Open Your Door to The Excitement & Delight of Discovery!!!

The Best Day of Your Life

Don’t start your day with the broken pieces of yesterday.

I am not sure just where I read these words, nor can I claim them as my own. However, what I can do is to claim the simple message they convey and embrace it as part of the foundation on which to rest the pillars of my life. This powerful metaphor works to remind me of the value of embracing each day as a fresh start; each morning I wake up as the first day of my new life. As simple as this philosophical approach may seem, it is without question one of the hardest stances to take in life, for it seems that the challenges and the problems and the issues that confront us are always conspiring to keep us in their grasp, holding on so tightly that we forget the small and wondrous things that also inspire and uplift us and bring us joy.

 

The Ocean is a Delightful Source of Renewal

The Ocean is a Delightful Source of Renewal

Realizing this, I have decided to make a commitment to seek out and hold onto optimism and make that a deliberate focus of each day. It is simple. While I face the challenges, the disappointments and heartaches, I also examine ways in which I can tackle them and accept with gratitude, that there are strategies and approaches I can utilize to lessen their impact and perhaps even to conquer them. I now stand up to that nagging voice that insists that being a midlife adult I should have it all figured out. Confronting that voice, I hold myself accountable to examine opportunities for celebration in any day and to lift them up and enjoy the splendid pleasure of doing so: The feel of the sun on my back while walking through the park; the sound of a baby’s gurgle; the butterflies flittering around in my backyard and the unexpected words of a love song on the radio connecting to deep primal chords within. How wonderful that these sensory delights are abundant and free!!! Driving to work this week, anticipating a meeting I would rather not participate in, I turned the radio on to hear the uplifting refrain, “Gonna make this the best day of my life. Life…life!!!” I simply turned the dial up and bounced my head around to the beat knowing that this wonderful feeling was my mine to grasp and hold onto all day. And indeed, I did.

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Summer Travel Opens A Window to Creativity

Traveling outside of one’s culture has been known to be one of the greatest agents in awakening creativity.

The Blue Lagoon, Portland

The Blue Lagoon, Portland

Travel has the ability to take simple lessons and transform them into moments so powerful they can define a worldview forever. As we travel and investigate another’s culture, it seems we broaden our knowledge as well as learn some important lessons about ourselves. I began my summer rendezvous with a trip to my homeland Jamaica where I enjoyed time with family on the north coast before moving on to Portland where I participated in the 6th Annual Maroon Conference in Charles Town. The conference deepened my understanding of the Maroon society, a group that has withstood the effects of imperialism to hold steadfast to its African heritage and assert its identity.

Natural Beauty!

Natural Beauty!

During my time in Portland, I stayed at the Goblin Hill Villas, a place so beautiful and pristine, it seems  lost in time. Goblin Hill brought me both spiritual tranquility and visual pleasure, reminding me of the how important is for us to step away from the often harsh routines of our daily lives and savor the simple pleasures of nature. The landscape delighted my senses with its magnificent beauty and charm. Truly, I have never before beheld such beauty.

Marvalous at the Piazza Venezia at the foot of the Capitoline in the heart of Rome.

Marvalous at the Piazza Venezia at the foot of the Capitoline in the heart of Rome.

Within a couple of days after returning from Jamaica, I jaunted off to Southern Europe to visit Greece and Italy and engaged in yet another experience which delighted the internal space of my creative imagination. In Europe I visited sites of  ancient cultures that have exerted significant influence on the arts, sports, politics, language and philosophy of the rest of the world. Greece, a legend among nations and an inspiration for creativity held me spellbound. I reveled in the knowledge that this is the place where the gods of fire, wind, earth and sky once roamed the earth, and here I was, walking in their footprints.

Experiencing  Religious Traditions in a Pace of Holiness

The Vatican City: Experiencing Religious Traditions in a Place of Holiness

 

In Italy, I experienced inspiration at every turn. As I viewed the grand monuments of the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica Rome, I was enthralled with the creativity of Michelangelo and his peers. I wondered about the hearts, hands, and minds that crafted such magnificence.  My trek through the Coliseum evoked memories of school days studying Julius Caesar and learning about the lifestyle of great emperors and the glory days of Rome. Now I truly understood the phrase, Rome was not built in a day!

Refreshing Great Minds With Savory Greek Cuisine:Members of the Creativity Team

Refreshing Great Minds With Savory Greek Cuisine:Members of the Creativity Team

Not only did my travels disrupt the habitual ways of thinking that dominate my life but I was ever so gently nudged to pause, digest, and reflect. … And think about the creative flair  I will bring to next steps in the larger journey of my life.

Posted in Athens.Greece, feminine leadership, creativity, Travel | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Poetry & the Power of Self!

Poetry  Illuminates  the Meaning of Life

 

Reading the Poetry of the Landscape

Reading the Poetry of the Landscape

Poetry

Poetry is soca, calypso, rara, reggae.

It is the echoes of the abeng across the mountain top;

The cold smoldering seams between a couple’s silence ;

The hot passion of their midnight embrace.

It is the wondrous touch of a baby’s hand

And the last flower flung at a descending coffin.

..from Bridges to Memory: Poems by Marva McClean p. 50

 

 

At One With Nature: Thrilled to Here

At One With Nature: Thrilled to be Here

Posted in Poetry & the Celebration of Life!, Power of Words | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Maya & Maxine: Women Who Dared to Disturb the Universe

 Women of Words:Women of Substance

Literary Pioneer & Champion of Civil Rights

Literary Pioneer & Champion of Civil Rights

Last week, the world said goodbye to two notable women of letters; Maya Angelo and Maxine Greene. These two women were trailblazers who dared to disturb the universe and for that I am forever grateful. It seems I have always known Dr. Maya Angelou, listening to the sound of her voice on tape, reading her poetry and her novels and later, teaching them as well. Her proud bearing, her eloquently moving words and her no-nonsense stance have been guideposts for me along the journey. The famous line from her poem, “And still I rise,” has become the mantra for my daily living.

 

Educational Philosopher & Social Activist

Educational Philosopher & Social Activist

I came across the work of Maxine Greene many years ago as a doctoral student investigating the achievement gap and the social inequities that ravish the school system. I was moved by the power and the grace of Dr. Greene’s words and the simple assurance with which she presented her work and affirmed her voice. I felt, yes, here is a kindred spirit who is giving voice to what I know to be true. She constantly asserted the link between the imagination and the sense of possibility, noting the remarkable power of poetry and art to bring people together and improve the condition of our world.

Both women were outspoken and unapologetic in their call for a more socially just world and the genius of both was reflected in the creative exercise of their imagination; the use of powerful words that stirred our hearts and moved us to action. I love the poetry of Maya’s verse as much as I love the poetic sensibilities evoked in Maxine’s prose. While I did not meet either woman personally, I feel empowered by their existence and grateful that they created such a rich body of work that offers a blueprint on how to pursue a creative path in our agency to disturb the universe and disrupt the status quo. In the challenges I encounter in the educational system and a society so rooted in injustice, I often question my role and wonder if I am doing enough and always it is reassuring to reflect on Dr. Greene’s words, I am what I am not yet. 

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Sacred Landscape

 

Mapping My Interior Landscape

Poetry is the response to the creative journey I have undertaken to trace my roots and feed that thirst that begs to be salved.

Dressekie Landscape

I am walking with my daughter, our hands clasped together, and she in turn clutches her grandmother’s hand, my mother, daughter of Enid Dressekie, my grandmother who has bequeathed her this land we are strolling. Before that the land belonged to Sylvester George Dressekie, Enid’s father, who bought it as part of a much larger estate when he settled in Jamaica from Scotland almost two centuries ago. I have been visiting this land [about five acres of overgrown property with two huge mango trees perhaps dating as far back as 1879 around the time great grandfather purchased a thousand acres of land in St. Mary, including a district that would later bear his name] every time I visit Jamaica in recent times.

Iron Gates at Dressekie, St. Mary

The Iron Gate-Entrance to the old Dressekie Plantation, Dressekie, St. Mary, Jamaica

Today, it is important that my daughter, my youngest child, be here with me for I want her to know this land, to touch it and perhaps experience that sense of connection- that guttural feeling I have every time I visit here– a connection that rumbles in the pit of my stomach, connecting me to centuries of a history that I struggle to understand and give a voice to. For there is no simple explanation of this multilayered history,  no simple words to smooth out the contradictions of the past that has shaped me: the great grand-child of a Scottish plantation owner and a diminutive African-Indian woman, Elizabeth, after whom my mother is named.  We have journeyed from North Miami Beach, Florida, the place we have called home since my daughter was two years old. And here we are now, walking the land with my aged mother, our footsteps marking a smooth rhythm as we move in quiet unison.

These are significant experiences that fuel my reflections and often find their way into the verses that I am continuously crafting to give voice to the notion of my hybrid identity. Poetry is that response to the creative journey I have undertaken to trace my roots and feed that thirst that begs to be salved. In this realm of creativity I merge fact with fiction and attempt to embroider the threads of my ancestors’ lives with that of my own, my children’s and my siblings’ and straddle the centuries and the histories to write the story that is continuously evolving.

Rio Nuevo River, St. Mary, Jamaica

Rio Nuevo River, St. Mary, Jamaica

Is there a place that speaks to the sacred within you?

Marvalous Marva May 2014

SCN button

 

Posted in Circle of Life, feminine leadership, creativity, Genealogy | Tagged | 3 Comments

The Dream Is The Truth

 

How are you investing in yourself? 

Sparkle & Shine!
It’s Time to Sparkle & Shine!

“The dream is the truth,” stated Zora Neale Hurston so many years ago. The words of this iconic African American writer remind us that the things we yearn for are what define us and become our truth. Whether we achieve them or not, this is what gives us ultimate satisfaction or dissatisfaction with life.  Rumi states that each of us knows intuitively what we are born to do and we know as well that we must take action to actualize this. These insights are particularly important to me in this month of April which hosts my birthday on April 23 as well as National Poetry Month. For I am pushed into a state of reflection about my life’s meaning: What have I achieved with my gifts and talents? What creative measures can I pursue to invest in myself and realize my dreams?  The truth is, we are faced with these questions from time to time whether we acknowledge them or not. These reflections should become gentle proddings that push us to think about creativity and steps we can take to invest in ourselves so that we may open up to the possibility and wonder of our dreams. While for me it is writing, reading, traveling and collaborating with friends, for others it could be a much broader mix of possibilities for as Thoreau states; this world is but a canvas to our imagination. However we decide to invest in ourselves the actions we take will gift our dream into the truth that defines us. This is the work we do that gives voice to our passion and introduces us to the world in a manner that honors the integrity of our vision and maintains our pathway to creativity. And as we journey, we acquire the tools to tell soulful tales to the world about who we are and what we are about. The journey is its own amazing story!

How are you investing in yourself?

How are you using your gifts & talents to improve humanity?

Posted in feminine leadership, creativity | Tagged | 5 Comments

Turn Up the Praise: Saluting Women of Strength, Courage & Creativity

We Are Every Woman!

By Charmaine Wade Perry

Charmaine Wade- Perry

Charmaine Wade- Perry

Happy International Women’s Day to all the strong, powerful women who have struggled to make ends meet while being a single parent. Women who have been victimized, abused, neglected, lied about, sexually harassed and exploited and have still maintained their dignity. Go deep into your inner Nanny of the Maroons, Florence Nightingale, Winnie Mandela, Rosa Parks or Joan of Arc to keep the fire burning. I am you! You are me! We are every woman.

Honoring a Matriarch!

by  Marva McClean

Matriarch Dezrene Elizabeth

Matriarch Dezrene Elizabeth

In honor of International Women’s Day, I salute my mother, Dezrene Elizabeth Wade for her creativity and indomitable will. She has taught me much about approaching life with a positive spirit, always affirming that there is no problem without a solution. Her passion and energetic approach to life have been passed on to me and my siblings and for that I am eternally grateful.

Mama G, I Crave Your Essence

Rosie Gordon Wallace

Rosie Gordon Wallace

By Rosie Gordon Wallace

Mom, Maa, Moms, Mommy…..

I hear your voice

I see your smile

I feel your touch

I smell your presence.

Is that you?

Is it just your essence?

I crave your smile.

I crave your hugs.

I crave your food

I crave your prayers.

Is that you?

Is it just your essence?

Rosie with Marvalous 2012

Rosie with Marvalous 2012

I See Her Face in the Mirror!

by Yuki Tavera

Yuki

Yuki

I salute my great aunt Onaney, my paternal grandfather’s sister. My aunt Ona added so much to my life when I was a little girl. I’d see her during summer vacations and she almost single handedly embodied what “summer camp” meant. She rode bikes, played softball, spoke various languages, was avant-garde and unapologetic. She was from the Old World mentality (Roman Catholic, of Spanish decent) but managed to evolve into an influential matriarch with very modern and progressive philosophies.
She was a university literature professor but enjoyed reading school-age classics aloud to me (in Spanish) so that I would remain fluent after I moved to the states. She taught me to play chess, write in cursive, sew a button, draw from nature and speak my mind.
I see her face often in the mirror whenever I prove someone wrong and overcome challenges. Her legacy and spirit are still very much alive within my cousins, my sister and I.

Mom You Are Asum by Shain Johnson [ 5 years old at time of writing]

Mom You Are Asum
by Shain Johnson [ 5 years old at time of writing]

Mother!

by Dredstar

Dredstar!

Mother,

My gift and my curse;

Completely ruined me from having a normal relationship

with any woman.

Stood me up when I could barely walk

Taught me to read when I could barely talk.

Showed me to want for things not bought,

Like fields of dreams and streams of thought.

Nanny of the Maroons

I am in her image, I am in her blood!

Ashanti Woman! Warrior Woman: Freedom Fighter: Nanny of the Maroons

Ashanti Woman! Warrior Woman: Freedom Fighter- Nanny of the Maroons

by Marva McClean

Warrior Woman, Bush Woman,

Black Woman, free! Nanny of the Maroons.

Ashanti Woman, Warrior Woman,  Bush Woman, free!

She pulled freedom to her bosom and claimed it for me.

Fiercesome Woman of truth, courage, resilience, and guile.

I hear the ancestral whisperings of her cry:

Know yourself, study the earth, strengthen the mind.

Listen for the movement of the birds in the wind.

Watch for the animals roaming the fields.

Be mindful of the insects crawling the Earth.

Fight! Fight!

If not with the sword,

the strength of the mind!

The power of the pen, the power of the word!

The Work of My Mother’s Hands [ An excerpt]

by Marva McClean

As I journey through the summers of my memory

I recall how you created with cloth, needles, and thread

and today I create with paper, pencil, and memories.

I know now that your hopes and dreams

are woven into the seamless fabric of my life.

Your love, dreams, and experiences

have swirled and knitted us together

into the embroidered tapestry of our  life history.

I am the work of your hands.

Marvalous on a Mission!
Inspiration Travels in all Directions

….from Black Woman Writing

I share these words in honor of  my friend Ivy Armstrong, writer, cultural activist, and psychiatric nurse who is recovering from a major illness.

I write to shatter the silence about our place in history

To leave indelible hieroglyphics on corporate walls

To traverse borders and open spaces

Where the mind can flourish and the spirit soar.

Ivy, all dolled up for an Ole Time Christmas Program in 2011

Ivy, all dolled up for an Ole Time Christmas Program in 2011

Posted in Circle of Life, feminine leadership, creativity, International Women's Day | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

How Are You Fulfilling Your Creative Dream?

How are you fulfilling your creative dream? What does your deepest creative longing look like? 

Honoring Women of Courage, Character & Creativity!

Honoring Women of Courage, Character & Creativity!

There is often heartache in the discrepancy between the mythic journey we have set for ourselves and the real life journey we experience in waking reality.

As I reflect on the work women have done to make this world a better place, it is clear to me that to achieve they must always rely on intuition and creativity. When we think about women in countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Kenya we recognize the creative mindset that these members of our tribe must take to their work every-day for they are forging ahead in spite of dangerous circumstances and limited resources. This moment in the year, Women’s History Month, is but a brief pause to stop and acknowledge their contribution. It is a worthwhile opportunity to think about the creative pilgrimage that we all have embarked on. And I know that I too, must consider the manner in which I am making this journey. When I think of all the things that beg for my attention, the choices I must constantly make, and the tender tugging at my heartstrings that hints at that which I was called to do, I have to ask myself:  How are you following your heart’s desire and creative dreams? What will you do to lessen the potential for heart break?

Canada 2010

Canada 2010

There is often heartache in the discrepancy between the mythic journey we have set for ourselves and the real life journey we experience in waking reality. When we struggle to find balance and are not able to find solace in our experiential reality, then the journey of our international sisters might offer a source of strength to nourish us. How does one remain inspired in spite of abject poverty? How does one remain hopeful when education is denied women? How does one gather strength when there is no drinking water to quench the thirst of the community? These women’s stories inspire me and are a reservoir from which I constantly drink. These are the stories that hold me accountable to my own success as I journey. They provide a steadying hand in keeping me purposeful on the pilgrimage for as I face them in quiet moments of reflection there is no room for hypocrisy; they provide a naked truth that brooks no equivocation. And I must at least be honest with myself. The story is the journey and the journey is the story.

Walking the Boardwalk, Hollywood, Florida 2014

Walking the Boardwalk, Hollywood, Florida 2014

Posted in Enlightenment, female empowerment, feminine leadership, creativity, Grassroots Leadership, Honoring Life's Cycle, travel & culture | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Where Are You On Your Path?

February Brings A Gentle Reminder to Cultivate & Nourish 

Along the path, we tap into the collective roots of family and friends and learn ways to transform challenges and disappointments into opportunities and celebrations!

Rio Nuevo Beach, Jamaica

Rio Nuevo Beach, Jamaica

February always takes a front row seat on my calendar. I love that it’s second to January with none of the pressure of goal setting and self -evaluation that comes with the first month in the New Year. It is also the birth month of four important people in my life. The fact that it is African American Heritage Month always pushes me to reflect on how wonderful it is to be part of a community with strong roots in courage and confidence. It is empowering to know you are part of a tribe of family and friends who know how to strive and nurture, reminding you of your own responsibility to reach out a hand to pull another along on the path as others have done for you. This is an important part of my lineage that’s rooted in the understanding that we cannot achieve marching single file. The power lies in the collective roots of my family and friends where we learn how to transform challenges and obstacles into opportunities and celebrations. 

Rio Nuevo River, Jamaica

Rio Nuevo River, Jamaica

I was reminded of this on a recent trip to Jamaica when a simple visit became a kind of pilgrimage that knitted the bond between my youngest child, my mother, and me. Simple activities like eating a meal, sitting in each other’s company in quiet talk, or visiting the land purchased by my great grandfather in 1889 became moments of great significance reminding us that there are simple and refreshing ways to be in the world.  These are empowering experiences that lead to a culture of strength. I love that there is time on the calendar to pause and think about these things. With its call to celebrate the roots of heritage, February brings a gentle reminder to cultivate and nourish…. to step out in new directions for the year is waiting to be filled with new adventures.     

Posted in Circle of Life, feminine leadership, creativity, Heritage, Honoring Life's Cycle | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Stepping Boldly with Nelson Mandela on the Long Walk to Freedom

The Legacy of Nelson Mandela

by Marva McClean, PhD

Mandela: Symbol of Justice; Archetype of Heroism

Mandela: Symbol of Justice; Archetype of Heroism

What a friend the world has in this symbol of possibilities!

I was born amid the winds of change in Jamaica, a country fueled by the yearning for freedom and self-determination, on the brink of self government. By the time Jamaica achieved independence from Britain in 1962 and my parents readied me for elementary school, I was well schooled in the ideology of emancipation and freedom of expression. At school I learned about our country’s national heroes and at age seven played the lead narrator in a pageant celebrating the work of Paul Bogle in the Morant Bay Rebellion. Today, I have committed my life to the work of social justice and equity, determined to make a meaningful contribution in the struggle for equal educational opportunities and outcome for children who have been traditionally marginalized in the United States and societies around the world.

When I think of the work I would like to accomplish, I peer out into the world for inspiration, for examples of others who have left a well traveled trail to guide us.  Like the national heroes of Jamaica, Paul Bogle, Nanny of the Maroons, and Marcus Garvey, Nelson Mandela stands tall as an icon of strength, a figure recognized for his stand against injustice and his unwavering commitment to dismantle the hegemonic construct of Apartheid. President Mandela went to prison for twenty  seven years, yet emerged a victor as president of the Republic of South Africa. While in confinement he wrote his autobiography, mentored fellow prisoners, earned a second degree, and co-directed a massive grassroots movement that led to his release from prison.  What a friend the world has in this symbol of possibilities!

My friend, what step will you take to continue Mandela's journey in the long walk to freedom?

Dr. Marva McClean

For the past week I have been working with youth, reading and analyzing the biography of Nelson Mandela, writing essays about his character traits and those qualities that shaped his pathway to heroism. With my adult friends, I seek to inquire into how they will honor Mandela’s legacy; what they will do to mark the fact of his influence on their lives. As for me, I will hold onto Nelson Mandela’s legacy as a gift from a friend, a source of inspiration to remain steadfast on the path; to work with children, youth and young adults in ways to use reading, writing, and speaking as tools of social justice and empowerment. I am so grateful to have Nelson Mandela, his work and his legacy, as an archetype of heroism. I know that we, my students, my friends, family and I are in good company the world over as we continue this journey on the long walk to freedom.

Posted in African Diaspora, Anti-Apartheid Movement, Anti-Racist Ideology, cultural diversity, Disrupting/Dismantling Hegemony, Grassroots Leadership, Nelson Mandela | 5 Comments