This week, Real Women, Real Stories sees the world through the eyes of dedicated optometrist, Katherine Dalton-Brown-Long. We discover that she is more than meets the eye as she wears many other hats as well.
Katherine Dalton-Brown-Long is as diverse as her long name suggests. She walks up to a parent at her Gallus Street (Woodbrook) Yoga studio and assures the young mother that her child will enjoy her kid's Yoga classes. I am outside the studio observing their friendly exchange.
As the parent leaves she winks at me and says- "I getting a good vibes about this woman, I think she is a good Yoga teacher!" I smile; Dalton-Brown-Long is far more than a Yoga teacher. I spotted her at a cocoa conference some years ago not wearing her yoga sweatpants but a shirt and khaki pants.
She was a standout at the conference, asking questions and trying to gain more knowledge to advance her cocoa estate in Brasso Seco Paria. "She is a cocoa farmer?" someone asked. "Yes, she is," another person answered, "I actually visited her farm once!"
Many know her from her optometrist role at her mother's optometry business in Arima. So it's a fact that this blonde-haired woman with the Irish accent wears many hats. But, who is she really? I am about to find on this late Wednesday evening.
"Hi, how are you?" she asks me, her Irish twang evident. I explain to her my agenda and she smiles. "Hmmm which part of my story would you like to know first?" I ask her to start from the beginning which involves a bit of Ireland I reckon. "I was born in Ireland, the first child of four children, one girl and three boys. My Irish mother met my Trinidadian father in England and they settled in Ireland. We used to live in a small rural village called Clondalkin in Dublin. I have fond memories of walking to school on my own, enjoying nature. I left Ireland for Trinidad and Tobago just before my 12th birthday and we moved to a livestock farm in Wallerfield," reminisces Dalton-Brown-Long.
Living in Wallerfield was a dream come true for the nature lover as two rivers ran through the farm. School days at St Joseph's Convent, St. Joseph, enjoyable moments of tending to her garden and fun times of hiking and outdoor activities were the highlights of Dalton-Brown-Long's life. "I used to go to work with my mom who was an optometrist in Arima and soon I fell in love with the field of optometry. I enrolled in the University of Manchester and did my studies in Optometry specialising in contact lens and upon graduation I worked in England for a while," she declares. During her working tenure (just like her parents) she met Bernard Long, a chef and the rest was marriage history. She got married, moved back to Trinidad and had two children, a boy and girl. "I began my life in Trinidad again and I started working with my mom at her optometry place in Arima. Would you believe this year would be my 17th anniversary working there?" she states. She dares me to calculate her age based on this detail but I am too enthralled with her story to do any calculations.
The popular Dalton-Brown trademark is very popular in Arima and generations of Arimians and Easterners have seen more clearly courtesy the company's offerings. So, this is the optometrist part of Dalton-Brown-Long's saga and now I am about to hear about the cocoa estate. "I love the outdoors, nature and plants and in hiking to Brasso Seco one day, I fell in love with the place. My husband and I then decided to buy a cocoa estate in the area and develop it and that's it for the cocoa part of my life. I cultivate new trees and I dry my beans. It's natural for me to be in agriculture as I was born into it but while my father favoured livestock I was more into crops."
It's time for the Yoga chapter of her life which she advises happened by chance- "I used to swim a lot to keep fit and one day I switched to Yoga. I developed a passion for it instantly and I began diligent classes. Soon I enrolled into a beginner's course and then I went to New York to pursue another course in Yoga for Kids at the Karma Kids Yoga Institute. I always loved working with children so I decided to start my studio and do Yoga for kids as therapy. My studio at Samacitta, 22 Gallaus Street, Woodbrook was designed for this purpose," avows the former member of Pour L'Innocent Charity Group.
Dalton-Brown-Long further informs that she used to teach Yoga classes at the Visitors' Centre in Brasso Seco but because of the bad roads she couldn't continue."The roads in Brasso Seco are terrible and need urgent attention. There are so many beautiful sites in this area but accessibility is a problem which needs to be addressed," she argues.
Between more discussions on nature, the merits of Yoga in a world of work and stress, and the importance of getting your eyes tested early, the optometrist/Yoga instructor/cocoa farmer/dedicated mother and wife/nature explorer explains how hectic her work schedule-of twice/week optometrist duties, five times/week yoga duties and fortnightly estate visits – could get. But nevertheless, she insists that she keeps her smile through it all and she makes time to enjoy life to the fullest. Her light-hearted and down-to-earth disposition says it all and "her good vibes" is evident as I feel it too.
I was leaving her Yoga studio with much anticipation of visiting her cocoa estate very soon, I conclude that her multifaceted personality fits right in with her "multi-hyphenated" last name and her serene smile puts the icing on the cake of Irish and Trini origin.