For four men to walk into a room full of women, sit down and answer questions ranging from: “what are men attracted to in women”; “why men cheat”; to “how do you get men to be involved in a child’s life” was an act of bravery on the part of the men and an act of creative planning in a thought-provoking day at The Me in my Life Women’s Empowerment Seminar.
The aim of Me in my Life is twofold; firstly it is about giving women the chance to just be themselves for a day and secondly about giving them the confidence and belief in themselves to define what they want from their lives and the means to go get it.
To help make the day an empowering one, founder Catherine Tyson had brought in some big-hitting motivational speakers; Lorlett Hudson from the One Hand Can’t Clap organisation in London and Dr.Anita Davis-Defoe, a motivational coach and author of the book A Woman’s Guide to Soulful Living.
Hudson set up the consultancy firm One Hand Cant clap in 2000 with the aim of helping people who are underachieving to fulfil their potential.
She has incorporated the experience and culture of her Jamaican background into her methodology, for instance the use of a 52 card set of Jamaican proverbs, things “Mama used to Say” which deliver wisdom in a philosophically precise way.
As a recipient of the British Female Inventors and Innovators award, she is well placed to give advice and support. In her breakout session ‘Getting from where I am to where I want to be’ Hudson, encouraged everyone to write down what they saw as their desired future.
For most of the women it was about bettering themselves through gaining qualifications, trying to improve finances or wanting to start their own business.
Hudson’s approach was practical and no-nonsense. First you had to look truthfully at what you want from your future, think about how you go about it and what might be stopping you.
She reiterated over and over again that a lot of the time it is our own fear that holds us back and the only person stopping you following your dreams is the person looking at you in the mirror.
This was something that many of the women in the room could relate to. Wilma Ebanks was there because she wanted to achieve certain things but thought she was crazy to have such ambitions. “Hearing these women talk makes me realise the only thing that is stopping me from fulfilling my dreams and accomplishing my goals is myself and the lack of faith, courage and motivation,” she says.
Both Hudson and Davis -Defoe are advocates of writing your plans down as a kind of map or guide. Davis-Defoe made an interesting analogy with driving a car. “Most of us just do not get in car and drive; usually we know where we are going, we have directions. But many of us just drift through life without knowing where we are going,” she says.
Her seven keys to soulful living is about not just knowing what you want but living joyously and the starting point is to know yourself, believe in yourself and not take on board other people’s version of who you are.
“Know your story. If you do not know your story, you believe what other people’s story is about you,” she says.
Nome of the speakers were going to take excuses either, though Davis Defoe acknowledged it takes courage to follow your dreams as it means facing up to your fears. Throughout her talk about how to create a better life for yourself the message was to have an action plan, but reassuringly she emphasised you are not stuck with it – you can always change it as you go along.
Talking to the women attending the overwhelming response was huge enthusiasm for the day and most were taking some bit of wisdom away with them.
Tasha Eden has attended other motivational seminars but found this one more personable. “I really liked Davis-Defoe’s idea to start a Dream Book and write down details of my ambitions and desires, in order to develop ideas and make them a reality,” she says.
Yvette Jordison says the day was about recharging her batteries and finding inspiration. “We all know that life is supposed to be about being happy and looking forward to enjoying each and every day but somewhere along the line between work, raising a family and paying bills, I think we tend to lose sight of who we are, what we want, and what makes us happy. It’s like waking up one day and realising you became so busy making a living you forgot to live life.”
Wilma Ebanks says it made her realise that “the -the only person that is stopping me from fulfilling my dreams and accomplishing my goals, is myself and the lack of faith, courage and motivation and I must pursue my dreams and deal with any interference.”
Berradine Murrain found the speakers inspirational.
“I think the piece of advice I find most invaluable is anything is possible but I also love the idea of not fretting over mistakes and just moving on. Catherine Tyson kept on saying “next” and it’s going to be my quiet mantra from now on!”
From all the women there was an overwhelming thank you to Tyson for putting on the seminar and giving women the courage and inspiration to use that mantra of “NEXT”!
7 Steps to Living Soulfully
Know who you are.
Reflect on your life and it will reveal to you what you need to change and then act upon it .
Make the choice to develop healthy relationships and that includes with yourself.
Whatever is burning in your spirit, do it.Have faith in your dreams and give them an opportunity to soar.
It takes courage to follow your dreams.
Part of living is to make mistakes – you learn from them, then move on.
Once you have decided your path you need to commit to it. Do not let fear hold you back .Nobody can do it but you.
Things Mama Used To Say
Ah tailor nebba own ah good suit .
Some people never practise what they preach – behave with integrity
Rotten wood caan make furniture
Develop substance – clean up your act.
Significant dates for women in Cayman
• 23rd September 1959 – First general election that women in the Cayman Islands participated in.
• 1961 – Ms Annie Huldah Bodden became the first woman nominated to serve as a Member of the Legislative Assembly.
• 1962 – Ms Mary Evelyn Wood, became the first woman elected as a Member of the Legislative Assembly.
• 1991 – Hon. Sybil I. McLaughlin MBE, JP, National Hero became the first female Speaker of the House.
• 1997 – Ms Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, JP became the first female minister appointed to Executive Council (now called Cabinet).
• 2003 – The Cayman Islands Crisis Centre, the first shelter for abused women and their children, opened.
• 2004 – The Cayman Islands National Policy on Gender Equity and Equality was accepted by the Government.
• 2009 – Ms Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, JP becomes the Deputy Premier of the Cayman Islands.