Saturday, 24 June 2017

Grenada Chocolate Festival 2017 :: Making Cocoa Bean Jewelry at House of Chocolate : The Delicacy of the Design.

As we got ever close to the end of the Grenada Chocolate Festival I attended a session where we learned to use a different part of the cocoa pod for more than dining. Elle Coco, international expert chocolatier visiting from the United Kingdom, gave us a crash course in making earring with the dried cocoa bean.

When you crack a cocoa pod open these beans are covered in sweet white candy like deliriousness. They are also roasted for making chocolate at the beginning of the chocolate making process. Elle Coco showed us that with little more than a drill, pliers, clear nail polish, beading and a little creativity we could reuse, reduce and recycle this miracle of nature into more than food. We could wear our love of chocolate as hand made adornments if we choose.

Now with my tree hugging, environment loving self, I was more than excited for another opportunity to let humanity and nature collide and make beautiful things. I was also a little nervous because hey, visually impaired person who is terrible at fine details right here! Turns out, with faith trust and little bit of pixie dust patience and oral direction when confusion set in, I found a diy project even I could get done!

Step 1: glaze the (pre drilled to save time for this demonstration) cocoa bean with clear nail polish for longevity then let them dry. Tooth picks hold them well for this part.
Step 2: Design and plan your bead order while you put your glazed cocoa bean out to dry.
Step 3: Quietly try really hard to get all the bits on the tiny earring making material, get stuck because you're bad with fine detail, feel self concious over your visual impairment, feel like a failure, get over yourself like a big girl and ask for help because you're human and that's totally normal dude. WARNING: YOU can totally skip this part, it's totally optional.
Step 4: Be cool and seek clarification where needed. Bravery is totally cool I promise and I have it on good authority it is pretty close friends with success. Shout out to my not pictured Dominican gal pal and fellow blogger for the aid of her 20/20 vision!
Step 5: WIN AT SUCCESS and wear your cocoa bean earrings after you've used the pliers to attach your hook to your finished product.
Step 6: BE A BOSS and cocoa bean earring making and wearing, environment saving, entrepreneurial winner who, goes on to take over the world with their designer cocoa bean earring making company.
Well done you!

Thanks Elle Coco for hosting and THANK YOU Grenada Chocolate Festival 2017 for facilitating my first proper do it yourself project with one of my favourite things on this island, cocoa!

Find out more about the Grenada Chocolate Festival 2017 Here

Peace. Love. Branch Out.
All photos by Arthur Daniel for Grenada Chocolate Festival

Monday, 19 June 2017

Journey to NOAH CON 2016 :: Meeting Successful Adults with Albinism

Meeting adults with albinism was a treat. I found myself surrounded by app developers, Olympic athletes, kindergarten teachers, medical professionals, lawyers, world travellers, beautician, linguists... there seemed no boundary unexplored. This very fact is what made it so impact full. 

There have been so many things in my years that I have been ruled out of or have ruled myself out of because I was of the opinion that it was an impossibility with a disability.

Knowing that you are capable is nothing compared to experiencing representation first hand. Being in a room full of hundreds of people who have traversed roads so very different from my own...who have conjured and defeated ideas that seem at first glance impossible, served as another reminder that the world is bigger and greater than the boundaries of our comfort zone.

I want to make something clear because this is something said to me constantly when I explain my worry about not being able to accomplish a task:
every person with albinism can have a different visual acuity than that one person you met with albinism that one time who did that one thing.  

Shocking I know, that we can have the same condition and not be exactly the same. What a surprise that we can have a similar skin complexion, eyes and hair colour and not be exactly alike by skill level. Hey, does this sound familiar in anyway, the judgement of a whole group of people as according to how they look? The expectation that they should fall into a particular bracket not made by themselves?

You may meet a person with albinism who has sight that is corrected to 20/20 vision with glasses as well as you may meet a person who is legally blind and who corrective lenses do not help. You may meet someone who has vision acute enough to get a license as well as you may meet someone who needs a cane, Braille or a guide dog to function day to day. 

All people with albinism do not have the same needs and not only is it prejudice of you to assume so it's down right rude. I am an individual, treat me as such. Get to know me, ask questions and do not assume to understand the way I see the world through the eyes I have been given.

I don't just walk up to every person in a wheel chair and assume they have no functionality beneath the waist because that would be rude. I would accept that this person has a right to their privacy, I would get to know them and find out if they are comfortable answering my questions.

Don't just decide how to help a person, ask how you can help them. Do not hold them to the standard of that one success of that one person you met that time. Hold them to their own capability.

I know that it is tempting to do otherwise, as human beings I think we find a strange satisfaction in categorising things, placing things into boxes and telling ourselves that the ability to do so is a show of understanding whatever we have placed in there. This is not always the case that works, especially when you are dealing with human beings with an ever evolving conciousness, ever shaped by on going experiences.

Meeting adults with albinism was a breath of fresh air because different means talented in unique ways as much as it means bonded by rarity. It means moving from an isolated life style to realising that you are a part of a community of rarity that aspires to the same sense of normality as anyone else would.

Doesn't every human being deserve that respect? 

Yes, the answer is yes.

Peace. Love. Respect.
Thank you to everyone who had a hand is sponsoring my trip! All the people whose name I don't know, Kallalou Jewellery, the office of the Prime Minister and anyone else i have invulnerability not named by name. I appreciate you s very much!

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Grenada Chocolate Festival 2017 :: Making Chocolate at Crayfish Bay Organic Cocoa Estate and Turning Passion into Profit

Here is something I have noticed many people find trouble getting on board with; the idea that you should expect your passion to pay you some day, that it should sustain you and pour into you as you pour into it.

I am a writer. I write as a profession and I write for fun. My hard work comes with a price tag, I don't give it away for free and I'm okay with that being the case. The world scrunches their nose up often at that fact. If I do it for pleasure then why should I do it for profit, they ask.

Profit and passion make the best partners. They grow together and multiply happiness. What a reward it is to be able to live physically off of the thing that sustains your soul. This world says we're not supposed to say that openly, it says it makes us vain and greedy. I say it makes us honest and fulfilled.

For the Grenada Chocolate Festival Day 5 'Chocolate on a Shoestring', I went up to the Crayfish Bay Organic Cocoa Estate where married couple Kim and Lylette grow healthy, organic cocoa and then turn that into ethical, delicious dark chocolate and dark chocolate products.
Pictured: Lylette holding Crayfish Bay's organic, Grenadian grown, and ethically made chocolate bar.

They have allowed their passion for cocoa and sustainable living, for no bank loans and environmental care through recycling, to grow their dream into something that puts food on the table as well as satisfaction in their hearts.

We visited and listened in as Kim and Lylette shared with us their humble start, their innovation of thought that led to recycled materials being used to create good chocolate and their drive to keep it debt free.

From stories of friends who put their money where their mouth is via soft small loans, to crowd funding, to waking up long before the Caribbean sun to catch the perfect chilled temperature for hand churning proper, professional quality chocolate.

Pictured: drying cocoa for roasting. 

One of my favourite Grenadian maxims (no surprise that it has to do with cocoa) Is 'All who have cocoa  drying must look out for rain.' What it means is if you have tentative matters/your business,  that you don't want causing you ruin/exposed, then best keep your eyes looking towards the future/mind your own business. Anyway seemed like a fun time to share since cocoa drying in the picture.
 preparing cocoa for roasting

From buckets to microwaves to hand squeeze pancake maker, these entrepreneurs thought passion was worth investing time, effort, money and a future in.

I love Grenada's cocoa, it's always had a special place in my heart but as I stood there watching this couple talk with gumption and passion about the cocoa they grew in their back yard and literally roasted, shelled, whipped, moulded and settled into shape....

Pictured: Myself and Kim

Their product is grown, made and packaged, ethically, economically and environmentally packaged and handled with care. I can truly say I appreciated my Grenadian grown and island made chocolate so much more. 

  Pictured: my might have had too much chocolate tasting face.

My heart is full of appreciation and wonder for our farmers who keep doing this with little recognition. They care our lands and birth delectable treats that we can appreciate locally, regionally and internationally. 

So many of these same farmers are past retirement age but continue to supply our needs in the shadow of praise. I am mindful not just of the taste but of every boot that still rises before the dawn when I sip my favourite tea now.

I remember the crisis of not enough farmers this generation and Kim's appeal to take up the mantel. I remember the smile of his wife as she remembers waking before the sun to whip chocolate, her determination to get it right. The humility of a family that built profit on the back of passion and sustainable loving with the urging of a dream made persistent.

Their farm is beautiful and their chocolate successfully made. This entrepreneurial success is one that now contributes to their tables and the fortitude of my country, through the continuance of cultivating a high in demand natural resource. 

Just imagine, if when people said a passion could not pay you...imagine if they had listened. I'm so glad they didn't and you know what, I hope you don't either. If you have a chance to pursue a dream that can lawfully pay you reach for it with planning, passion and both hands.

Peace. Love. Let your passion and profit be partners.
All photos by Arthur Daniel for Grenada Chocolate Festival

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Grenada Chocolate Festival 2017 :: Find You Lookin' Kinda Shaky Balance Yuh Self! : Growing Slow at the Yoga Chocolate Meditation

I had the joy of being a part of The Grenada Chocolate Festival 2017 as a performer and a blogger. First, I performed my poem at their opening and then I got to rise and shine early in the morning and head down to the yoga chocolate meditation.

I love yoga. I find it a great form of exercise that forces me to give special care and attention to parts of my body that I often neglect. Now I'm a mover and a shaker and what I mean by that is that I'm terrible at slowing down. The only time I slow down successfully is when I sleep. Yoga is a form of exercise that allows me to take care of my body and my mind together. It doesn't whisper to me that I should slow down, it demands it. 

The Grenada Chocolate Festival has paired this form of exercise and meditation with one of the greatest of God's gifts to me erm us. They have done this by incorporating into the festival a Yoga Chocolate Meditation. 

Hold on, don't get too excited before I explains this to you. This exercise I can truly say holds balance as it's foundation, metaphorically as well as in the usual expected ways yoga tends to do.

This is me, this is me falling down while trying to balance for a Yoga move. I always want to do this move because I have no reason I just like it and really want to do it but I always fall. I have a good relationship with the ground too; I fall down a lot. In public while everyone is watching sometimes, I even fall down a lot when I trip over nothing or things my eyes thought they saw but actually didn't and yet... I have a terrible relationship with balance and the act of falling itself. 

It doesn't matter that I fall so often, it doesn't matter that me and the ground have become so close (if we've met I bet you have a memory of me sitting on it rather than on a chair completely and comfortably by choice)  alas every time I fall, I'm like: what happened, who put that there and who moved it?!

This translates to my personal life. I'm always thinking, it's the hazards of having a creative brain while living in a time when creativity is not only accepted but embraced. My brain is always thinking up plots; characters and other writing forms I want to explore and master. So even when I'm sitting still, I'm actually building the socio political system of a fantasy civilisation from the ground up... backwards. I always feel like there are so many stories yet to be told bubbling up inside of me...I feel an obligation to get it all out. 

So... I lose sleep and I love my body but... I wish I could do a little more for it, to appreciate all it does for me every day.The Grenada Chocolate Festival's 2017 Chocolate Meditation helped a lot in creating an avenue for me to do so.
The Yoga workshop was hosted on the cosy grounds of the True Blue Bay Resort. A fun mash up of comfy and rustic environment that works along with nature instead of atop it. It was taught by Malaika Brooks-Smith Lowe. I've attended a yoga class with Malaika as the teacher before, it wasn't a disappointment the first time and with chocolate and cocoa tea involved I knew it couldn't be a disappointment this time either even if it tried.

The room fills with natural light from floor to ceiling and the class took place early in the morning when it was cool and refreshing. 
 Pictured: myself, tailored by terrieann and our yoga instructor Malaika

When we got there and all were found spaces and mats, our instructor Malaika and her assistant for the day kindly explained to us how our class would be tied into this year's theme 'honouring our chocolate roots.' She talked about how important it is for us all as people to stay rooted in order for us to grow up right and nourished.

I've been mindful of growth and how so often it happens slowly. As I venture into the unfamiliar ground of being a business woman alongside being a creative I've been having moments of mindfulness were I think back on
how it's only in the looking back that we often realise that we have moved from a place of discomfort.  
So how does one grow slow AND healthy if you don't ever make room to slow down and schedule wellness? During our Yoga Chocolate Meditation, we were able to let something amazing teach us about growing slow: cocoa and chocolate, both organically grown and ethically made on my beautiful island Grenada!

As I later learned at chocolate on a shoe string, you'll read about that in a different recap to come, you can't rush good chocolate. You have to let it go through its cycle of growing from cocoa pod to delectable dessert. From alternating through perfect temperatures of cold and hot to realising that there are times of day that just are not right for making good chocolate. It is imperative to understand that a good end product is reliant on the following of a good process.
I have found that this is the same for a healthy self. You must be mindful of time and environment, you must let your senses inform you what is just right and what is not quite there.

During our Yoga session Malaika forced us, yes I do mean force because oh the temptation, to stop, to hear with each ear, to see our present and dwell in it, to feel with the smallest part of our body because the messages it sends is just as important as the biggest parts. I remember her talking about the softness of our bellies and the hardness of our chest and how we can find our selves detesting one or the other for being itself.  All, in a time, when we are quick to hear carried on the wind the importance of self care and the quickness with which we say 'I love myself' while we continue to hate sums of the whole...

At our yoga chocolate meditation  this exercise was in aid of teaching us how to taste dark chocolate correctly, how we must slow down and embrace the whole to taste the sweetness of something that at first glance is known as bitter...sipping warm cocoa tea and nipping on tiny naturally made pieces of chocolate as we did. Tasting warm wealth, feeling home grown health and acknowledging that it's continuance was in our hands and on our own tongues. Just like are own health and wellness.

I loved our Yoga Chocolate mediations, I loved that it said sit down and grow slow. I love that it allowed me to take a physical step towards physical health and a mental step towards mental health by saying embrace the bitter with the sweet and be thankful for the morning. Oh yeah and the chocolate tasting, cocoa tea and chocolate breakfast after was pretty awesome too!

Now when I eat I find myself reminding my mouth to slow down, to taste more than hunger, to be okay with this too being a moment of rest even though the world says get on with it you've got things to do. I don't always succeed but I'm trying to balance my quick with my slow. I'd like to think I get a little closer to a sense of balance everyday but who knows, if nothing else I know I taste a little more each time I try...

Want to know more about the Grenada Chocolate Festival? Check out their website here. Want to know more about that 'Indulgent chocolate breakfast' at the end of our workout? It was so good I did a plate tour that has been featured on the Grenada Chocolate Festival 2017 facebookpage. I HAD to share that plate y'all! Who knew cocoa could be used in so many ways?! Or you could always, you know...come visit! In the meantime...

Peace. Love. Grow slow without shame.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Musing :: Style : Mom Jeans

 I'm 30 years old now and my body is changing. It's strange I'll admit. I've been so used to it doing things and not doing other things but now everything seems to be a coin toss on any given day. I've had to take a moment to appreciate that change can be just as good as it can be bad.

My body is changing, as I have changed so many times in the past decade.

Now I have the opportunity to embrace new styles and treat myself to new trends while shading them in the colour of my own personality. Yet another chance to journey with myself down this life's road and my attitude will determine the rewards I grasp, of that much I am sure. There was a time I would never do an impromptu photo shoot in a crowded supermarket. Now? Who cares, another mountain to turn to dust under my feet because life is short and this changing body is mine and loved by me even as it changes.

Peace. Love. Spin change to your advantage.

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