The power of my faith has kept me strong

 Michelle Raymond

BY Nika Jazaee

Michelle Raymond is running the successful HR and Coaching business called The People’s Partner, working with people who want to change or move up the ladders in their careers. Michelle has had to go through some challenging times in her personal life that needed her to find an inner strength to get through them together with her little daughter. Read more about how she found love again and is today coaching and changing other people’s lives every day. 

What was your biggest dream growing up as a little girl and why?

My biggest dream growing up was to be a journalist. I know, not the most glamorous of jobs but I loved the idea of reporting something exciting, new, informative and sharing good news with others. I used to be a pretty good writer when I was young and decided that I would be a freelance journalist which would work nicely alongside my studies. I was attending the London Guildhall University at the time. I always wanted to be a part of the elite gang … those that were listened to, and when I saw an advert that there was to be an award ceremony which celebrated the achievements of multicultural people, held in the Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane, I knew I had to be there.

I remember calling the offices of the organisers and saying that I was a freelance journalist and would love to cover the story for my local newspaper, which at the time was the Newshopper. Surprisingly, the events person sent me a press pass and I was able to attend. I remember so vividly walking around in my ball gown dress and sitting at the back with a seasoned journalist from The Times and Daily Mail and there was little me, pretending to be a journalist. Well my pretence faced reality when I got the opportunity to interview the then foreign secretary Mr Jack Straw and the then Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Tessa Jowell. I remember holding my dictaphone and notebook asking them relevant questions about politics. I feared nothing back then.

A week later I recall ringing the offices to thank them for sending me a press pass and was swiftly told that the lady had since left the organisation. Me being fearless stepped up and asked if I could take her job and like that I became the Press Officer of the Ethnic Multicultural Media Awards (EMMA) organising events that were later broadcast on the BBC.

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Your life has two chapters, can you tell us about part one?

I have been brought up as a church going person all my life. I am an active Christian, believe in the word of God, pray, fast, and all those good things but nothing could have prepared me for what I had to face. I married in September 2003 and I remember that day so vividly. It was perfect. The weather was just right and I remember running a little late because I was waiting for my dear mum to finish getting her hair done. We married in a massive converted warehouse in an area called Brixton in south London. Friends and family were all there cheering me on in celebration. Both my husband and I had fairly decent jobs – enough for us to purchase a house in the south east of London and have a ‘his and her car’ that parked nicely on our drive. We would go to church together on a Sunday and because he was pretty important in the church we also had priority seating at the front in this 2000 strong church. Life was idyllic, nothing to complain about. In 2005 I gave birth to our beautiful baby girl. She was the icing on top of this seemingly beautiful cake.

Pain has a way of deleting the good days, the days that you laughed and had fun and was forever thankful that he chose you out of the hundreds of hungry women that were waiting to be proposed to.

I had done the right thing as it seemed at the time. It was customary to marry another Christian and it was the norm to marry someone within your race. So according to me, I followed the rules meaning it was bound to last. Like most marriages, we had our ups and downs but nothing that we couldn’t solve through open and honest communication. I remember him starting a music business, complete with a fully equipped studio to help bring the creativeness of young people to life. He was really good with those young people. Always there for them in their hour of need, supporting them in and out of school. Some of them used to come to our house and just chill out with us. He was both a mentor and friend. They knew if they had any problems they could call on him and he would be there. I liked that about him. His big heart was evident for all to see. He was so well loved by many and I thought I was the cat that had got the cream.

I remember my mum always saying “Michelle, life is so perfect for you, you have everything, a beautiful home, a beautiful baby girl and good looking husband, make sure you keep praying.” Clearly at some point I must have stopped. It’s amazing how I can’t recall much more than that about our marriage though we were together for just over nine years. Pain has a way of deleting the good days, the days that you laughed and had fun and was forever thankful that he chose you out of the hundreds of hungry women that were waiting to be proposed to.

When do you really know someone? Some say that you should date for long periods of time to really know the person and others say that marriage changes people, but I ask myself the question, “Do you ever really know someone?”. Well I thought I knew my husband. I knew that he liked to sing, he liked going out, I knew that he liked Caribbean food or his mother’s infamous macaroni pie. I knew that he had a passion for young people and I knew that he loved his family. But there was another side I knew nothing of.

Tell me about your new chapter and journey in life?

Right now I’m walking in a new chapter of my life. I remarried in 2016 in the beautiful island of Koh Samui in Thailand. My husband who is Thai born has always been a great advocate of everything I do. He is also my coach, marketing person and IT man. My family, especially my mother, aunt and my cousin have been a tower of strength. And the friends I have in my life, old and new have given me such support that I will never fail myself or them. The funny thing is, my husband Peter doesn’t fit neatly into the box of who I should marry and this makes life much more exciting. This time around, I’m living life on my terms. I now run a successful HR and Coaching business called The People’s Partner where we work with individuals who want to change careers or want to move up the career ladder. These are usually professional men and women who are high achievers but need that extra boost to take them from good to great.

I’m really happy with my current business model especially when I do the transformative work and can use my skills in NLP for life changing situations. This sits quite nicely with my extra curricular activity, which is singing. I’ve been fortunate to sing with the likes of Madonna, the Jackson Five and as a baking vocalist on the X Factor and The Brits. People look at me and say that I’m hard working and so strong, and they are not wrong. I am fiercely independent and feisty but I know that I cannot walk this journey alone and value the many relationships in my life. I do have my weak days and for a long time I couldn’t watch anything with kids being abused in any way, even now it brings shivers down my spine but every day, I grow stronger, more powerful, much wiser and know that there are other women that need to be freed from their pain and live a more empowered and rich life… because really that is the essence of success.

I am fiercely independent and feisty but I know that I cannot walk this journey alone and value the many relationships in my life. 

Can you tell me more about your relationship with your daughter today?

My daughter and I have a beautiful relationship. She is definitely a mummy’s girl. Not only does she look very much like me she likes to wear all my clothes and makeup. We have a good laugh together and always make silly faces and videos on Snapchat. We’re as crazy as each other! I notice too that she is very resilient. Even when I’m telling her off for something she may have done wrong, she can take it like a warrior! She too is independent, talented and a singer like me and is hoping to go to The Brit School in September. I see myself in her and pray daily that I will always be a good mother, and show her right from wrong. I will teach her the power of forgiveness and the strength that comes with accepting the things that we cannot change. Like me she is a forgotten victim…. but we are more than survivors, we always thrive.

What key message do you want to give to people reading your story?

My key message to anyone reading this is, never ever let your past pain define and shape your destiny. Our experiences either make us stronger or weaker but some people choose the easier option of just cruising through life because life has not treated them well. Your thoughts will determine how you feel and how you behave and too often we allow negativity to creep in and take centre stage. For me, it’s truly important to guard my thoughts and my heart – there’s no room for anything but love, grace, peace, happiness and joy. One last point I’d like to make is not to neglect the power of great networks. It forms the substance of growth as we are continually evolving and we learn so much from those around us. I would have never have got to where I am without my faith in God, first and foremost, and secondly without my power network; my mother, family and close friends that have been by my side before, during and after. Let your pain propel you to power and let your test be your testimony. Let your pit become your palace, reach out to your resources to get your results. There’s always light at the end of the tunnel and if I can climb through the pain, hurt, embarrassment, stigma and hate, then there’s no reason why others can’t!

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Tell me about your new chapter and journey in life?

Right now I’m walking in a new chapter of my life. I remarried in 2016 in the beautiful island of Koh Samui in Thailand. My husband who is Thai born has always been a great advocate of everything I do. He is also my coach, marketing person and IT man. My family, especially my mother, aunt and my cousin have been a tower of strength. And the friends I have in my life, old and new have given me such support that I will never fail myself or them. The funny thing is, my husband Peter doesn’t fit neatly into the box of who I should marry and this makes life much more exciting. This time around, I’m living life on my terms. I now run a successful HR and Coaching business called The People’s Partner where we work with individuals who want to change careers or want to move up the career ladder. These are usually professional men and women who are high achievers but need that extra boost to take them from good to great. I’m really happy with my current business model especially when I do the transformative work and can use my skills in NLP for life changing situations. This sits quite nicely with my extra curricular activity, which is singing. I’ve been fortunate to sing with the likes of Madonna, the Jackson Five and as a baking vocalist on the X Factor and The Brits. People look at me and say that I’m hard working and so strong, and they are not wrong. I am fiercely independent and feisty but I know that I cannot walk this journey alone and value the many relationships in my life. I do have my weak days and for a long time I couldn’t watch anything with kids being abused in any way, even now it brings shivers down my spine but every day, I grow stronger, more powerful, much wiser and know that there are other women that need to be freed from their pain and live a more empowered and rich life… because really that is the essence of success.

There’s always light at the end of the tunnel and if I can climb through the pain, hurt, embarrassment, stigma and hate, then there’s no reason why others can’t! 

 

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