Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I'm SIGMA-tised!!!

On Sunday, I completed my first Sigma 5K run. Given my history of athletic NON-performance, this was a big deal for friends and family (hehe).

My mother, spiritual maverick that she is, put it all into wonderful perspective.

She encouraged me to approach every day of my life with the same level of tenacity and drive I'd applied to Sigma.

In essence, what she said was:

When you get tired and feel worn out, DON'T STOP. RUN ANYWAY.

When you feel drained and parched and starved and desperately far from the finish line, DON'T STOP. RUN ANYWAY.

When you feel sick and close to dying, and feel like thousands of people are easily passing you by while you're there giving your best and not moving an inch, DON'T STOP. RUN ANYWAY.

You may not win the WHOLE race, but you will win YOUR race, meet your goals, and accomplish something spectacular.

Have a great day, you! :)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

1,600 too many ...

The Sunday Gleaner's main story 
lamented the loss of 
 an unbelievable  
1,600 children  
to crime and violence.

That's 1,600 futures snuffed out;

to problems 
in Jamaica 
that we will 
have the joy 
of experiencing;

1,600 voices, 
that will 
be heard,  
or experienced.

In my mind, 
it creates a 
yawning chasm 
in the future 
of our nation.

We will never know 
what we have lost 
in those 1,600 children.

Our record for 
savage heartlessness 
is nothing to be proud of.

It's 1,600 innocent lives, Jamaica!!

When will we wake up and stop the senseless killing?

Friday, February 1, 2013

Bad News Blues

Yesterday was an exercise in deep grief and tragedy.

I sat through the first half-hour of TVJ's news broadcast experiencing a gamut of feelings from the darker end of the emotional spectrum.

First, a policeman was killed and five others injured during a tactical training exercise. Somehow, one (or it could be some) of the rifles that were supposed to contain blanks were loaded with live rounds of ammunition. The result was fatal. Then 14-year-old Sherifa Saddler was killed, allegedly strangled with her school uniform tie, and her body thrown from a car onto a street. Then some deranged lunatic shot a four-year-old in his face. He died on the spot. To hear the mother talk was heartbreaking.

I haven't watched the news and felt this way in a while. It wasn't the normal level of expected sadness. I felt  wave after wave of overwhelming grief as story after story unveiled horror upon horror. I cried.

But it wasn't done. Imagine my shock when I later found out that the decomposed body of former high-schoolmate, 23-year-old Brittney Mighty, was found in Port Rocky yesterday. Brittney had been reported missing for a week, and now ... well, we all know the tragic end to her story. It's too sad. And it's too much too soon.

Today is the first of February. Jamaica has already racked up a shocking number of deaths by murder – and murders of a most gruesome nature. We're one month into the new year, and I'm just hoping that these murders/stories are not indicators of how 2013 will be.

We want Jamaica to be the ideal place to live, work, and raise a family by 2030, and yet it seems that not even our police force can get it right – with each other. I shudder to think what the death toll will be like at the end of this year if we continue this way. I shudder to think that so many lives are uselessly lost in this very small, yet very great, island each day. Why can't we just get it right?

Seriously, why can't we just get it right?? If you believe in prayer, do us a favour and whisper a prayer for Jamaica.

Friday, January 11, 2013

A Girl's Story

I  knew this girl.
She was raw.
She was uncensored and unafraid.
She was honest - to a fault.
And serious.
All the time.
About everything.
And intense.

She lived her life like that - intense.
She thought hard about everything.
And cried plenty - and waaay too easily.

If you asked her a simple question,
She would break it down to a science
And answer you through philosophy,
With language that breathed literature.

She was a very complex creature.
But, oh God,  I loved her!
Because she was so authentic
And so genuine and so real.

She was who she was
And people just had to deal with that.

Most of them didn't.
But she didn't let it bother her.
She was always on the outside.
She didn't quite get people.
And people didn't get her.
They said she was a little weird.
They said she was weird a lot.

But she didn't let that bother her
Because whether they said she was weird or not
They had to admit that there was something about her -
This thing they couldn't name or define

And it wasn't a bad thing either.
It was a good thing - whatever it was.
It was a special  and powerful

Life can be this thing - this place - this big, scary mass of people and

Monday, December 31, 2012

Jasmine Thomas-Girvan's Art – The Photos

Her work is exceptional. But you don't need me to tell you that. Let the photos speak for themselves ...

from Jasmine Thomas-Girvan's Resonance collection

from Jasmine Thomas-Girvan's Resonance collection
The piece of string hanging down from the hand bears the message,
'Open your eyes and look within'.

from Jasmine Thomas-Girvan's Resonance collection:
The long tongue says 'I do not recall'.
Most Jamaicans will immediately catch the
ironic symbolism of this.

from Jasmine Thomas-Girvan's Resonance collection

from Jasmine Thomas-Girvan's Resonance collection
In the pocket is a measuring stick that says, 'Truth and ile nebba drown',
translated, "truth and oil never drown" - another witty piece of symbolism
that most Jamaicans would pick up on.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Jasmine Thomas-Girvan's Art Resonates

Published in The Sunday Gleaner,  December 23, 2012

Her art is as unique, graceful and petite as she is. And it speaks. Yes, it speaks. Jasmine Thomas-Girvan's pieces, which use a unique combination of materials such as bronze, wood, brass, aluminium, pearl, silver, and even silk, are truly works of art which carry messages taken from a variety of Caribbean situations.

Her most recent exhibit, Resonance, featured at the Hi-Qo Art & Framing Gallery on Waterloo Road, does just that. With a keen focus on faces and hands, which she describes as "the most expressive parts of the human body", this master artist cunningly intertwines language and human form to create symbolic and illustrative pieces that carry weight in literal presence as well as figurative meaning.

Pieces such as 'What We Have Done And What We Have Left Undone' - a specimen featuring a wooden man with tongue extended, on which is inscribed 'I do not recall' - serve as cutting-edge social commentary that also elicit humour. The man holds a machete in his hand and is about to cut out his own tongue. In his pocket is a measuring stick, on which is inscribed, 'Truth and lie nebba drown'. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, this was the first piece from the Resonance collection to be sold.

Art lovers will also appreciate Thomas-Girvan's precision and attention to detail. The time and thought invested in each piece is obvious from the miniscule inscriptions on pieces such as 'The Message', which itself carries a compelling message about where truth and light can be found ('Open your eyes and look within'); or 'The Upper Room'; or 'Mariposa Negra', a bronze and wood offering which features a woman with hands folded, completely covered in butterflies.

A somewhat sad, yet powerful, section of the exhibit is 'Give Us Vision'. Here, Thomas-Girvan bestows medals of honour upon three of her heroes - Jamaica's John Maxwell, Trinidad and Tobago's Angela Cropper, and Cuba's Operation Milagro, with a notation stating, 'For valour beyond the call'.

Outstanding exemplars
Explaining the importance and necessity of this gesture, Thomas-Girvan speaks passionately about John Maxwell's phenomenal contribution to Jamaican journalism, and says she thinks it is appropriate to recognise this in Jamaica's 50th year of Independence.

She speaks of Angela Cropper's "dedication to causes that protect the environment", and describes the quiet strength of a woman who endured many hardships but refused to be broken. (Cropper died on November 12 of this year).

Then, she explains the awe-inspiring beauty of Operation Milagro, a medical programme initiated by Cuba and Venezuela which restores sight to persons suffering from visual disabilities. She expresses admiration for the Cuban people who "have a vision about social responsibility like no other group".
It is obvious that Thomas-Girvan, who was born in Jamaica, is a holistically Caribbean artist. Jamaica features prominently in her pieces - from the Anansi jewellery series to the frequent use of the calabash in her artistry. "It is very important to reinforce our Caribbean and Jamaican identity," she says, explaining that the Anansi series celebrates the "beauty and intelligence" of one of Jamaica's most wily folklore heroes.

But she does not leave her new home, Trinidad, behind. Her frequent use of birds, she explains, is mainly due to the fact that these creatures are now a big part of her daily life. She also loves the imagery of birds: "Soaring to realms that humans only dream about, birds symbolise flight, defying gravity, and are incredibly beautiful." So into her art they go.

As Maria Casserly explains, Thomas-Girvan's work is influenced by the moments the artist encounters everyday. And since this is the case, we can only wonder where next these moments will lead her, or what her next body of artwork will be. One thing is for sure, with art lovers everywhere, this jeweller-cum-sculptor's work will resonate.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

TEDxJamaica - Totally Worth It!!

Yesterday I got up, got dressed, and went to fulfil a dream. Without a ticket or any certainty that I'd get in at all, I went to conquer a mountain. And I DID!

TEDxJamaica #accomplishwhatyouwill was phenomenal. I was grinning all day. And every couple of seconds, I looked around me, took a deep breath, and thought, 'Look at me. I'm here!' Then I gave out an inner squeal. The girl in me was giggling and skipping and dancing all over that place, even if the more mature character had to settle for bright smiles and lots of interesting, animated conversations.

I saw people there who I'd known from before. People who I'd already earmarked as movers and shakers. And I shook hands with dignitaries and people of like passion. What drew us to that place? A common understanding that greatness must be fed, nurtured and fostered if it is to last. So we all sat, and fed our greatness. And in between, we fed our faces.

I read somewhere that in order to function optimally, the brain needs plenty of psychological sunshine. Conferences like TED facilitate an inner and outer glow. It did more for us than give us a few sweet words. It lit a fire on our backsides and challenged us to, as Garth Fagan so aptly said, "D-O or G-O." It reminded us that there is no can't in try.

And, for me, it was a timely reminder that mountains can move, yes, they can walk. I've loved TED for years. Ask my friends and coworkers. I keep them up-to-date (sometimes against their will) on every new, interesting TED Talk that comes out, and I'm constantly inserting anecdotes and quotes and info from talks I've watched into every conversation. I've wanted to attend a TED Talk for, like, forever!! That was (one of) my mountain(s).

But I didn't go to this one. It literally came to me! TED came to Jamaica. And my only regret is that I missed the first two years.

So, this time around, I paid out of pocket. I missed another appointment I'd had. I went; I saw, heard, tasted and smelled; then I let that ambience swallow me up and transport me to worlds of exciting possibilities. I loved every minute of it.

TEDxJamaica was brilliantly organised and executed. My wish now is to see this information simplified and taken into schools so that our kids will have this kind of psychological sunshine as a regular part of their education curriculum. Can you imagine what a nation of TEDx'd kids could do?? They would really accomplish ANYTHING!

And then, as Donna Duncan-Scott boasted, we'd be "the best little island in the world!"