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

Monday, February 20, 2012

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Life is Beautiful

Dear Poppo,
My heart aches that I am so far away right now. I want to be there to hold your hand, to comfort you and tell you, "it's okay." I would speak these words to you instead of writing them...

I started calling you Poppo after I saw the movie, Life is Beautiful. It is what the little boy called his father. The movie moved me deeply. It is the story of a father and son facing unspeakable horrors yet holding on to Hope and finding Joy amid so much pain. The father went to great lengths to protect his son from the cruelty we humans sometimes inflict on each other. The father reminded me of you and how you dedicated your life to loving and protecting us, your family.

You have taught me many things. I am so very grateful for your guidance and advice. I have never doubted your love. Even when you didn't understand my choices, you were always there for me. I knew that no matter how foolish or selfish or stubborn I was acting, you would be there loving me...supporting me...forgiving me. Now that I am a parent, I realize how much patience you must have had. How much hurt you must have endured at my hands. How much you must have worried. Yet, you held your tongue and you loved.

This life with you has been beautiful. Although this journey through cancer has been surreal. I don't know why this had to happen to you...you have always been the good guy...the guy that wins in the end. I will miss you deeply, but you will live on in our hearts and in the smiles of your grandchildren. There are many people waiting for you in Heaven. Your parents, your favorite cousin who always made you laugh (and oh how I love your laugh!), your best friend from childhood, your sister-in-law, your father-in-law (who I know is waiting with a beer and a good rhyme!), aunts and uncles and many others will be waiting with open arms. It is time to be free of the pain. It is time to be free of all the hurt and unkindness that being human makes us endure. Be peace. Be light. Be love.

When I see the hammock swinging in the breeze, I know that it will be you visiting.
I love you, Dad.

Corey Rae

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

All About Love

Over the winter holidays, I was engrossed in re-reading bell hooks' book, "All About Love". Throughout the thirteen chapters, hooks is determined to define love, not as a noun, but a verb. She writes:

Imagine how much easier it would be for us to learn how to love if we began with a shared definition. The word "love" is most often defined as a noun, yet all the more astute theorists of love acknowledge that we would all love better if we used it as a verb. I spent years searching for a meaningful definition of the word "love" and was deeply relieved when I found one in psychiatrist M. Scott Peck's classic self-help book, "The Road Less Traveled", first published in 1978. Echoing the work of Erich Fromm, he defines love as "the will to extend one's self for the purpose of nurturing one's own or another's spiritual growth." Explaining further, he continues, "Love is as love does. Love is an act of will-namely, both an intention and an action. Will also implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love."

I have read these words many times before, but on this reading, I finally got it. You see, in my younger years, I was a hopeless romantic. I believed love to be sonnets and guitar chords and late night confessions of the heart. So when I met Mo in the fall of 2000 and there were no over indulgent words of poetry perched on his lips or songs of the heart written just for me, I thought, "This will never last." Unless...

"Unless, I choose to make it last..."

In August of 2000, I was on the cusp of turning 25. I was moving to the "Big Apple", the place where, "if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere". I was on a quest to find myself again after a messy break-up of the relationship I thought would last. I was entering one of America's best schools of art to obtain my masters degree. I promised myself...no serious relationships.

So, from the first moment I saw Mo, I thought, "Wow. Cute. But, NO!" Plus, I was working for Residential Life and Housing as a Resident Director and Mo just happened to be a Resident Advisor assigned to my team. During training we had a long session about the implications of mingling with staff members, especially those we supervised...so double NO.

Mo was not only assigned to my team, but he also happened to be the RA assigned to my floor...which meant he lived directly across the hall from me. I found him stopping by to borrow things like brooms and pans and silverware. During one of these casual neighborly exchanges he said, "You have a lot of books. Have you read all of those?" He seemed shocked when I said, "Yes." He sat down and started going through them. He poured over the philosophy and anthropology books I had. We began to talk about them and then hours later we realized, we were still talking.

Our visits became more frequent, our conversations longer. We would cook dinner together through the week, pick up things from the grocery store for each other and generally look after each other. But both of us were aware of being in a vulnerable place and not wanting anything serious or committed. (He was dealing with his own messy break-up which involved two children as well as trying to cope with the rigorous demands of earning an architecture degree while being a foreign student in a foreign land.)

I'm not sure when either of us chose to fall in love with the other. But it dawned on me on September 11, 2001, that I was indeed in love with this guy who was somewhere around the World Trade Center at the precise moment those fateful planes hit. I felt an overwhelming amount of relief when he called to say he got to work safely but they were evacuating his building. He arrived back at my door hours later, sweating, covered in dust and tears. I hugged him so tightly. I just knew I never wanted to let go.

Thanksgiving of that year found us making a trip to the U.K. together. I don't remember what inspired the trip and surely everyone around us was questioning our decision to travel at such a tumultuous time, but off we went anyway. The vacation gave us a chance to see what it would be like to be this "international" couple...the artist and the architect traveling the world. (Okay, so may be a little of that sappy, romantic stuff seeped into our relationship at certain points.)

Despite a great trip, our return to Brooklyn found us at odds. I was relieved when Mo decided to return to Jamaica for winter break. When the term started up again in January, we were still on again, off again and our relationship stayed that way until the spring. In May of 2002, we decided to move into an apartment together. We chose commitment.

When the term ended that May, Mo decided to spend the summer in Jamaica working for his father. I stayed in Brooklyn and made arrangements to end the summer in Jamaica with him. It was difficult to be away from each other for those two months especially since we felt like we were finally on the same page with our relationship and wanting to work together as life partners. My trip to Jamaica was extraordinary. I loved it and I knew I loved him. For the first time, I felt like there could be a future for us.

This time our return to Brooklyn found us deeply in love. Christmas of 2002 found us engaged.

The first week of 2003 dealt us a devastating blow. Our relationship was again tenuous. Circumstances surrounding Mo's children and their mother back in Jamaica left us at odds. We realized that in order for us to move forward together, we needed to deal with our feelings regarding Warrior and Earth Mother. Mo needed to put to rest the relationship with their mother and come to terms with the fact that he could not rescue her or the children. We decided to go to couple's counseling. Counseling was great on the one hand but not so great on the other. We were both struggling. Neither of us knew for sure what we wanted. Counseling revealed that we were very different in so many ways...that we lacked a fundamental understanding of each other. While we struggled with our relationship, we had another thing to consider...Mo's immigration status. He was in America on an F1 student visa which would expire 30 days after graduation that May. He would be forced to return to Jamaica unless...

Unless we got married. After several meetings with our immigration lawyer and with our counselor, we decided that we were not ready to end the relationship (which would have surely happened if Mo went back to Jamaica). However, we weren't really certain that we wanted to continue it either. Or, at least I wasn't certain I wanted it to continue. But I agreed to get married and "see" how it went.

July 3, 2003 found us in the office of the City Clerk of Manhattan aka City Hall. In attendance were my parents, my best friend, Mo's aunt and grandmother, his best friend, a mutual friend and Mo's mentor. We said, "I do", had brunch and then went off to our Honeymoon in Ithaca, NY. I was feeling dazed and confused. I still had a lot of doubt about our relationship and whether or not we were doing the right thing.That my wedding day was not the best day of my life always bothered me until very recently (last week) when I read this. (I am slowly understanding that it is not where we started, but where we are that matters.)

July 3, 2004 we celebrated our anniversary and our marriage by renting out a space in a neighborhood bar and inviting all of our family and friends. I have always considered this my wedding day because I was truly, truly happy and in love and committed to Mo. We danced and ate and celebrated! It was great!

We seemed to even out and enjoy a true honeymoon period right through the birth of our son, Shine, in May 2006. Indeed, it wasn't until 2007 that we began to feel uneasy. While the pundits refused to acknowledge that the American economy was falling apart, it was apparent to most of us living and trying to work in NYC. Mo and I began to face years of unemployment and financial uncertainty.

The pressures of trying to keep our heads above water began to take their toll. There were many moments of wanting to throw in towel and call it quits. At the end of February 2010, I found out I was pregnant with Song. This very unexpected event came when we were on the verge of physical, emotional and financial collapse. Moving here to Kingston in June of 2010 was by all means an attempt at saving ourselves and our relationship. It has been a long and weary road. However, we are still here...still choosing to love. I have been realizing (thanks in large part to the reading of "All About Love") that marriage (or commitment) is consciously choosing love every day.

Mo's aunt posted this quote on her Facebook wall recently:
People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that's what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. (source unknown)

I think bell hooks would agree with this. Love is not that swooning "sweep you off your feet" feeling. Love is harder than that. Love is deeper than that. Love holds more Truth than that.

Choose Love.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Mom's Staycation

I am being granted a vacation or staycation, rather. This weekend, Mo is taking the kiddos to his parents'. I am staying home...by myself. I am both thrilled and panicked by this idea. I have not been "on my own" for well, for a very, very long time. I am overwhelmed by the idea of having 56 straight hours all to me. My goal for this staycation is to finally get the studio set up and get creating. I have committed to having a vendor's stand at the Marcus Garvey Festival February 19th. While very excited about the event, I have yet to organize my stuff.

On the To Do List:
--Dye fabric for sarongs
--Cut and sew fabric for wrap around pants
--Assemble new line of fabric jewelry
--Organize the studio for all of the above to occur
--Lay in the hammock and read
--Make use of the jacuzzi tub and give my poor back a break
--Try out all the yummy recipes I know my family would be less than thrilled to eat
--Catch up on some Art gazing

I will let you know how it goes.
Until soon...
Peace and Wellness,

Thursday, February 9, 2012

"To the World!"

This morning Shine asked me to join him in saying, "To the World!" over and over and over again in a very joyful and animated fashion. It is a common expression here that signifies doing "big things" or "taking it to the next level". Shine had a different explanation:

Shine, "Do you know what 'To the World' means?"
Me, "No, please tell me."
Shine, "It means that there is a portal that goes from Earth up to Heaven. Then there is another portal that goes from Heaven into Outer Space. Your energy goes zip (swooping hand gesture) out of your body and through the two portals 'To the World'. "
Me, "Wow, that sounds pretty exciting."
Shine, "Yes, it is." Pause. "You know, the Little Lord Jesus is already there, right?"
Me, "Really?"
Shine, "Yes. He was born Higher than us, so He got there first. We will see Him once we go through the portals. Let's play Legos now."

Monday, February 6, 2012

Honoring an Icon

Today is Bob Marley's birthday. The island has been celebrating its most influential and far reaching National Hero. While some may think of Marley as a cliche of Jamaican Culture, one must acknowledge the breadth and scope of his political as well as musical genius. Here's to you Mr. Marley. You changed the world in so many wonderful ways!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Truth, Part 2

My last entry on Truth outlined some of the general areas where I am seeking Truth and Honesty in my life. In this post, I will go deeper into my own patterns and how I am working on accentuating what is working and fixing what is not working. The I Ching teaches that Life is flow...seasons are cyclical...that we create patterns that we carry with us through many lives. We need to recognize those patterns that are pushing us towards our Incarnate Purpose and we need to alter the ones that are holding us back from fulfilling what we have come to this Earth to do.

1. Marriage: Mo and I have a crazy love story that I will share with you one day. At the time, we were probably one of the most unlikely couples to get together and settle down. In many ways, we couldn't be more different. In other ways, we couldn't be more similar. One way that we are the same is in our need for independence. We form our own agendas and set about completing our goals individually, instead of seeing where we over lap and could work together. And we often neglect to inform each other of our plans. We both have these tendencies, yet, I become very upset with Mo when he forgets to tell me something. I also have a hard time admitting when I am wrong or acknowledging my own faults and apologizing.

2. Parenting: There are times when I become too focused on the task at hand that I forget to ease up and just go with the flow. I become impatient with the constant interruptions. At times it becomes a battle of wills just to get shoes on and get out the door to do the grocery shopping. I yell...sometimes a lot. I have to remind myself that children are great mimics. They do what you show them...not what you tell them. And while getting the daily chores done is one thing, in the bigger picture, it just doesn't matter if/when/how they get done. What matters is that I am teaching my children how to be joyful, confident, compassionate, productive individuals.

3. Step-Parenting: In this area, I am having a hard time advocating for Warrior and Earth Mother. I feel that this is partially due to a scarcity of resources. I am not advocating for them because to do so would mean diverting our already meager resources of money, time and energy. We are still trying to build a strong foundation for ourselves, advance our careers and settle Song and Shine. I feel that if we spread ourselves too thin, then we will collapse from trying to carry a load that is much too heavy for us right now. This doesn't mean that I do not love or care deeply for them, because I do...very much.

4. Disease: Some believe that disease is a manifestation of a troubled Spirit. That illness happens to draw our attention to that area of our psyche that is clogged, broken, out of alignment and holding us back from fulfilling our Divine Purpose. I can see this with my dad and his diagnosis. The Truth I need to face is that this is my father's journey. I would like him to respond in certain ways...in ways that I hope I would respond if it were me and my diagnosis and my journey. I need to accept that it is out of my control...that this experience and these lessons are his.

5. The Present Moment: I often suffer from "the grass is greener" syndrome. I have found it difficult to settle down in one place. I reach a destination and then begin thinking, "Where can I go next?" or "If I were just not here but there, my life would be great." I lived for just shy of ten years in Brooklyn. Eight of those ten years were spent in the same apartment. Other than my childhood home in Pennsylvania, that is the longest I have lived in one place. However, when I reflect back on those Brooklyn years, most of the time was spent thinking about how to leave and move to the next place. I feel like I didn't embrace being in NYC...like it was just a stepping stone on my way to finding...well, finding what exactly? I could never be sure. When we moved to Kingston, I became determined to lay down roots and really start to grow. I am making the most of the opportunities here. This is my home. This is where I belong in this present moment.

Face your Truth.
Peace and Wellness,

P.S. Read Part One here.
Read Our Love Story here.

Friday, February 3, 2012


Truth and Justice have been recurrent themes here in our house lately. In fact Shine declared today that his Lego Ninja are great people because they fight for Justice and all that is Right. Mo too is a seeker of Truth. He goes to great lengths to ensure that the Truth is seen and acknowledged.

When I attended the I Ching workshop in the fall of last year, I learned that one of the lessons I am to take from this life is to acknowledge patterns (both good and bad) and to adjust those patterns that are harmful and stifling. To do this I must be honest with myself as well as with those close to me. It is hard to take an honest look at yourself. There is Truth to the saying, "The Truth Hurts." Reconciling what is with what we think is there or hope is there or want to be there is difficult but necessary if we are going to live an authentic life.

So here are some Truths I am wrapping my heart around. I realize that I am not the first person to make these observations. They are not profound or even very insightful...but they are what I need to acknowledge for myself. They are what I am facing at this moment. In no particular order:

1. Marriage is hard. There have been moments over the last few years that Mo and I have each considered going our separate ways. We have faced many difficulties...some of our own making and some that we have had little control over. What has kept us together is this idea of possibility...when we think of all that is possible with our combined efforts, we see amazing things.

2. Being a mother is one of the most difficult jobs I have ever had. There are days when I think I'm not going to make it to bed time with my sanity intact. Then I read this and felt relieved. It's supposed to be hard if you are doing it right and if you are filled with a crazy amount of love for your children. It is not hugs and laughter and bright smiles twenty-four-seven. It is a lot of grit and determination and tears. But those kairos moments are truly worth it!

3. Being a step mother is even more difficult. I wonder sometimes if it's the role of step mother in general or  just my position as step mother in an adversarial situation that makes it so hard. Maybe it would be easier to embrace this role if all parties could work together for the best interest of Warrior and Earth Mother.

4. My dad will not recover from his cancer. This is the hardest Truth to accept. I feel angry, cheated, sad, frustrated, depressed...I'm very grateful for the two months I did get to spend with him. I am happy that Song and Shine were able to make memories with him. I know Shine will take them with him through his life and think fondly of his dear Poppo. Although Song will probably not have full memories of him, she may hold on to the dream like images of his gentle hands, warm laugh and caring demeanor.

5. I believe with my whole heart that we are in the right place. That things are unfolding the way they are supposed to be.  It has been a struggle to start life over from scratch. Sometimes I catch myself longing for something that we had in Brooklyn...like a piece of furniture or a local shop. But, I love my life in Jamaica and I cannot imagine our family living anywhere else for this phase of our lives.We will see if the winds carry us other places but for now we are living, loving and seeking Truth on this wonderful island.

Face your Truth.
Peace and Wellness,

P.S. Read Part Two here.