CARIBIA Q ‘N’ A: TRULY CARIBBEAN WOMAN

(Originally published at OnePaper.com)

It is a treat to get to know someone whose only desire is to get to know you. This natural inquisitiveness is what makes a person interesting to us. When we encountered Nerissa Golden, she was busy developing her newsletter and website ‘Truly Caribbean Woman’. Golden is a Caribbean businesswoman, consultant, wife, and mother. Her wisdom belies her age: the level of her self-perception is incredible for someone so young. Nerissa was among CaribiaDigest.com’s first visitors, and we like to keep up with the folks that we meet. This TC Woman’s newsletters bring together a genuine community on the World Wide Web. Business ideas and issues are discussed, but so are personal issues like motherhood and romance. Woman’s destiny is at the center of all creative things; the world is crackling with opportunities! We offer this bakers’ dozen of questions with answers from a Truly (Remarkable) Caribbean Woman…

First, the inevitable: Tell us a little about yourself!
I am 27 years old, married for one year to the most amazing man and the mother of one incredible little girl, called Nia. I am one of four girls born to one of the most respected preachers in the region, Bishop Michael Greenaway. I was born on the island of Montserrat and my family has lived in Antigua, the British Virgin Islands, and St. Maarten to name a few. Growing up in the church shaped my view of the world. This had both positive and negative influences on who I have become. I have a Bachelor’s in Communications, and I have been working in the media since I was 17 years old. I enjoy singing and talking about God, my husband, my daughter, and just about life in general.

Are your goals different now than they were when you were younger?
Yes. When I was younger, I pretty much wanted to grow up and escape the drudgery of being a preacher’s kid. You were expected to be perfect all the time and you certainly could do no wrong. You were never allowed to make mistakes and grow. It made me feel I had to be perfect at everything but then I was not, so sometimes I wouldn’t bother to try and challenge myself to achieve more.

Why did you launch ‘Truly Caribbean Woman’?
Over the years, I have come to rely on the Internet to connect me to friends far away. I was also seeking information on what other women around the Caribbean were doing and how they were overcoming the challenges they faced. I could not find such a site, and Truly Caribbean Woman is my effort to do so. Back in 1997, I used to publish a newsletter called Flava Talk, which was for and about Caribbean women. I have always wanted to continue to produce good sources of information and inspiration for women in my region. The web site allows me to reach a wider audience than I did speaking in churches, workshops and conferences. I really try to share my experiences and those of others to help women move forward.

You appear to feel that healthy relationships are key to the Truly Caribbean Woman.
Yes, healthy relationships are key. Even if your life did not start out that way, each of us has the power to make the changes which will bring the people, events, and success to our own life. That is the greatest gift that our Creator gave us…the gift of choice. To choose a different ending to a story someone else began to write for us.

How would you define a ‘Truly Caribbean Woman’?
A TC Woman is a beautiful creative woman, who manages to find the sunlight even during a Category 5 Hurricane. TC Women just know how to make others feel loved. A TC Woman should also know that she cannot give the best love until she loves herself and is willing to do what is necessary to be happy. This is something I am still learning to do. I was raised to believe that all others came first. Even if things were not right in our family, you had to go to church and pretend that all was well, so the members would keep believing we were this wonderful Christian family. What happened is that I began to self destruct.
It is only as I learned to find my own identity and not that defined by others that I began to see myself as a woman with something special to offer, simply because I am a woman. This is still a work in progress for me.

So, if you could tell all TC Men and have them hear you – what do TC Women want?
To get a true TC Woman, men need to be willing to be honest about who they are. They have to be willing to dump all that macho garbage that they are taught growing up, and by watching television. They need to be willing to follow their own paths and truly be ready to create an environment for a TC Woman to shine. When a TC Woman is the apple of his eye, and vice versa, both their lives can only get better. Together they can take on the world.

The articles that appear in TC Woman touch the heart. Are you still in touch with their contributors?
I have been blessed to meet women online, who are willing to share their feelings and their stories. I do try to stay in touch with them and offer words of encouragement. It’s all well and good that they tell their story and other women, say, “Oh, how nice that she could say those things.” But many times the women are still dealing with the hurt and the struggles and they need continued support. I hope more women would be willing to tell their story because women need to know they are not alone.

Name the greatest mistakes women make when it comes to doing business.
We give try to do things like men do. Because we are living in a so-called “male dominated” society, we tend to think we must use the same bullish methods to get ahead. Women have been gifted with intuition and a level of creativity which will allow us to excel as needed, without the pressures of having to compete with a man. If we would only use those gifts, we would be less stressed and get (further along towards) our destinations.

How would you suggest that the TC Woman act as a role model to young ladies? Any inspirations?
There are at least four women in the Caribbean, who I call Mother. Each of them came into my life at different stages and they all brought different methods of support to me. We as TC Women should be willing to be examples that young ladies will want to emulate. I learned about make-up and hair care from one mother, I learned about trusting my spirit from another, I learned about business from another and my birth mom taught me how to be creative and how to use the things around me to make things better. We all have something to share, and we should take the time to do so.

What is the most important asset of the Caribbean woman?
Our smiles. If we could all learn how a smile releases the light that is within us, the Caribbean would be a place where the sun would never set. Our smiles should also be our signals that we are happy and at peace with who we are, not that we are covering up our shames and hurts.

If you could change one thing about your life as a TC Woman, what would it be?
Nothing. I am right where I need to be at the time I need to be here. Although things are not always going the way I would like, I always try to be thankful and be open to learning what I need to learn at the place I am in. I don’t believe that we make mistakes. I think we make the best choice we can with the information and inner strength that is available to us. Looking back we say we “should have know better”, but it doesn’t change the fact that back then you did not know what you know now, or you did not have the courage to make that choice.

You touch on the taboo from time to time. What sensitive topics do you feel are important in the lives of Caribbean women?
We need to be open about our sexuality and the problems we face. We are pressured by the music industry to be these sexy mamas with big butts and breasts, but then the magazines say we should be razor thin. We are supposed to be temptresses in bed but many of us don’t even have the courage to tell the men in our lives that they are not pleasing us. We have to be
willing to stand up for ourselves. We are being killed in hurtful relationships because we feel we need that man to make us somebody. We feel tied to them for financial reasons but we are dying inside and becoming walking corpses. We are the only ones who can change things. We have to love ourselves before true love can come our way. Nobody can love you better than you love yourself.

So, what does a Truly Caribbean Woman like you do for fun?
I confess to being very boring these days. My daughter is 11 months old and I tend to spend all my time with her. I like the movies but have not been in so long… and I wore out my dancing shoes in college. I am trying to include more adventure in my life and my husband sees to that. So far, I’ve fallen off of a jet ski, gone sailing on a catamaran, and I moved to a new island to start a new life. Things still on my to do list are: learning to cook better and with more flavor, travel to more Caribbean islands, and create more opportunities to bring light into more women’s lives.