Corona Chronicles

So many things to consider about this COVID-19 virus. This epidemic that has imposed itself on the world in such a dramatic fashion. As a Jamaican woman trying to stay healthy and positive through this pandemic my thoughts tend to drift very often to either imagining a worst case scenario where the numbers of people who have contracted the virus is so severe that hospitals are totally overwhelmed, to one where Jamaica has managed to do what the rest of the world has not managed to do successfully; we do so well at managing the crisis that there are no deaths and the numbers of Jamaicans who contract the actual disease is so low that Jamaica is seen as an example to the world of how to manage a health crisis. In earlier versions of my made up story, there are no deaths associated with the outbreak of the disease. Of course this was before the announcement of the first death. The announcement of the first, and so far only, Corona Virus death was hard for me to digest. I preferred my second option.

So like most Jamaicans (I would imagine) my daily, hourly, minutely perhaps constant thoughts are focused on the disease. This constant mind loop of imagination and suppositions about this disease has been panic inducing and has caused me to sink into a kind of obsession with wanting to digest any and every COVID-19 information. The stories are unrelenting, What’s App goups are filled with robust discussions on different angles to understand why the spread, hownthe spread, what to do about the spread and so on. There are suggestions as to strategies to stay disease free, how to build immune systems, and ways to make sure you stay away from people who might be already infected. The memes and the jokes are constant and of course everyone has an experience and or an opinion which must be shared. Frankly, its overwhelming. People know way too much for a virus less than a year old and there are too many potential treatments and miracle drugs around. Frankly, I think the world needs to dial it down a little. The media is way too hyped up on reporting the numbers and looking for the next shocking angle, governments are playing too much politics and frankly in the hyped up noise we are not hearing enough from those who have learnt enough to give us ideas as to how to navigate the pandemic. I believe that the turnabout will come when we start focusing on the mundane some more, because to be honest we have started. Washing of hands for example is the most powerful response. The other solutions are equally simple; stay home, especially if you feel ill, keep your home clean and limit the number of guests who visit, in fact if they were being mindful they would know not to visit. Bleach and water, simple enough, keeping yourself clean also means being disease free, keeping your home clean seems such a simple invocation these things are not alien. We should have been doing them anyway. In some cases we were already we just need to tighten up. It’s the social distancing part that is hard.

I want to invite people over. I want to go to places and do things. All of a sudden I have this sudden urge to travel. I yearn for an airport and the promise of a few weeks in a new place. Before COVID-19 I had become wary of traveling and hated planes, now I find myself really disappointed that the trips I had planned would not happen as I had anticipated. My mind is playing tricks on me I realize. I am now considering social distancing. I write about that later.

Compromising Positions

I am a teacher. I was trained at the Bethlehem Teacher’s College. I appreciate very much the rigour of my old school teacher’s college training. It was rigorous, it was lonely, it was difficult. I did graduate over twenty-five years ago, so much of my experience is perhaps dated and no longer has relevance in today’s classroom. However, as I engage the classroom and students from time to time and as I speak to teachers I get the feeling that not much has changed in terms of teaching and classroom management.

I spent a lot of my time when I was learning to be a teacher concentrating on learning about how children learn learning skills. How they learn reading skills, how they learn mathematics skills, how they learn language skills. My teacher’s college called me a generalist, a primary school teacher. I can teach children to read and build mathematics skills. I was taught to teach them to be curious about life and to ask questions about their environment. Teachers like myself were taught to encourage our students creativity through music and dance and art. I learnt to play the piano, the drum, to teach skills of design and self expression in art. I learnt how to teach children to play so they would learn team work, to listen to each other to work cooperatively and to listen for instructions and to follow instructions.

Science was about experiments and coming up with creative ideas to teach children to experiment with the world around them in Religious Studies we learnt about engaging students in conversation about morality and right and wrong. We had conversations about religions and the idea that if children are exposed to religious and moral teaching early enough, we can mold them into the people and citizens we want them to be. In fact I will never forget Valrie Tinglin’s invocation from the Catholics “give me a child before he is seven years and I will make him a Catholic for life.” We spoke at length about the importance of those formative years. My math methods teacher Yvonne Kong who taught us that Math is a practical subject and we must never go before our students without materials, that we must be engaging children in the development of fine motor skills as we teach them math. I spent months on my Math kit. Everything around me became a proxy for teaching Math. Mrs. Kong wanted us to tell children that Math is all around them, in the kitchen in church and on the streets. Math she said is a lived and living experiment.

Leroy Phillips was our music teacher. I loved music, he taught us to play basic accompaniments on the piano so our classroom would be filled with music. The arpeggio, folk songs, Jesu Joy, the Xylophone, the Congo drum, the tambourine, the recorder. I loved my music methods classes, as student teachers our skills and senses were groomed and trained and we were taught to ensure that our children could bring music across every subject area. They could make music for social studies, for math. Teacher’s College and teacher training were about getting children to wake up everyday through music and movement . Challenging them by exposing them to difficulty but training their minds for problem solving.

I remember Mrs. Pearline Williams who taught us Child Development and Chid Psychology invoking the idea that classrooms must be places of play. She reminded us constantly that “play is a child’s occupation.” We knew that children needed to play, we knew classroom management was best achieved when our students wanted to learn and were intrigued. When they were motivated and excited. We defended our profession in classes with Rhona Anglin and Beverly Little. Looking at the history of teaching; globally and locally and asking and answering if teaching was a profession, if teachers were professionals and making suggestions as to how we maintain the sanctity of our profession. We looked at legislation and policies that defined and governed our professional practice and we examined the role of the teacher and the evolution of teaching.

I am a teacher. I am proud of the rigour I was subjected to during the years I studied in Teacher’s College. I didn’t even mention teaching practice. But perhaps I should end by saying this. I was never able to put my training into practice when I left teacher’s college. The classrooms I encountered were hot and difficult to maneuver. They were dirty and the benches were unwieldy. I didnt have space to set up my reading corner, my music corner, my math corner. I couldnt take my children outside to engage their environment, firstly, outside was dusty and hot, there were no trees or grass for us to sit under in quiet repose while we read and told stories to each other. The three school compound in Montego Bay sometimes broke out in gang warfare as Boys school and Girls school children would throw stones over the walls at each other. Teachers didnt send children out for break time because they sold bag juice and cheese trix. Principals wanted their schools to be quiet and orderly. Parents wanted their children to get high marks in tests. I was taught classroom testing and evaluation but it had nothing to do with the standardized testing which now defines classrooms. In teacher’s College we were encouraged not to teach for a test. More and more the primary classroom is only important because it is a precursor to some standardized tests.

My professional organization was only concerned with the politics of the teaching enterprise. Every week there was another quarrel with the ministry and some principal some where was flouting a rule. Conditions in the classroom worsened and I decided this wouldn’t work for me. I liked teaching, I love some of the children, I didnt like most of their parents and my older colleagues had become cold and stodgy. I remember my last attendance at a JTA regional meeting in Montego Bay and Helen Stills, who was the then president of JTA, humorously asking teachers to not be like “porridge, studgy and hard to pour” but to instead “be like cornflakes ready to serve.” I remember making a promise to myself to leave teaching. After five years in both primary and prep schools, I did not like teaching anymore.

I remember in one of my engagements with a woman who really saw teachers as paragons of virtue and teaching as the ultimate profession, Dr. Jassette Smikle, who asked us to not teach unless we love our children. Teaching she said is an act of love. At Bethlehem the motto is “Mihi Cura Futuri” My Care is For The Future. It is a very sustainable development approach to life and living. Dr. Randolph Watson, principal of Bethlehem Teacher’s College when I was a student teacher, always spoke about us as young teachers not putting ourselves in compromising positions. Teachers and teaching have been compromised, by conditions which make effective teaching impossible; poor policy and legislative environment, severe shortage of resources for facilitating learning, unsuitable classrooms, overcrowded schools, ineffective school leadership, parents who have no parenting skills and send unreachable and unteachable children to school and a professional organization that has let down the side. Schools and teaching are in crisis, have been for a long time. I remember a discussion we had in Mrs. Williams class at Bethlehem we debated the troubling truth that sometimes children learn inspite of us and not because of us. I want to ask that question of Jamaica and the education system. Are children learning because of us or inspite of us?

Mummy Miss U

I didnt want to think of today I wanted to walk though it. I knew I would have to step a little higher than normal and laugh a little harder and listen more intently to everything and everyone. I tried hard to not think to just do. All day I focused on what people said and did. I just stayed outside of me. If I sat fully in myself today, I would not have made it past 10am.

I didnt succeed. I kept having to leave the room to breathe. I kept having to remind myself to breathe. I kept telling me to calm down. To slow my heart rate down. In the moments when my heart started to beat its steady and loud tu-dums. I heard every sound. I even tried getting angry. I wanted someone to piss me off. My heart wasnt in it. My heart wanted to mourn you Mummy. I wanted to cry and rail and demand you back. I kept thinking, it’s been two years. She can come back now man, Jeez. It’s been two years Mummy. I still want you back.

I wanted to scream. No one was hearing, no one would hear. It was just me and you and our memories in Barbados. Mummy I really want you back. I dont want to leave you. I dont want to move on. It doesnt get better with time. It doesnt get easier.

Jamaica: A Hostile Place for Women

From very early in Jamaica you learn that as a girl, as a woman, your body is not yours. Somehow, you learn that you were born for men and boys to practice their masculinity on. You were a part of their coming of age story. Young men started practicing to be abusive in groups. These were the same boys you went to school with, or the older teen boys that were your older brother’s friends. It was the young men who you watched as an eight year old girl as they reached puberty and started to mature as young men. It might even have been the older men who were your father’s colleagues. It doesnt matter, Jamaican men figure that a young woman should be the subject of their amusement, their need to prove themselves to their friends, to their peer group, their brethren on the corner.

I can’t pinpoint exactly when I recognize that abusive behaviour towards women was accepted as part of the national identity of Jamaican men. I am not sure if it was when I turned ten and men in my community started telling me “I was ready to go on the cutting table” or if it was by the time I got to 12 and they said “how old yuh be now?” I responded 12 and they said “Anything past 12 is lunch.” I didnt even understand what that meant. Or perhaps it was when they told me that my headlights looked good; referring to my breats when I was 14 years old. By the time I got to sixteen, I was touched, groped, felt up, pulled into corners; I was told at least twice a day what men wanted to do to me. I remember going to visit my sister at her business place in my school uniform, I was about 14 years old and on my way a man crossed the street to stand in front of me and explain in detail what he wanted to do to my 14 year old vagina. I was left speechless, I had never heard those things before. I felt unsafe and afraid and violated. I was suppose to help her that day. I quickly took the bus and went home. I couldnt go anywhere else. After the fellow who had verbally assaulted me walked away from me, he went to his friends and obviously told them what he told me and they all began laughing. I was looking back and running at the same time. They were happy, he had proven himself to be a man. This is what men do, I imagine, they terrorize women and then go to their friends for validation and vindication. They call it normal male behaviour.

I remember sitting in my office and one of the graduate students who assisted me in the delivery of the leadership programme left for her class in the Faculty of Humanities and Education. Within a couple minutes she was back sitting in my office, I asked her what happened, and she said miserably, I cant do it today. When I enquired what exactly had happened, she told me about the group of young men who were gathered at the bus stop just outside of Mary Seacole Hall who narrated her walk and described her body in detail and what they wanted to do to it. That day she went to class late, she sat and waited until the men had left and went to her class late.

I remember one day I was teaching in one of the N rooms at UWI. I was just walking over to Mary Seacole and was heading for the walk way. Some men were there standing, they seemed to have been making deliveries. They obviously saw me walking in their direction and moved to the walkway and stood on both sides. I had encountered this before I knew what they were up to. They stopped talking and started to stare at me. I assessed the situation and thought I would walk through the carpark instead. But then I decided, I was going in for the confrontation. I walked up to the four men and I began to cuss. I realized that I was as angry as hell. I got in their faces and I was intent on blasting each and everyone of them. I could see the absolute shame on their faces. I wanted to slap all four of them. I asked them why they thought I didnt have the same rights to navigate public spaces. I asked them what exactly made them more impo6and more valuable than me. I asked them how they thought I felt when I saw the four of them deciding to intimidate and scare me. I asked them what they were getting out of it. They said nothing. They could say nothing.

I have a solution. Since the government is incapable of helping women to deal with men’s violence and attacks on us, women must learn to fight. Women must learn to defend themselves. We are going to have to learn to throw stones, to carry knives and be able to use them in defense of us and our children. We will need to apply for our gun licenses and resort to other kinds of self defense. Men are saying they cant help being violent to us women. We must know that we have the right to self-defense. This country is officially stating that women are at risk. Men have stated that they intend to kill. There is agreement among numerous men from all quarters that women will be killed. Women need to start thinking through how they will defend themselves. Part of that of course is voting out or not voting in the political party which seems less interested in the well-being of women. We have to learn to stand in defense of us.

The Spoils of Patriarchy

I was warned about the women who keep the keys to the patriarchy. The women who keep the rules. The ones who tell you to be careful, the ones who remind you of the protocol, even when they hold on to your tongue. Those women who say they must caution you.

Those women who ensure that patriarchy is protected and safe and secure.

The women who stand guard at the doors of institutions that marginalize and undermine women and who tell those of us who struggle in the trenches that our ideas and opinions, our experiences are a lie, a misrepresentation. The women who tell you the truth they want you to write.

Because that one woman gets to sip tea at the foot of the patriarchs. So she gets to eat the crumbs that fall from the table.

I have been told to stay far from those women. To walk around them and try not to encounter them and run like hell when they call your name. Because when they set sight on you. It might be the last of you because they hit hard. They hit to kill.

I have learnt to fight fire with fire. Because you cannot cower, it’s either kill or be killed. The carnage will confirm their lie that women dont get along and they will point to it. Pretending as if it wasnt a war fought for them.

Because of her,

My father is my mother’s friend. They shared a complex relationship and I came from it. He says he always loved her. Had since the day he met her. Then they were married in the Moravian church on the hill in Carmel. He loved her he said because she was feisty. He met a woman who loved her children, because before him she had four, though one had died.

Together they had seven more, I am the sixth of that seven, the second to last one. When I was growing up I felt secure in that group of seven or the bundle of eleven or it could be fifteen, depends on where you are looking at it from. Me the second to last child who ate out of blue utensils because that is the colour she assigned me to reduce the constant contention because there needed to be rules in that group of seven or, crowd of eleven.

I knew him as a quiet man with an explosive anger who would beat if he was pushed. We learnt to watch for his arrival. The dogs helped us to navigate his steely discipline, they always arrived before him to warn us to get off the road, to go home. To look busy. Take up a book. Do something except look idle, he didnt trust our inactivity, he called it idleness. Something must be there to be done, find it. I made sure we didnt make eye contact until Sunday evening.

Sunday evenings were a destination that I arrived at with much flourish. There was Maas Aaron on his Honda 90 and a box of ice cream strapped to the seat and the promise of joy if Mummy could rustle up some money to buy each of us a cone. There was also youth fellowship and games at the church. But more than anything else it had this different Daddy, relaxed and He would sit on the front step and take his shirt off, and we would help him to remove red back, grass lice and silver ticks and we replaced them with us. I thought he was the most beautiful being. On Sundays he was everything I wished for, we could ‘tek step’ and ‘pass our place’ and he forgot to be the disciplinarian and allowed us to hug and kiss him.

He is 90 years old now. The last time I visited he cried because he thought he wouldn’t see me before he died. He said that. Just like that he said those words. I have been remembering Sunday evenings and this man. My father, my mother’s friend.

My Mother’s Laughter

I am traveling back through time to Mummy’s laughter. To the way she would give herself over to the laugh. All of her, her head, her belly, her feet stomping out a dance of resistance to the attempts by her laughter to colonize her whole being.

My mothers laughter happened from her toepoint and exploded through her lips at the same time it closed her eyes. It had travelled far, this laughter; and gained momentum in her bellybottom. And by the time it got to the top of her belly its intention was clear. My mother’s laughter would free itself through her mouth and it would cause her to bend at the waist and spill tears from her eyes.

One day, my mother and I were to travel for Black River, she for some unnamed mission. I was going to school. But as usual I got stuck in my head and moved too slow and she waited on me too long, so she left me. I was looking forward to the two mile trek to New Market to take a bus to go to Black River with her. She was impatient with how slow I was moving. I was just about to dash through the yard to try and catch up with her, when I saw her walking towards me. Annoyed, complaining that she had left her tested glasses in her bedroom on the dresser. “Look how me a run fi lef yuh an haffi turn back fi get me glasses” I stared at her in amazement, convinced my mother had lost a few screws. I was finally able to breathe out “Yuh glasses on yuh face” she touched her face, then she looked at me in shock as realization hit her. Then she laughed, she gave herself over to the laugh, she couldnt stand on her own, she rested against the concrete tank which stored our water for domestic use and she threw her head back and laughed. Then she took the glasses off her face looked at it and laughed. She took her bag from her shoulder put it on the ground beside her and laughed. I had to get her some water and then I hugged her and we both laughed. Mother and daughter in that sweet moment of ire, that had somehow become joy, laughter and sweet connection.

I have so many stories of my mothers laughter. Of the ways in which this busy woman, mother of eleven, the consummate grandmother, Maas Rupie’s wife, lay pastor and community elder, market woman and the world’s greatest cook, would give herself over to joy. How she would stop time and just laugh. How the laugh would travel from her toepoint, up to her bellybottom and then it would burst from her throathole and cause eye water to squeeze through her tightly closed eyes.

Of all the things I miss nowadays, I miss my mother’s laugh the most. I miss the joy of it, I miss the presence of it because her laughter inspired mine, it caused me to be present. Her laughter was like a dance that took shape and gathered momentum and then proceeded into a grand finale. It announced itself with an insistence that it had to happen. My mother could not control her laugh, I mean it didnt happen in church during the service or the sermon. But when the women gathered to put away the communion vessels and when the treasurer was counting up the collection money and the secretary was recording what needed to be recorded for that Sunday. And when I was so hungry that I could smell the rice and peas and stew pork that was waiting at home because she had cooked before church, it would come. That laughter would erupt from Mummy, I never knew what inspired it then. I know I couldnt dare ask, but to be honest I wasnt interested. I knew that when my mother laughed the world was set right side up and it would remind me that I didnt need to be anxious.

When They Have To Kill Us

Yesterday I spoke with a man who admitted that he beat women. He said he did it and it was their fault. He said it was our fault because we had made him angry and he couldnt help himself because the anger couldn’t stay inside of him so he had to let it out. He said he was hurt so he had to hurt.

He said he started at 17 years old, he beat a 16 year old girl, his girlfriend, because she had done something wrong and she had made him angry and his anger balled his fist and told him to strike a woman. Yesterday a man said women deserved, beatings and murder and violence, because men cannot hold on to pain. He said men were not taught to hold on to pain. He said when men get angry they lash out, so his advice was for women to leave them alone.

The man said women have institutions and support for their pain, men dont. The man said women have places to go when they hurt, they have the Women’s Bureau. He said women are listened to when they hurt. I heard women supporting this man, they said listen to him because in him, through his wisdom and logic is the answer. Somehow in his perspective is the solution to the problem of men murdering women.

And I can’t sleep. Because there was a 24 year old young woman whose blood ran in a supermarket in Mandeville and we are angry because she made the man kill her. The nation is angry at her because she provoked him and he was forced to kill her. He took his gun and emptied his gun in her 24 year old head. There was another man watching the entire thing. What distress she caused that man he was forced to kill her? He had no choice. It was her fault.

And there was another woman in Portmore, and a soldier man chopped and shot her so many times, he was mad, he was angry, he could not control himself. So he chopped and shot her because he had promised her that he would and so he did and when he was done he took a picture of her and posted on his WhatsApp status and we got even more angry. Look at what she did. Yet another woman forcing a man to kill her. She was unreasonable, she provoked him. What did she expect? He said she had a man and there was even a spliced voice note with him impassioned and angry out of control and a dispassionate cold woman responding.

And a 27 year old woman went to bed and she was sleeping he entered her father’s house through the window, her mother heard her scream. She had left him alone with his anger. But he came for her and cut her neck with her father’s kitchen knife. Then he called her father to ask if she was okay. She deserved it the nation said. Why didn’t she leave, but she did. Why did she go back? She had left though. She did something to him, she made him angry.

So now we are here. Trying to return to normal. To fall asleep on a volcano. Reassuring ourselves that the one who sleeps beside us will not do the same to us because we are better women than those three. We are of sound character and further more, it’s those careless women who take money from men, who perhaps dance to a certain kind of music, who cheat on their men. If we are good women, if we wash his clothes, cook his dinner, have his children and go to church on Sundays we wont provoke our men to wrath. Then they wont have to kill us.

A Nation Justifies the Killing of its Women.

The media narrative around the killing of three Jamaican women by their intimate partner has been nothing short of victim blaming with an almost hysterical insistence that the three women who were killed by the men who loved them and shared intimacies with them, somehow are to be blamed for their own murder. Between December 31, 2019 and January 13, 2020, three (3) women were killed by their male intimate partner. The news in each case was shocking and staggering. The murder of each of the women occurred in very different ways and under unique circumstances. As usual, no sooner had the tragedy been reported than the expected conversation which follows femicides in Jamaica was rolled out; and the question asked what did she do to get herself killed?
In Jamaica when a man kills his spouse, we do not all condemn the actions and look to solutions, we begin a destructive narrative of what the woman did to deserve being killed. Perhaps, the narrative goes, he spent money sending her to school or he invested a lot of money on her. Having spent money on her he now ‘owns’ her; she should recognize that ending the relationship, choosing to get involved with another person, or saying no to him is no longer an option that is available to her. She is now the man’s property, for God’s sake any one of the actions above means that murder is justified. The telling of the story puts the responsibility on women to not provoke men, they shouldn’t take money from men, they should learn how to be respectful to the man who ‘owns’ them because it could result in their murder. To be honest in each of the case we have seen these last two weeks have been explained away with this very same narrative with very little focus on the truth of the three women.
The national narrative is bereft of a true understanding of the factors which ultimately lead to the death of a woman in an intimate relationship. Any serious investigation would lead to the surfacing of information which would indicate that when a relationship ends in murder then violence didn’t enter the relationship in that one act of murder. A man didn’t just lose control and spontaneously kill his partner. Power and control were always a feature of the relationship and that woman would have spoken to family and friends and others who were close to them would have seen the signs. Unfortunately, when reporters, journalists and the media carry a story the way your paper did on Saturday, January 4, 2020 it doesn’t help to raise awareness, neither does it help a society plagued by a crippling murder rate to understand the complexities of the situation. The story plays into a narrative of victim-blaming and shuts down the conversation which needs to take place for a solution to be found. Victim-blaming dehumanizes the victim and sells her to the world as an unconscionable woman who is money hungry; an immoral woman who got what she deserves. The story that I saw in your paper lacked empathy and a deep understanding of the crushing problem of violence against women which is one of the intractable realities of gender inequality.
In 2017 a UN Report found that that while men are more likely to be killed in an act of homicide, they are more likely to be killed by a stranger than a woman who is more likely to be killed by someone she knows. 16 countries in Latin America have changed their laws to recognize femicides as a unique and particular crime affecting women and are developing a unique protocol to guide the security forces in the region in investigating the issues and collecting information that could chart a way forward. The UN Woman reports that Latin America and the Caribbean are experiencing concerning rates of femicides. The media cannot continue to perpetuate the ‘he said’ ‘she said’ old style gender war controversy. It sells papers and attracts viewers, but the media is more than entertainment, or at least I would hope so.
I encourage a more sensitive, reasoned and progressive approach to matters of violence against women and girls. This is an important response to the problem.

My Altar

I have always known that I needed my personal altar. My space to focus on the people, things and passions that are important to me. A focal point for my prayers. A space to make my desires, my asks of the universe come alive, to focus on my vision of myself and those I want to be in harmony with the most; and a space to work out what my work should be each moment, each day, each week, each month, each year. So I spent some time figuring out who and what would make my altar. In the process I retreated to silence, and I have been humbled. My heart burst open and my vision is so much clearer now.

Defining the relationship with my son is difficult. It wasn’t always hard but at some point during his teen years it became hard to manage. I have always felt that by bringing a child into the world when I was but a child myself, I had done my child a great disservice. I have agonized over the ways I have harmed him, how I have let him down. Even though my son is 29 years old I still cry over the fact that I did not take him to school on the two days of his GSAT exams. Even though he got high scores and passed for one of Jamaica’s top schools I still find it difficult to let myself off the hook. As I put the altar together and looked for ways to represent my son, I recognize that as 2020 approaches I need to go in search of joy and I need to find peace in this life changing relationship. No other moment in my life has touched me the way giving birth to my son has. I need to find all the joy and beauty that I know is locked up in our relationship. I love my son. I need him to know it and I need both of us to enjoy the best relationship. I bring him to my altar with love and hope. With positive affirming energies. For 2020 we will navigate our challenges with understanding and from a space of non-judgement and acceptance. On my altar he is represented in royal blue, my mother’s favourite colour. Resplendent and shiny, smooth glass stones because I want our journey to be smooth and seamless.

My mother’s death was and still continues to be the one thing I cannot face squarely. I cannot think of my mother as dead. It is so unlike her to not be alive. My mother was loud and full of life. She could walk the shoes off anyone. She had so much good energy. She was such a mother, I always tell people I was mothered well. My mother was patient and kind to her children. We were her priority and she played favourites with each of us. I know I was her favourite, but I know each of my siblings feel the same way. Her love was fair and just. At moments during my day, each day, my mind goes back to that moment at Cornwall Regional when the doctor said ” your mother died this afternoon”; I have been asking myself how come I kept breathing at 3:30pm on Saturday, February 10, 2017. Why did I keep breathing when Mummy’s breath stopped. I read recently that ruminations are dangerous to one’s mental health. I keep re-thinking that afternoon. I keep replaying the moment and putting different words in the doctor’s mouth.

The cinnamon scented candle on my altar represents the sweetness of my mother’s love. Such a love would not dare die. It represents those values and attributes that are in me that she taught me, For example, I can cook, I dont always do it but when I do, it’s from a place and a moment of love. Just like my mother who cooked always with love and care. Cinnamon soothes me and so I ask for more cinnamon moments, where I am secure in who I am and what I am about. Always reminding myself that my huge heart, my wanting a better world are values my mother implanted in me. I am her gift to the world. This meditation ensures that I see my mother as alive in me and my work.

Yellow, my aura has been yellow for sometime now. I am drawn to yellow. I feel alive in and around the colour. During one of my most moving meditations this week I saw myself dressed in resplendent yellow. I was asked to imagine myself at my happiest, successful and content, I was wearing yellow. I met my happy self in yellow. Yellow is on my altar, several times.

“And when you want something the universe conspires,” This is what Paulo Coelho writes in the Alchemist. These are the words on my altar. Written on a smooth stone I found at the beach. A statement of faith, an assertion of hope. My intention to live life from a place of passion and in return I know I will experience my best life. My altar is helping me to achieve clarity for 2020.