When asked why she left Jamaica, Marva Riley says ” We came to the United States for economic opportunities, not because we didn’t love our beautiful island and the weather and everything that Jamaica has to offer, but for the economic opportunities”
Marva Riley is also the author of the book ” Eat! Sleep! Meditate! A Nurse’s Guide to Health” – Marva Riley. It’s a holistic health and wellness book and a memoir.
Marva talks about how ill she was- anxious and suffering from insomnia, irritable, bowel, gastric reflux, joint pain, severe depression at the age of 36 or 37 but after she and her husband made a decision to downsize and to relocate her life changed. Now she looks forward to waking up every day and just living life to the fullest.
Success for me is being healthy mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually, to look forward to that, waking up.
Yes. To look forward to waking up every day and just living life to the fullest. – Marva
She shares some tips and resources for immigrant women like her.
Paula: [00:00:00] Welcome to “chatting with the experts” a podcast for immigrant women from Africa and the Caribbean, who have relocated to the UK, the U S and in these times relocated to Canada. In this podcast we talk about the struggles, but we also highlight the triumphs that these women have experienced. And at the same time we share resources and experiences that our fellow immigrant sisters can benefit from. My guest today is from the Caribbean .She is Marva Riley and she lives in Florida. I am going to ask her to talk all about herself. So welcome to chatting with experts, it’s wonderful to have you here.
[00:00:50] Marva: [00:00:50] Thank you so much, Paula. Thank you for having me.
[00:00:53] Paula: [00:00:53] Absolutely. So Marva I know you’re from Jamaica, I’ve told the listening audience that you’re from Jamaica. But I wanted for you to tell them about yourself, tell us your bio. This is like a verbal bio.
[00:01:06] Marva: [00:01:06] Thank you so much Paula for having me. I am so delighted to be with you and your wonderful guests today. My name is Marva Riley, I am originally from Jamaica, the beautiful island of Jamaica. I was born and raised there, yeah. I Immigrated to the United States when I was, I think I was 26 or they about with my husband and two little children. When I came to the United States, well let me back up a little bit. Ever since I was a child, I always wanted to be a nurse. I so admired the nurses of the community because those are the folks that the neighbors would run to when they weren’t feeling well or someone was about to give delivery. And so I always wanted to be a nurse. And when I came to the United States, I got the privilege and the opportunity to study nursing. So I’m a registered nurse, have been a registered nurse for over 22 years. I am the recipient of the Daisy award for extraordinary nurses, honoring nurses internationally. Most of my experience has been in the area of critical care. I’m an educator. And I believe that we’re all educators in our own rights. That it is everyone’s responsibility to teach others what we know to be true. I’m also the author of the book. It’s a holistic health and wellness book and a memoir, and it’s called “Eat, Sleep Meditate – A Nurses guide to Health” by Marva Riley registered nurse. In essence that’s my bio.
[00:03:07] I am currently working on a, plant-based recipe book. So I will be a second time author of a book that’s focused on health and wellness.
[00:03:23] Paula: [00:03:23] That’s incredibly exciting I’m sure for you, and it is for me too, because I’m thinking plant based recipes. I’m going to have to buy that book for sure, because I’m trying to eat healthier. I’m trying, I don’t think I am going to be a vegetarian or vegan, but at least I want to have some resources so that when I do decide, okay today I want to just eat purely plant or for a week I have some resources that I can count on. And I know, you know, it’s not just somebody whose book I picked up, but I actually know the person. So just let me know when it’s out and that’d be one of your first buyers
[00:04:04] Marva: [00:04:04] I certaiy will Paula, thank you.
[00:04:07] Paula: [00:04:07] Sure, sure, sure. So you came from Jamaica, you’re now a registered nurse. You’re an author. You’re, I know you’re a gardener because you and I spoke earlier on about that and you’re a grandma. But you left a beautiful island to come here. So tell us about your experience coming here. Because you know, to leave your home and come to a new place, it’s tough.
[00:04:32] Marva: [00:04:32] It is tough, it is tough. Yes, it’s an interesting story, interesting journey. I was born in a very poor family in Jamaica, we never had the opportunity to go to college or study. Many of my family members never even got the opportunity to go to high school. So I got, I was one of the very first persons who got the opportunity to go to high school from my family, my little district called Devin, actually Malton in really the remote part of Jamaica. And then I worked at Alcan Jamaica. There was just very few opportunities for advancement to go to school while you’re studying, to own anything in the late seventies and the eighties when I was a young adult. So my husband at that time said to me, I think we should try our best to immigrate to the United States. You know, the United States is considered to be the land of milk and honey, opportunities. So, I was working at Alcan at that time, a very reputable company as a receptionist. And most people who worked with Alcan went to the immigration department to try to get a visa. Got a visa because you got, you have a stable job. You have to prove that you had a stable job. So I went with my children, I got a visitor’s visa for myself and my two children. So my husband took our visa and he went to the immigration department said listen, my wife has a visa the children have visas and we would like to go to the United States on a vacation and I don’t have one. So they gave him one. It was very difficult to get a visa then. So I came up to the United States and I stayed with my sister and then my husband and the children came up. We came to the United States for economic opportunities, not because we didn’t love our beautiful island and the weather and everything that Jamaica has to offer, but for the economic opportunities. As I’m sure that is why most families from Africa and the Caribbean and other parts of the world, Latin America. I believe that’s why most of us have immigrated to the United States. Cause we love our country, but it offered the opportunity to go to school and to better yourself economically.
[00:07:10] Paula: [00:07:10] Yeah, and that’s the reality. Decided at some point that, okay I want to go into nursing. Because that’s something you’ve said that you always admired. You admired the profession because growing up in Jamaica, the nurses were the first one to be called if there was an emergency, if there was a birth, you know. They trusted things happening “trusted” in quotes, things happening in the city or the town that you are living in. And you, that fascinated you. So, how did you begin your journey there? Did you get a grant? Did you get some, you know. What help did you get?
[00:07:46] Marva: [00:07:46] I always wanted to go to nursing school to become a real nurse. When I immigrated to the United States, I went to, I lived in Florida. Well my husband’s family lived in Chicago. So we left Florida and we drove our little car to Chicago, had no clue where we were going. There was no maps on our cell phone in those days. And we bought, I remember we’re driving on the I95 heading east, and we just started driving east on I95. We had no idea where we were going, we thought we would end up in Chicago driving I95 east. So we stopped at a gas station to ask the man direction. And the man said, if you continue east, I mean Northeast on the I95, you will end up in Canada, that’s what he said. He said if you want to go to Chicago, you got to head west. You have to go Northeast and then head west. And he gave us one of those big paper map, I don’t know if you remember them.
[00:08:51]Paula: [00:08:51] I do.
[00:08:52] Marva: [00:08:52] And we bought one and that’s how we tracked, and it was in the middle of winter. We had never experienced winter before and had no clue what we were doing and which we tracked our way to Chicago and found ourselves in Chicago at his sister’s house. While I was in Chicago, I still had a great desire to go to nursing school because, you know, we were. I was making $6 an hour in those days. There wasn’t really much you could do with that kind of money and two children. And I wanted to educate my kids, that’s another reason why I came to the states. It was very hard to get your kids into university in Jamaica at that point without having a lot of money. So from when we were in Chicago, we spent two years in Chicago and then we went back to Florida. And I bumped into a lady, I met a lady in Florida and she told me she was in nursing school. She told me how she got into nursing school, and she told me how I could get into nursing school .
[00:09:59] Yeah, and I did everything. I had to get my high school diploma from Mandeville, Jamaica. And then I did everything she told me to do. And I became a licensed practical nurse at first. And then I went back and became a registered nurse and I never turned back. I love nursing. I love critical care nursing where I took, I’ve taken care of the sickest people in the hospital. That’s my journey. I got scholarships to go to nursing school and grants. When I was finished, I owed nothing and I graduated in the top 1% off the class with hundreds of nurses.
[00:10:45]Paula: [00:10:45] Marva, that’s a wonderful story. That’s a story that, you know can bring so much hope and encouragement to people listening who are probably in a similar situation to you or, you know, they’re thinking, oh I’d love to have an opportunity to become a nurse or whatever other profession. But I’m in some small village in somewhere in some small town or city, somewhere in Africa or the Caribbean, or you know, they may be in a big city but they just don’t have the resources. They don’t see how they can do it, and you were showing how it could be done. One thing I loved is that you never gave up on your dream. You wanted to be a nurse, and so even though you were, you know, that desire was still there. And when you did go back to Florida, you said you met someone. And what it was about to say was that, because that desire was there, I guess any opportunity to find out how can I get this done? Was at the tip, that question was at the tip of your tongue. So that when you met this lady and she told you she was a nurse, you didn’t say, okay that’s good for her, but I can never be a nurse. It was like, you did it how did you do it? Let me find out and let me do it too.
[00:11:55] Marva: [00:11:55] Yes.
[00:11:56] Paula: [00:11:56] That’s absolutely awesome.
[00:11:59] Marva: [00:11:59] If I might say something real quick. Whatever it is that we dream of being and doing and becoming. That dream was dropped into our spirit and our heart by God. That’s who placed that deep passion and desire and yearning in our spirit. And I believe if God dropped that desire and passion in our spirit, he will find a way to make it happen. But you can’t give up, you gotta fix your eyes on it, like my friend would say like Flint. And stay laser focused on whatever it is you dream of and the universe will make a way to make it happen for you.
[00:12:56] Paula: [00:12:56] I second that and why I say I second that, because I’ve been talking a lot about purpose that each and every one of us has a purpose. You know sometimes people feel, oh my life doesn’t matter or what I do doesn’t matter but it does. And the analogy I give is to that of a jigsaw puzzle, I think people call it puzzles here. But you know every piece has an important. When you look at it just separately, It’s like it doesn’t make sense, until you start piecing them together and as you piece it together you get the full picture. And so all those insignificant pieces that on their own would be useless they were actually relevant to creating the whole picture. I’m talking about purpose. Each one of us in this world have something special, some talents, something that’s unique to us that the world needs you know, or somebody in the world needs. And when we realize that and we start talking it or dreaming it and doing it. Whether it’s could be talking, writing you know, singing whatever it may be. Being a doctor, being a nurse, being a chiropractor, driving a bus, whatever it is. There is a purpose for that and once you understand that okay, I’m contributing to the wellness or the goodness of the world, then your life takes on a different path, because you understand that you have something that is special. Nobody else can be you. And so your own talent is unique to you your own purpose is unique to you. So step forward in it because God has planted that in you to do that. So anyway that’s me and my purpose. We’re not here to talk about me we’re here to talk about you. Oh boy, oh boy. So I know you have the plant based cookbook, which it should be released in fall of 2021. But I see that you also had a successful real estate business.
[00:14:50] Marva: [00:14:50] Oh, I must have put that.
[00:14:55] Paula: [00:14:55] Yeah.
[00:14:56] Marva: [00:14:56] Yes. So you know. So Paula I, like, like we said, whatever it is that you desire in your life to stay in that desire. You just don’t know how God is going to work it out. We really don’t need to know the how, you just need to know., Listen, I would like to become a registered nurse. The how, if we’re open to it will be dropped in our spirit by God. So the hospital setting has become a lot of more business than the actual caring of patients that I love. There’s hardly little, there’s very little time to give a patient a back massage or foot rub, hold their hand if they’re dying, things like that. Not much you’re just running, running, running, running, running, running, running as a nurse. I don’t just do another healthcare workers. So I’d gotten to the point where I really needed to either scale back or get out of the act of hands on nursing. And I had tried a little bit of real estate investment while I was practicing bedside nursing in the hospital. I had a few rental properties to supplement my income because I’m from the Caribbean. In the Caribbean, they say you should have seven streams of income. It got more, more. You don’t have your hands in different things, and it worked pretty well. So a few years ago, probably about five, close to five years, my husband had retired and he said, listen we need to get out of Florida where we can buy a house free and clear and not have any morgage and a cheaper lifestyle. Because I don’t want to be in the rat race as I’ve been before. I want to kind of slow down and enjoy my life. And so we got up sold everything, rented the house in Florida and moved to a small town in Georgia called wrens where we were able to buy a nice property on an acre of land. That’s why I can do all this gardening and stuff. And sure enough since we’ve been here, we’ve been able to purchase some properties. We’ve renovated them ourselves and have rented them. And we’ve sold some, and we’ve also acquired some more in Florida and we’ve rented some and we’ve sold some. So that’s where we are in terms of the real estate. We’re selling, we’re renovating to rent and renovating to sell. And so that has opened up a new business for us, a new stream of income. I’m also working on my books. Which has opened up a new income and a new stream of income. And I’m also able to impact other people’s lives. And I’m doing some research. And I have also have the option of working as a nurse when I choose to be. Because I can work part-time or per DM, I can fill in at the hospital. I just have my hands in multiple things. Yet I’m not feeling overwhelmed or stressed out, because these are things that I actually enjoy doing.
[00:18:32] Paula: [00:18:32] That’s incredible, I like that. You are doing what you enjoy and you have the luxury of doing what you enjoy because you paid the price earlier on, you did all the necessary things you had to do. You got, you know, you became a registered nurse, worked hard at that. And then very wisely your husband said, look, let us think of a slowing down. Let’s find a way to move out of this rat race and still be living. But you know, buy a house outright so you’re not paying a mortgage. Because I tell people a lot of people that, you know, you look at people in the states and you see like a nice house or a nice car, well people are paying for it. It’s not like it’s yours you know, it’s yours but it’s not like you bought it outright. You’re paying every month, like you’re paying rent.
[00:19:21]Marva: [00:19:21] It’s not yours because you haven’t paid for it.
[00:19:23] Paula: [00:19:23] You haven’t paid for it you know. So all of these things that we see here, I mean that you see from abroad and you look at America, oh Lord the roads are nice, that’s because there’s a system here. Anyway. Again, this is not about me it’s about you. So let’s talk about you again. I ask this question to everyone. Do you consider yourself a success? And if so why?
[00:19:46] Marva: [00:19:46] Absolutely. I know that I am a success and that’s because I do not define success according to the culture standard, according to the systems standard. I have my definition of success. Success for me is not about money, it’s not about living in a house that’s 4,000 square feet that costs half a million dollars that I’m paying a mortgage and living like the Joneses but stressed out every day. Success is not for me, it’s not about owning a Mercedes-Benz or BMW or at Ford F-150, whatever these expensive transportation are and living like the Joneses, but I’m stressed out working two jobs to pay for all of that. So success for me is not necessarily having a million dollars in the bank or being able to carry a Louis Vuitton or the most expensive Gucci purses or whatever it is that people measure success by.
[00:20:59]Paula: [00:20:59] Okay.
[00:21:00] Marva: [00:21:00] Success for me is being healthy mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
[00:21:09] Paula: [00:21:09] Amen to that!
[00:21:10] Marva: [00:21:10] To look forward to that, waking up. Yes. To look forward to waking up every day and just living life to the fullest. That is success. Not owing anybody any money. I don’t owe anybody, we don’t owe anybody any money. We don’t have car payments, we don’t have mortgage, we don’t have rent. We live a minimum life, but we’re very happy. We have time to go to the beach in the middle of the week. We have time to sit in our backyard and listen to the birds okay. To me that is success. When I go to bed at night, I sleep like a baby. I’m not stressed out worrying about bills, I’m not stressed out because I’m sick. I’ve been there you see Paula, I’ve been there where I was so sick, overworked and sick mentally, physically, and emotionally. I had a heart disease where my heart function was operating at 35%. And the doctors told me that if I did not get a heart transplant, I probably would die. And I was a young woman in my thirties. I would think I was 36, 37, young kids. And I was depressed and anxious and had insomnia, irritable, bowel, gastric reflux, joint pain, severe depression. Like I said, heart disease, allergic to all kinds of things. I dropped from a size eight to a zero. I was literally dying and that’s a story I’ve told in my book, “Eat Sleep Meditate a nurse’s guide to health”. Where I show people how sick I was because I was working too hard, working two jobs. I was stressed out. I wasn’t eating properly. I wasn’t exercising. I wasn’t taking care of myself. When death knocked on my door, I had to change some things and my mindset had to change. And that’s why I do not define success by another person’s standard. I want to be able to live so that if the good Lord says to me next week, Hey your time is up on this earth I won’t have any regrets because I have lived. I have taken time to smell the roses and to hear the pitter patter of the rain, to hold my grandchildren, to have a conversation with my husband to live the simple, beautiful life that the good Lord has put us here on earth to live that’s success to me.
[00:24:06] Paula: [00:24:06] Wow, I love your definition of success, and I wish more people would embrace that. But that’s the reason you have your book there to teach them and to show them and to indicate to them that look at me, me Marva. I was able to do it through these messages. I haven’t gotten that book, so that’s the next, that’s the other book, well that’s the first book of yours I have to get because the other one is coming out in fall. So yes folks, as you’re listening to this message, I am looking at Marva Riley she looks, she’s the epitome of health. And as she says, success for her is being able to wake up in the morning without thinking about car payment thinking about rushing off to a job that she’s probably not enjoying. And she also has the ability to smell the roses, plant, that’s her definition of success. And you need to get the book to find out more about she was able to achieve that. I love your definition we need more of that, we need more of that. So probably that will be another podcast where you talk more in depth about that. But we are about winding up, is there any question that you’d, we’d love me to have asked you and I haven’t asked you ?
[00:25:16] Marva: [00:25:16] Any advice or tips that I have for other women of our countries.
[00:25:22] Paula: [00:25:22] Yes. Yes. Yes, that’s was a question that I meant to build into, but I was just so, you know, I’m impressed by your, not just your definition but the, your soul, your whole story that say what tips or resources can you give to other women like you who come here and, you know, need to know the best way to succeed.
[00:25:45] Marva: [00:25:45] Do we have time for that?
[00:25:46] Paula: [00:25:46] It looks, sounds like it’s you have such a long list. We got a minute.
[00:25:53] Marva: [00:25:53] I have a list, but I could go through it real, real fast. So first one is make your health a priority, the top priority because without that you ain’t going nowhere, okay? Remember health involves the whole, it’s body, mind, emotion and spirit. And we as women we take the best care of everybody else our children or partners or husbands or jobs or friends. But it is imperative that we take the best care of ourselves, the whole being body, mind, emotion, and spirit. Ladies, we cannot pour from an empty cup. And you must find your passion ladies, you must find your passion and pursue. It with all you’ve got. Mental health is just as important as physical health remember that.
[00:26:49] Of all the money and the degrees behind your name. But if you are stressed out, can’t sleep at night and worried all the time you’re not enjoying living. And the last thing.
[00:27:01] Paula: [00:27:01] That is true
[00:27:02] Marva: [00:27:02] I saw this at a hospital in Jamaica some years ago and it has never left me. Your health is your responsibility. You must take care of it.
[00:27:17] Paula: [00:27:17] That I think encompasses everything.You said. It is your responsibility, it’s not up to somebody else to say, make sure you’re taking care of yourself. If you don’t take care of yourself, nobody else can do that for you. Especially when you’re an adult, I mean for kids, yes we got to take care of them. But as an adult fully functioning.
[00:27:36]Marva: [00:27:36] Yes.
[00:27:37] Paula: [00:27:37] You need to understand that your health is your responsibility. I love it Marva, I love the list. Okay, would that list be something that you can share with the audience? Is that a gift you can share? I mean you can give like a PDF form that they can download those seven, seven was it one, two?
[00:27:57] Marva: [00:27:57] You know I have a website. “RNMarvariley.com”. I have a lot of free tips, suggestions, and advice that my listeners can download, print, learn, so much and it’s all free. I also have a newsletter, I send out a monthly, a short newsletter it’s not long, it’s not a lot of, it’s not advertising or anything like that. It’s some tips like the ones I just gave, to help you to attain holistic health and to maintain holistic health. And you can sign up for that newsletter on my website, “RN Marvariley.com”. I also have a health and wellness Facebook group that’s called “the doctor in you”. And you can join, we help to sharpen each other and encourage each other and you learn from each other how to get healthy and stay healthy. So I have a lot of free resources there. I’m on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter. And all I talk about is becoming your healthiest self now. And it’s not just about physical is mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health and being the best woman that you can be. So visit my website “RNMarvariley.com” and you’ll find tips like these and so much more. I have free recipes on that site that will help you to be your best self
[00:29:48] Paula: [00:29:48] Marva that’s really, really awesome. So folks she’s told where you can get the resources, she’s told you where you can find her. She’s told you that she’s on LinkedIn, she’s on YouTube, she’s on Facebook, she’s got a website, she’s got lots of tips there on the website that you can download for free. We probably would just download one for free and put on this recording, but she’s got tons more. If I give you one my listeners, she can give you 20. But I’ll just put, I’ll start with one. And so with that we have really come to the end, I can’t believe I’ve been talking to you for 30 minutes it just seems like, you know we just started talking. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Yep, yep, yep. So for my listeners who have heard, who have listened and I’m sure who have enjoyed the conversation that I’ve had with the one and only Marva Riley. Please head over to Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, or anywhere else where you listen to podcasts and click subscribe. If you are an immigrant woman from Africa or the Caribbean, and you have migrated to the US the UK or Canada, and also that you found all these stories interesting, please let us know in your reviews. And if you’d like to be a guest on “chatting with the experts”, head over to my website, which is “chattingwiththeexperts.com” and let’s chat. Thank you Marva I really, really, really enjoyed our conversation today.
[00:31:24] Marva: [00:31:24] Thank you so much for having me Paula. It was a delight talking with you and your audience.
[00:31:31] Paula: [00:31:31] Absolutely.