Mar 27

WHY AM I DOING THIS? A First Quarter Life Audit

Someone once told me that I was ‘too deep’…meaning, I presume, that I observed and analyzed, dissected and pondered things far too deeply. On face value, I took it as a criticism, until one day, I stepped back from my subjective position and looked at it from another perspective…and there it was, the revelation that, perhaps, the man in question, was just too shallow :). I make the point to illustrate that as human beings, we have a unique opportunity, to shift our perspective on matters…to look at them from a different vantage point, through another’s ‘eyes’. While this practice might well afford us a fuller, more complete view to a situation, we rarely take that opportunity. Especially when it comes to looking at our-selves.

My apparent propensity to think widely and deeply was further fueled by an introduction to the concept of ‘automation’ (through my study of Neuronet Therapy), as it relates to human brain function. You may have heard the phrase “it’s like riding a bike…you never forget”? Well that’s because the action of riding a bike, like driving a car, becomes an automated action, requiring minimal conscious thought. Our taxi drivers take this phenomenon to another extreme, but that’s another story! :).
Now just think how many things in our lives have become automated. How often do we question the reasons behind our daily thoughts, words and deeds? Well, while many around the globe are pre-occupied questioning the rationale behind Donald Trump’s behaviours, or distracted judging the actions of others in our ‘external’ world (even soap opera characters!), we are invariably missing valuable opportunities to look at the man/woman in the mirror. Countless studies, self-help gurus and sometimes our own consciences often point to the healthy practice of self analysis and reflection…beyond the annual job appraisal! The big question in these chaotic times should surely be, ‘how am I performing in the job of living my best life?’ Time to get INside deep and personal!

Curious about my own level of automaticity, in recent years I have undertaken to consciously observe myself more closely; in terms of what I do in awareness as opposed to what is an ‘auto-pilot’, learned or even triggered response/behaviour. Let’s call it a programmed response, because that is ostensibly what it is. How does one go about ‘observing oneself’ I hear you asking. This relatively uncharted journey of self analysis calls for tools that are both easily assimilated and robust. Allow me to share a strategy I am currently applying.


Since we are approaching the end of the first quarter of 2019, let’s take an auditors approach. It can start with a simple question. Let me go first…

WHY AM I DOING THIS? [That’s me asking myself, about writing this feature].

Honest answer(s): The feature, because I’ve committed myself to writing a monthly blog for Sarifa Insurance Brokers. The subject matter, because I am currently conducting my own life audit and it’s amazing what it has uncovered! Overall, I really love sharing life uplifting strategies that work for me, with others.

I must also declare up front (as it seems like an advantage), that my being a woman who is gracefully (I hope) and mindfully starting the somewhat reluctant, and seemingly premature ascent on the staircase of chronological maturity, or in shorter Jamaican parlance…mi a go up inna age’, my ability to be super honest with and about myself has been naturally boosted. 


If you’re in, it’s your turn!

We’re calling it our ‘1st Quarter Life Audit’, ok? So, I now invite you to start your personal audit, through the following stage by stage exercise. Like learning to ride that bicycle, it will be challenging at first, but after practice and repetition (key to automaticity), your level of self-awareness (‘awokeness’, to use a popularly used word) will increase many-fold. Off you go!


TESTING: First practice the big question. “Why am I doing this?

Ask it now, out loud [HERE]. Ask it again [HERE]. Let it reverberate until you feel your own authority. As in, you feel compelled to answer your-selfJ. Good.


Imagine, yes, really imagine. I know it’s hard for some of us to delve into our imaginations, especially in these times of mass distraction. Too many adults, drifting into our head space may seem like childs-play or for those ‘with time on their hands’ (read nothing better to do). Unfortunately we have been dissuaded from using our creative minds, in many instances by well-meaning parents and brainwashed-out-of-all-creativity teachers when we dared to daydream. Let me explain. There is no judgement here. It is what it is. But it’s important that we look at ‘it’ from time to time. Yes I’m going to digress a little. Stick a pin at STAGE TWO…


I remember when my childhood friends would say, usually with excitement, “mek wi play priten!” or “let’s play pretend!” (depending on which group of friends I was with), and my mind would race to come up with the first magically created scenario to role play? I used to love those moments! [That must be why I am so into theatre]. I really hope that you can relate, wherever in the world your childhood took place. There was real magic in those moments. Even better if you read lots of fairytales and fictional story books. Without the shackles of adult issues (or perhaps because of them, for some), we the child-selves were able to escape into far off lands in our minds’ eyes, vicariously experiencing the excitement, joys and even love of the characters in the music filled stories. [Sound of vinyl record being scratched by a needle those of you under 25 might have to google that sound…and image] No time for childish fantasizing now hey? Sadly, that’s  why so many of us are stressed to the back teeth…I mean literally, feeling pain in the nerves of our teeth, because we have become toxic with an overdose of ‘busy-adult-ness’ that has smothered our imaginations and strangled our reflection time.  So in a quest to restore both, let’s get back to that question.


Remember? Why am I doing this? Firstly, imagine you are doing what you were doing just before you started reading this article. It can be big or small. This is like the strand test before you dye your hair, only you ARE going to do this test. Now in that moment, ask your-self. Why am I doing this? Ask again if you feel to. I’ll wait. If you can, write down the first answer and/or feeling that rises in response.

NOTE: Really, the best time to ask is when you are just about to or in mid process of ‘doing/saying/thinking ‘it’. You catch yourself in the act so to speak, giving rise to a somewhat more intense realization. As in the test above, this can also be done in retrospect i.e. Why did I do that? But my gut feeling is that it is not as impacting. The chances of stopping an unhealthy, unwholesome, self-sabotaging or toxic behaviour are enhanced by the shock factor of ‘catching yourself’, mid flow. In a Psychodrama session, I might have the protagonist (client) sitting in a chair facing and questioning his ‘behaviour’, seeking answers to how ‘it’ serves him. But that’s another exercise. 😉


Now, starting tomorrow and in real time, repeat the above process 10 times each day for 7 days (Minimum); Before, during or after a meal, just about any time you remember and feel you want to question a current life situation or action.

Whether it is something you are about to do, or in the middle of doing, simply:

i. STOP (if you are driving, indicate and pull over first!)


iii. FEEL when the honest answer comes to mind.

iv. Have a notepad nearby for instances when a long barrage of reasons flood forth. Or not.

v. There will sometimes be very clear, short answers like, “Because my bladder was full”. Remember, you choose when to ask the questionsJ. Have fun with it!

vi. If the answer is honestly, ‘I don’t know’, simply put a question mark against that ‘thing’ and give it further thought later, perhaps before you go to bed.

vii. Check up your answers at the end of each day and reflect further if necessary.


When you are in the swing of the exercise, gradually increase the dosage from 7 days @ 10 times per day to 28 days straight @ 15 times per day…one behaviour or thought at a time, until the habit of auditing is automated. Like riding that bicycle, you reach a point when you can take off the safety wheels and discern, in an instant, without having to ask the question, what is for you and what is not for you. That vibrational moment I understand to be resonance, or as the elders say…’your spirit tell you’.


The objective of this exercise is to become so honest and truthful with and about yourself that you trace the origin or source of your actions/reactions, thought patterns and beliefs. Many habits are formed from parental, cultural and ever-more-so, global influences, over many years, so don’t be too hard on yourself. It is said to take at least 28 days to curb/override an old, or form a new, habit. “Old habits die hard”, they say, because those aged habits are often well rooted, commonly practiced and…well, habitual. You may just be surprised which toxic habits, self-sabotaging/abusive behaviours, unrequited relationships will be red-flagged during this process. As you become consciously aware, try not to get vex with anyone else, or even me for that matter. Just focus on the fact that you now have ‘the handle’ and can make any required life adjustments.

On the positive side, in these instances of clarity, there are many re-ignited passions, re-affirmed truths and re-kindled creative expressions that will also present as audit outcomes. The bottom line is whether the habits you choose to break and those you (re)assume were/are in harmony with your best life and in the best interest of your authentic self.

It’s like taking a bird’s eye view of your life and making yourself accountable to YOU! You know the saying, wherever you go you will find your-self. So you might as well work at making your-self as pleasant and fun to be with as possible. I’m just saying.


Finally, be aware, as you conduct the audit, that your mental state, impacted by your biological state, as influenced by your dietary and sensory intake, will impact your ability to focus on and succeed in this mission. To optimize your audit results and achieve the best solutions, a simultaneous ‘health audit’ is highly recommended. You service your vehicle, right? Say no more. Self-development takes commitment and consistency. Believe me, as one who has fallen off the wagon from time to time…and again. So, in the same spirit that many of you got caught up in the social media challenge of having a bucket of ice water thrown over you, let me challenge you with something less traumatic! At this point, ask yourself another question…Why wouldn’t I do this?


In closing, just in case someone accuses you of being ‘too deep’ during and after this audit process, remember, only YOU are authorized to determine your own depth.

Dec 10






Last week Thursday, I was gifted the opportunity to flex my creative muscles via an adapted and stylised presentation of the 30 Articles making up the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. You see today, 10th December 2018, marks the 70th Anniversary of the implementation of this UN drafted and adopted collection of rights, agreed upon to be the most basic and fundamental rights afforded to every human being on the planet earth…without exception! Apparently, so the story goes/suh dem seh (a phrase I will henceforth use by way of a disclaimer, in case what I share with you today turns out to be based on fake news at some future point), a group of people from around the world, appalled by the atrocities that took place during the second world war, decided to take proactive measures to ensure that human beings would never again be allowed to descend to the levels of barbarity, evil  and wickedness as was seen during the six year war. Yeah right, I sense some of you thinking.





Growing up in England, my perspective of that war was always influenced by media images of valiant Englishmen and their allies, risking their lives for the rights and freedoms of their fellow countrymen.


Each November, as a child through to my teens, I would customarily wear the purchased poppies that my whole family wore in memory of those brave souls that sacrificed their lives for a noble cause. The only bad guys in that war story were the Germans, or to be more specific, a particular group of deranged Germans called Nazis. Apparently taking the life of another was only evil if, according to the rules of war, the lives were those of the bad guys. The fact that both sides of the cass cass saw the other as the bad guys was irrelevant to those writing the history books I studied. Bloody, valiantly fought battles and atom bombings were mixed in with stifled tales of torture, sexual abuses, murder of civilians and other unclaimed acts of barbarity…on both sides. No doubt the saying that “all is fair in love and war” could well have been coined during the said conflicts.



In the aftermath of that war, an estimated 60 million human beings were dead. WWII was dubbed ‘the worst war in modern history’, by the time it ended in 1945.  The United Nations emerged through unification of 58 country states, officially forming in 1948, with the primary purpose of bringing peace and upholding the rights of citizens in all lands. They drafted and agreed to the Declaration of Human Rights, the details of which most of the world’s citizens, I would hazard a guess, are oblivious. I hazard that guess on the basis that BBC World News reports (one of the few news sharing establishments I still have some level of trust in), consistently highlight unprecedented atrocities happening daily across our planet. As if on cue, as I drove home from my Human Rights presentation to the Mandeville Graduates of the Sutherland Global Microsoft Training programme, I felt a deflating blow when I tuned in to my radio to hear about the ‘alleged’ daily executions taking place in the African country of Burundi. The chilling report, as told by the BBC news correspondent, based on first hand intelligence obtained from eye witnesses and former perpetrators, stunned me. The pitch and inflections in the voice of the young sounding reporter, gave away a frustration that I presumed came from the fact that no decisive action was being taken by the UN nations, despite the submission of solid evidence to the UN leadership.





Having become privy to and played a part in sharing the 30 human rights articles to an audience of Jamaicans, what now? Surely the scale of the global human rights breaches might suggest that those rights are destined to remain mere words on paper, while even the heads of states that are signatories to the declaration are themselves perpetrating, at worst, and turning a blind eye to, at least, gross human rights violations against their citizens. Closer to home, here in Jamaica, a modern day tropical paradise, the Tivoli Gardens ‘incident’ of 2010 still echoes a cry for justice that will ring in our ears for generations to come. Though I am considered an eternal optimist, the international and local news on any given day lends support to my concerns, that since the 1948 scripting of the declaration of human rights, matters have in fact gotten progressively worse, rather than better.



So, is it worth building the hopes of ordinary citizens by spreading the gospel of human rights to which they are entitled, yet potentially have little recourse if the state and its officers refuses to honour them? I say yes! Let the people know their rights! Armed with knowledge of what being a human being should afford them might at least empower some, and then more and more, to stand up for their individual and collective rights. Around the globe we are seeing and hearing of unrest and mounting frustrations among ordinary citizens that are saying enough is enough to leaders that have lost sight of their responsibility to serve and support all its citizens equally and fairly. The youth in particular are rising up to protest the disparities in treatment for segments of the society and blatant corruption within both government and private sectors.





All that said, given the energy of the youth of this world to clean up the messes of prior generations, I will do what feels right to me and proceed to sensitize my fellow Jamaicans and other world citizens to the 30 rights they have on the global stage, by virtue of the fact that they are human. The link below is to the Youth for Human Rights web page, which features a simplified version of the 30 Articles, as I shared with the young graduates.


Learn them, as one day, you may need to demand or exercise one of them, in the face of some violation. You do, after all, have the weight of the now 192 member states of the United Nations behind you. Let us trust that this is heavyweight enough when put to the tests.


As our island’s reggae icon, Bob Marley sang…”Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights!” Knowing them is the first step.


Nov 6

Cannabis Risk Management and Insurance Matters






I recently went in search of credible evidence to support the folklore pertaining to Cannabis being found on the grave of the undisputed ‘wisest man on earth’, King Solomon. Voila! I came across information about a 2006 excavation in Jerusalem, which revealed a quantity of whole Cannabis plants, unearthed, from what scientists believe, is King Solomon’s tomb in Mount Zion. Not only does this add weight to the growing body of evidence that biblical folk used Cannabis for its psychoactive properties and their rituals, it joins the dots all the way along the Solomonic Line, started when Queen Makeda begat (I love that word!) a son with King Solomon, Menelik I. It is a lineage traced to Emperor Haile Selassie I, icon of the Rastafari faith.


I say all of this, not because these historical facts relating to my namesakes form the rationale for my natural evolution into the area of managing risks and securing insurance protection for the famed sacred plant and its byproducts, but because it certainly makes for a good introduction n’est pas/nuh true?



Anyway, a group of archaeologists, led by a Hongen Jiang (University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences), discovered thirteen (13) Cannabis plants that were still largely intact after millennia underground. “In a first for funerary marijuana, the plants were found lying like a burial shroud atop the body of a man who had died in his early-80s. Their roots lay below the man’s hips and the tips — which had been trimmed to remove the flowers — extended up around his face”. So it seems the hallowed herb didn’t merely grow on Solomon’s grave…he was wrapped from head to toe in it! Clearly not a ‘buck up’ as we would say.






My fascination with the cannabis plant didn’t start yesterday. Having had close and longstanding ties with members of the UK and then Jamaican Rastafarian communities, my ‘overstanding’ of the sacramental use of Cannabis has naturally given rise to a foundation knowledge of and sincere respect for the sacred herb. Previous Blogs have made mention of dear naturopath and energy healing friends that have shared their knowledge and wisdom relating to the natural healing capabilities of our bodies, endocannabinoid system and its inbuilt receptors for Cannabis. One might say that in addition to The Almighty including the Cannabis plant in the fauna of our lands, we were also intricately wired to receive its benefits as part of our natural healing. I don’t want to get too med-tech here, so feel free to research further for greater understanding.


In spite of my 37 years in the Risk Management and Insurance industry (UK & Jamaica), I have maintained a characteristic penchant for seeking out holistic, outside the box solutions to a diverse range of problems. Could be my ENFP personality type…perhaps? So, rather than winding down for (very early) retirement, the buzz surrounding the Cannabis industry worldwide has inspired me to re-saddle, seat up and invest my professional expertise in this growing market. Pun intended.


Licensed Cannabis retailers, cultivators/processors, distributors and vertically integrated organisations in the Jamaican marketplace have been my first point of service focus, however, the whole world will be on the ganja train in the not too distant future, so I predict a growing demand for RM & insurance specialists to guide the multitudes, many of whom are new to the world of business, much less its risks. Even the British Government has loosened its stiff upper lip, adding Cannabis to the pharmacopoeia of medicines available to patients on the National Health Service (NHS), effective 1st November 2018!






Let me back up a little. Risk Management, in simple terms, is the comprehensive identification of risks a particular operation/business is exposed to, the implementation of preventative/mitigating measures (where possible), the consideration of risk absorption/self-funding, then the appropriate transfer of risks that could severely impact the business e.g. through insurance placements. The formula may sound simple enough (or was so totally boring that you tuned out), but from my experience, organisations guided through the process by a seasoned professional in the field, run less risk of missing exposures to risks that might be right under their noses. The proverbial ‘wood for the trees’. My further caution at this point is for the engagement of a holistically steered, technically competent, yet creatively inspired practitioner that operates beyond the ticking of boxes. Do! One that both knows what to look for and what (sometimes) ‘silly’ questions to ask. The Cannabis industry takes us all into brand new pastures…let’s not do this by rote.






I cut my teeth in the discipline of Risk Management by force to be honest. It was during the Local Government Risk Management revolution in England (90’s), when authorities across the country were ‘forced’ to find better solutions to ‘ground up’ insurance programmes, through a monopolistic insurance provider, MMI (Municipal Mutual Insurance), which finally went belly up. It was simple maths, the annually escalating premium costs couldn’t keep pace with the minefield of legal claims that were emerging in the borough councils. The sexual abuse of children in the Social Services care homes was one particular risk explosion that changed the local government insurance landscape. I was already in the hot seat as an Insurance Officer when the decree to introduce the brand new concept to thousands of departmental directors and staff was passed. Overnight (well, after specialist training), we emerged as Risk Managers & Insurance Officers, charged with spreading the gospel of Risk Management to sometimes reluctant heads of Education, Social Services, Leisure, Environmental Health, Housing, Highways etc. departments. All with their very diverse services and peculiar risk exposures. Some insurance officers panicked, but the adventure-freak in me dived right in and was excited to ride the new Risk Management wave. It was no longer business as usual.






The fundamental principles of Risk Management will of course apply to the Cannabis industry as they do with most others, however, the newness of so many players to the differentially legislated sector, means that unprecedented risk exposures (that will continue to evolve) must be identified and holistically viewed, to plug any gaps in security, best practice processes/international standards e.g. G.A.P., protection and in due course, insurance.


It is imperative that the usual parameters of Risk Management review are set down and expanded to incorporate all risk possibilities, including Physical, Financial (Pecuniary), Legislative, Human and Energetic…yes, ENERGETIC. We are after all dealing with a natural living plant that will be transformed to support the health of natural living human beings…both energetically comprised and potentially compromised.



Newcomers to the industry, unless it is critical or compulsory, insurance policies should ideally be considered after a thorough survey, meetings with key stakeholders and the establishment of your risk tolerance levels. It’s not wise to put an-off-the-shelf policy in place without determining its suitability for your peculiar exposures. The insurance sector worldwide has, to be honest, tended to move at dinosaur pace in regards to modernising scopes of policy covers over the years, preferring to stay closer to the Lloyds Coffee Shop (embryonic birthplace of our insurance industry) models of policy wording. An opportunity now presents itself for forward thinking insurers to underwrite more creatively tailored polices for the Cannabis businesses mushrooming around the globe. Take the risk!






Currently in Jamaica, the main licensed players include persons/companies in the categories of Cannabis growers, manufacturers, dispensers, researchers, medical practitioners distributors/exporters. Other legally recognised players are for another story. Each branch of the sector comes with its own particular risks, which must be carefully and methodically explored. Tracking the journey from the seed to the consumer across company divides and multiple processes, means that a bird’s eye view is needed to weed out (sorry) contractual overlaps and fill gaps in risk responsibilities.






Dispensaries: The cannabis industry, like so many others, utilises technological systems to support operations in a number of areas e.g. POS (Point of Sale) or ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning).


Regardless of the safeguards built into your systems, there is always a clever youngster somewhere that has reached the peak of their cyber hacking career and is looking for greener pastures. Along comes the lucrative Cannabis industry.  Reports in the US market of some pretty serious cyber hacking situations are a cause for concern. Just ask MJ Freeway, a company recently subjected to an attack that caused two weeks of server outage. Breaches in your cyber-defenses can arise through a number of channels, affecting areas as unexpected as transportation and delivery information.


Robust cybersecurity is a must as a preventative measure, though insurance covers for the aftermath of those unstoppable hacks, may be needed. These cyber-ninjas are proliferating at a rapid rate, with each new wave of bored genius teenagers.


What if one of these youngsters could shut down the most vulnerable part of your Cannabis retail system? They might change prices through your POS system. Or ask your system provider to talk you through the levels of security they have in place to protect your data, their servers, and the privacy of your patients.


Growers: Whether you are a grower only or a Cannabis dispensary that has vertically structured to grow your own cannabis, don’t be naïve. Your systems can be breached directly or even indirectly via other operational seemingly obscure systems. Case: Target’s POS system was breached through its HVAC system (the store’s heating and cooling system). Through that network the cheeky hacker gained access to the store’s POS system and consequently customer information. Imagine one of your competitors hiring hackers to mess up the heating/cooling/lighting settings within your operations, destroying your crop by throwing off the delicate growing cycle. Ok, don’t imagine it; just make a mental note to tighten up cyber controls where you can. I mentioned your competitors, but you might find an internal team member that decides they have a beef (tofu, for my fellow vegetarians) with you and throws the proverbial spanner in the networks.


Bottom line, ensure your systems are optimally protected and that integrated platforms (that will allow a hacker to hop from one to the other) have equally high levels of cybersecurity, leaving no gaps in the integration process that could leave your information vulnerable.


Access restrictions at varying staff levels is also advisable to minimize infiltration from without and foul play from within. Monthly cybersecurity checks at management level are one way to heighten vigilance in this vast area.





Whether you are in the Cannabis business already or teetering on the brink of jumping in, it’s never too early to start the process of looking at your risk exposures. My mother used to say ‘too late, too late shall be their cry’…I’m not sure where the dramatic phrase came from, but it certainly hastened my steps to cut procrastination and take the relevant course of action. Be proactive in taking your steps towards implementing your Risk Management Programme.


Effectively communicating the philosophy to your team members should also form a part of the Risk Manager’s charge. A persuasive presenter that can break the information down into non-stress inducing levels is key. Buy-in and commitment of all staff is a vitally important Risk mitigation factor, as it only takes one person forgetting to log out of your POS portal, in a public space, to throw your business doors wide open to cyber risks! I’m not trying to scare you in a Trump-esque way, just raise your awareness. 






Now I could continue with a list and description of other Cannabis industry risk exposures, but I think it will be more fun if we ‘walk the floor’, then sit together over a coffee or red wine and compile a comprehensive list of risks that face YOU in particular! No two enterprises are exactly alike and the industry is brand new, so why approach the process from a pre-prepared, tick-boxed template? With a clean slated, birds-eye vantage point, we can work together to create the best Risk Management and Insurance solutions for our fledgling Cannabis industry and perhaps your entity in particular. 






Whether inspired by the Solomonic connection to the sacred herb or the vast opportunities emerging in the once legal, then illegal, now partially legal Cannabis industry, I am excited to be alive and witnessing the attention being bestowed on the plant that has been called ‘The healing of the nation’. Evidence now points to the fact that our wise King Solomon, or at the very least the bones of a male from that era and area, was laid to rest in a Cannabis shroud. I trust that the plant will continue to heal minds, bodies and elevate the souls of humankind. Finally, may social conscience lead (or ‘jook’) those positioned to benefit financially from the Jamaican market, so that they will pay homage and due regard to the stalwart farmers that kept the Jamaican Cannabis flag flying high over the years. Take it from me, there is enough room for all to ‘eat a food’.