isn't a new site for me. but today for some reason it struck me that i will never understand the issues those guys face. i will never understand what it's like to wake up day after day with nowhere to go but the stoop down the street and nothing to do but smoke herb all day and watch things pass you by. i can listen...if they wanted to share...but i will never understand. i am here as a peace corps volunteer. with a masters degree...that granted i have yet to pay for...but it's mine. no one will ever take my education away from me. and i worked for that so i am in no way discounting the importance and power of that education...but i will never be able to understand the plight of those guys..sitting all day. content with watching the cars and people and life pass them by.
when i got to work one of the girls was passing me on the road...i asked her where she was going as i knew she was supposed to be in school. she told me she was going home. when i arrived i asked if they knew she was on the road and explained what she had said...it was a joke. no harm done...but it turned into an issue of disrespect. and therefore she was reprimanded and asked to apologize. i don't really understand what she did wrong...but due to the difference in culture didn't want to overstep and insert my opinion.
later in the day i faced the dilemma of another girl who has left home because of the incredible abuse she has to endure from her mother. this time...she left because she feared for her life. she has been the recipient of all forms of abuse...heinous abuse...but she is still in her mother's home. and at this point i realized...i have no leeway here...i have no idea what to do or where to direct her. the only thing i can do is let her know i am there...share with her what i know...and pray that the center supports her in her need for safety and security. but it got me to thinking about my deepest issue here...personally. the violence masked as discipline.
i cannot go a day without seeing a child being yanked, pulled, hit, kicked, knocked down...in the name of discipline. discipline for things as simple as being a child. being a normal child who does what children do. it's beating. it's what people do here. but i don't understand it. and i will never understand it. and when i hear lucians talk about how they don't understand why the country is turning so violent...why youth are so aggressive and quick to act out...i have to purse my lips...and not share my thoughts. violence is a cycle. if you learn it at home you will repeat it out of the home. and i look at this beautiful girl who has the world ahead of her and she has been beaten down. given the message over and over again that she's worthless. no good. unloveable. and then when her mother comes back with affection...she gets confused. and then she perpetuates this cycle in her life...through promiscuity...living what she's been taught. and then she is beaten for that.
there is no discourse. there is no deep delving into the issues at hand. there is violence. and anger. and it's becoming...at least for today...incredibly hard to swallow. i love the career path i have chosen. the work that i am doing here assures me that this is the work i have been called to do. but days like today...i wish i had a different perspective...a different group of kids. or...now that i think about it...i wish more that i could expose these kids to what "normal" feels like. what it's like to be heard and appreciated and loved and respected. what it's like to be disciplined in a way that makes sense...a way that you can grow and learn from. discipline from love not anger or fear.
i know i will not make the change i sought when i first came. i will not change the structure or the social setting. i will not change people's speech or belief in corporal punishment. but i hope...i pray that i will help these kids change the way they see themselves. and change the cycle that has taught them they are less than and worth nothing more than aggression. i pray that they will choose a different route than the one presented to them so that they may be the agent of change everyone talks about but does nothing about.


softening corners...

it's been a while. which unfortunately is also indicative of my yoga practice. i was on quite good there for a while but then about two weeks ago i started having pretty severe back pain. it's nothing new...i've struggled with back pain for a while but this was a new sensation. i spent a good portion of a week delving into slow, silent, meditative practices trying to decipher and decode whatever the message was behind the pain but to no avail...or so i thought. it appears the main issue is flexibility...if i push too far in one direction..the other gets stuck...and vice versa. i always find the physical manifestation of things quite interesting. i am definitely one of those people who believes most everything that shows up physically has emotional and spiritual dimensions to it. maybe i read too much into it but so far every time i have had an illness, an ache, a pain...it has always led me to some deeper understanding of myself. and in this case...life. i can't quite gauge why or when the pain started...only that it showed up in the midst of a deep practice...and caused me to sit in meditation for a long time after the asana trying to tap into what was going on.
as i said...this has been going on for a while but is more intense and in a different light than it has ever been before. the main focus seems to be balance...cultivating balance in movement, thought, intention, work. so last week was our mid service training for peace corps. my entire group that i arrived with was on saint lucia for a week long gathering of inspiration, creation, intention all culminating in an end balance that seemed to bring everything full circle. at least to this point. we stayed in a really nice hotel with hot water and nice beds and good food...but in the heart of rodney bay which is the most touristy area one could find in saint lucia. so here we are...service workers living by simple means thrust into the role of tourist...the exact role we have worked to avoid...the label we have eschewed for over a year. balance.
but the balance didn't come...at least for me...until it was all said and done. i was well aware that i was not assuming the role of "that white girl" while in rodney bay, my neighborhood, for the week. i was any white girl. i was anonymous...unassuming. even though i ran into people i knew around every corner. even though my home is only a stones throw away...i shed the cloak i have worn for the last year and a half and slipped into america. it was odd. but when i came home friday afternoon, the reality of who i am and where i am washed back over me. about halfway up the road that leads home..the scents became familiar and the sounds brought me back. balance.
i would be joking if i said i didn't struggle for a day or two...the rush of ants and mosquitoes that didn't seem to exist at the hotel...the cold, cold showers, the sunken in bed....the lack of inspirational, deeply philosophical conversation...the silence. it took me a series of long, deep breaths by the beach in solitude before i was able to begin to snap back into me. here. in saint lucia. and with that awareness also came a new awakening...of how far i have come...how far all of these people i can truly call my friends...my family...have come here in the eastern caribbean. we have become balance. teetering between two worlds with the ability to exist softly in either while pushing back deeply in each. balance.
so back. back...i had another physical therapy session today. where i had accupuncture. and it opened up some of that energy that has been stagnant. the energy that has been stuck between two worlds...that of then and now. i know i still have a lot of work to do...but the journey...and the ability to teeter softly may elicit just the right balance i need to bend back when needed or push forward when it's right. balance.
i hope the healing of pain continues so that i may come back to my mat...and begin again with a thirty day challenge...and a new awareness of what i have yet to find.



suuuuupermooooon. how apropos that today is the scorpio supermoon. on a saturday. for sarah. :)
i just finished a nice afternoon practice. good way to begin the upcoming afternoon of chores. it's amazing to me how as this journey continues...things keep falling deeper and deeper into place. i have been feeling the synchronicity more and more...and though i know it is always there...it's not always the case that i am tapped in or aware of the seamless fluidity of the events of my life. there was a time when i was so connected...when at the exact moment i needed them the right person would show up...or the phone would ring...or i would find the missing piece of the puzzle. but lately...for quite some time honestly...those events haven't been syncing up. life has been occurring and it's been great...but it's been missing that mystical piece...until recently.

so this morning i knew i wanted to do a more gentle practice...and i knew that it was the scorpio supermoon which is bringing with it all sorts of emotions and openings and triggers and boldness...so i wanted to honor that piece of me and deeply connect to my own personal emotional state and/or baggage. seems like what you should do for a supermoon right? so i found a practice entitled 'emotions...let em' flow.' and it was perfect. the entire practice related to deep holds, deep breaths, and deep awareness. really tapping in to what it is you are feeling physically...but then going deeper into the emotional message behind that. what is there? what do you find? what do you feel? can you let it go? can you allow the breath to move you deeper into yourself and deeper into trust and opening so that you may let go and let god in a way that no matter what occurs, no matter what comes your way...you know you are supported?

i feel so grateful for the practice of yoga...and for this commitment i have made to bring it back into my life. the things i am finding in myself...the lessons i am remembering and re-challenging myself on...are the same questions and ideas that brought me to the peace corps and into a life of selfless service. i have been missing the selfless part...allowing myself to let go and serve through spirit. i have been serving but without the essential element that makes it true...that honors love and one another. the awarenesses that are occurring daily through each practice are not only bringing me back to the path of self...but teaching me...reminding me how to gently honor each individual and where they are on their path. because we each have this light in us...we each have the ability to find our way to our essence and truth...but only when we are living from our deepest connectedness to that source are we truly able to affect one another. only then does opening a random book bring us the message we have been needing...or at least the awareness that message was meant for us...at this time.



i had planned to do a yoga podcast tonight...let someone else lead me so i wouldn't have to think about the poses i was doing...for some reason i had it in my head that i wanted to do arm balances...wanted to strengthen myself and work through a challenging practice. my body had other ideas...let me regress for a minute. one of the main reasons i decided to begin this challenge was because i was finding a disconnect between myself and my spirit...my faith...the universe. i found that while i am going through the daily motions and trying to work deeply with the girls at upton gardens...i am only going through the motions. the deep level of understanding and connectedness was missing. i know from experience that i am only in that mindset and heart space when i am consistently stepping onto my mat. the other reason was because of my own emotional...rather lack of emotional...space that i have been sitting in for a while. while there are things happening...monumental, trying, difficult, exuberant...life changing things...happening all around me...i am almost storing them and not experiencing them. i can physically feel the weight of my world in my body..and i can feel it pulling me down. i know again from experience the only way to allow all of these emotions to be is to step onto my mat...and delve deeply into my breath and the opening that may bring...in whatever direction.
so tonight...when i was searching for a podcast...for a voice that i would connect with...i found none but my own. my own internal guide telling me to step on my mat...and flow. don't think...just allow. don't fight...just breathe. so i put on some good music and began my practice. what i found was that while in the beginning i was  one step ahead of myself...trying to figure out what should come next...where should i be going...how to counterbalance...slowly...i let go. slowly...the future and the past....the linkages and the steps weren't important...the present moment was all that mattered. the current breath was the only focus. and so i began to flow. and from that space i created. ultimate, open, creativity...from deep within. through pain and conflict to joy and resolution.
when i stepped off my mat...and looked at the clock...it was 9.15. i had just lost myself in a 2 hour practice. no concept of where i was headed...no concern for what might occur when i get there...just honest, open intention for the present moment and whatever emotions or challenges might come up in that space. and as they came...they went. and i found a renewed sense of not only myself but my connection to god...and to all that is. and so...i remembered.
and tonight i will sleep with a deep sense of gratitude and peace for i have once again connected to the source...and feel the true honest love that comes with that knowing.



one of the things i love most about yoga is that when i am consistently practicing...the world is practicing with me. when i soften the world softens...as within...so without...i said i would post daily...or maybe i said almost daily...so let's play a little catch up...on my monday morning trip through castries...i found the battle field just as i had left it but my spirit seemed to walk a little quieter...the roar of the chaos seemed a little gentler. in the moments when the growl began to rise...i remembered my morning practice and a sense of knowing washed over me...while yoga is a personal practice, it radiates out to everyone and everything because it's essence is union.uniting breath, body, movement, space, energy, the little self and the big self, the unknown and the known, you and i, we... so even while i am at battle in a world that is not my own...i am still deeply and intricately connected to every soul i pass.
during this mornings preparation for the battle field, i was offered a ride straight to the gate of upton gardens by a kind young man from india. wednesdays i teach yoga at a secondary school, so i'm not sure if it was the mat in hand or the enlightened aura i had surrounding me that enticed him to give me such a lift...but it was greatly appreciated and left me with a renewed sense of connectedness to all that is. it is rare that i get a ride to work via anything but the bus...and this morning i was running a little late so it was odd that i didn't notice the bus that had passed me and was four vehicles in front of us. as he pointed this out it became apparent to me that i have stepped back into the flow. it's been a long time since i have been here...the place i was before i stepped on the plane to come to saint lucia...the world of synchronicity and heightened awareness. the complete and ultimate connectedness and trust in the universal order and flow of things. the union of what is.
needless to say my consistency in commitment is paying off. on a grand...esoteric scale. this last year of my peace corps service will be one in which i try to hinge all of the tools in my box into some sort of meaningful purpose that will move me on to the next phase of this journey. in these last six days i have been reminded of the depths of my soul...the offerings i have and the impact i asked to make on this world. as i continue this thirty day journey...i will continue to draw inward and look to all the pieces so that this life of service i have committed myself to will know no boundaries and may push me even further than i had ever imagined.
this yoga thing...there's something to it.
so much love and gratitude. all ways.