Monday, 24 April 2017

Journey to NOAH CON 2016 : Taking a self defense class with albinism.

Taking a self defense class as a person with a visual impairment is one of the most empowering thing I have done in a long time.

I have been harassed on many levels in my life, I have been accosted in the street where everyone can see, I have been followed and grabbed and laughed at while it all happened. Yes, right here, in my beautiful country, I have had many female friends who have been accosted likewise and many male friends who have shrugged and suggested that we just don't go to those places.

Except sometimes those places are in the middle of the capital where you take the bus home.

Unfortunately, usually when I speak of this what I'm told is that this is normal. Even if I accept that it is normal to be publicly violated in my country I will never accept that it is right. Now by now you must know that I am a Christian and for me part of that Christianity means standing up and saying NO to something when I am presented with the notion that normality equates right.

I woke up very early to take that self defense class and one of the things I learned from itouch self defence is that those things, being harassed, leaves physical residual affects as well as the type you cannot see.

I had to be told so many times by my instructor to calm down, to go slowly, that this was practice so I need to be careful or I would mistakenly hurt someone. My reactions were involuntarily serious every time I had to conduct a mock exercise due to being involved in the real thing far too often.

I think every person should learn to defend themselves from assailants who society empowers through acceptance of their actions into thinking that they have a right to take security from others.

Taking a self defense class was one of the best things I did at the conference and I would do it again and again if given the opportunity. Then, I would teach it to my daughters because if I live in a world that tells me I should expect a man to hurt me, I will make it a world where I will know the quickest and most effective way to make him fail at it. Then, I will teach it to my daughters. Oh, and for the sake of equality let me say, that goes for if the world tells me that i should expect a woman to hurt me too. Unfortunately statistics are still in the majority of a male assailant and so are my experiences and the experiences of my loved ones.

Also, shout out to my male friends who have not averted their eyes when I have been accosted. Shout out to the ones who have said no when the notion has been suggested.Thank you for being part of the solution.

 My trip to the NOAH Conference 2016 was made possible by sponsorship from: The Writers Association of Grenada, Kallalou Designs, The Office of the Prime Minister and various good Samaritans who insist upon not being named;their kindness clearly knows no bounds!

Monday, 10 April 2017

Journey to NOAH CON 2016 : Meeting Tweens with albinism

My story of meeting the mother of and a tween with albinism is...memorable. There were so many sessions to attend and in the midst of my overload I wondered into the end of a session that focused on how to handle Street harassment. Ivy sat at the back of the room, I think we both kind of just wondered in late. 

I don't even remember how we struck up a conversation. I only remember us talking about the various violent reactions her daughter had to deal with due to the cruelty of other children.

I wont cower to tell you how shocked I much it shook me learning about other kids breaking bottles over the head of this little girl who just wanted to go to school, learn and hurt me.

I know what it feels like to be grabbed in the street without permission. It boiled my blood and ached my heart thinking of this girl much younger than I, who should only have to focused on deciding on what she wants to grow up to do and nurturing that growth, being cornered and having bottles broken over her head because she doesn't have as much pigment as her classmates.

It shocked me, this happening in America, not in Africa or China but in one of the states of a leading first world country. In a place that is known through media for being a place of freedom and acceptance a girl is holding her hands in the shadow of the day and dreaming about being darker so she can escape harm and simple exist free. She is breaking into tears because she is questioning her faith as God didn't answer her prayers about the colour of her skin in the morning when she woke up. I'm not even just talking about the girl in the picture any more, this is a real situation, real accounts but I am saying to you that it is not an isolated account. How do we change that?

Maybe we remember that we are more than skin colour, that we are more than #TeamLightSkin and more than #TeamDarkSkin, Maybe we remember that race is more than melanin, a lack or abundance of it. Perhaps we entertain that worth transcends physical tributes? Maybe if we did that we would stop convincing generation after generation that they should filter their self worth through the lens of superficial characteristics. Perhaps it would allow them to more quickly and readily see the unwavering value of personality, skill and contribution to society. That is my suggestion but that's a whole different story for a whole different day...

I had already taken a self defence class at the conference so I was able to share that with Ivy and encourage it for her daughter too. We bonded over the struggles of having to be guarded and protective over safety due to looking differently and strangely enough, over roti. Turns out My girl V is well acquainted with Indian heritage and knew all about roti so you know my Caribbean self was impressed!

I treasure V's friendship and can't wait till we meet again! Her daughter, whom we will affectionately call Peanut-Buttercup, is a beautiful strong girl blossoming into an amazing woman. Just over the course of the four days we spent at the conference I got to watch Buttercup go from talking with her head down to leaving her mother in the dust as she ran off to join her new friends.

I still remember looking over at V and hearing her say ' I lost my child for the first time' with a content smile bubbling up from her heart and spreading across her face.

Okay let me explain that so you don't get the impression that V is terrible, she is not.  Parents with albinism have no fear on the day to day of loosing their child with albinism. Let's face it, we stick out like gold bars in a sea of tomatoes, you just can't miss us. To 'lose' your child with albinism in a place where they are safe and with people who understand their struggles and will rejoice with them in their strength. To lose your child amongst people who will praise them simply for being and not for being is a deeply emotional and unexpected joy afforded to us by the NOAH Conference.

In a world were everyone is always desperate to be seen this seems unimaginable the overwhelming joy of being able to simply...disappear from sight for a change. Even more so if you are a person of colour.

For us to disappear is a bit of a luxury. The NOAH conference put that luxury in our hands and said 'have fun' so we did.  When I share this with people who don't have albinism, who can easily disappear because they look just as the world expects them to so the world does not notice if they bow their head I get disbelieving looks. 'Why would you want that?' is what I am asked.

The truth is, we don't usually. I LOVE sharing life and experiences with people, you would know this if you've ever spoken to me. I wouldn't be writing this blog post if I simply wanted to disappear. Here is the harsh truth; we all have those moments, when we don't want to be kind, when we want to throw on a hat and an over sized t-shirt and simply fade into the masses consumed by our own uninterrupted self discovery. It might be rare, if you are more on the extroverted side like myself, but these moments do happen, we are all deserving of them but we don't all get to have them.

For many of us with albinism those moments are like finding a needle in a hay stack while having bad eyesight. A stroll down the side walk never goes unseen and barely goes without someone feeling like they have a right to comment on who you are, what you look like and what you should do with your life. No thank you, I know who I am, I know whose I am and I should not be made to defend that constantly when the rest of the world is not.

Peanut-Buttercup said this to me and know I will never forget it as long as I live 'I used to think I was the only one in the world and this weekend I was one in one thousand!' I had to put on a brave face y'all.  I used to think the same thing you see.  On my little Caribbean island at 11 years old I remember stealing myself against the isolation of being the only one that looked like me in the world. Accepting that I would never look to my left or right and see someone who looked like I did...

It didn't turn out that way for me and because of the NOAH Conference it didn't turn out that way for Peanut-buttercup either, thank God. The NOAH Conference was our opportunity to be a part of a community of rarity

Peanut-Buttercup is doing pretty good these days by all accounts, she's been out their joining groups, growing up and discovering herself safely and confidently with the aid of her amazing mother who, has taught her the art of a quick witted tongue and a no nonsense sense of self worth. V loves her daughter and continues to teacher to way of the strong willed, driven, capable woman. Those are the parents that build success from the ground up by teaching capable despite difficulty or difference.

Did the NOAH Conference serve to aid this, I would so say certainly.

My trip to the NOAH Conference 2016 was made possible by sponsorship from: The Writers Association of Grenada, Kallalou Designs (shout out to my boss earrings), The Office of the Prime Minister and various good Samaritans who insist upon not being named because they are kind beyond measure <3

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Musing :: Style :: SpiceBlogger Meet Up

Blogger confession; I've been so jealous watching the rest of the blogging world get to go to blogger meet ups. I had given up on the idea a long time ago. Living on a small Caribbean island I had conceded that it wasn't going to happen for me because there just were not that many bloggers that I knew of on island and when you put that with my awkward shyness I figured...thems the breaks.

Flash forward about seven years and blogging has become more popular, stretching it's arms far enough to reach the coast of even my little island. I had met a few blog buddies along my journey I'm sure you know, I've featured my friend Shell, I've loved talking blogger shop with both Islepreneur and Grenada Soul Adventure for a few years. I never would have thought though that I'd find myself at a local restaurant talking shop with a whole group of beautiful LOCAL blogger babes!

Islepreneur, myself and Grenada Soul Adventurer (all stared photos in this post are her own.)


Can you believe it? These aren't even all of us! After blogger Divya, whom I met when I did a shoot with Kered (lady with the cute white purse pictured above), took the bull by the horns and started a Facebook group I was surprised to find that not only are there many local bloggers but local blogger of numerous blogging genres.

Of course the only other logical thing to do was to meet. A venue was chosen and we met at The Edge Restaurant and Bar.

The scenery there is fantastic and the name is well suited. We found ourself in up close and personal company of the ocean. The waves were our live dinner serenade and the warmth of the sunset light kissed us all over as we laughed and celfied our way into acquaintance. 

It was a good time. I LOVED meeting this group of beautiful diverse women with different passions and different stories to tell. There is a pride about my countrymen I've talked about before and it was so heart warming to sit in a room full of bloggers who know that pride well and want to celebrate it through different genres of writing. 

I remember playing with the idea of a directory when Shell and I thought we were the only you can check out islepreneur IN DEPTH post about Spice Island blogs, what they are and where you can find them. I am so thrilled to see this day! You can find out from the growing directory within the spice island blogger facebook page.  Like I said in a previous post being a writer can feel like a very isolated life but as Islepreneur put it on the day of our meet up "if you never ask a question you'll never know'  Now we know we are not alone both literally and in terms of our passion. I compiled a quick tiny directory of all the bloggers present at our first meet up here, if you want more info on all the known spice bloggers check it out or the directory via the facebook group.

When was the last time you were happy to find you were not alone in your love of a thing?

Peace. Love. Community.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Journey to NOAH Con 2016 :: Meeting Parents of children with Albinism

After meeting the little girl in the blue dress I stepped outside and ran into Laura and her baby boy. I watched for sometime as he crawled happily about the room, exploring the ground with his mother close behind. His mom and I shared brief pleasantries but what was  most clear is just how very loved is her son. He was shy and she coaxed him into a smile, hugging him close. 

I don't get to see babies with albinism. The last baby with albinism I knew was myself, not many memories to tap into there. Seeing them made my heart flutter but if I'm honest, most babies make my heart flutter. 

At one of our evening meet and greets I was fortunate to meet the adoptive parents of another baby with albinism. Baby A is a happy, healthy, beautiful, shy girl, who clutched her mommy's leg with apprehension, as I cooed over her elated. She is very loved by her entire family, her older brother included. He is protective and guiding as good big brothers tend to do even though he's not that much older than she.

Adoption is something very very close to my heart. It is something that I have been passionate about since I was a little girl and learned of its existence. This passion has only grown as I have and as I conducted investigations into my own heritage. Meeting this happy family gave me an opportunity not only to ask questions I've always had about the process but to witness first hand the beauty of a complete family made up of people who have love to give and a child who wants to be loved.

I know that the bonds of love are much bigger than blood connection. Baby A's momma is her mummy and will always be her mummy. The love between them is potent and cannot be missed. 

We talked about her motivations for coming to the conference which were mainly focused around gathering information to ensure they can provide their daughter with all the help she needs as she grows into a thriving and supported young girl. 

Kurtis is a father of a child with albinism and fellow spoken word poet. It was so good to meet him! Kurtis was a chief male figure head in many of our sessions, representing the male voice and showing us what it is like not to be a mother but the father of a child with albinism.

He was frank about to toughness and veracity with which a parent may be required to teach their child to stand up for themselves. He shared with us his struggles with understanding that something what may initially seem as disrespect could very well be the side effects of a personal issue faced by the child with a visual impairment.

One of his examples was being called into school by the principal because his son was called in for being disrespectful by way of refusing to make eye contact, even while being disciplined. Kurtis explained to us that it had taken even him a while to understand that his son was not being disrespectful but was not keeping eye contact likely due to his nystagmus. He shared with us how it took a while for him to come to terms with this reality and underscored the importance of parents being ready to present and defend a reality they may be privy to before the rest of the world simply because they are parents. Kurtis was ready to stand up for his child because he took the time to understand his child, to see that his son saw the world differently but that didn't make him less than important or less deserving of justice than other students. He helped us underscore the importance of toughness and the right to equal treatment and understanding by the parent of a child with a visual impairment. It was a great asset to have him there with his boldness of truth.

All children are young people with talents and the possibility of adding to the world. It is the responsibility of the adults charged with taking care of the world to see this possibility alive in the helpless and the young and nurture it into greatness or tragedy... Children with albinism are no different. Attending the NOAH conference did not prove this to me; it enforced it.

Every child is as capable and as important as the eyes of capability with which we choose to view them. If you grow them in love and the possibility of success, they will water that investment and it will bare fruit.

My trip to the NOAH Conference 2016 was made possible by sponsorship from: The Writers Association of Grenada, Kallalou Designs, (aren't her earrings darling?) The Office of the Prime Minister and various good Samaritans who insist upon not being named, a further extension of their extreme kindness!. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

Monday, 27 March 2017

Journey to NOAHCON 2016:: Meeting the founder

I had numerous brief encounters with NOAH'S founder. While he made himself readily available there were just so many people to be available to so I am very grateful for the moments of meeting I had with him.

I was there relatively early at the start of it all, one the first day of the conference when things were not yet moving at break neck pace for the organisers. As a result I got to grab him for a photograph and set up an interview at his earliest convenience.  It wasn't till the end of the conference at the meet the funders session that I was able to sit with him and have a quick talk.

During our interview we discussed:
- Why you should go to a NOAH Conference.
- The reason behind the creation of the conference.
- It's importance to past, present and future attendees.
- The importance of NOAH attendance to parents of and people with albinism.

I was blessed to be able to get the entire interview on tape.

Some of the advantages to attending as suggested by the founder include:
  • People with albinism experiencing life a little bit differently, the conference is a community that recognises and plans events with this in mind.
  • There are other people who are going through the same thing and that community can help validate the experience of living with a rare condition.
  • Attendees can gain information about the condition.
  • Attendees can learn tips and tricks to help navigate the fully sighted world.
  • Attendees can gain information about the services and needs of your child with albinism.
  • Attendees can gain assurance that your child will grow up to be a fully functional member of society.
  • Attendees can learn how to deal with the years of the unknown for your child and for yourself.

I will never be able to bullet point every reason for as the founder himself proclaims, it's hard to explain outside of experiencing it. It is my hope that my encounter with him will help all involved to learn more about the conference and gain any knowledge they might need to help make a decision as to whether they should attend or not.

I will be bold enough to suggest that the answer, more likely than not, is yes.

 My trip to the NOAH Conference 2016 was made possible by sponsorship from: The Writers Association of Grenada, Kallalou Designs, The Office of the Prime Minister and various good Samaritans who insist upon not being named.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

My Word of 2017 || #TrustTheProcess

Last year I knew my word of 2016 pretty early in the game, it came at me like a whisper on a wind. This year with my impatient self I looked for my word of 2017 sneakily around every corner. I didn't want to let go of Victory, we had become so close! It had been so very good to me. I didn't want to short change myself either by holding onto feelings that need to be let go.

Eventually I had to calm myself down, you can't trick God after all. I wasn't fooling anybody trying to sneak a look around the corner and into the future.  So I had to constantly be mindful of my impatience, quiet my mind and let my word come to me.

It was not an easy thing to do. Before I knew it December was already almost gone and I still wasn't sure. I began to have conflicting feelings about two words. One I wanted to believe was mine and one I was feeling prodded by but didn't understand why it would expect me to trust it.

Let me explain.

On my road with Victory in 2016 I felt like that other word was journeying with us, I brazenly would venture to say I mastered that other bit already in the only way I could imagine that other word was asking me to use it. So, i decided to do my own thing I suspect, deep in my heart. I figured the other word that i felt I wanted to go with understood me better and where I wanted to go moving forward.

I was in the middle of a tweet in early Janurary, thinking back on the events of the day and how they had enlightened me when one of the suggested hashtags was #TrustTheProcess and I swear it hit me like a ton of bricks.

I would have sworn Trust was asking me to Trust God and I just couldn't understand why after the triumph of running with Victory all throughout 2016. To be honest I was almost insulted, I felt like I learned to dispense some remarkable doses of trust in the face of adversity, being unsure and doubt (read more of that here) so of course I sought out my dictionary to see what on earth I could be missing.

It wasn't till I was in the middle of that tweet though that I got it. I was being too small minded, I wasn't being asked to simply trust God, it was so much more whole of a thing. I was being asked to trust the process, to trust that everything is working together for my good. It is not just enough to know that I know what I am doing but I must Trust that I know what I am doing. I must Trust my ability to be great even while I am already being great. I must pour that faith, after pouring it into my God, back into myself. Trust that everything has led to this, Trust that He orders my steps, Trust that I must make these steps in bold confident strides.

I am tempted to say here we go again because just as I began with Victory I know this will not be a smooth go of things. I have some intimidating big decisions to make this year, decisions that are not going to get smaller as I get older. However I have also been granted an extraordinary sense of calm with this word. A calm I also must trust is real and not just the eye of the storm haha

It's gonna be a big year 2017! Ready for the jump off?! Too bad because it's already a quarter of the way behind us. Can you believe it's taken me a quarter of the year to share this word with you?

Lean with it, rock with it, Trust fall into it!  #TrustTheProcess What's your word of 2017?

Ready. Set. Jump!

Monday, 13 March 2017

Journey to NOAHCON 2016 :: With Hands Just Like Mine.

When she walked in she looked just like I felt. Nervous, scared, excited, confused, anxious. I was a grown up sitting with my hands crossed in my lap. She was being guided around by grown up. She was staring at her fingers, tying them and untying them in front of her.  Her guide led her to me.

She said she was from far away. 
I said me too. 
She said she gets a lot of snow where she comes from 
I said I get none where I come from. 
She is from Canada 
I am from the Caribbean. 

She told me about Canada, the rains and the floods and the snow. With excitement she shared with my and her voice got stronger and braver with every word as 'really?" I said 'waw' I said. She went on with flamboyant hand gestures explaining.

I told her about the Caribbean, the heat and the trees. While I was talking she took up a lock of my hair, held it up to her own and said 'hmmm...just like mine!' I said yes and with a heart so suddenly full I wonder how I remembered how to use words then, I showed her that my hands were like hers too. 

She was so shocked, her jaw dropped open and her little sapphire dress made a wide O around her body as she stared. I was too, I was shocked too but this time, I was a little better at hiding it. 

She squealed with excitement and joy, gave me a huge hug and ran away after changing my life forever. I'll never forget that moment with that child's pure, unbridled affection for a person that looks like you. I understood for the first time after her that...a baby of my own with albinism would not be so bad. It would not be the atrocity the world around me tries so loudly to convince me it would with every negative word they pitch or every unavailable opportunity. It would be a baby...with hands...with ten fingers and toes and joy just like mine. A baby that despite hardship could find joy in the world just like I have found it in the trees, in friendship, in overcoming challenges, in travelling and in faith. Just...a baby, with hands just like mine.

Don't get ahead of yourself their my stance on birth hasn't changed. I'm just saying that for the very first time I I always knew that everyone was wrong but for the very first time I held just how wrong they were to my chest, felt her heart beat, listened to her laugh and thanked God she existed. All in under a minute.

Lets get back to our story.

This was my first exchange at the NOAH conference. Just a little girl under the age of ten and a grown woman far from home, both never in a situation like this before, both feeling shy and overwhelmed about it. 

On the first night I went to the opening ceremony and the founder told us that we would cry, he told us that we would have a sensory overload. I didn't really believe him.

Then we were dismissed and I stood in the doorway by myself. I'm a very shy girl and I stood there marvelling about how shy I was in a situation I had dreamed about being in for so long. I could hear Mike in my head chastising me when we first got there at the hotel, I had refused to go up to someone I knew from facebook and had to physically stop him from loudly drawing attention to me. 'This is why you're here!' he had said. I ignored him then, as I usually do. Though I did hear him. There I stood hugging my fear tight and watching beautiful people walk right past me. This is why you are here I reminded myself.

People who looked just like me and nothing like me all at once filled the room and emptied it and filling it again. People with afros and dark lipstick and guide dogs and canes and babies, the babies owned the room!

The babies were being thrown into the air and caught. They were discovering every inch of the floor including the corners. They were vulnerable but bold, independent but calculating every step of their environment one step at a time. Their parents were watching in awe as their babies took life by the horns with no fear and we all truly lived in that moment, in that room together.

My eyes caught on a girl with a mane of curly blond hair and dark lipstick and I was struck by how gorgeous she, so struck in fact that I forgot I was staring and only realised it when she walked right up to me and said 'You're beautiful' smiled and walked away. I have been told I am beautiful often so it wasn't that I had heard it for the first time. Parents, tell your children they are amazing, this will set the tone for the rest of their lives and they will never be shocked when someone else says it to them. When she said it, this woman that i had been staring at my heart kicked because it was her and I saying to each other that we are more than skin and difference. We who looked the same but nothing alike.... I needed to sit down. 

Not before I found that facebook friend I had been too shy to say hello to by the way (hey Kadie, hey Ariel, hey Gabrielle)

Then I found my little friend again for a picture. By this time she had made a friend her age and they were wrestling. I mean full blown, belly laughs, rolling on the floor, they were born to meet and share stories bonded. 

I met a girl in a sapphire dress with a generous smile, bright eyes and a big heart and she made me weep. I met a girl who hasn't been alive for long but who has struggled and twirled and been brave and reminded me to be brave by her willingness to do just that very thing. I met a little girl with hands just like mine and I am so glad she said hello to me. 

She was my first little friend at the conference and honestly everything went great from there. She reminded me that at the core of it all, this moment was meant for all of us to meet, to come together and appreciate every thing that makes us different and the same as people with reckless abandon.

This is why we are here.

 To be continued
Check out more from this series here 1 and 2
My trip to the NOAH Conference 2016 was made possible by sponsorship from: The Writers Association of Grenada, Kallalou Designs, The Office of the Prime Minister and various good Samaritans who insist upon not being named. 

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Journey to NOAHCON 2016 :: Country Mouse & The Keycard

The story of my first key card.

So they give me my key card. Which I had no idea how to use at the time for I had never been handed one before then. We get on the elevator, Mike and I, who had proclaimed himself my bodyguard for the duration of my trip.

I'll tell you a secret, being in that elevator felt like the closest thing to going to Disney.  At first when the doors opened every now and again we ran into pilots who clearly were catching a nap before a flight or people who appeared to be ending business trips. Then the doors would open and there they were, people with the whitest hair I've ever seen outside of a mirror. It didn't happen often, maybe openly once or twice because it was still early and most had yet to arrive. There was also a girl with vibrant lavender and pink hair who I tried not to stare at because I have been on the other end of stares. That hair was a deep good breathe though let me tell you.

When we got up to my floor. Mike, who was a few floors ahead of mine had promised to help me make sure I don't embarrass myself. He failed. Our exchange went as follows. Elevator doors open.

Mike: ok this your floor, you can get out, bye.
Me: um... I don't know what to with this? *holds up key card* 
Mike: oh! Sorry I forgot! (then he laughed at me, rude)
Me: ....
Men in elevator give knowing looks 
Mike: no no she really can't get into her room I have to show her!
Men: more knowing looks.
Mike: No really!
 *Elevator doors close*

Well,  I promptly locked myself out the next time I tried to do it. A lovely lady who's grand-family was from the islands helped me a lot though so another crisis averted! When I got in my room at long last I unpacked and shot a room tour for you awesome people, check it out!

Then much to my shock and confusion my hotel room phone rang, that conversation went as follows
Me: Hello???
Mike: hey
Me: MIKE?! How did you get this number???! 
Mike: um....its just the number of your room...
 Me: oh! Waw...
Mike: *insert complaining about stuff like how small his room is cause he think he #baandboushie *
Me: I can't figure out how to charge my phone Wher eare the dang chargin ports?!
Mike:um.....Liz...there are charging ports on all the lamps you know that right?
Me: *checks* OMG! Mike, there are charging ports ON THE LAMP!
Mike: I know. 
Me: That's amazing!
Mike: *unimpressed* I'm going downstairs to explore.
Me: Yes, me too!

To be continued. 

My trip to the NOAH Conference 2016 was made possible by sponsorship from: The Writers Association of Grenada, Kallalou Designs, The Office of the Prime Minister and various good Samaritans who insist upon not being named.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Journey to NOAH CON 2016 : Country Mouse and the Steel City

It's actually taken me this long to be able to write about my NOAHCON 2016 experience. Let's begin from the beginning; the day I woke up in a foreign country as a visually impaired person, about to travel solo for the first time in my life. I must admit, I was really brave up till that point of waking up on the day of my flight. When you get that close to a dream I think that you achieve a weird kind of clarity. It's like standing at the edge of a cliff and realising juuuuust how blue water is, just how big the ocean, just how deep is deep.

Suddenly my excitement was fear. My big opportunity was a brimming panic...but I was going anyway. I had decided this months ago, come what may, I was going anyway, in blind faith I am going anyway.

My mother, aunt and myself took the bus to the airport...when we eventually got it. We couldn't get the bus necessary to take us straight to the airport because we had no change (not me my visually impaired self was so prepared) and when we did get the change the bus was mysteriously delayed. I wasn't bothered, I was going anyway, remember? I'm repeating that because that was my 2016 mantra and truly helped get me there!

When we finally got there my mother and aunt, ever helpful got me to the line, filled out the necessary paperwork so that I wouldn't have eye strain so early in my trip and sent me on my way, thinking they had helped me with all i needed and it was all good.

It was not all good. My family had the best intentions. I appreciated their help so very very much. Especially the not having to deal with eye strain part. Here is the thing, when it's hectic the visually impaired sometimes get forgotten. You are so caught up in making sure they have it that you forget to orient them. So this is what I learned in this moment, don't forget the importance of instructions. Oral instruction, include them in the how not just the done because you wont always be there but I will

Oh and if you're visually impaired, appreciate the people who help you, even when they help too much, it's because they don't have any formal training. Remember, we're all figuring this out together. It's up to you to make it clear what are your limits.

The airport of JFK is very large, especially for a small island girl who is visually impaired and never travelled on her own. I spent 50 minutes STRAIGHT running towards my gate after my family left me. 50 minutes trying to figure out what airport signs meant that I was seeing for the first time. Now let me explain, when you are a visually impaired person sometimes their are little things you miss...things that people have a point of reference for that you don't get because you don't grow up seeing it. Airport signs I missed in real life and in movies because I was too busy trying to remember bigger I don't know faces and places?

In retrospect it was not that hard, certainly not as hard as my return trip to New York but that's a story for another day. I read signs that I could see, used my monocular when I could not see them well. Road machines I don't have in my country LONG distances. Thank you JFK for having large print and clearly distinguishable directional signs! Saved my heart!

I got to my gate and pretended to be super calm while wondering if I did it right, if I was at the right gate. I think I only asked the very kind airport staff twice, TWICE as opposed to the two thousand times I wondered in my head if I got it right. Fun fact: one of those airport personnel was from my island, thanks for the love Jesus! I succeed at calm and after sitting at my gate for all of two minutes in anxiousness my plane showed up and I found myself running down to it.

Of course there was the other nightmare of having to ask for help to find my seat in the plane. Which I did despite embarrassing feelings because whatever choice is there? Get it done. Be upfront about the things you need. Ask for help when you have to ask for help.

The air-plane people were kind and helped, I found my seat. Then we sat there because it rained and we had to find an alternative route. Now, I had organised to meet up with my friend Mike, who I kind of think of as my ANNOYING American older cousin with albinism.  You know, that's one cousin who tells you to look over there and then steals your food? Or the one who tells all the cute boys that you don't speak English? We met online years ago, along with most of my friends with albinism. He had not been to the conference in years. He decided to go. We were going to arrive at the airport around the same time so my none American self could figure out how to get to my hotel. (No I could not take an uber but he could so we did, more on that later.) 

Back to me sitting in my tiny but comfortable plane after running to it for the last 50 minutes. Then just sitting there, waiting for it to stop raining and hoping I could find Mike when I got off plane. You know, Mike my visually impaired friend? Who I, the visually impaired girl who had never met this visually impaired friend in person was trying to find in a foreign country for the first time?

He did end up texting me and letting me know that his flight was delayed also ( such an undercover gentlemen when Jesus is on my side ) we ended up getting there minutes apart from each other.  

Fun fact: There was a dinosaur exhibit at the Pittsburgh airport that had me mesmerised for a second before Mike walked me through using the airport train, another thing we do not have where I am from, to find him. I bravely did as I needed to without looking like come-rob-me-bait (a genuine concern of mine) and then blatantly ignored Mike when I found him so I could update my instagram followers because I HAD MADE IT BABY! Your girl was so excited to be alive in Pittsburgh un-robbed and un-deported!

He was getting an uber so I don't think he minded too much.  After letting my mother know I was still alive in a foreign county she promptly asked to speak to Mike to and I quote 'tell him to make sure he take care of much Chile!' Loudly she said this in my ear. I assume in his too for after that there was much 'Yes ma'am...yes ma'am. I will treat her like one of my own.' (He did, see? Undercover gentlemen) 

We got the uber, had a lovely chat with our driver and then I busied my self marvelling at the reality that I made it safely. I was in Pittsburgh. I was going to the 2016 NOAH Conference. It's happening.

When we got to the hotel Mike had a good laugh at me as I approached the revolving doors as though it were a loaded gun  ( they were my first revolving doors don't judge me I've seen every final destination movie ) then taught me the trade secrets (always push from the right) I pushed. I stared. I marvelled. I believed.

I was so worried I'd run into some issue with the hotel due to my tourist self.  It went fine.

To be continued
My trip to the NOAH Conference 2016 was made possible by sponsorship from: The Writers Association of Grenada, Kallalou Designs, The Office of the Prime Minister and various good Samaritans who insist upon not being named.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Big Magic : Book Talk and mini review

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert is one of my favourite books discussing creativity and the writing process. In it Elizabeth Gilbert personifies inspiration and creativity as Big Magic, alive, throbbing and eager to be a co-conspirator in your creative life.

This book spoke to me as only Elizabeth Gilbert can, she puts forth so many experiences both real and fictional. The author explores with you the possibility of moving forward given those circumstances. This is such a minimalistic way of putting it, I am grappling with how to write about Elizabeth Gilbert's writing because it is so philosophical and so soul touching for me.

Before reading Big Magic my creative process was much more burdensome in my eyes. I looked at it as this untouchable sensai who I had to wait on for bread crumbs when I was in the middle of writing.

After Big Magic, I took in the authors notion soundly that my creativity is just as eager to work with me as I am to work with it. It does not tease me, it waits patiently for me to look in it's direction. Sometimes it takes longer for me to find it than we both like and that makes us both frustrated. Big Magic has helped me to consider that content is as eager to be written as I am to write it. My creative content is as eager to be born as I am to birth it.  

The author encourages us to 'Create whatever makes a revolution in your heart.' and how easy it is to forget this. To let fear of not creating something that will be validated by the current world keeps us calling ourselves 'blocked' or 'uninspired' when what we likely really are in afraid. Yeah, I said. Now  I am careful to remember Gilbert's words  '...because in the end, creativity is a gift to the creator not just the audience.' and that 'if you can learn to travel comfortably with your fear, then you'll never be afraid to go anywhere interesting or do anything interesting.'

In my life now many things present themselves to help my creativity. I have at least one creative friend upon whom I can rely to have the conversations that urge me on. I have another who is willing to think big with me and beyond the confines of the regular. The only thing that worries me about creativity right now is that I am not giving it the time it deserves to whisper to me due to the mundane and regular affairs of life.

Before reading Big Magic my biggest fear as it has to do with my creativity was that it would leave me if I did not listen to it exactly when it needed me to and that I would never ever be able to tap into that again. I feared that if I missed some magical moment of inspiration I would never ever find it again.

After reading this book. I realised that inspiration is not some kind of well that can run dry. Creativity and inspiration, it is like rain and rain falls even in the desert. Droughts help us to remember the sweet taste of raindrops on taste buds. Water is life and it does not simply dry up and disappear forever, it is a beautiful resource that constantly renews itself every day. 

We can do our part to nurture creativity even when it is not active. Acknowledging it, feeding it even with thoughts and smiles and inside jokes can go a long way to further the water cycle. Sometimes it's this very thing that can make the conversation between one's self and one's sense of creativity clearer and more easily translated from thought to action.

I loved reading Big Magic, it helped to change the way I think about inspiration, creativity and possibility. The author makes a pronounced point for me, reminding us that 'the creative process may seem magical but it is not magic' it is instead, like every thing else including acts of passion, work. Big Magic reminded me that just because passion is work this fact does not make it less magical. 

I recommend it to all of my creative friends as I felt like she spoke exactly my language. Her final note in the book speaks to my soul every day 'I can guarantee you this: A creative life is an amplified life,  and a hell of a lot more interesting life. Living in this manner, continually and stubbornly bringing forth the jewels that are hidden within you--is a fine art, in and of itself. Because creative living is where Big Magic will always abide' It is one of the few books I would read over and over again because just as I cant stop living it I just can't stop reading that others live it too.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Coffee Date Catch Up

Hey everyone! I know I've been noticeably absent for some time, I promise to do an update on why I've been MIA soon but the long and the short of it is this: I've been writing.

That is what writers do isn't it? We write and if you're passionate about something, if you promise that it's what you want to spend your life doing you simply must make time to not just be good at it but to be phenomenal. This is my belief and this is what I've been doing.

If we were on a coffee date I'd tell you that the thing about being a writer is that you don't always get to see our labour or our pregnancy with the work. Usually it just seems like BOOM book! poem! article! There is so much more that goes into it, research, editing, consultations, funding, sweat, tears, proofing....All of these things happen outside of the public eye.

If we were on a coffee date I'd tell you that after finishing my degree there are a few goals the writer in me has jumped head first into accomplishing and that sometimes means stepping back from the things that were so much a part of my life before. Recently I read somewhere that if you say no to nothing  your yes means nothing. I am inclined to agree as I tighten my belt a little bit in 2017.

If we were on a coffee date together I'd tell you I love being a writer but that is not enough, the only thing that will do is to write and to grow as a writer and I cannot do that if I can never find the time to do it. If you cannot find the time to do the thing you love the most you simply must create the time I think...You simply must carve a few seconds, minutes and hours out from the sides of other things or remove those things all together.

If we were on a coffee date together I'd tell you that you simply must feed the thing that grows you and this is something I believe without question. So this year that is what I am doing. I am feeding my writing and allowing myself to grow in it bigly in a big ways. I have some giant plans on my plate this year as a writer and most of them have already been set in motion.

If we were sitting across from each other on a coffee date I'd share that the beginning of the year saw the release of my Literary Review of the local Play Shattered Expectations published digitally and in print. The second saw my unexpected but honoured hosting of a final exhibition of one of the people I have always looked up to so very very much. Right now sees the launch of my first paper product line, starting with the release of my hand drawn and self authored poem on two bookmark designs. The Sweet heart' and The Subtle Heart' design both now available for purchase via my instagram and facebook page!

If we were on a coffee date together I'd tell you that the success of this line will set the tone of more of my product releases later this year.

If we were on a coffee date together I'd tell you I have also bunkered down and assigned the first three months of this year to book editing. Though my book is compiled I do need to get that final edit done. Things have changed since it was first compiled and I have a duty to my readers to make sure that I present a product that is authentic.

There is a long list of activities set out before me for the rest of the year, producer on a few short films, some more videography...all geared towards me becoming a better writer and me sharing more and more of my work with you. If we were on a coffee date that is what I would tell you, that writing is work, that writing is my work and that I am working and I am working hard.

So, here we go, with faith in one hand and fear in the other on this journey. One a passenger one the director.

Let's do this.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Everything Everything :: Book Review

Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon is a 21st century heartbeat wrapped up in the packaging of a charming love story.  In this short and sweet connection between a biracial girl and a child of abuse the reader is a subtle passenger on their journey towards discovering a colossal love.

When we are introduced to our female main character she is obsessed with the notion of living in the world and not just being of it. Our main male character becomes her representation of the outside, of a life lived on purpose, instead of by chance and circumstance and that is with which she  first falls deeply and madly in love.

This is a story that is a nod to a heart that allows you to love not without fear but beyond it. These characters are as the book itself puts it,'Two universes crashing up against each other but never touching', until of course they do. Yes, this is a love story but not just a romantic one. In this novel the main characters don't just meet and falls in love with each other but with a world outside of the boundaries of fear. Their vulnerabilities bring them together and become the catalyst of change that turns the stagnation and insecurity of the unknown to the brilliance and wonder of the possible.

For me that is what makes this book most interesting. This is a story of a girl as she falls in love with the world and with being alive in it. This is a story of a boy who learns to see this privilege by holding her hand.. Together they learn that 'Every thing's a risk, not doing anything is a risk, it's up to you." Together they discover "The difference between dreaming of flying and flight" in a flurry of quickness and colour and chance and change.

Together they discover Everything...just....everything from black and white to colour.

This book now has a film adoption and you may have seen the trailer taking the internet by storm. In the book one of the things I loved is that the plot continued outside of the romance.  Of course at first I was annoyed because I wanted to get back to the meat of things but as time went on, I loved that the author was daring enough to show us this isn't about holding hands, this is about letting go of fear and living anyway, this is about everything else too. Some people fault it for a certain level of predictability coming to the end but I can't because what I love is the character's response to that situation, her boldness in saying with every action that she wants to live fully anyway. In the face of that change old question 'What if I fall oh but what if you fly' or main characters answer let's find out.

I'm so excited for the film and I cant wait to see what they do with it!

 Peace. Love. Jump

Friday, 3 February 2017

Review of Shattered Expectations by Urias Peters Published in PRINT in the Greandian Voice Newspaper!

Hey everyone!

Just wanted to quickly mention the publishing of my Review of Shattered Expectation IN PRINT within the February 3rd issue of the Grenadian Voice News paper!

As a recent graduate I understand the importance of having citable sources. I wanted to ensure that works about my country could be cited by future student someday. The only way to do that is to ensure that the material is there to be cited in the first place.

So not only did I go see the show, support local literature, I wrote a review and had it published by a local news source.

Peace. Love. Be the change.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Review of Shattered Expectations published via digital media source NOW Grenada by TheWordyPhoenix

Go give it a read right here!

Saturday, 14 January 2017

12 Books on My To Read List in 2017!

Okay, so here are the books I am DEFINITELY reading this year

- Throne of Glass series (A 6 book series so lets see if i dig it )
- The Infernal Devices ( I'll read the trilogy if it catches me )
- One Dark Throne
-The illuminae Files book 3
- A Crown of Wishes
- A Court of Mist and Fury
- The Forgetting
- The Reader
- The Sun is Also A Star
- Iron Gold
- Our Dark Duet
- Unwind
- The Book Thief done!
- ANYTHING Marissa Meyer publishes!

As you can see my reading has been quite taken over by Young Adult Fiction but I also hope to read more adult fiction this year. I have recently been LOVING the adult fiction genre. Contemporary fiction is rarely my thing but I know I will have to include some just so I can keep my brain calm after some really good books that are a part of a series which suck me in and leave me waiting a year.

My reading goals include:

  • Read a least one classic this year, maybe polish of Jane Austen as I believe I've only one of her novels left.
  • Read more adult fiction.
  • Write more literary reviews on what I have read.
  • Read at least 2 books of historical fiction. 

Monday, 2 January 2017

My New 2017 Planner

I've had a ABM Planner for two years and I have loved it. The size is perfect for fitting in every bag I grab and run out the door with and I loved their sticker sheet and fun illustrations and quotes.

This year I decided to try a medium sized planner because ABM is not making their planner this year and planners have been a wonderful way for me to hold myself accountable to my own productivity.

  • The hard sturdy cover.
  • The laminated tabs.
  • The size is perfect in medium! 
  • Bright colours!
  • The fact that the pages don't bleed my marker.
  • It's so sturdy it can fold completely with ease with it's ring binding

  • How thin the pages are, I feel like I'll rip them by mistake any time I try to turn a page.
  • The calender view is too tiny and cramped
  • Lack of more Christmasy page 
  • HATE those colour blocked out dates on my calendar. I'm not even in the states you see thanks!

Now for a love hate, it's a 17 month planner which I didn't want because I like completely leaving the baggage of a year behind when I move into a new one, I do this ceremoniously through my planners. My planner though a 17 isn't super bulky  and since my planner from ABM seriously died on me around September or October. I did need something to handle November and December meetings.

All in all, it certainly will be a new adventure, with new graphics, not as minimalist as I'm used to but hopefully, the super bright colours and business will help push me into a different time in my life.

To the busy, to the bold, onward to victory!
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