Every student in the school of life works with a different curriculum, and the authors of Virago: Warrior Women Butterfly Edition have willingly shared the lessons they have learnt so far from their life modules.
The publication is the brainchild of author, broadcaster and motivational speaker Michelle Borel, who invited 14 other “influential” local women from different professions and backgrounds to co-author the book – from artists to politicians, businesswomen to educators – each allotted a chapter in which to tell their story. The foreword was written by attorney Sharon Rowley, wife of the Prime Minister.
“Virago means female warrior and as women we all have that fighting spirit within us,” Borel told WMN. When she thought of doing the book in February, she contacted actress Penelope Spencer and comedienne Nikki Crosby to pitch the idea.
“They were immediately on board and we came up with a list of names of other women we thought had stories to tell.”
They selected women from varying walks in life throughout TT who were willing to share their challenges, their ability to overcome and their achievements.
Borel said she and her team started putting Virago together in June and founded the US-based Virago Global Publishing LLC through which the book was published.
“And we are in the process of registering Virago Global NGO so we can give back in as many ways as possible.”
They will host a media launch for the book Sunday, at 5 pm at the Trincity Mall auditorium, with the official online public launch and release scheduled for November 25. Launches will also take place in New York on December 9 and in Miami on December 14.
“When Michelle called me to let me know of her idea, I was elated,” Spencer said. “But we were not sure how because we had never done something like this before. I thought 'hearing the stories from established women in this society would and should be welcomed by our public. Hearing of the trials and tribulations the sisters in this volume overcame to get where they are should be written.’ The stories needed to be told, especially so that others can learn and understand that we all have struggles and that we can learn from each other.”
Spencer said very often society pre-judges a person without knowing their backstory, but when the backstory is revealed that person is seen in a whole different light.
“They become more human when we realise that those women we look up to had the same fight-down or depression or lack of confidence, problems conceiving, or understanding motherhood...Sometimes, it's like a mirror of ourselves.” She said Virago is meant to teach women to stop limiting themselves and help them to use their voices.
Crosby, who opens the book with Cinderella Mih Foot, said her chapter deals with her challenge of not being able to have children because of endometriosis, a condition in which tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows in other places like the fallopian tube and the ovaries.
“We’ve all been taught the Cinderella story, that the prince will come, we’ll get married, have two children and the picket fence and life will be perfect. Obviously that is not how life is, so I threw my chapter in to encourage women to create their own happily ever after, and I made it fun too.”
The book cover was done by pilot and artist Shannon Hutchinson.
“It is such an honour being part of this collective of courageous and inspiring women. Being asked to create a piece of art for the cover was special and ended up being the inspiration for this book being called the Butterfly Edition.”
Hutchinson’s chapter, How to Live an Amazing Life – A Checklist is an inspirational piece of writing in the form of a checklist. It is dedicated to her younger self and those who are still trying to find their way.
“The chapter serves as words of wisdom written for the author’s younger self and for those who are wading through life without the solid in-black-and-white advice she learned as she forged her own path,” Hutchinson said. Each item on the checklist is accompanied by a short story or anecdote.
Borel said over the years she would have interacted with most of these women at some point in time and she just knew they had great stories to tell. “And it turned out even more delicious than I expected,” she said with a laugh. “Some chapters had me laughing till I was crying. Others brought me to the point of absolute tears. The public can look out for other volumes.”
Borel is also the author of Soulspection: A Collection of Poetry which won the Newsday/NGC Bocas Lit Fest People’s Choice award in 2018. Earlier this year, she published her first children's book, Magic Words With Max.
Virago: Warrior Women Butterfly Edition will be available on Amazon and at Charran’s book store in Trincity Mall. Part of the proceeds will be given to The Shelter, an organisation that helps battered women and children.
The authors of Virago: Warrior Women Butterfly Edition are:
• Broadcaster and motivational speaker Michelle Borel
• Comedienne and actress Nikki Crosby
• Actress Penelope Spencer
• Pilot and artist Shannon Hutchinson
• Journalist Shelly Dass Manning
• Motivational speaker AP Toussaint
• Attorney Mikela Panday
• Photographer Lori Borde
• Educator Dr Sacha John-Charles-Baynes
• Designer and businesswoman Anya Ayoung Chee
• Businesswoman Lara Quentrall-Thomas.
• JBF founder Chevaughn Joseph
• Ogilvy Caribbean CEO Sarah Inglefield
• Managing director Glorious Bodies Glorious Minds Day Spas Nathalie Martina Harris
• Entertainer and talk show host Destra Garcia