“It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.” - Madeleine Albright
This is my friend Rhonda.
4 years ago, she was so unhappy each day she'd get physically ill on the way to her job.
A qualified engineer, she'd fallen in love with planning events - from the décor to all the minutiae - invitations, photo frames, layout - if you could dream it, Rhonda could do it.
However, she found herself on the "horns of a dilemma" as she vacillated between holding on to her 9-5 and going full tilt into an uncertain future.
I remember her words, 'The day I handed in my resignation, I had a little over five dollars in my account. But I was determined not to let that stop me'.
Today she's the proud owner of a thriving business-as well as "mama" to a keenly intelligent, warm and well-adjusted toddler.
All because she trusted that instead of falling...
she would fly.
what you do makes a difference-and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make-Jane Goodall.
Some stories are not so easy...
This is my friend Natasha.
At 51, she has already lost a breast to cancer. The diagnosis came as a total shock - she has no genetic precursors and there were no indicators that a life formerly filled with art and writing would change so drastically overnight.
"I hate my body. What has happened has made me unrecognizable. It's not just the loss of a breast- my features have changed - I've gained so much weight- It disgusts me. I've never seen myself in this light ever".
Since this "Convo" Natasha continues her fight. Just like all of us, she has good days and bad days-but she soldiers on. While she has cancer-it doesn't have HER.
“Step out of the history that is holding you back. Step into the new story you are willing to create.” - Oprah Winfrey.
And then there are stories of pure inspiration.
This is Alicia, or "Alley" as she's better known.
This 6' 4" gentle giant has had a "hard life" - one of poverty and limited opportunities.
Once on a bus ride, she shared:
"I was so poor that each week my sister and I had to choose how many days we could go to school. Some days I would go for three days, she would go for two. The following week we would interchange".
Allie has survived her difficult childhood and gone on to start a face and body painting business and is a gifted balloon artist and artisan.
Every woman that finally figured out her worth has picked up her suitcases of pride and boarded a flight to freedom, which landed in the valley of change-Shannon .L. Aiden
And then there's my story.
As I approach my 6th decade around the sun, I'm finally free of the weight of other peoples' expectations-as I lean towards my true "purpose"-to write, speak and help create a new reality for #fempreneurs and #startups in the Caribbean and beyond.
In 2021, I made the final "Leap"-I took early retirement and went into full-time #entrepreneurship.
Are there days when I feel overwhelmed and uncertain? Yes.
Do I regret my decision? - NO.
In spite of all the challenges I've faced post-pandemic (and there's been a whole lot) I believe I'm where I need to be.
On my own since I turned 21, I've survived being homeless, an abusive boyfriend and family trauma. And I'm still here-still spreading the message that as women we're more than what has happened to us-and that we're ENOUGH-in fact, we always were.
“When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.” - Audre Lorde.
I give you these stories on this International Women's Day, to remind you that behind the mask of makeup and designer clothes, degrees and professional accolades, we are very much the same.
We're all fighters, even though some of those battles are fought in silence, or in dark places, or in a past that cannot be fixed.