Saturday, 31 October 2015

I’M EVERY WOMAN: 5 Amazing Moments from Sheryl Lee Ralph’s 'Keeping Abreast' presentation

STAR QUALITY: It's all eyes on me, as Ralph commands the stage for a round of photographs following her big speech.

Picture this: Sheryl Lee Ralph and an army of breast cancer survivors gathered centerstage for a round of picture-taking as the instrumental strains of “Wind Beneath My Wings” (performed by Touch of Elegance) fill the Grand Jamaican Suite of the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel. Yes, there were countless touching moments at Thursday’s “Keeping Abreast” luncheon, put on to raise funds for the work of the work of the Jamaica Cancer Society. The main highlight, of course, was Ralph’s laugh-out-loud, let’s-keep-it-real keynote address, full of insight and inspiration. Below, we share some highlights:

1. Always wear joy
In case you’re wondering why the multihyphenate star always seems to be in such an upbeat mood, that’s because she subscribes to the school of thought that you must create our own happiness in order to experience a fulfilling life. “Do what you need to walk in joy. Why joy? Because too many people don’ have it and lack of joy makes you do things like take a job that makes you miserable. It makes you rethink your position,” she told her rapt audience, while stressing the timeless adage that misery loves company – and that’s never a good thing. “What is the number one thing that unhappy people do? Making sure that everybody around them is unhappy.”

2. Ladies, show your girls some love
Given the occasion, Ralph touched on the issue of women and their relationship with their ‘twins’. “Why is it that women have breasts but can’t touch them? All the things that are so wonderful about yourself stop ignoring them. Stop acting like you don’t know how to touch yourself. To touch yourself is to save yourself,” she advised, before sharing the story of woman whose personal survival story touched her – and the life-saving power of mammography. “By the time you get to 45, 50, you should be making arrangements to have a mammogram. Mammography is extremely important.”

3. The power of positive thinking
All women need to embrace that deep-seated fighting spirit, Ralph preaches, especially when diseases like breast cancer still rank high among the leading causes of death for Black women. “You are your own best warrior; you are the person you’ve been waiting for. Nobody can fight for you like you can fight for yourself. If you are here right now, you have great things ahead of you,” said Ralph, who is well-known for her advocacy on a wide range of social and health-related issues like HIV/AIDS. “People have a habit of sitting on gold mines, and some you have still not dug deep enough to find out what you’re really meant to do. Figure it out!”

4. Home is where the heart is
The daughter of an American college administrator and noted Jamaican fashion icon Ivy Ralph, Sheryl Lee Ralph always makes a point of celebrating her Caribbean roots. In fact, as many of us know, she is the founding creator pf the International Jamerican Film & Music festival, and the founder of the production company Island Girl Productions. She may be a global star but, by her own admission, her heart rests on Jamaica, Land We Love. “I’ve always loved coming back to Jamaica to find peace, to find possibilities,” she reflected in a soothing tone. For Ralph, being Jamaican means she can do anything she sets her mind to. “When my career was starting to take off in the States, I remember people saying, ‘What made you think you can do all that?’ But I knew I could do all that because I’d already been in Jamaica! So, of course, I can do it because I’m from here.”

5. Take care of Number One
As Ralph reminded her attentive audience, few relationships are as important as the one we share with ourselves. “When it comes to keeping abreast, we have to love ourselves enough to be kind to ourselves – and the kinder you’ll be to somebody else,” she shared. “Do what you need to do for yourself, your home, your people, for you. Because the more you do for you, the more you can do for others.” 

> For more inspiring food-for-thought, follow Ralph on Twitter @theSherylRalph

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