Saturday, September 7, 2013

AYP Research Mission Entry Seven: July 23, 2013 Sthira and Sukham- Grace (steadiness and ease) and Research

Entry Seven: July 23, 2013

 Webster’s Definition of GRACE: unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification
Yoga Sutra 2.46: sthira sukham asanam, or “the postures should have both steadiness and ease.”
 Each day in my life seems to have a thread, maybe even a sutra, you might say. Today it was grace. Webster says it is unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration and sanctification. With divine coming from within, the yoga sutras offer us steadiness and ease—ahhh GRACE. To me, that is grace.
 Musa led yoga today, with grace. Our practice was steady, aligned, sequenced, and purposeful. With equanimity, we laughed as much as we centered. Musa, I wonder, may not know how skilled he is in his teaching. His words land masterfully in our bodies. His voice offered steadiness and ease and we gave back what he provided—grace (steadiness and ease).
 We had a huge task ahead. When working with the teacher brainstorming data, our whole team took more than a day (well into the night) to complete the distillation of data into representative items for the sorting and rating (Phase II). Our charge today was to complete this process for both child students and adult students within less time. That is, two times the work with less time. 
We worked out a strategy that we all agreed upon and began after breakfast. We created a two-stage working process. The first stage was with 4 sets of research assistants each with Kenyan researchers and US researchers. Each team was charged with going through all of the data from half of either the adult or the student brainstorming data. Nan (leader), Steve, and Joyce were Team 1 for child student data. They handled all of the data for special needs children (i.e., orphanage, blind and deaf schools). Team 2 was Jerry, Irene, and I (leader). We handle all of the data for the rest of the children (all students under 15 years old). Team 3 was Carla (leader), Brooke, Jamo, and Louis, who handled adult data. Team 4 was Jessalyn (leader), Susan, Musa and Wanji who processed the other half of the adult’s data. By noon each of the four subgroups had distilled their respective data down into items by categories ready for the smaller teams to create surveys and sorting cards. This process is not easy. You read note after note, child writing after child writing, student idea after student idea, creating items. You debate and challenge each other and come to terms with a set of ideas. You must be steady and easy. That is, you must be full of grace. Today as all of the other days so far, each team manifested both grace and a solid commitment to our intention. They did their work and did it well, all honoring the big stuff we are up to.
We took a break for lunch. Half of the research team headed to the city to the markets. They had worked hard and had the rest of the day off. The other half headed to the Artist Coop Kuonartist Art Center led be Jamo and joined by Louis. I will post photos (I am having trouble posting on Facebook- keep your eyes open for these photos). This place was incredible. We are all going back to the Art Center tomorrow to buy art. It is more than I could imagine in terms of beauty and meaning- await further info- you will be moved. I can say right now that Jerry and I will be buying a piece from an interactive art-work called “Tower of Babble.” Nan and Carla made BIG FRIENDS. Sadly, we had to leave in a hurry to finish our work before the printing deadline.
A quick lunch led to the final stage of item distillation. Nan, Joyce, and I completed the child final item list and Jessalyn, Carla, and Jamo finished the adult student final item generation list. This takes hours of interactive negotiation and evaluation. It takes grace.
Ahhh- what a beautiful word and we shined!
We got our first print job in the email by early afternoon. The second, third, four and fifth followed at steady equal intervals. Angie went to the copy center to monitor the process. As you can expect with any research project, there are road  bumps. The copy shop printed many, many sorting cards two-sided. This does not work as each card must be sorted individually. The copies must be one-sided. So, Angie had to work with the print shop to negotiate the corrections. This is not fun or easy and we are so grateful to Angle for her strength and grace in making this happen in time for us to move forward.

Like any good research team, we waited to hear what was happening with a glass of wine and lots of water for hydration (this is Africa). After a few hours, we were happy to hear that we had secured success. Zak, the driver, arrived with the bounty (we now call our baby) and we rejoiced (with not as much grace at this point- haha).
We spent A LOT of time making sure our schedule was set and made sure we would get to all of our outreaches for Phase II. Brooke and Susan are going to be preparing 300 packets before we go to outreach and to the Shine Center. All is set and good. Tomorrow is a regeneration day (hmmm, what did Webster say about grace?). And you must keep an eye out for our “waiting-for-copies” time together photos. It was fun.
 And so I close another night in Africa, beautiful, unpredictable Africa. I can say that the one thing that I have been able to predict this whole trip, is the commitment and grace of our team and the staff of AYP. The divine energy that comes from a higher power and within has seen us through so far and we are all gratitude.
 I am also grateful for my team, for Angie Wilkins, for Zak, and for all the people that we miss and who are missing us back in the USA (Hey Chloe and Maya – I love you and Daddy loves you).

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