This post is all about women I am grateful for in 2016. Some I have met in person, and others I have connected with through articles and interviews about them in the media. Some are old friends, and some are new friends. All are wonderful in my book.
In 2014, I read a book from Oprah Winfrey, called ‘What I Know for Sure.’ One of the tips from that was how important an attitude of gratitude is. Expressing thanks to people or just letting the world know how grateful you are can be a rewarding activity. Oprah also spoke of having a gratitude journal. Since then, I have kept one of my own. It is a truly fulfilling activity and can help put even the worst moments into perspective.
As 2016 winds down, many persons are reflecting. I am too. As I sat and reflected on the people who touched my life, in different ways, over the last 12 months, I quickly put this list together. I did go over my personal target of 16 initially, but, decided that I would try to stick with my self-imposed limit. So, here goes.
I have admired Marcia Forbes for quite some time. Actually, I even spoke about her in my interview for a Chevening Scholarship. She is a multifaceted woman; involved in business, academia and contributing to national development as she serves on several government boards, and other voluntary civic activities. She is also a doting grandmother now! This year, I feel I was able to connect with her. Despite the trying time that she was going through, having just lost her husband, Dr. Forbes made time to sit with me before I headed off to the UK. She gave me wise counsel then and continues to share encouragement with me from time to time, as I am on my Chevening Journey. Marcia Forbes stays connected to young people and never misses an opportunity to give support to them, especially to initiatives which empower women. For this, I am grateful.
Carey-Lee is someone I am genuinely proud of and happy to have met. What’s fascinating is, if you talk to her, you will realise that she is still unfolding and finding her power. One bit of power that she has boldly utilised is her convening power. As the founder and curator of forwomentowomen, Carey uses social media to encourage and challenge women to be their best. Carey-lee’s passion for connecting and motivating women has transcended the digital sphere, and she has hosted several meet-ups. I have been lucky enough to attend two, and seen that Carey is happiest about creating spaces for other young women to connect. The last brunch Carey coordinated, saw some of Jamaica’s most outstanding Women Bosses (Kelly Tomblin, Terri-Karelle Reid and Mariame McIntosh-Robinson) sharing their stories to inspire and energise young women. It was a lovely affair. Carey is all about celebrating the achievement of other women and helping them push on. She personally challenged me to not play small. For that, I am grateful. Also, I expect so many great things from her in 2017.
My partner once joked that this dynamo, Nicole McLaren-Campbell, is the only person he has ever seen me act like a fan-girl over. Well, I admit it. I am a huge fan of Nicole. I was able to meet her at the forwomentowomen brunch in December 2015. The energy that you pick up through her inspirational Instagram account is even more real in person. Nicole is a dynamic CEO, mother, wife to ace Reggae/Dancehall Artiste Agent Sasco, and motivational speaker. I enjoy her posts. She really makes me feel like I can do it all! My friends can tell you that in my head, my future includes raising confident, kind, self-assured children, being a half of a great marriage and union and contributing to my country in my chosen field. In my eyes, Nicole embodies that and appears to effortlessly balance all her roles. She also gets really excited about shouting out other women. So, for encouraging my vision through the posts she shares, I am grateful for Nicole.
- Ann-Marie Vaz If there was a MRS. Jamaica competition, I think Ann-Marie Vaz would win. A scan through her Instagram account will have you believing you are looking at an official Brand Jamaica Ambassador’s page. Beautiful, graceful and passionate about Jamaica? Yes, crown her Mrs. Jamaica. Although only recently connecting with her, I have long admired Mrs. Vaz. She is a philanthropist and the wife of Jamaican Member of Parliament, Darryl Vaz. She recently launched a foundation, One Jamaica Foundation, and almost single-handedly mobilized support for residents in Portland after heavy rains and flooding. When you meet her, you are sure to have a good time, because Ann-Marie is a ball of fun. Her passion for Jamaica, infectious energy and how I saw her help the people of Portland, has made me grateful to have met Ann-Marie Vaz.
- Kamina Johnson-Smith Jamaica’s current Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Kamina Johnson-Smith, is undoubtedly one of the brightest stars of the JLP administration. I first became aware of her when she was Opposition Spokesperson on Education and Youth. She was committed and sharp. She has appeal to people across the political divide. She is strong on issues of gender, but for me, most importantly is she strikes me as an astute, insightful and decisive woman in leadership. I am told that her work with G2K, the JLP’s main youth arm, was stellar. One accomplishment of hers that stands out to me, is her championing the bill for the reintegration of teenage mothers into the formal education system. In 2017, I will continue to pay attention to her work. I am grateful for her because she inspires hope for young women interested in politics. All the attention she generates is about her work.
I first met Krystal while studying at university. I always thought she was really intelligent. We became friends later, through debate and then solidified during her time as Miss Jamaica Festival Queen. Krystal is a multifaceted, multi-talented powerhouse. This year, my friendship with Krystal has become stronger. She is a true motivator and gets excited when people do well. She is a sharp mind and we share some interests, so it is always easy to have interesting conversations with her. Krystal is a real, through and through, positive person. Check her Instagram account for regular energy boosts. Trust me! Her energy is infectious. She loves to laugh and make people laugh. She is a real boss at her job too!
I am a part of a circle of strong women, who are all excelling in their fields. Krystal stood out to me in 2016 for reminding me to take things “one set of 24-hours at a time.” I am grateful for her energy. I am also grateful to have her as my fit-spiration for 2017. I am heading back to the gym once the winter is over, and Krystal is a big part of that motivation. Thanks Krystal!
In my opinion, Jamaica’s number 1 journalist is a sharp, fearless woman, in the person of Dionne Jackson-Miller. She is president of the Press Association of Jamaica and has been hosting separate programmes on radio and television for over two decades. I started Dionne on air when I was about 15 years old, so it has been over a decade. However, I would have had to listen to her programme every evening, because my mother kept the radio on RJR from about 4PM each day. I grew up respecting Dionne. Having been more attuned to current affairs in my teenage and young adult life, my respect for her grew tenfold. She asks the sharp questions, gives clear information to her audience and, allows for respectful debate through her shows. I can tune in to the programme online to know what is happening in Jamaica. I also see her giving space and amplifying the voice of numerous young people in Jamaica. For these reasons, I am grateful for DJM.
- Rasheen Roper-Robinson
We should have been enemies. Well, at least that’s what some people would have you think. In 2012, Rasheen was Miss Kingston & St. Andrew, and I was Miss St. Ann. We were both contestants in the Miss Jamaica Festival Queen competition. The public chatter was that we were both strong contenders, so almost naturally, people tried to pit us against each other. As fate would have it, we ended up being roommates when all the contestants had to be in residence ahead of the coronation. There began one of my most treasured friendships. Rasheen is genuine. She is kind, patient and a solid friend. I am grateful to have her listening ear and calm, wise counsel. She is also an example for me, as she graceful enjoys her roles of wife and Mommy to two beautiful children. Some friendships exist where you don’t talk all the time, but when you do, it is as if you haven’t missed a day. My friendship with Rasheen is one of those. She truly is one of the people who listens without judgment and puts her heart into connecting and sharing. She is also a woman of faith. So, for 2016, I am grateful for her friendship, inspiration, honesty and prayers. I should let you know I couldn’t find an individual photo of her to use for my post. I should let you know I couldn’t find an individual photo of her to use for my post. She really values family, and her photos are all with her husband or children. I had to draw for an oldie but goodie of the both of us.
These eight women inspired me in different ways. I will share the remaining eight of my 16 in a follow-up post.
When you look around you, who are you grateful for? I have added links to their social media accounts or websites if you would like to connect with them.