Anona Community: Meet Marlee Laratte

Updated: Jan 8, 2020

Anona Wellness Profile: 5/10


PART ONE: Getting Familiar with Marlee

1. Tell us a bit about yourself! Do you have any hobbies or special interests? What do you like to do for fun?

I’m Marlee, and I’m originally from Haiti. I lived in both Miami and Haiti for a big part of my childhood, and came to Ottawa for university. I studied a Bachelor of Commerce at Carleton University with a focus on International Business. Aside from school, I work part time at a bank and a retail store. I also like reading books (fiction, thriller, self-help, etc.) and I love writing! I’m trying to get more active by going to the gym and starting weight lifting/cardio.

2. Do you have any hobbies or special interests? What do you like to do for fun?

I recently started a fitness Instagram page (@fitwithmarlee). I started it as a way to motivate myself to go to the gym, monitor my progress, and keep myself accountable, since people would be following my progress. Fitness has always been a struggle for me because I find it hard to consistently go to the gym.

I also love to write. I started it as a way to not think about my current situation, and instead focus on other stories that were different from my own. Then, I had a friend who encouraged me to start writing poetry, and we eventually started our own poetry Instagram page (@unorganizedpoets)! One day, I’d love to write a novel about some of my experiences growing up in both Miami and Haiti.

3. What does your typical day look like?

On my days off, I’m normally up by around 9 am and stay in bed for about an hour relaxing. Then, I would head to the gym for about 1 – 1.5 hours. Then, I’d get home and start meal prepping, and if it’s a good day, try to do some writing. And to be honest, Netflix!

4. How have your dreams and goals changed throughout your life?

When I was a kid, my dream was to get married and have kids by 21. Somehow, I also wanted to be a big shot lawyer at the same time. Obviously, things have changed since then!

I think the thing that changed things for me was when I had to move from Miami back to Haiti when I was a teenager. My school in Haiti really helped me see what I wanted in life and also helped me build my spirituality. Now, what I'd like to do is start my own businesses and eventually, help build my country to become bigger and better than what it currently is.


PART TWO: Culture

5. 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?

When I was younger and moved to the United States, I actually distanced myself from my Haitian culture because I was trying to assimilate to American culture. Honestly, I didn’t really affiliate with my culture until I moved back to Haiti, and now, I can truly say that I love where I come from.

I think that me and my sisters have assimilated pretty well to Western culture. I find that my parents have adapted pretty well, but still don’t really understand mental health. My dad is pretty open to mental health and wellness in general, but my mom can be a little stubborn. They’re both trying though!


PART THREE: Wellness

6. What comes to mind when you think of wellness?

I think about self-affirmations and self-positivity. I think it’s about bettering yourself and being healthy inside and out. I think it also involves being in the right mental state, and focusing on making yourself better. It’s about growing.

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

I don’t think it is. In my culture, I think the older generations don’t really understand that we’ve gone through a lot of really difficult issues and need to address them. We’ve all gone through some serious things that have affected us, but we’re expected to just hold it down, forget about it, and move on.

We’re all so scared to talk about our emotions, especially the men from my culture. I am one of the only people who openly expresses emotions, and I find that whenever I cry, I get criticism from my parents and I kind of struggle with it. Now when I cry, I feel like I shouldn’t be doing it.

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

For me it’s mostly going to the gym! I feel really good when I go. I also just love to watch funny TV shows and it helps to reset me.

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

Meditation! This year, I legit tried setting a goal of meditating 15 minutes per day, and it didn’t go so well. I also want to try doing some sort of manual labour like pottery. Yoga is another form of wellness I’m interested in.

I think the reason I haven’t gotten into meditation or yoga is because growing up, people always thought yoga was for hipsters and honestly I’ve just seen it as stretching. It’s also kind of expensive and sometimes it feels like dedicating an hour to something like yoga can be a waste of time, even though I know it’s good for me. I think another thing that’s made it hard is that I’m honestly just scared to face my own thoughts. Like 15 minutes of meditating? What am I going to do? It’s a lot to process and I think that’s a big reason why I’ve avoided both things.

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

Yoga, meditation, therapy! Especially therapy, since people from my community don’t really believe in it. I think even just going to the gym and body building can also be great.

I think a big barrier for a lot of these things can be money, because a lot of these wellness activities can be pretty expensive.

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