Kamila McDonald : Moving Forward
She was full of nerves, unable to sit still. Understandable, really, as she was about to sit down for her first tell-all interview since her very public break-up with her husband. But Kamila McDonald's nerves weren't related to her impending interview - that, she was ready for. What she wasn't so prepared for was the upcoming World Championships race on the television in front of her.
McDonald is the quintessential girl next door - 'Miss Congeniality' personified - the friend you tell all your secrets to. But, last week, as she sat down with Outlook, she was the one opening up about the emotional roller coaster she been on over the past two years.
"Nobody wants to get divorced; nobody plans to get divorced," she said. Her own divorce from recording artiste Jah Cure had been finalised only three weeks before the interview. The emotion was still fresh in her response. "I grew up around so much love. My parents have been married for 34 years this year. All my aunts and uncles. I grew up seeing functional marriages and so I went into my marriage with the intention of it being long-lasting," she said.
Her story would turn out much differently from those she had hoped to emulate. However, she said her experiences have made her stronger. "I am at a place of surrender, and at a place of peace. It took a really long time for me to get to this place. In life, anything that costs you your peace is expensive and it's a little bit too expensive, seeing that I brought my most precious gift into this world (my daughter). She is who we are focusing on now. Her happiness is all that matters, and despite what happened, and our current reality, we are going to continue to fight for her happiness. So, in one word, I feel at peace," she told Outlook.
"It's been difficult - a roller coaster of emotions, but it's been a transition and it has taught me many lessons. At the end of the day, you don't plan for these things. You don't want them to happen, but life happens. That's what's so beautiful about life. You have to embrace it - the ups and the downs, the ins and the outs - because really, it's in your deepest, darkest moments where you come to light; where light is brought in."
McDonald's clarity in expressing her feelings and her self-awareness were striking. It's the kind of thing that most often comes through hardship. "You learn about yourself; you learn about the things that you value, the things that are important to you that you didn't even realise until you go through it," she said.
In the midst of her private storm, she has found promising and comforting rainbows. "Yes, it's been difficult, but I have been blessed with the most incredible support system that I could ever ask for. It's in your difficult moments that you realise the beauty around you, the blessings that you have to rely on. We give thanks. We have life, we have hope. One thing we can't lose in life is hope. We have to hang on to it and know that at the end of the day, the Almighty has a plan for you that is always greater than your plan."
McDonald said that she has come through the storm a completely new person. As a health practitioner, no one knows better than her that health goes beyond working out six times a week. "Health is everything - emotional health, mental health - and when those are compromised, everything is compromised. I think I have learnt and regained health in a place I didn't have it a couple years ago, and that in itself is precious to me, because health is your biggest asset," she said.
But it has not been easy. "I think it was one of my biggest struggles, even though I was doing all the traditional healthy things - working out and eating healthy; all things I prescribe and I encourage people to embrace. That can all be lost if you don't have it together emotionally; if you don't have it together mentally; if you are in toxic situations. I give thanks that after a series of ups and downs I'm still here, I'm smiling and I have hope. I know that the future is bright and I give thanks that we both respect each other that we have (our daughter, Kailani) at the centre of it all, and her well-being at the forefront of our minds and our actions every day," she said.
Divorces can often get ugly. McDonald is happy that she and her now ex-husband were able to take a different approach.
"I give thanks we have been able to come to that place, because many people are not able to get past individual egos. We were able to get up out of ourselves and see the bigger picture - and she (Kailani) is the bigger picture, and her happiness is all that matters to both of us. She knows that no matter what happens, her mommy and her daddy love her more than anything in the world. That really is how we shield her and protect her - with the security that both of us love her dearly. I feel confident that we will continue to grow and transform from where we are right now. Hopefully, one day we can be really good friends, where we can look back and say things didn't work out the way we wanted them to work out, but we have this beautiful daughter and she is a gift and a miracle to us and the world."
Life is no doubt complicated by a divorce. The sudden loss of a partner surely requires major adjustment and with a child to raise and a thriving career, it makes finding balance that much harder.
"You never really do balance it. Balance is something we all strive towards continuously, every single day, and especially as an entrepreneur. What you are building and creating means everything to you. It's hard to shut off. I would consider myself a hands-on mother and at the end of the day, I'm involved in every part of her life. How do I manage it? Well, I really focus on putting my perfectionism at rest. Perfectionism is a blessing and a curse. That's how I've got through my entire life. When I'm in something I give it my all and I've sometimes learnt, as a mother, that you just have to let it go. It can't be perfect because perfection does not exist, whether we like it or not," she said.
"It's learning to let go. It's important to live a structured life, and as an entrepreneur that is very important. Getting very organised and prioritising things is important. I have got very diligent in making sure that my priorities are straight and that Kailani is always up there, regardless of what is going on."
WAKE UP AND LIVE!
Answering the call to help persons improve their lives, McDonald has decided to write a book and is well on her way in adding the final touches.
"I have been writing it for two years and it's really a mind-body-spirit approach to lifestyle change. It wraps up all the facets of health, not just in what we eat; but I lay out the 'sweet 16' laws of lifestyle changes where nutrition is concerned. There are certain things we can't hold on to when we are trying to change our lives, like forgiveness; any toxic emotions that you are storing up."
McDonald is happy that her focus on living healthily has rubbed off on her daughter. "Growing up around me and the importance I place on health, she is very health-conscious. She is going through this very picky phase where she only likes unhealthy foods and it's very frustrating, but she will apologise about it and she will say, 'Mommy, I had pizza today.' So she knows what is unhealthy, she knows she's not supposed to drink juice every day, she should be getting in her veggies."
As someone who has been through the storm and lived to see a brighter day, McDonald offered some advice to others who may now be in the midst of their own battles. " Give it to God. He knows best," she said. "He knows what our greatest wish is, our greatest fears, and He has a plan for us. I think one of my biggest blessings in what I've been through is that I've deepened my connection with my creator and have become so spiritually balanced, and God has helped me through what I'm going through. I grew up in a spiritual home, I grew up around the Bible, around prayer and belief in God. Now it's a complete priority. The difficult years that I have had is when I really found God and really realise that He's here for me - He has always been here for me. And it really has been a beautiful transformation. I've grown in Him. Knowing that He has my back. When you really believe that there is a force outside of yourself that is greater than you have ever imagined, and when you believe that and you surrender to it, you're taking pressure off of yourself."
She also advises: "Fight for relationships; fight for the love. But, you have to know when the fight is over. You have to know when you have given it your absolute all and there is nothing left of you to give but yourself, and that is not OK. We, ourself, our body is a force for God to use to do what He puts us on earth to do. When you are in unhealthy relationships, it takes away our possibilities to be who we are. Fight to the end until you feel like you have nothing more left and then give it to God. After that, life will work out for you. There is life after unhappiness," she said.
Outfits provided by Keneea Linton Boutique
Shop 25, 80 Lady Musgrave Road
Facebook: Keneea Linton Design
Make-up by Paul March