I just celebrated a milestone birthday. For most of us, reaching fifty is a huge deal. For some it’s middle age, for others (namely people born after 2000 ) it’s just old. I don’t subscribe to either of these thoughts…I feel that 50 is merely number and that being healthy and happy far outweigh the perceptions which accompany the age. In my opinion, you should never allow yourself to be categorized or boxed into someone else’s perception of what certain numbers represents.
I remember quite clearly when my father turned 50. As he always celebrated with great pomp and circumstance, his 50th Birthday was quite a regal affair. I made a speech in his honor and asked everyone to raise their glasses toasting to his good health. For me at just 22, it was hard to fathom myself at this conjecture in time. As I stood there, I had a flash of the imagination and I thought, what will I be like at 50? In the moment, this age seemed so far away, but time really does play a number on you sometimes when you close your eyes.
The decades between my 20’s and 50 each marked a pivotal time in my life. I matured and evolved and learned so much at each stage. They say that learning and education have no limits and this is so true, you just have to be receptive. I learned two new languages, absorbed myself in a different culture and garnered so many experiences in business. As I have never shied away from hard work, I have learned in depth about starting up and running a retail business in Haïti. I am a firm believer that in order to successfully run your business, you need to know all of the facets and to be truly hands on. I have worked in dusty gritty depots, set up several commercial stores, arranged merchandising displays and managed human resources, marketing and finance aspects. Hard work creates character and as the old adage says “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. I can testify to this as a representation of my life over the last 30 years.
I am first and foremost a mother to 3 children ages almost 26 , 24 and 14. I have always made a conscious effort to find the balance between my job and caring for my family. Even though for the greater part of my work career, my schedule required me to be at work 6 days a week, I always did my best to be present at all activities in which my children were involved. It was all important for me to be always there for my family as Dr. Mom, chauffeur and cheerleader at all ages. Dealing with schedules and extra curricular activities were often exhausting. The accumulation of hours waiting at various after school activities like tennis, violin, piano and dance then dealing with the arduous commute home is mind boggling at best. Over the years, I have often felt the frustration that my life was passing before me at an uncontrollable rate. It sometimes weighed heavily on me knowing that there were still many things which I wished to accomplish for myself, but had never been able to do. My children and their well-being will always come first and I will always maintain that being a mother is the most important and most fulfilling role of my life. There is and never will be anything which can overshadow that fact. I could only begin to work on new ideas and projects when the time was right.
My forties were a good decade. It was the period where I was more confident of who I am as a woman. I have always been a person who made my own path or danced to the beat of a different drum. It often seemed that I went against the current when most were going up stream as was the case of my decision to move to Haïti all of those years ago. My two eldest children graduated high school and college during this decade and today are each pursuing their own careers successfully. This is a huge relief in the cycle of parenthood. I still have my youngest child in high school, but in a few years, she too will leave the nest. I am comforted in the fact that I no longer have any little kids at home and that my husband and I have moved onto a different phase in our lives.
For a few years now, my children had been strongly encouraging me to do something for myself in the arts to breed new life into me as an individual. They urged me to explore new art forms and to use my love of cooking in a more creative way, beyond the home. These are two areas which I have always loved, but for one reason or another I have always cast them on the side burner. As such, I have always considered myself a repressed artist. In my youth, I loved drawing and painting and I had always enjoyed writing but had never really done anything professionally. My son Pascal challenged me to do anything that would bring me personal joy. He set up a website for my birthday last year and said “Mom, this is my present to you. Decide on a name and just do what you want with it!” I said “okay!! ” as I accepted the challenge. One year ago, I established my site Guyanese Girl Haitian Soul and I wrote my first blogpost. I had no idea whether anyone would be interested in reading any of my thoughts or would appreciate my cooking beyond my family.
Over the last year I have shared my life, my memories and my recipes. It has been a most wonderful journey of discovery and of renewal for myself. My little blog has received 20,000 visits in the last 12 months. My readers are from every conceivable country from the USA, Canada, Haïti, Guyana and the Caribbean to France, UK, Finland, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden to Egypt, Kenya, Djibouti,Ghana, Singapore, Malaysia, Brazil, UAE, Japan, Seychelles, New Zealand and Australia and more. It has been so heartwarming to receive messages from so many people, some of whom I know but most whom I have not as yet met.
I write about some of the good things which I have encountered in my life. I often reminisce about my childhood in Guyana which I value immensely and hold onto as cherished memories. I choose to highlight the positives of the natural beauty and the food which connects me to both. I prefer to highlight the good things I know about personally regarding Haïti and the childhood memories of a Guyana where I grew up as a child until I left for University in 1986. I share the places I have visited and focus on the natural beauty I have seen for myself. There are so many on social media who spread the negativity, I do not need to be a contributor to that form. I have always found that in the darkest and hardest of moments, a little ray of light, signaling hope, could brighten the dimmest situation. I would rather offer the glimmer of something positive.
In synopsis, these last 3 decades of my life have been busy ones. I met my soulmate while I was in College. We married when we were both young right after graduation and I moved to his homeland of Haïti. We had a family, made a home, built a business, worked so very hard together making countless sacrifices as many young people do when they are married. There were ups and downs as we all experience in life, but we always managed to put our energies together to weather the storms and keep our heads above the water. As parents we took care of our children instilling strong family values and morals while maintaining a dual culture with respect. We guided them and stood by them and their decisions as they grow up and we always put family first before anything else. Soon, we will soon be empty nesters and it is quite something to reach that age when your kids are grown up and moving onto their own adventures. Would I change anything? Not at all!!
So my friends in closing, if you are reading this, I thank you for your support. I appreciate your encouragement and your kindness. I am awed by your comments and messages which I have received. I hope you continue to read and follow the evolution of my blogposts. I have many ideas and plans to realize. I look towards this period of my life as one of personal growth and expansion. The fabulous 50’s have arrived and I am ready for this new decade in my life. I have been fortunate to have raised my children and am blessed that they are the young people they are today. They constantly show me that the sacrifices we made were all worth it. I am so proud of them as young Citizens of Haïti and of the world at large.
I have learned one most important truth at this stage of my life and it is the following: You cannot depend on someone else to make you happy, rather, you have to take the lead and make or find your own happiness. Though undoubtedly your partner and family are most certainly powerful components of your happiness equation; you as an individual hold the vital key to completing the depth of happiness and fulfillment in your lifetime. Find and invest in something that brings out the best in you and pursue it. There is no set age to do this, but just find what makes you tick and you will be sure to find some deep fulfillment. Even if it is hard work, as long as you enjoy doing it, it will still fuel your passion in life.