Keisha Hill, Gleaner Writer
From across the desk, I observed and paid keen attention as a strong black woman recounted the many stories she has listened to over the years of women who have become so taken in with their spouses, children, families and work that they have lost who they are and find little or no time to take care of themselves. She also told her own story and how she dared herself to feed her spirit and is currently on the path to realising her dreams.
This woman is Charlene Fagan, a motivational speaker whose goal is to celebrate women of all ages, to inspire, uplift and give them the tools for success. According to Fagan, a simple change in perspective can lead women from feeling overwhelmed and discouraged to a place where they are challenging and daring themselves to do the things that are necessary for success.
Fagan grew up in Jamaica, and after graduating from Merl Grove High School she attended university in Florida and completed her education to the master's degree level. Fagan returned to Jamaica where she tried to resettle, but found it difficult to realise her dreams. "I came home and tried to find a niche here in Jamaica. I found myself doing many things and none of them fed my spirit. Some of these things included entrepreneurial pursuits that all failed," Fagan said.
During this time, Fagan got married and started a family, and along with her husband built a nice home in Hellshire. However, the restlessness continued and after one year of vacillating, Fagan opted to migrate to Canada in 2002. There, she faced many challenges. However, she dared herself and succeeded at doing many things.
"I was disillusioned at first, being in Canada, and I didn't instantly find my niche. It wasn't a case where I transformed into a nice job, there was no instant magic and I had to create my own magic," Fagan said.
She persevered, and got a job as professor of human relations and sociology at a highly regarded Ontario-area college, where she continues to be a well-respected professor today. She also dared herself and became the owner of Charlene's Bridal Boutique, a women's wear and bridal boutique located in Ontario.
Migrating to Canada also had it ill effects and created a strain on her marriage. After 11 years of that union and two children, the resulting strained family dynamics taught her how cathartic and life-affirming starting over could be.
"My marriage started to fail. Absence contributed to it, but there were unresolved issues that caused it to deteriorate over time. I found strength in facilitation workshops and over time, I gained strength in the work I do," Fagan said.
Her husband, she said, was never abusive but wasn't emotionally bsupportive either. "I never felt he was aligned with my vision and, therefore, never felt strong support for my dreams. A failed marriage is one of the most difficult experiences I have ever had. It is like a death; it is like going through the same stages as the death of a loved one. The hardest part is being alone again, but the liberating part is knowing that I can go through this without this person," Fagan said.
As an empowerment speaker, Fagan now dares others to do what she has done and continues to do. After years of taking on everything and everyone else, she finally got the time to indulge in what she wanted to do. From this need came the birth of the Phenomenal Woman - Get Into Your Power, the formation of an annual event that started in March 2011 in Mississauga, Ontario, and travelled to Jamaica in that same year.
Strength and determination
"My journey has given me strength and determination and I want to encourage and empower others, especially women, to persevere. I do not want women to give up, but they first have to believe that they deserve everything that is good and then they have to seek after these things," Fagan said.
In its inaugural year, the Phenomenal Woman tour was a power-filled event for women embarking upon their journey of self-discovery and self-fulfilment, while seeking to be in a positive environment connecting with other women.
"This year, entertaining and fun-filled is what's in store on this day. Women will again laugh and may cry happy tears. Our speakers this year will challenge and delight the audience as they become engaged in the sharing of their experiences, journeys and personal stories. Be prepared for even more positive change," Fagan said.
Fagan is encouraging women to get into their power on Saturday, November 3, at the Mona Visitors' Lodge at 5 p.m. and be transformed. She believes that this event is her way of affirming and applauding women for their strength and tenacity. For more information email: firstname.lastname@example.org.