Thursday, 28 November 2019

Sometimes You've got to Take A Chance on Yourself first || Big Changes || JULY 2019 Catch Up

So what have I been up to let me tell you!

Writing and writing and writing.
Getting ready to self publish.
Getting into grad school.
Realizing that I have no way to make that dream happen and having to defer.
Loosing the ability to defer and having to make big decisions about my future, my job, moving, being a student again but this time in a foreign country while low visioned.
Doubting E V E R Y T H I N G
Waiting on God.

So....I got into Grad school y'all! I am about to start the degree of my dreams in a matter of days! I...cannot tell you what I am thinking. I just keep chasing my dreams, ending up in bigger and scarier situations than the last.

Is this the summary of life??

I have been packing and praying and trying to stay calm and failing and filling out form after form. I've sought scholarships and loans and done so much searching and asking question after question that just keeps leading me to dead ends.

I have come face to face with people in the position to help and have been forced to come to terms with the reality that they will not because "I just don't believe in you."  Yeah, that sucks to hear doesn't it? It sucks to live too.

Now don't get me wrong, I have a score of wonderful people who believe in me. So many people who have kept me feeling empowered. There are people in my life who have done all they can to help me take a step forward and I wish there was a bigger, weightier word than 'Thankful' and 'grateful' to express to them how I feel...

You see in this life it's already hard enough to get someone to believe in your ability. It is even more so when you HAVE a disability. This is why it has taken me so long to write about this...because it's hard to go here. It's hard to have this conversation about what a disability is, what an INVISIBLE disability is, why disability is not a bad word. Why because you know me and you've seen me adapt to get by successfully in some case or another, that does not disqualify me from that term and why, that term does not belittle me or box me into being a person who is not able to succeed. I want you to understand how saying to a person "Yeah but you are not reeeeally disabled though" says more about what you think about people who have disabilities and their ability to achieve and live normal, happy, lives than it does about me or that word.

I know we've come far but people get very defensive with words like those. As if you are belittling someone else's struggle when you imply that you too have an uneven footing to get past.  That is a whole different discussion however, I am not hear to fight over disability, what it looks like, what you think it should look like to gain your seal of approval.

I am here to say that I got into grad school.
This legally blind girl from the Caribbean who has had over 10 cancer cell removal surgeries.
Who is the first of her family to get this far.
This girl who learned to read at nine years old because she couldn't see the blackboard or the books.
This girl, who survived it, you don't need to know what it is.
This girl someone took a chance on and let into primary school.
This girl who squinted at too small printed in a primary school exit exams and passed it independently on her first go.
This girl who was told by her then secondary school principal that she would never amount to anything less than a month before graduation.
This girl who got an Associated Degree in humanities anyway.
This girl who even after being told by that same principal who ended up being her first boss, that he would "Never allow her to teacher" taught for thirteen years, reading and literature and self worth to every student she met.
This girl who saved every dime and financed her self through university and finished with a Bachelors in English and Literature with Education.

This writer girl turned woman. This one, who wrote these words you are reading and has wrote words you've read before. Who has loved and mentored and fought to make her country better with both her hands and still been told I just don't believe in you. when it came to taking the next bold step by every bank and credit union in the country she loves, when it came time to take the next step.

This girl is going to get a Masters Degree in Creative Writing anyway...somehow. Scared and all.

So for the next two years of my life I can honestly tell you I have no idea what is in store and I, a type A, engram one, stubborn Aries hate the unknown. When you're visually impaired it's like living in a pool of unknown around the clock already for goodness sake. Your very foot step is a step into the unknown because is that a step or is that a shadow and will I be safe and how and-

Watch this space because this girl? This girl is going to take another crazy chance on herself.

Will you route for me? I hope you'll route for me friend. I'll be honest, for as much as I just said, there are NO grantees. I could fail. I have only saved enough money for the first semester of this big crazy dream and...I could fail pretty bad. But I'm getting on a plane, I'm leaving everything I know and love behind anyway and I'm going to chase my dreams like my life depends on it because I'll be honest, it kind of does.

Want to help?DM my facebook page thewordyphoenix and lets talk about it!

Peace. Love. Let's Go get'em!
This post was written in July 2019

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Grenada Chocolate Festival 2019 | Brunch At the Tower & The Magic of Old Houses

I had the pleasure of attending Brunch at The Tower as well as be part of a Garden tour there during this year's Grenada Chocolate Festival; 2019. I don't know about you but for me being in extremely old houses has an air of magic. There is a mysticism in the reality that generations of people walked and worked these halls. Especially, since this house has a colonial past. There is history here, in every brick that was carried over on slave ship, then made part of this house's foundation. There is life energy in every flower planted by hands willing and unwilling both.

The Tower Brunch grows a plant seen all about Grenada called Butterfly Pea Flower. I admittedly, had never heard of it before attending the brunch. I am so glad that changed! Of course I looked it up and what did I find? Small island beauty as it is the Butterfly Pea Flower is famous and has been used in many a drink due to it's vibrant blue coloring!

 The Butterfly Pea Flower, when used for tea releases a richly hued dye that gives The Tower's signature blue ice tea it's mystique. It's an experience worth having to be handed a brightly brewed blue ice tea . I suggest strongly that you have a visit to The Tower and request it!

Brunch was an island mix of locally grown, organically tended, unique dishes. From warm dark chocolate doused savory dishes to juicy, fun shaped fruit salad that lavished your tongue in sweet fruit flavor, the moment you bit down.

And of course, tea, always tea! We are not, regardless of Columbus's fabricated ledgers, savages after all. Har har, see what did there?

Did the awe of this property stop there? No dear friends, it was just beginning! Onward, to the garden tour!!

The garden is alive and is felt all over the property, not just in it's designated section. It grows, extending leaves, branches, hands of praise to the sky. It embraces pillars and stairs, benches and pathways.  You cannot escape it in a way that you do not want to do.

I have come to understand that, at least in the case of my people, when we say that we are islanders people do not hear it all. They do not hear that we feel it. That we are saying we are part of this fertile soil, that we fill ourselves on this sweet, sacred Caribbean air. That we grow food with our hands and bent backs and knees. That we are kissed by freedom on the breeze.

Maybe they would understand better if they took a slow stroll through a living, breathing garden too...

Or maybe they still wouldn't understand. Maybe there is no understand the bones of a culture...there is experiencing though that I know for sure, in smiles, silence, skips and laughter like these...

I hope you get to feel that too some day. Maybe even at the next Grenada Chocolate Festival?!

Thank you to The Grenada Chocolate Festival for having me for yet another year! It was my extraordinary pleasure to be there and to be provided and opportunity to share these moments of magic with you dear reader. For date of the next Grenada Chocolate Festival 2020 click here!

Do you think old houses have a life of their own?

Peace. Love. Brunch!!
All photos taken by Grenada Chocolate Festival 

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Cocoa Tea and Chocolate Talks at the House of Chocolate Grenada || Grenada Chocolate Fest2019

I had the pleasure of attending 'Cocoa Tea and Chocolate Talks at the House of Chocolate Grenada. On Wednesday 5th May, 2019. I know you're probably thinking, did she say a TALK? That can't be one of the fun ones! Well, jokes on you because I'm an academic  so of course this qualifies as my nerdy idea of fun! Also there was COCOA TEA, which I happen to love so much I have recently dubbed myself it"s beloved ambassador.

Now, as some of you may already know, cocoa tea is a drink made of dried concentrated cocoa, brought to a boil. Then, like most teas, it sees the addition of milk and sugar as according to preference. On my island of Grenada we grow organic, ethically made cocoa that is of exemplary quality. Go ahead, ask about us.

Cocoa tea is usually served hot. As it is made of the raw ingredient used as the base for all chocolate, it is rich, full bodied and if dried well in the processing part of the product, it is very healthy.

It is a drink I am extremely passionate about. As a child I was never a milk drinker really and while many city house hold children seemed to have grown up drinking milk, my countryside home really drank cocoa tea the majority of times.  It is a tradition for my family that spans generations, both paternally and maternally.  One of those things that never seemed odd until I discussed it with friends and found out that for them it was more treat than daily indulgence.

On our island Grenada it is made in a variety of ways, most commonly with the addition of cinnamon and bay-leaf during the boiling stage. As I lived that wonderful privilege of country life, I grew up picking a bay leaf (locally also called bounden leaf) off a branch, left to dry on our kitchen counter. I would pop it into a boiling pot of melting cocoa and watch the steam swirling up from that fragrant depth of soon to be liquid chocolate.

I wish I could describe for you the smell of a bay-leaf hitting that boiling hot, dark, swirling vat of cocoa. How it permeates...not just every room of a house with the smell of roasting cocoa bean but the general surrounding environment with it.
So many Sunday mornings I woke up by that smell, as my mother stood at our stove. Waking the house and my appetite with the stir of that pot of tea. I love it so much I've wrote poetry about it y'all! 

At the Grenada Chocolate Festival 2019, Cocoa Tea and Chocolate Talks, we were lead into discussion by Belgian professional chocolate taster: Le Cameleon Chocolate

She spoke to us of the differences between a traditional Mexican cocoa roast and a contemporary one.

I was enraptured. Since cocoa tea means so much to my family it was enthralling to find out that the Aztec made chocolate, oven roasting their beans and adding a smoky, woody taste to their chocolate not just for flavour but as a way to pay spiritual homage to their ancestors through the smoke ascension. 
Myself and Cameleon Chocolate sharing a cup of vegan cocoa tea from the House of Chocolate Grenada

I cannot help but marvel over how people, so far apart, so different in look, culture and geography, managed to work out a delicious endeavour so similar in it's process.

Here, at home in Grenada, we do a lot of stove top roasting of our cocoa beans. Maybe because with time it has seemed simply easier and time effective? Our chocolate taster reminded us of the importance of knowing the objective of chocolate tasting, is it for traditional notes of wood and smoke or modern notes of smoothness and spice? Notice where the emphasis lay on your tongue.

Afterword, the House of Chocolate gave us an exclusive look at how they make their cocoa tea in house and we got to tasting. We also had the opportunity to taste some rough ground chocolate from Tabasco Mexico, examining the story in the flavour of a treat typically used to make drinks. We noticed how it is 70 percent sugar and as a result, is more prone to melt quickly. How its roughness, mildly woody and smoky notes, play on your tongue a little before it is gone. We could then compare and contrast this with how our many grades of Grenadian chocolate tastes smoother, darker and leaves a burst of flavour long after it is gone...We got to taste this not just in tea but in House of Chocolate Grenada's jam filled bon bons!

Also pictured above: me dying over how cute this tiny treat is oh my goodness just LOOK at it!

I cant wait to have a dark roast, vegan styled cup of cocoa tea someday. Honestly with all that sharing of cultural similarities even in the face of difference, it's made me want to put Mexico on my list of places to visit for the first time in my life because what else do we do similarly, I wonder? The more we change the more we stay the same it seems...Thank God the cocoa stayed deliciously brewed!

How marvellous it was to taste and discuss the existence and relevance of cultural, historical tastes, verses modern taste and trends. How often we forget that food carries in it not just tradition but the stories of a people, long after are gone.  It makes me wonder what other stories meals have been trying to tell me....

Peace. Love. Cocoa Tea!
For more on the Grenada Chocolate Festival 2020 click here!
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