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“I have not forgotten where I am from; I just cannot stay there.”

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I love my Jamaican people. I love the Jamaican culture. Jamaica will always be home and I will always hold my country dear to my heart. But there are some aspects of our culture; qualities of some of our people that I find to be quite disturbing and actually, this quality is not specific to Jamaican people. However, I am going to speak about it in this context because this is what I have experienced firsthand. Let me back track to explain what I mean.

I was born and raised in the seaside community of Annotto Bay, St. Mary, Jamaica. I lived there for 18 years with family. It wasn’t the best place to live. But it was what I knew then as home. And home is more a feeling than a place. As a little girl, I was quite satisfied with being in that environment as in truth, I didn’t know any other life. I didn’t know about the world that existed beyond the big iron bridge stretching across the Pencar river. It was not until I gained greater social exposure of the possibilities and opportunities that were present outside of the town that I decided that I needed to reach for more.

And reach for more I did. God bless my mother as miserable as she is. She always pushed my sister and I to go the extra mile, to do what others weren’t doing, to go hard for our education.

Now here’s where we go back to what I said earlier about the qualities of some people that I find rather disturbing. See, when you are on the same ‘level’ as some people, it is quite fine. That’s great. We’re equals. We’re both settling for mediocrity and we’re okay with the bare minimum. But you just get the funny idea to go for something better, something greater and everyone turns against you because you have decided to rise out of the comfort zone and that threatens to disturb the equilibrium.

And that was the case. Many people turned against us. Many people spoke negative things about us. We didn’t have many friends. I remember time and again I would hear, “dem gwan like dem better than everybody else” or “dem too hype”. When in reality, that was anything close to the truth.

The fact is when you are exposed to a better way, greater possibilities, it demands that you be different. So we could not, after having been exposed to being goal-oriented, how to conduct oneself with decorum at all times and how to prioritize one’s education, act like everyone else.

True wisdom entails change. Gaining knowledge inspires action.

Therefore, you would not find us roaming the streets in the evenings. We would be home doing homework or studying or something productive. You would not find us leaned against the street corners engaging in meaningless conversations with young men grinding weed in their palms spilling “lyrics” to win us over. You would not find us turning up on every scene. And that made us different. That made us strange.

We were just the girls who walked by people on the street bidding them “Good morning/Good evening” while rushing to get home. And I have no regrets.

I don’t regret not speaking to some people. I don’t regret not hanging out with some of my counterparts in the community. Because in truth, I could not relate to them. We were on different paths. We had different plans.  I wanted degrees, connections with influential people and I didn’t want to stay in Annotto Bay. And I’m not sorry.

So if that vision that I had and still have for myself makes me an outsider or strange, I am grateful because I don’t wish to be like everyone else. And I know there are quite a few young people from my town and other parts of Jamaica who can relate to this. When they stuck to themselves and tried to blossom, they were cursed and put down and it is still happening and will still happen in future.

And this is something that really prevents us from being as successful as we can be as a nation. The mentality of some Jamaican people. “Badmind”. In the song, “the Cure fi Badmind”, popular Dancehall Artiste, Vybz Kartel and collaborate, Russian (Tarik Johnston) declare that “a nuh AIDS, a nuh Diabetes, Bad mind a di worstest disease.” And I fully support this statement.

There are individuals who don’t support the progress of others. They prefer to tear down and belittle people who try to “come up”. And if you think about it, they are really tearing down themselves in the process.

Young people with potential in one’s community are a blessing. That means the community has a future. Why try to stop them from rising up when if they win, you win too? It makes no sense.

Be happy for the “come-up” of others. Support people and their dreams. Many people have an idea of what it is like to be from the “ghetto” or inner-city communities or rural areas. But as an individual who lives there, you have firsthand knowledge of what life is like. And if you’re truthful, you’ll admit, it’s not a bed of roses. There are periods of violence. High rates of teenage pregnancy. High number of high school dropouts. A lot of non-progressive people. But thankfully, there are also kids with great potential. Young people who have what it takes to make a positive impact on not only your community but the country, the Caribbean and even the world. Push them. Point them towards greatness. Let them know that there is more for them that exists beyond the zinc fences and the bad roads and the street dances and the gun violence. Tell them that they are made for more.

It’s not that you want them to forget where they are from. And sadly, some will. You don’t have to forget where you are from. I’ll never forget where I am from. But I can’t let where I am from define me. And I can’t let where I am from hold me back. That’s just a tiny piece of my story. But it’s my favourite and first chapter as it helped to create my vision for something greater.

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  • Nashelle Hird

 

 

“The Formula”

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I’ve often heard the question, “Is there a formula for success?”. In the past, I have even asked the question. And I think posing such a question is quite understandable as one observes their mentors or role models striving and accomplishing great things. What do some people do that help them to be successful? Why do some people always seem to be on top of things while some lag behind? What is their secret?

Truth is, there is no formula for success. There is no specific blueprint to follow. However, there are some principles one can follow while reaching for greatness. These are things I have done and applied in my life and they have proved beneficial and so I thought I would share them with you:

  1. Think Long-term: I can’t stress this enough. You cannot and should not merely think of the present moment. You must think of the future. I can attest to the fact that had I not been thinking long-term in the past, I would not be where I am today. One must learn to focus on self-actualization instead of self-gratification. What does this mean? Focus your energies on utilizing your maximum potential and following the best path to achieve the best outcome. This involves denying yourself of certain things. This could mean denying yourself from watching that Power episode because you have an assignment to do, or that could mean not spending that $100 on shoes because next week, you will need a textbook for a particular course. In doing this, one thinks of the consequences of his/her actions. It means that you “check yourself before you wreck yourself”. Personally, there have been times when I wanted to spend on certain things. All kinds of things have caught my eye but I had to think of what would happen in the long-run if I gave in to the temptation of spending. You know that situation where your parents, especially your mom, tells you no Burger King or no KFC or whatever because food is at home? LOL that annoyed me as a child but now being on my own in university is something that I do to myself at times. Me to me: “No dear, save your money. You have ____ in the fridge or you can cook ______”. Whether it be something financial or something relating to your academics, always remember to think of the repercussions of giving in to those guilty pleasures of yours.
  2. Be political: Maybe when you think of politics, you think of corruption, poor leadership etc. Most times, that is the case. However, I’m advising you to be political. Being political means that in certain situations, you will give the most unexpected response. For example, you find out someone is deliberately trying to “sabotage” something you are working on, instead of giving that person a fine tongue lashing, you go harder on your project and show the person “a good face”. As Jamaicans, we have the phrase, “play fool to ketch wise”. Being political involves just that. Sometimes, that means keeping silent even when you have something to say and simply observing the people around you and listening to their thoughts. That means not announcing all your moves and giving surprises here and there.

   3. Be in tunnel vision mode: Focus. Mind your business. Often times our plans and projects go haywire because we are busy paying attention to everyone else’s business. The grass is green where you water it. Don’t worry your head about who is just 23 and has ____ or who is achieving everything at 15. Focus on yourself. Focus on your own goals. Pay attention to what you need to do with your life. Don’t waste your time getting involved in unnecessary drama and “mix-up”. Avoid that at all costs. It’s okay to miss out on all the turning up, it’s okay to miss out on social media, it’s okay to be unpopular. You just expel your energies on making your dreams come true.

4. Network: Look around you. Who are the people doing things you want to do in future? Who are the people achieving the goals you want to achieve? Who are the persons following a similar path as yourself? Who are the persons with a similar mindset? Find those people and build connections. They don’t have to be in your country. We’re in modern times and connections can transcend geographical borders. They don’t have to be your age. They don’t have to be of the same ethnicity. Find them and don’t be afraid to reach out to them. Ask them questions. “What did you do to get here?” “What advice would you give to someone who wishes to do ____?” Keep in contact. A great connection goes a far way. This will benefit you when you are seeking jobs or just opportunities to grow. That’s one thing I have heard from mentors and many professionals and that is something I always try to do. Mix and mingle with experts in your field. Go to seminars. Attend conferences. Follow these individuals on social media and I guarantee you will learn a great deal.

5. Don’t forget God: You don’t have to be the most spiritual person. Or the most religious for that matter. But my advice to you is commit your plans to God. Reason with him and tell him your dreams. Pray, pray and then pray some more. There are times on your journey when you will be in despair. You will be down and demotivated and feel like you can’t go on or you lose hope. Or those times when everything seems to be going wrong in your life. God is there through it all. And He will never leave you or forsake you. Trust Him. He is sure to help you. I can say He has definitely come through for me over and over.

6. Work hard and work smart: Whatever you want, work for it. No one is going to hand anything to you. There are some people in life who were born into riches. They have never had to do much. If you know for a fact that you do not fall into that category and you were never born with “a gold spoon in your mouth”, it behoves you to put in the work. Long hours, late nights, blood, sweat and tears if necessary but give it your all. And work smart. Find out your strengths and build on those. Create strategies that work for you. Be open to learn. I like to see myself as a blank slate when it comes on to anything new. And I operate like a sponge, picking up on everything.

Success is not for just some people. Forget what the critics told you. Forget the statistics. Forget your address. Forget your socio-economic background. You want it? Go for it. And that’s the only “formula” you really need.

 

Lessons, Love and Laughter

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I recently went to the movies with my friends to see “Girls Trip”. And I must say, it was amazing! You know those laughs where you slap your thighs and the little tears come? Yeah, I had some of those. But apart from the laughter it brought, this great production sure helped me to reflect.

Having attended an all-girls high school, the bond shared between the actresses, Ryan (Regina Hall), Sasha (Queen Latifah), Lisa (Jada Pinkett-Smith) and Dina (Tiffany Haddish) was all too familiar. I could easily recall lunch times in sixth form full of “gimmicks” and the sharing of food and speaking of the future ahead of us among other things. We had our quarrels and little fights just like any other group but we always found ways to resolve them.

Now being in university, being away from those girls, I realize I took many of those moments for granted and I do wish I could go back in time and even record them just to have something to watch in my times of missing my girls.

We have all taken different paths and are in different places. But one thing is for sure, just like the girls in the movie, one day, we will be reunited with a million and one stories to tell.

Apart from reflecting on my moments with my girls, the movie taught or better yet reminded me of some lessons, which I want to share with you:

  1. You don’t always have to have it all togetherIn the movie, Ryan Pierce (Regina Hall) promoted the idea of “having it all”, which made me smile because this is a concept that I embrace. However, it got to a point where in order to have it all, or to appear to, she chose to sacrifice her self-worth and accept less than she deserved from her unfaithful husband, so as not to, in her head, “disappoint” people who looked up to her and admired her life. Life is full of obstacles and setbacks. It isn’t perfect. Some things will be out of your control. There are things that you will not be able to fix/repair. Let go off those things. Don’t sacrifice your sanity to promote perfection and bliss.
  2. The best way to inspire is to be your true, authentic selfBelieve it or not, you don’t need airs or a look of perfection to inspire people. When Ryan finally spoke out and showed her supporters her reality, her moments of vulnerability and weakness, they were inspired by her strength to be brave and say it as it was. To say that her life was not perfect but she was doing the best she could. And that reminds me of one of my favourite quotes, “there’s no need to be perfect to inspire others. Let people be inspired by how you deal with your imperfections.”
  3. Keep friends who will call you out on your bsThis is self-explanatory. Don’t keep friends who see you on a path to self-destruction and allow you to go on full speed ahead. Have friends who will let you know straight up that what you are doing with your life is crazy and is not the best thing for you. You need to have people around you who will tell you to your face that you’ve made a big mistake or that you’re making bad moves. And even greater, keep friends who will try their best to help you to fix whatever bad situation you got caught up in. Those are true friends.

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4. Remember to check up on that “strong friend” of yoursIn our friend groups, we all have that “strong friend”. You know that friend who seems to have it all together, who seems to always be on point with his/her life, knows what he/she wants, works hard, and is successful at most things he/she does? The friend that most people turn to when they have problems, or they need support or good advice? Yeah that friend. Often times in our friendships, we are so focused on focusing on our own issues that we forget that maybe, just maybe that strong friend needs a shoulder to cry on or advice themselves. That strong friend will probably not say it outright that life is going haywire. And I can say from experience that maybe that strong friend is the way he/she is because during their lifetime, no one ever reached out to them or showed them that there was someone walking with them so over time, they just grew to depend on themselves, fight their own battles and be very independent. But even the strongest soldier gets tired. Show your strong friend that you got his/her back and you’re in this thing called life together. Ryan, had it not been for her friends, would have probably had a greater meltdown than she did. Don’t forget to check on your strong friend.

5. Don’t settle in your relationshipsDon’t ever settle for something just because it looks good. If it doesn’t feel right, then it isn’t right. Ryan’s relationship with her husband looked great in the public’s eye but behind closed doors, there were way too many arguments and tears. Don’t be afraid to walk away from someone who isn’t treating you as you deserve to be treated. Don’t be afraid to walk away from someone who hurts you over and over and comes back apologizing, promising to be better but never actually changes. Avoid being in relationships with manipulative individuals; those people who mess with your mind and guilt-trip you all the time when really the fault is not with you but with them. You don’t need that in your life.

And I am sure there are even more lessons which could be taken from this movie. Finally, I’ll say, cherish the moments you spend with your friends. This life is short. At the end of the day, your happiness will not be found in your loaded bank accounts, or your many cars, flashy clothes and fame but those great moments you spend with your tribe, those people who just get you and love you for you. No add-ons, nothing extra, just plain you. Treasure those moments and treasure those people. Life is good when you have good friends.

“You have to have some bodies to be somebodies/somebody’s”

In this age of social media, it is very hard for many females and surprisingly, even males to love themselves, their bodies, as they should. You scroll on Instagram every day and all you see is Big Booty Judy but when you pass the mirror, you spin around a couple times like a dog trying to catch its tail searching for what is supposed to be your butt (speaking from experience here). Or when you look down, you have such a clear view of your toes as your chest doesn’t cause much obstruction (p.s. that means you’re boobless). Or it could be the opposite, you don’t have a good view at all because while others want this “blessing of the boobies”, you feel like you got a tad bit too much and would willingly give them away in a second. Whatever it is, every girl who suffers with accepting her body has a story. Though different in nature, our stories all spring from one focal point.

Society’s definition of beauty and the ideal body.

Society tends to treat bodies like fashion trends. One day, thickness is in. Next week, it’s not. The other week, it’s skinny. (Can’t deal with that, that’s why I say style over fashion LOL). But seriously, many individuals tend to become totally absorbed with what magazine firms like Cosmopolitan, Vogue, Essence etc say so much that if their bodies do not match up with what is stated in these articles or blog posts, they become insecure and begin to dislike themselves.

Disliking one’s image and deciding to make a change isn’t entirely a bad thing. Say for example, if an individual is overweight and he/she decides to start going to the gym to be slimmer, then that’s great! I support working towards positive change. However, many choose to take other routes. Like surgery, breast enlargement, butt enlargement, waist reduction, you name it. Just to fit society’s mole of the ideal body shape.

I remember my days of not liking my body shape/figure. I had a problem with being slim. I tried so hard to gain weight. I tried everything. Even tried eating loads of fast food in hopes that I would gain weight. And maybe I did. For like a day, maybe two. But the weight didn’t stay (which later I found out had to do with my metabolism). A part of my desire to gain weight had a lot to do with what people around me said. There were family members (can I tell you Caribbean family members are the worst? LOL), who when they came to visit would always comment on the fact that I had not gained any weight since they last saw me and would tell me that I need to eat food. Newsflash! I ate food! My lack of weight gain was merely due to my body type.

And I know there are many slim girls like myself who had those issues. They weren’t confident in their bodies. Sadly, some girls still have those issues. Personally, I grew confident in my body by not focusing on my body. What do I mean by that? I stopped giving a lot of my mental space to my body type and my figure. I learnt there was more to life than that. I learnt that there was way more to me than that. I grew to love the girl inside. I grew to appreciate my interior and once I worked on myself internally, I was set externally. I learnt to appreciate my good qualities. I saw myself as more than just what I see in the mirror. “I’m smart.” “I’m kind.” “I’m powerful.” “I have many talents.” “I am helpful.” “I have a great personality.” Etc. Through these positive affirmations, I found my beauty internally and once I found that, no one could tell me anything about me externally.

“Well you don’t have a big butt.” “But I’m no less a woman than you.”

I grew to love myself. My smile. My skin. My legs. My arms. Everything.

Thankfully, I am out of that phase and I am happy with my body. Now when I think about my body, it is not to change but to improve. How to be a healthier me. How to be fit. So I may watch what I eat but no, I’m not a paranoid, healthy lifestyle junkie. I eat everything. The pizza, the fries, the ice-cream (Life is short :D). But I aim to strike a balance. So I’ll also have the broccoli, the cucumbers, drink loads of water and green juice. I try (operative word is try) to be consistent with exercising whether it be going to workout at the gym, working out on my own, doing Zumba classes etc. The focus is not on my body shape but on being healthy. Being the best me.

And it is my dream that other women will not strive to fit society’s definition of beauty or a particular body shape/figure but will simply strive to be their best self. And that starts with loving you. Not merely for what you see in the mirror but for who you are beyond that image. Don’t define yourself by your butt, breasts etc. Chances are, if you do, others will too. Having “some bodies” won’t make you somebodies. You may get some attention for a while. But looks fade. Wrinkles appear. And one day, procedures like botox will lose their effects. Learn to love yourself for you. What God has given to you. Don’t worry about who won’t love you because you don’t have this or that. Trust me, if their love is dependent on your body, then it’s really not love and you don’t need that negativity in your life. Define who you are by your character. Trust me, that’s way more important.

(Inspired by a conversation with my friend)

  • Nash

 

Her Desire

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I’m looking for a complement, not just a compliment,

See, I don’t wish to find someone who is incompetent

of loving me,

who doesn’t understand there’s more than what he sees

Externally

I want someone who believes in honesty

Who won’t switch up and leave,

Real loyalty.

 

I want someone who sees my value and my worth,

Who is willing to be better, to put in the work

Not a fuckboy, a liar or an insensitive jerk.

 

I’m looking for something different in this messed up era,

Just someone who fits this simple criteria,

Someone who knows having feelings doesn’t make him inferior,

Who sees the God in me and not just my exterior,

Who sees me as his equal and not him, my Superior,

‘Cause I’m tired of these guys with the motives, ulterior.

 

As I write these words, I know I need someone who loves my art,

Who is not intimidated or fearful of a girl who is smart,

But believes in my dreams,

in these lyrics and rhyming schemes.

 

I don’t need the world,

Never been that girl,

I have no materialistic demands,

Because I’m a girl who was taught to stand

On her own two feet and never depend on a man.

 

So honey, I’m not here for vanity,

Just someone by my side, who loves my uniqueness when the world screams insanity.

Someone who sees the bigger picture and focuses on clarity.

 

I want a soul connection, not just a monthly fling,

The type that I can learn from and have conversations about anything,

The type who doesn’t hesitate to give because he knows I’ll do all this and more for him.

 

  • Nashelle Hird

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“When man a plan, God a wipe out”

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I didn’t always know where I wanted to study. Growing up, most teenagers after completing high school attended the University of the West Indies Mona (UWI) and so naturally, up to about the 4th year of my high school journey, I thought that would also be my fate. Little did I know that God had other plans for me. “When man a plan, God a wipe out”.

I researched programs offered by UWI and I made a list of my top 3 programs. I had to figure this out from early as my mom would always tell me that she was not with the switching majors on multiple occasions so I really had no choice but to get it together.

At this time, in my head, I would be pursuing either something in Science, Geography or Spanish. Science because well growing up, my house was filled with Science textbooks and my mom was a teacher of the Sciences. Geography because I had a passion for Human Geography and how it dealt with real issues that people around the world face. And Spanish because I loved the language and ever since I began studying it in high school, I performed extremely well in the subject and was always encouraged to pursue it.

Fast forward to sixth form. In Grade 12, I did four CAPE subjects, Geography, Information Technology, Spanish and Communication Studies. Some might say that was a weird combination. And I agree to some extent. But I chose subjects that I liked. This was a whole 360 turn for me because in CSEC, my choice subjects were Biology, Geography and Physics. So really, how did I get here? The answer is pretty simple. Self-discovery.

I sat down and I really assessed everything. Yes, I did Science subjects but I didn’t love them. I did well at them but up to the point of the end of grade 11, my drive was fuelled by 1. my love for learning new things and 2. well, you’re already in too deep. I wanted to study subjects that truly excited me. That I had a passion for and so I chose the above-mentioned subjects. Do I regret it? Not one bit.

By this time, I no longer had only one place for University. I had quite a few. One Jamaican university and a lengthy list of Canadian schools with the programs they offered that sparked my interest. When some of these schools came to do presentations at school, I attended and based on what I heard, I either moved them up the list or I erased them altogether.

However, my main determining factor was not the programs they offered. It was never the campus size. It didn’t have one bit to do with the clubs and societies. It was money. Not just the tuition cost but if they had scholarships. And not just any scholarships, full or majority of expenses paid kind of scholarships. So you should know when I decided to finalize my list based on schools, my list really decreased in size. In fact, that’s an understatement. When it all “boil dung” to everything, the program I wanted to do and the scholarships available, I had 4 universities on my list. UWI Mona for my local university and for Canada, Trent University, UOIT and Humber College (P.S. my search was limited to Ontario).

I did my thing and I applied to the schools. My first response was in December of 2015 from UOIT. I believe Trent followed. My Humber College application took a while to be processed and so did my UWI application. In fact, at one point, while I had been accepted to the Canadian schools, I was rather anxious when I didn’t hear from UWI. Because in my head, “foreign was not a sure thing so if you don’t get your UWI acceptance, your case well tight”. All in all, I was accepted to all 4 universities. Thanks be to God!

But here’s where it gets real interesting. Scholarships. I applied for scholarships at the 3 Canadian universities. I was to get a response around March/April from Trent and Humber College and May 30 from UOIT. Around the ending of March, I received an email from Trent. (I hope you know I was checking my email every day. No, EVERY SECOND from March began) The day the email came I paused and I prayed and I remember asking God that when I open the email, I’d see good news. When I opened the email, it was good news. I had received a scholarship from Trent but the scholarship funds were not enough to cover my expenses, namely tuition. So I was rather disappointed but I thanked God nevertheless and hoped that in time to come, I would hear real good news.

Time passed. April passed and I received no word from Humber. I was down to my last cookie. I don’t think I ever prayed as hard as I prayed during that period. Night and day. Day and night. Praying, meditating, checking my email. That was basically my life.

When I thought I would take my last breath, May 30 came. I think my mother knew something was up because I just had this look of someone on edge. Someone nervous to death. I didn’t get an email.

They often say “no news is good news”. That was what comforted me. I told myself that well you did not get an email saying that you received the scholarship and you did not get an email saying that you did not either. That was my thread of hope. That helped me feel that if even just a little flicker, there was a small light in this tunnel. So I pulled out my mustard seed faith.

I contacted my admissions counsellor to enquire what was really going on. I just really needed to know. I needed some peace of mind. It was hard to really have hope when it seemed like nothing was working out for me. I reasoned with God and I questioned him. I prayed. There were days I just could not eat. This was my future and I was worried.

I started really warming up to UWI. Because in my head, this is where I was going. I chose my hall. Started looking at the amenities. Joked around with friends about hall visits and what we would do together. Could you blame me though? I sent in my hall accommodation request etc. Because I was going to UWI.

But again, when man a plan, God a wipe out”. My admissions counsellor, by this time, had responded to me and explained that the committee had not yet come to a decision. I prayed even more. I checked my email even more following that.

There was ONE scholarship. Open to all international students. And this little brown girl from Annotto Bay, St. Mary, Jamaica was going up against all these other students. When I thought about it, I laughed. What had gotten into me? It was really like a gamble. I really critiqued myself. Well, my grades were good but maybe, somewhere out there, there was someone who was smarter. And when I was not evaluating grades, I measured my school involvement. Well you did really well in your school activities, but maybe there was a more rounded student. And really, I was torturing myself. Doubting myself. Comparing myself. Looking at all I was not instead of all that I was.

Every morning, up to when I got a response, I woke up, prayed and checked my email. It was the day of my sixth form school leaving ceremony. June 13, 2016. For some reason, I didn’t check my email that morning. That morning, I just decided that I was going to focus on the 7 great years I spent at the Immaculate Conception High School. Around midday, my phone rang. I noticed it was a strange number calling. In my head, this was either a family member or a scammer. It was neither of the two.

It was my admissions counsellor. He enquired if I had checked my email that morning and I said no. He expressed that that was good because I had been sent a general email that was circulated to the other applicants and I was in fact the recipient of the scholarship.

I was shocked. I believe I cried. And I ran and shared the news with my grandmother. I thanked God. Imagine if I had checked my email that morning! I would have been so down and disappointed.

Here I am today, a year later, reminiscing on this experience in my life. This life-changing experience. From that point on, I believe it was confirmed that God has a special purpose for my life and I am truly blessed. He tested my faith. Wavering at times but it was still there. Though small as a mustard seed, it was there.

My advice to you is don’t limit yourself. Don’t be like how I was. Thinking of my limitations and what I didn’t have. Think of what you do have. Believe in yourself. And don’t limit yourself. There are many opportunities out there for you. Don’t be afraid to have a heart-to-heart talk with God. You don’t need big words or a fancy prayer. Just reason with Him. Let Him know the desires of your heart. And then take action. Help yourself. Put yourself in a position to win.

It matters not where you are from. It matters not who is your parent. You want better? You have a dream? Go with God and make it happen.

  • Nash

One of Life’s Greatest Treasures

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Last night I received some pictures my mom had taken while at a celebration with her colleagues for Teachers’ Day and the first thing I exclaimed was “gee, is my mom getting younger or is it that she stopped aging?” I swiped across photo after photo admiring the beauty of my mother. What stood out for me was her smile. And you’re probably saying “oh lots of people have nice smiles”. True but that’s not even close to it.

My mom’s smile is nice. It’s lovely yes. But it is not merely her perfectly straight row of teeth or her adorable cheeks that make it beautiful for me. It is the story behind it. It is the fact that in spite of all she has been through, she is able to smile. To give a toothy, genuine smile to say to the world, “hey, you’ve knocked me down but not out!”

As a little girl, like most little girls, there were many days I found my mother to be overbearing. My mom was strict. I rarely had my way, if I ever had it at all. I didn’t go out much. Home, school, church and Grandma’s. In my mother’s opinion, there was nothing on the street for me and I didn’t need to go outside because there was food in the house and I had a computer and a TV and toys. (No wonder I was so pale at one point, a girl couldn’t even get some sunlight). As for school, there was no room for slipping. “You slip, you slide” – that’s what I constantly heard. Grades had to be up to par. Behaviour had to be in check. And if I ever fell out of line, she was right there to slap my ass back in while saying “likkle girl, yuh smell yuh arm and think a charm?” or “yuh nah go rule mi in here innuh”. Following this, she would normally tell my father he needs to address me because she’s always the one talking. Probably sounds familiar if you were raised in the Caribbean or by a Caribbean mom.

But to speak only of my mother’s ‘miserableness’ would be a gross injustice. Though miserable, though at times we seemed to have this great personality clash, I can’t help but love this lady. The sacrifices she has made and continues to make for me can never go unnoticed. My mom always saw to it that my sister and I got the best things in life. My books were always bought for school. School fee was always paid and paid on time. My needs were always placed above hers. I know there were many days my mom wanted to buy things for herself and she could have but she didn’t. When my mom got her salary each month, between helping to take care of the household and vehicle expenses, insurance etc and my sister and I, she rarely had much left for herself, yet she never complained. And when I asked her how she would manage, she’d often remind me – “you were where you were and I went and got you, I chose to have you, you’re my responsibility”.

There were many days my mom went without lunch at work, just to save money to ensure that my sister and I never missed out on the opportunities that other children got. I remember at one point she really needed a new car and I would say to her – “Mommy, why don’t you buy a new car if this one is giving you so much trouble?” And she would begin to explain that if she should buy a new car at the time then it would affect me, her words: “right now, I can’t afford to buy a new car. If this finally stop work, well just so it go. But mi prefer walk and know seh you and Nats (my sister) can go school than go buy new car and then inna trouble.”

She has been the backbone of my family, from being in court for over 11 years to being the planner behind funerals and the one everyone calls when they run into trouble. She has been through some even deeper waters, some things a bit more personal that I won’t share here but I know, would have caused many to give up a long time ago. I’ve seen her cry when the storms crashed in on our lives. I’ve heard her voice break when she tried desperately to hold it all together for us. I’ve seen her fall ill when it seemed to be just too much for her to bear.

But best of all, I’ve seen her rise above everything. I’ve seen her close her eyes and fall to her knees praying to God for strength and courage. I’ve seen her boldly step up and face challenges head on. And today I still see her fighting in spite of the odds.

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She was never perfect. She was not the perfect parent. There were things that she did as a mother that I will do differently when I have my own children. But she tried her best and that for me, is good enough.

Your mom – she’s not perfect. She’s not the perfect parent. There are things that she may do that you will do differently when you have your own children but if she tries her best to make ends meet, to give you a good life and cater to your wants and needs, salute her. Appreciate her. Make her proud. There are many women who have neglected their responsibilities to be good mothers. Trust me, just as there are negligent or absentee fathers, there are absentee mothers. So if you have been blessed with a real one, a true one, be grateful because a good mother is one of life’s greatest treasures.

“My mother, my hero, I can never repay but I sure will try to make her proud one day”- Natrishae Hird

HAPPY MOTHERS’ DAY!

  • Nashelle Hird