It finally happened! After countless delays and trials, my book, No Regrets is finally officially on the market. We had our first lecture and book signing event on Saturday, August 6th, 2016. We kept getting pressure from various organizations that wanted to host it at a grand location, but the truth was that I was feeling nervous.
My father, St. Elmo Gopaul, was a natural orator, but I had never addressed a large audience about something so important. I’d been teaching and lecturing to children for years, and I had spoken in small, intimate settings about my experiences, but this was my first (live) address on domestic violence and my own life story.
Life is a learning process, and after writing a long, detailed, prepared speech, I discovered—half-way through my own lecture—that I should have just written down bullet points of what I wanted to talk about.
So I abandoned the speech and started speaking from the heart, only occasionally glancing at the paper in my hand. It seemed to go much smoother after that.
We had the whole thing filmed. Breaking with convention, I asked that the videographer not edit the feed. I wanted it raw and real.
You see, this country has too many slick, carefully edited speeches by politicians that talk big but never carry through. I’d rather people saw me as I am—human, making mistakes, getting hit upside the head by life—but always willing to get back up to keep trying, to keep fighting, and to bring about change.
I was exhausted. I don’t handle jet-lag and travel that well to begin with, but as soon as the plane touched down Wednesday night it was go, go, go! In retrospect, I probably should have politely declined all invitations and gone to bed early, but again, this is all new to me and life is a series of lessons.
Serene, my assistant, had everything set to go for Saturday, and one of the things that she arranged was for me to have my (first ever) professional makeup artist do my face. On a personal note, I learned quite a bit about the art of makeup, but on a larger note, I discovered that looking your best is a great confidence booster when you’re about to do public speaking.
There are a so many people to thank for making it a great event. One of the things I learned through this process of writing a book and founding a nonprofit is that it really does take a village to get a movement going.
First off, I’ve got to begin with Carol Matroo from the TT Newsday. When I announced that I had written my memoirs, she championed my story, and gave me a platform to raise the issue of domestic abuse before a national audience.
And thank you to Bobie-Lee Dixon, from the TT Guardian, for writing a great article about me for her paper. She is a great reporter and a terrific lady.
I would like to thank Carl Ryan, MPhil, BA (Hon), Cert. Ed, RMN, MHSP. He reached out to me after the article was published and introduced me to the NICER FOUNDATION.
I need to thank Ms. Laura Pascall, the driving force behind ROAT (Reach Out And Touch). She has been a valuable mentor and role model. This is my first nonprofit I’ve ever run, and the learning curve is steep.
The work they do is important to our country as each strives to flank the problem of violence in the community, whether it is interpersonal conflict or violence on the street.
I want, so much, to thank Ms. Britt, and all the women of St. Joseph’s Convent. They came out to support me personally as friends and peers, but also as good Christian women who want to promote kindness in this world. Thank you.
I must thank my aunt, Joan Kanglee, for letting me host this event at her place. I wanted it to be small(ish) and intimate, and having the launch and tour start from my roots felt fitting. I’ve also got to thank my niece and assistant, Serene, who got the whole thing off the ground.
It’s not easy—no it’s impossible—to plan an event from outside the country without help, and as I prepared from my end in California, Serene became my hands and eyes in St. Joseph’s, getting things ready. Thanks, Cupcake!
I also need to give a shout-out to all the people who made me look like a goddess. They say that when you’re nervous about speaking, that you should picture the audience naked, but really, what you should do is splurge on a team to make you look and feel like a million bucks.
First, I want to give props to my girl, Christine Holder, who is probably the best seamstress on the island. She put together that gorgeous dress I’m wearing in a matter of days. She also designed the suit I was wearing on the jacket cover of my book. She sews fast and she sews well. Any of you who want your clothes to look good and fit well, give her a call (868-725-1176).
And if you liked the design of my dress in these pictures, give Julian (Pro) Passee a call. He’s designed dresses for the who’s-who of Port of Spain for thirty-years. As far as I’m concerned, he’s the Louis Vuitton of the island: his designs are clean cut, elegant, and eye-catching. (868-753-8191).
Shereena Patrick is just an all-around great person, and as you can see, a great hair stylist. I am so, so picky about my hair, which is why I wouldn’t go to anyone else. (868-751-0153).
La Donna Kong did my makeup using MAC cosmetics. She taught me a lot and she made me look so elegant. If you want to get your inner-goddess on, give her a call (868-717-3282).
And to those who know me, you know I have to mention my gratitude and pride in my children. I need to thank them for surviving the abuse with me and for standing by me as I strive to help other survivors.
There were many others who helped to make this a great book launch, and if I missed you, I’m sorry for that, but know that I do thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for helping me along the way.