From Saint-Lucia to Sweden: A Caribbean woman discovers her calling in Sweden

January 14, 2017

Karen Roberts is an author who was born in Guyana and moved to Saint Lucia when she was a teenager. She credits her Caribbean roots for her great sense of self and culture. As a young adult, love would have her move across the Atlantic Ocean, to the country of Sweden, which has been her home for the past fifteen years. Her daring decision to face her fears and step outside of her comfort zone allowed her to discover her true calling and purpose. She now writes stories for children which teaches them to love and appreciate themselves and others.

Author-Karen Roberts

Author-Karen Roberts

Lovee: Hello Karen, thank you for taking the time to share a bit of your story with me and my readers. I’m especially thankful because I know that you are a bit reserved and private, so thank you…

Karen: You’re welcome and thank you so much for the opportunity to share my story. I’m trying to be a bit more open and let people in because sometimes you never know how your life experience can influence someone elses life.

Lovee: indeed. I encourage people to tell their story for this very reason. I know of your love and passion for your Caribbean roots. What was it like growing up in Guyana and Saint Lucia?

Karen: Yes, I am very passionate about my roots. The Caribbean stays embedded in my heart. In Guyana, we have a rich culture. I later moved to Saint Lucia, the birthplace and the roots of my mother side of the family. It’s one of the things I am most proud of, my South American/ Caribbean roots. Growing up, I was taught to be respectful of others. I came from very humble beginnings.

Lovee: It undoubtedly shaped you into the person you are today. Which country do you call home?

Karen: This is a tough question. I love Saint Lucia, it is the foundation of my roots, but my closest family members are still in Guyana, so I call both countries home.

Lovee: You are blessed to call so many places home!:) You lived a greater part of your life in Saint-Lucia, did you ever dream of living anywhere else?

Karen: Even though I loved living in St Lucia. I always thought I’d live in Canada. I’m not sure why, but as a little girl I had my own vision of what Canada looks like and somehow I always thought I would live there. I’ve traveled to many countries but I’ve never been to Canada. However, one day I will visit. I still have that feeling that there’s something special about Canada.

Lovee: That seems to be the sentiments of all who’ve visited, including me. I love the city of Toronto! You definitely need to visit one day. When the opportunity presented itself for you to leave your island home and move to Sweden, what were your initial fears/feelings?

Karen: This question makes me smile. I was twenty-eight and had never traveled outside of the Caribbean! I was extremely excited. It’s funny but the only thing in my mind at that time and the only thing I feared was getting caught in an avalanche. (laughing out loud)

Lovee: That’s an understandable fear. (laughing out loud) At the age of twenty eight you had never even ventured outside of your tiny island home, now you’ve been all over the world! Our life truly can change at any moment! You were leaving your family and the familiar behind, and stepping into the unknown. Sweden is a long way from home… What were your impression once you arrived?

Karen: Yes it is!  Fear did cross my mind. I thought, what if something terrible happens, what do I do? Where do I go? What if this man I’m following halfway around the world is a bad man? Of course there was fear, but the more I thought about all my fears the less excited I was, then I began to have second thoughts. So, I pushed the negative thoughts away and thought of it as an adventure. Whatever happened, I knew I would be just fine.When I arrived, I was in awe of how clean the streets were. It was the first thing I noticed. It seemed like little fairies flew around and cleaned all day and night. Everything looked so perfect and so organized. I kept reminding myself, “I’m in Sweden, I’m in Sweden!”

Lovee: I can only imagine! A vast difference from your island home. Was it difficult to assimilate into the culture?

Karen: Yes, it was extremely difficult. Swedes are a very serious, reserved and can come across as an unfriendly people, until you get to know them. It takes a lot of patience and hard work to adapt to the Swedish culture and lifestyle. Swedish is also a very difficult language, but I was excited to learn it. I’ve always wanted to learn another language so it was fun for me. It was much more difficult getting to know the people and making friends. It’s still what I miss most about the Caribbean.

Lovee: Having lived there, I share your sentiments. I believe if you’ve lived in Sweden, you can live anywhere! (Laughing out loud) What did/do you love about Sweden the most? And how did/do you cope with the challenges?

Karen: The peace and tranquility. I’ve always been comfortable spending time by myself but Sweden has taught me what it really means to be lonely. I had neither friends nor family nearby, no one to hang out with or to talk to, or laugh with except my husband. I missed my family and friends, and the sunshine desperately. I went for long walks, took the trains to different towns, got lost, went to café and tried foods I never had before, went to department stores and spoke to the sales reps just so I could practice my Swedish. I threw myself into everything I did. I gave it 100%. The good thing is, this taught me to live in the present and appreciate the now. I then started to look back at Guyana and Saint Lucia as the past.

Lovee: I also grew to love and appreciate solitude because of my time spent in Sweden. In fact, now when I spend a few months in the U.S, I begin to yearn for it. It’s one of the most tranquil and peaceful places I’ve lived. Your life has changed significantly since you took that leap of faith. You’ve since become a children’s author. What’s the inspiration behind your writing?

“LOOK AT YOU! YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL”-By Karen Roberts

Karen: I’ve always loved writing and I still have journals from many, many years ago. My husband said to me many times, you should write a book about your life, it would be interesting. I did not think that my life was interesting enough that people would want to read about it. Then I read your book ‘A Girl Like Me’ and I was so inspired! I started to write my own story. While writing, I recalled my own childhood and all the bad feelings I felt and that’s when ‘Look At You! You Are Beautiful’ (My first children’s book) came to life.

Lovee: It’s amazing how the trajectory of our lives can change by someone or something. I’m happy my story inspired you in some way. How many books have you written? What are the themes?

Karen: I’ve published four children’s books so far, the fifth one will be out soon. The themes in most of my books are on building self-esteem, love, a celebration of diversity, beauty, confidence and kindness. But this recent one is a bit more fun and story telling. It’s about my son, and the funny things he did when he was a little boy. So the theme has changed a bit in this one.

Lovee: How exciting! I love the message in your book, “ Look at you! You are beautiful.” My son reads it often and I find myself reading it over and over again. You truly have a gift with words. The message that you’re trying to resonate with children is so important in today’s world. What do you hope that every boy or girl gets from reading your book?

Karen: Thank you. I’m glad to hear. ‘Look At You! You are Beautiful’ was my first book and this book is so special to me because it is my soul story. It is also written from a sad place of how I felt as a little girl. I was thinking that no child should feel so unhappy with themselves, and so pitiful. I wanted to turn that pain and pity into power. I remember those feelings only after my parents were divorced, and I was totally devastated by the absence of my father in my life. I felt like everything was wrong with me. I did not feel confident; I was too tall, too thin, too dark. If only, one single child could read ‘Look At You! You are Beautiful’ and help them to get the confidence, the self-acceptance, and the self-love. Then, I’ve made a difference. And I choose to write children’s books because, this is the beginning of a child’s life. I think it’s important that children ‘get it’ from the beginning. Once a child ‘get it’ in the beginning of their life, they can do anything. I want them to know, to learn that they have to embrace their own uniqueness. I want to uplift and empower them.

Lovee: Yes, yes, yes! Love it! Where can readers find your books?

Karen: Everywhere! Worldwide!
All my books are available worldwide. On amazon.com in the USA, Canada, Europe, even China and Australia! Also on local bookstores worldwide. Eg, in Sweden and Norway you can purchase on online bookstores like Bokus.com and Adlibris.com.

Lovee: Excellent! Sweden is now your home. You are married and raise your teenage son there, what’s the most important lesson you’ve learned about yourself once you took that leap of faith and stepped outside of your comfort zone?

Karen: The lesson of Bob Marley ‘Don’t worry about a thing, because every little thing is going to be alright’

Lovee: Yes I! Indeed!:) Looking back, any regrets?

Karen: Thinking…. I don’t like to use the word ‘regrets’ but there is one thing that I wished I had made different a decision about….Now I’ve peaked your curiosity? But you’ll have to read about it in my biography.
Silence: But then, if I didn’t make that decision, I would not have been here doing this interview. So I’m going to look at it that way. No! No regrets (smile)

Lovee: I eagerly await reading your memoir:) What advice would you give to anyone who would like to take a leap of faith, but is fearful of stepping outside of their comfort zone?

Karen: Do it! Go for it! Follow your heart, but take your brain with you and no matter what happens, you’ll get through it.

Lovee: Wonderful! Thank you for sharing your story with us, I’m sure it will inspire someone in some way:)

Karen: Thank you for allowing me to share and I hope that I will inspire someone. I truly hope so.

Lovee: I’m certain it will.:)

Share This Post!Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someone

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

13 comments on “From Saint-Lucia to Sweden: A Caribbean woman discovers her calling in Sweden”

  • Dan says:

    A very informative interview and well done!
    Thanks to both of you.

  • Donaline Innocent says:

    Karen wow congratulations to you my deer friend! Tears running down my cheeks,!

  • Leota St. Matt Luke. says:

    I am extremely proud of your accomplishments. I was in my twenties when I left Bartica, Guyana and was so fearful of the unknown. I followed my husband and the only person that I knew in America. I have cried many nights for my family. My only comfort was my God, husband and the gospel songs. Thank you for your story and will certainly buy your books.

  • Maxine Parris Wyatt says:

    Extremely proud of you Karen….I’ve known you as a young girl growing up and always saw you as a beautiful young lady and was wondering where you disappeared….your story is very inspiring..cheers to continued success.

  • Malanie Joseph Gilkes says:

    I am so proud of you Karen! Your story is very inspiring! I am also a Guyanese who made a similar leap of faith at the age of 26 years old, but for me it was for a job in the Bahamas where I taught for 10 years. However, my most challenging leap of faith has just begun. I recently moved to Florida in August of 2016, to pursue my MBA in Health Care Administration and Management. It is a leap of faith for so many reason: I have no foundation in this field that i have chosen, so preparation for each assignment or Exam, is a major research for me. But my greatest leap of faith was leaving a good paying job to become a full time student, with very little money in my pocket in order to pursue higher education; while paving the way to give the rest of my family the opportunity for a better life. I love and miss my home Guyana dearly too. Thanks again for sharing! You are an insiration to both the old and young out there.

  • Winifred Prowell Taitt says:

    Today is a good day for me. Why? Karen has made me glad. I am really pleased with her accomplishments. Karen and I grew up together, our mothers were very good friends and we bonded as children.
    As a teenager I was a model with average height and as a result, my height was my main challenge. I was very insecure and spend my days thinking of ways to increase my height or to look like Karen who was tall dark and skinny. To me she had the perdect body of a model and I wanted that, not knowing that she was insecure with her height and size.
    I have learnt a valuable lesson today. Wow! We are all fearfully and wonderfully made regardless of how we look.
    Congratulations Karen. You are truly an inspiration.
    May God continue to bless and prosper you as He enlarge your terriority even larger.

  • Malanie Joseph Gilkes says:

    I am so proud of you Karen! Your story is very inspiring! I am also a Guyanese who made a similar leap like you did, but for me it was a job in the Bahamas where I taught for 10 years. However, my most challenging leap of faith has just begun. I recently moved to Florida in August of 2016, to pursue a MBA in Health Administration and Management. It is a leap of faith for so many reason: I have no foundation in this field that i have chosen, so every assignment or preparation for each assignment or Exam; is a major research for me. But my greatest leap of faith was to leave a good paying job to become a full time student with very little money in my pocket in order to pursue higher education; while paving the way to give the rest of my family the opportunity for a better life. I love and miss my home Guyana dearly too. Thanks again for sharing! You are an insiration to both the old and young out there.

  • Hymawattie Lagan (Kay) says:

    Congratulations Karen, every Guyanese and especially every Guyanese woman is so proud od you. You are definitely an inspiration to all young readers and the way you dealt with issues in a very practical manner. I love the leap you took in stepping out of your comfort zone to make life with your husband, definitely he is your strength and support. Keep up the good work and your writings my dear and make Guyana proud. Congratulations and Best of Luck

  • Samanta says:

    I’m so happy that you went ahead and followed your dreams and I am so proud of you. I read all of your books to my baby, Aria, who is just one year old and she is intreagued by the stories and colourful pictures. The messages in your book are indeed powerful and inspirational. Aria loves ‘I’m Beautiful Like Me” the most. Keep on doing what you do,sis.

  • Karen Adams Singh says:

    I am from Guyana. Actually Bartica, a part of Guyana, where Ms. Roberts spent her earlier years. I am proud to hear of your work Karen. Congratulations on your accomplishments, and I wish you success in your future, you are an inspiration to all of us who do not have the confidence to move from one country to another.

  • Gloria williams says:

    I am extremely proud of you and your accomplishments. Continue to strive for excellence in all that you do.
    You have made Bartica proud

  • Carol Roth says:

    This is so inspiring. Just what i needed to read as i’m getting ready to make a big move to Germany for school. I look forward to your interviews young lady. I learn so much. Thank you ladies.

  • Cosford Roberts says:

    I purchased and read all of Karen’s Books. I am intrigued by her keen sense of understanding and commitment to addressing a key issue that is critical to our common humanity. She has been able to express a very complex issue in the simplest way for the next generations. I highly recommend her books as required reading for young children; they are very powerful tools with content for both parents and schools alike. Congratulations, Karen, keep up the good work.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *