Title

Ital (eye'-tal): of or from the earth; vital; life giving; natural.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Haircuts and Humans

Last weekend, we indulged our urban side and spent three days in Kingston. We watched Netflix on high speed internet, ate Chinese food, attended the St. Andrew Horticulture Expo (where I picked up my first bunch of orchids~) and got haircuts. Well, Cy and I got our hairs cut anyway.

Cy's was the typical cut a child gets sitting at home on the front stoop while a parent with scissors hovers overhead trying to get everything even.

My experience was a little different. I found myself in an uptown salon painted an outrageous pink hue and attended to by a young urbanite named Princess. My very presence created a silent awkwardness. Yes, I'm white. Yes, I'm foreign. No, I'm not here for braids with beads. Just a haircut, please.

Hair is a complicated topic. It's entwined with race. I've written a number of posts trying to express these complications and implications. I don't possess the eloquence to write in detail about how these cultural subtleties possess us, define us, unite us or repel us.

I know that my presence in the salon put Princess on the spot. She had to up her game. She was, after all, responsible for cutting and shaping a white foreigner's hair~that thing that we still use so frequently to define us. I don't blame her for her nervousness or awkwardness or general feeling of being overwhelmed. I would have been too. And I did feel weird because I represented the "other", the one holding the bar high, the one with the power to make this go well or to turn it into a disaster. I'm not comfortable being placed in this role, but I find myself in it quite frequently. It is all very subtle but I notice how the barristas change their tone of voice when they talk to me or how the bus conductor directs me to the best seat...

Princess liked that I liked my new 'do. She appreciated my laughter, my small talk and chit-chat. We connected through our humanness.

At the end of the day, we are all just people. People with hairs that need trimmed, ideas that need to be expressed, feelings that need to be understood, hearts that need to share love, friendships that need to be cultivated, bellies that need to be fed, families that need to be cared for, insecurities that need reassurances, minds that need to be inspired.

Are you connecting on that most basic human level?                                                                                             

Friday, May 1, 2015

Quarters

My business minded husband has conditioned me to think in terms of "quarters" and to set goals, mark time, assess budgets and the what-not accordingly.

The First Quarter of 2015 has passed and has set the trajectory for the rest of the year. I have officially started a family business. I have also completed a small business training program for a community project I'm involved with. We've planned our family vacation, created a family budget, made projections, made plans for the kids' birthdays, scheduled events and activities and yadda, yadda, yadda. All of that happened in the First Quarter. We congratulate ourselves because we've been busy. We've accomplished things. Crossed things off "The List".

I appreciate this orderliness to life. I like to be able to say that I've done "stuff". But I wonder sometimes if this parsing of time and dates and schedules and goals go against the fabric of living? Or place too many demands on meeting expectations?

In the Third Quarter of this year, I turn 40. FORTY. That sounds like I've reached a pinnacle. I'll be in the Middle Quarter of my life so to speak. I'm supposed to be wise and accomplished or at least own property and have assets.

In many ways, I'm not prepared. Or at least not prepared to face the 40 that carries with it all of these expectations. I'm still very much in the throes of figuring this life thing out. But then I remember that time is a construct. This timeline is self imposed. We make more lists and set benchmarks according to our age: By 25 I will do this, by 30 that. Some of us are so good at list making that we forget to allow room for life to happen.

And life does happen. We cannot foresee or plan for or anticipate each and every little occurrence.
Are you making room for Life?







Tuesday, April 21, 2015

We Got a Pet Cat and Why This Matters

I have written honestly about the struggles my family has gone through during these many years. Struggle is part of the human condition, I understand that now. I also understand that there is a fine line between struggle and opportunity. It is what you make it.

Recently we got a pet cat. While this may seem like a mundane ocurrence to most families, I feel like it is a milestone for ours. Taking on the responsibility of raising and caring for an animal means that we have reached a point in our family healing where we can look beyond our selves, our own needs and incorporate the needs of another living being.

It also means that we are living in a place that supports additional life. In other words, we have the physical space for a cat to roam, play, explore and be happy. Not only does the cat have room to stretch, but so do we. We are able to open the door wide, invite in the breeze and take in the view of the mountains or the ocean, depending on which way we look. The kids have free range to explore Nature’s playground.

Samson, yes, that is his name because as Cy says, “I don’t want a wimpy cat”, is a marker in our family’s journey. We are strong. We do overcome. 


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Ten Reasons I Sometimes Feel Like I am Living an Episode of LOST

I admit, I was enamored with LOST. I watched it religiously, passionately, voraciously. Caught up in the symbolism and philosophy, I would analyze each and every episode (usually in a phone conversation with my sister).

So now it is that I live on an island and I often find myself thinking, "What would John do?" (that is, the John before he got possessed by the evilness). Maybe these things are inherent to life on an island? At least, life on a tropical island...

1. People actually say “off the island” when travelling abroad. For example, “Sorry I wasn’t able to return your call. I was ‘off the island’ for a week on business.” I often want to ask if they left the island by secret submarine or weird time travel portal.

2. There are two types of people here. Those that think it is better “off the island”, like Jack and those that feel it is better to stay, like John. A former colleague was in the Jack camp and pulled me aside one day to exclaim, “This place (Jamaica) is a sinking ship. How do I get out?” She then proceeded to grill me on Canadian immigration laws (of which I know nothing).

3. Older ladies make strange prophetic statements. When we first moved into our apartment in Kingston, our landlord was an elderly woman who suffered a severe stroke. I met her only once in the parking garage and she had these words for me, “The apartment was waiting for you.” She died 2 weeks later.

4. I found The Source. It’s an organic farm and home to a stream with a waterfall and all kinds of good positive energy, though no Hurly to guard us from evil.

5. The “Others” exist. I’ve seen their ruins but instead of abandoned industrial ‘hatches’ filled with scientfic experiments gone awry, they are broken down sugar plantations and former great houses...experiments in colonization gone awry.

6. While I have yet to encounter a polar bear clamoring through the jungle, I have had many oddly divine encounters with birds. (You can read about them here and here.) And since moving to the farm, I have encountered giant spiders, hop toads, scorpions, owls, hawks, mongoose and bats though I think the scorpion was the only one with a message.

7. Almost all of the expats I’ve met feel like they have been reborn in Jamaica. The person they were before landing on this island and the person they are here are very different from each other. Redemption is around every corner and one is able to redefine themselves to (hopefully) be a better person in their new island life.

8. Tangled web of association or 2 degrees of separation. This place is small and everyone is connected in some strange way either in this island life or in their previous life abroad. These connections are always brought up in the most enigmatic ways. For instance, just last weekend we were at our local farmer's market where we met a lovely woman with whom we chatted. Suddenly, she turns to my husband and exclaims, "But wait! I know who you are. Yes. I know who you are!" We both looked at her stunned and nervously frightened. I was thinking, "Tell me, please. Who is he??? An alien? A ghost?"

9. There is no black smoke here to chase you through the jungle in a heated panic, but there is Kumina and Obeah which could have you looking over your shoulder.

10. The gorgeous landscape. Each morning I get up and watch the sun rise over the Blue Mountains. In the evening, I watch the sun set over the ocean. It's stunning, breath taking, awe inspiring. It reminds me that there is a larger force at work here and that if we are open to it, amazing things will happen.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Last Year

It has been more than a year since I have written a post for this journal. And wow, what a year it has been!

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I have been away for so long because we were experiencing many changes and going through many transitions. We (I) needed the protectiveness of a cocoon to be quiet, get settled, find solid ground so as to hear the Divine voice of wisdom and reason.

So where are we and what are we doing? Are we beautiful butterflies now?

We are still living at The Source Farm Ecovillage. The experience of living in a community dedicated to education, environment and community service has been rewarding. We have upgraded from the tiny one room cabin pictured in the last post, to a modest house with a back porch (our favorite hangout spot). We also have a modest residence in Kingston to facilitate our fluid lifestyle.

The children are AMAZING! Yes, AMAZING with all caps! Their creativity, kindness, compassion, ingenuity and all around amazing-ness fill my heart. They enjoy endless freedoms for discovery and play yet are some of the most responsible children I've ever met. The school they attend has animals of various sorts that the kids are responsible for. They race to do their chores and fight over who gets to carry the compost bucket! I am grateful that they still find joy in these daily tasks. It is something I am still cultivating in myself...laundry anyone??

And speaking of laundry, I have been making and selling laundry soap and other natural cleaning products at our local organic farmer's market. The venture has surprised me with its success! In fact, the business is GROWING! It's officially a family business now with the addition of my sister and brother to the team. We have also recruited a talented cousin to be our graphic designer. We are moving the brand into the international market and look forward to this new phase. You can follow our adventures here.

'But I thought you were an artist?' I am. I had a number of successful shows over this past year both in Jamaica and abroad, namely Switzerland. My creative practice is no longer confined to just "painting". I have opted to live a creative life and bring my design sensibilities into my every day world. It makes for better living.

And that's what I'm all about these days, better living. A year ago, I was in search of just that...something better. In fact, the search for something better is what prompted this whole move to Jamaica. It's scary to look into the great unknown and jump off the ledge. But I did it. We did it. And I'm happy to say, we have learned that we have wings and that we CAN fly. Maybe we are butterflies after all.

This is me on my 39th birthday...the last year of my 30's and life never looked so sweet!
Live your best life.



Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Tippy Top

Tippy Top is our little one room cabin that we like to call home. It is cozy and sweet and offers up some amazing views. More to come...


Our Front Entrance

Variegated Hibiscus and Elephant Ear with Some Morning Glories Climbing the Trellis


Potted Bougainvillea, Aloe and Zinnias


Papaya Trees, Basil, Dill, Mint and Tomatoes

The Bathroom

The Shower


Remember the Miracle Mint?


Rainbow