ON PURPOSE: "A lot of your time should be spent reflecting on how you've been blessed," White tells her readers.
ABOUT ten years ago, Mary White made a startling discovery. She was looking about her passport when it was brought to her attention that the actual spelling of her name is White (not Whyte). Not only that. She’d always gone by Mary-Ann. She was now realizing, for the first time, that the records show her name as simply Mary.
On the cover of her recently launched first book, Glass Houses (a daily devotional diary from Pelican Publishers), her name stares back at the reader in simple block caps as Mary A.M. White. Her photo, a gorgeous shot of her in a red top and a cross necklace, with her signature cropped blonde ’do, seems to reflect a woman reborn.
To wit, a candid conversation with White reveals that there’s no better way to define this charming first-time author, happily single fashionista and relentless go-getter who long ago vowed to face the challenges – and life’s countless, inevitable surprises – in good stride.
To say the least, Mary White has had quite a life. She hails from very humble roots in Highgate, St. Mary (Mary from St. Mary!), where her Christian parents brought her up in the church. In fact, they had their own church. So she’s always had that firm spiritual base. But like so many of us, life has taken her to the peaks and valleys. She’s been up and she’s been down. But she always kept the faith.
As she explains, her story is no different from yours. And it’s this kind of reasoning that lent the book its title. “We are reflective of each other’s experiences as human beings, hence the name Glass Houses,” she tells me, seated inside Blend Bar + Lounge, the Pegasus’ speakeasy joint, while a pianist fills the room with tuneful playing. “The book is about my journey, but as human beings, our experiences are shared. We all have our failures and our successes, financial challenges and relationship drama. But a lot of our time should be dedicated to reflecting on how we’ve been blessed.”
To this end, White (while saving space for your personal notes and jottings) has packed the pages with true stories capturing a range of real-life experiences that dually inspire and provoke thought. You’ll find tales of matrimony and betrayal, unrequited love, broken hearts and the list goes on. But the life lessons at their core will resonate most deeply with you.
As Mary reminds us on the book’s cover, “Sorrows and successes are both part of the natural cycle of life – which happens to all of us.” But how you survive, she suggests, depends largely on your mindset in the face of these hurdles.
By her own admission, Mary White is not the Mother Teresa type, dealing in prudence and self-righteous rhetoric. Not at all. She’s very honest about her own shortcomings. “I would say my life as a Christian has been very on and off, but I’ve always come back to it,” admits White, a Dinthill High alum, who holds a BSc from UWI Mona. “But I’m okay with my journey. I’m learning still. I’m a work-in-progress. This life has its own set of challenges, but as a believer what you learn is that you have people supporting you; people are rooting for you.”
These days, White has a lot on her plate. She is in the middle of a book tour (shaping up to expand islandwide) that will occupy her time of the rest of the year. She’s partnering with Jamaica Library Service to give readings at libraries across Jamaica come 2019, and she’s already at work on a second volume of Glass Houses, which should be out next year.
She’s so inspired that she has another manuscript in the works. (The Three S’s of a Woman will explore marriage and a woman’s role in a man’s life.) On her reading list at the moment are titles on motivation, therapy and Think and Grow Rich.
“I’m very happy with where I am in my life right now,” shares the author, a former scribe and advertising exec for the North Coast Times who now runs a design-and-print boutique with her daughter Krystal Cameron. “Doing the book signings and meeting all these new people allows me to do stuff I’ve always had a passion for, like counselling and giving pep talks. I’m loving it. Along with the writing, I’m getting to use up that creative side of my brain.”