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Anona Community: Meet Charysse Griffith-Rowley


Background: Trinidadian

Wellness Score: 7/10

SECTION ONE: Getting Familiar with Charysse


Tell us a bit about yourself! What’s your name, background, etc.

My name is Charysse, I go to school for sociology, I have personal interests in finance, I like to travel, hang out with friends, and cook.


I bought my first house at 22 in 2017. I’ve always dreamed of owning my own home, especially at a young age. This actually stemmed from my interest in finance. As a student, you’re kind of broke, working jobs and living paycheque to paycheque, so I wanted to change that narrative. So I started reading into personal finance, learning how to budget, etc. As I did this research, I ended up realizing that home ownership was a real and attainable thing, which is awesome because I’ve always hated the idea of putting money into someone else’s pocket through rent. I ended up speaking to my parents about it and honestly, they were kind of the driving forces in the process. We all kind of worked together and it took a lot of blood sweat and tears, but it worked out and I have a house now!

Owning a home has been both easy and hard. At the beginning, it was pretty simple because I got a home that was already renovated and furnished, so I didn’t really have to worry about getting new furniture or anything like that. As time went on though, it started to get kind of hard because there were some things that I just had to figure out on the go. For example, my washing machine broke down and I just had to figure it out. And with a lot of these things, you can’t just go to your parents to help you with them. Overall though, it’s been a great experience.


What does your typical day look like? Do you have any hobbies or special interests?

I like to wake up at around 7:15 A.M. Right away, I usually do a devotion, and then I’ll do some journaling as well. I also love meal prep, so I like to warm up whatever I did in terms of meal prep. I usually go to the gym, but if not, I plan out my day. Then, I go to work (I usually work in the middle of day). After work, I’ll either go to the library to study, hang out with friends, or work on things at the house.


In terms of hobbies, I love to eat out! I have my own Instagram account where I publish pictures of food and meet other food bloggers in the city. In general, I also just love meeting and learning new things about people. I also love to explore and to travel by myself. I also want to eventually get to travelling the world by myself one day as well.


I want to be a franchise owner! I’ve always wanted to own a Booster Juice and a Baskin Robbins. I also want to own multiple properties. I love the idea of selling agendas and planners with cool designs, and I’d also love to own a Caribbean restaurant. I’ve also started to think of ideas with my other friends, and I really want to move forward with a business idea. I actually have a running collaborative list with a friend of mine where we just brainstorm business ideas.

Within the next year, I’d love to put a down payment for a franchise.


How have your dreams and goals changed throughout your life?

Ever since I was young, I’ve always been ambitious. I remember when I was younger, I wanted to have my own boat by 18, and my own country club by 30.

Now, as I’ve grown up, been involved in my church community, etc., I’ve started to realize that there are a lot of pockets in society that kind of need to be filled. Especially studying sociology, it’s made me realize how important social justice is, and I’m realizing how many initiatives we need to help propel social justice. Even things like financial literacy and personal finance, I’m super passionate about people becoming more financially literate. I think that now, my goals are more focused on filling in those pockets in society.

SECTION TWO: Culture

How closely do you identify with and affiliate with your culture? How assimilated into mainstream culture do you think you are? How assimilated into mainstream culture are the members of your family?

I was born in Canada and my parents were actually born in Canada too. But beyond that, my lineage is from Trinidad and Tobago. Full transparency, but I don’t know a lot about my culture unfortunately, just because with how history has happened, there are so many things that have happened in the West Indies especially, that there isn’t really a set culture, its more so a mishmash of other things.


However, my mom has a business that’s catered towards women of colour, and it has really helped my understanding because it has allowed us to meet a lot of people that have Trinidadian backgrounds, we’ve been able to learn about the history, and its helped me learn more about my culture and given me a drive to learn more about it.


I feel like a total outsider when I get to Trinidad. What’s interesting is that once you get to Trinidad, they’re able to spot it in a second. Even though I do look like them, they can tell. So I do kind of feel like an outsider and can’t fully assimilate. In my household, it’s my mom and my step dad – my mom was born in Canada, but my step dad was actually raised in Trinidad. When my mom got married to my step dad, that’s when things started to feel more like a West Indian household. Now, we do a lot more West Indian traditions, and we’re integrating a Western household with a West Indian household, since my step-dad grew up in Trinidad.

SECTION THREE: Wellness

What comes to mind when you think of wellness?

Wellness to me really and truly means taking care of yourself mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually. All around just to make sure that you’re okay all around.


Do you think that wellness and associated activities are typically well understood/accepted within your culture and overall community?

Honestly, no. I wish I could say that, but no. In non-white communities, we don’t focus on wellness, we focus on pushing for the next thing. We don’t get to heal from unresolved trauma or allow ourselves to grieve, mourn, or anything. As a black woman, I feel like we don’t get the luxury to be able to grieve, mourn, or anything. It’s not seen as something we should be doing, its seen as a waste of time because there are other things and people that we need to take care of. We don’t get the luxury of putting ourselves first. There was actually a large portion of my life where I didn’t feel worthy of partaking in wellness activities because I always felt like other people needed them more.


What wellness activities do you typically engage in (if any)?

I like to journal, I like to keep a running list of blessings during the day, I like to hang out with my friends, I do like to go to therapy every now and then, I like to go to the gym and do yoga, I like to plan out my days, clean, and I LOVE positive affirmations.


Right now, I’m really focused on positive affirmations because I think it’s important to speak to myself positively. Honestly, I’ve never understood why people talk to themselves so negatively. For example, if someone drops something, a lot of the time their first instinct is to say “I’m such an idiot I can’t believe I did that” or something along those lines. Like, why would you talk to yourself that way? You dropped something by accident, you shouldn’t beat yourself up so much. I try to be very mindful of my words, and try to change the narrative that I tell myself. I also try to be aware of people around me that don’t speak too positively to themselves, and I try to help them change the narrative that they’ve created. I just think it’s very nice to not beat yourself up.


Are there any activities that you’ve always been interested in trying, but haven’t tried yet? Why haven’t you?

Probably yoga. I love yoga, I’m not even going to front. I’ve done hot yoga, regular yoga, aerial yoga, etc., and I love them. However, I have three issues with it. The first is money. The second issue is timing of the classes. And the third issue is the lack of representation. It really sucks being the only black person, and on top of that, the only non-experienced person. It’s like, great, not only am I not super experienced in this, but I’m also the only black woman here, and usually, I’m not acknowledged in the classroom. Because of all of that, I usually don’t practice yoga very much.


In a perfect world, what wellness activities would you like to see more of in your community?

Honestly, I think that positive affirmations are the hugest thing. I find a lot of people don’t speak positively to themselves and I think that’s a huge thing. It’s something you really need to unlearn and reteach yourself, but at the same time, it’s something so minute, and its free. I think learning to put yourself first is the first step, and then the other wellness activities will follow.

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