We had the good fortune of connecting with Shannan Lewis and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Shannan, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
I was blessed to be born in the beautiful island of Jamaica and have always been grateful for my heritage and upbringing because those events and experiences helped to shape the woman I am today. My values, viewpoints and tendency to be vocal about matters that are important, developed during my childhood and teenage years while living in Jamaica. I was afforded many opportunities to hewn my communication skills and frequently spoke my truth on radio, television and public speaking platforms (even before I turned 18 years old). In fact, the week after my high school graduation, I was the graduation guest speaker at another school. At the age of 17 years old, I adapted ‘Bloom where you’re planted’ as my life’s philosophy. On several occasions, I was invited to speak at retreats, conferences, churches and school events where my communication gifts were constantly developed. My formative years in the island of Jamaica played a significant role in cultivating the communicator that I have become and the inspirational influencer that I am striving to be every day. Growing up in Jamaica equipped and empowered me to be an effective communicator.

As the daughter of prominent public figure pastors, I was actively involved in church settings and services. Those experiences taught me to how recognize, utilize and maximize my various skill-sets and talents. The school system and cultural experiences also provided additional opportunities to express my creative and artistic abilities (e.g., singing, acting, writing, debating and dancing) which then led me to being very comfortable on a stage disseminating information to diverse audiences. Jamaica is known for it’s rich culture, traditions and high expectations. A high value was placed on being stellar in accomplishments and excellent in the execution of tasks, regardless of how seemingly insignificant they may be. Priority was given to hard work, passionate pursuits and positioning oneself to take care of loved ones. Consequently, my own socialization, education and religious integration taught me discipline, diligence, drive and determination. I learned the importance of exerting effort, doing my due diligence, going above and beyond, making sacrifices and prioritizing appropriately in order to achieve success.

Needless to say, the foundational characteristics which were infused into my life from my upbringing in Jamaica, impacts the ways in which I serve, support and show up in the world each day. Every professional career path that I have taken resulted in the delivery of duties performed in a spirit of excellence and quality service. Today, as the author of ‘Destiny in Disguise’ and founder of the ‘I Choose To Bloom’ brand and ministry, I am intentional about integrating the traits, principles, values and fundamental beliefs into these important God given purposeful assignments. I am a proud Jamaican woman owning my place in the world, with the intention of using every part of my life story to inform, instruct, influence and inspire internationally.

Tell us about your book and brand. What is the purpose of your ministry?
After battling leukemia, lymphoma and recovering from a bone marrow transplant, I recognized the need to educate, empower and encourage others. I wrote and published, ‘Destiny in Disguise: Lessons and Blessings in a Cancer Journey’ to share practical information, provoke reactions, probe people’s perspectives and provide a resource to anyone whose life has been, or will be impacted by cancer (as a patient, loved one, caregiver, or supporter). I launched ‘I Choose To Bloom’ as a way to help people realize that in a given moment, they can choose how they receive, reply or respond to a situation regardless of how devastating it may be.

In addition, I use this brand as a way to publicly acknowledge, applaud and affirm survivors and Brave Warriors. Every Wednesday, I share courageous and inspirational stories of Brave Warriors on my social media platforms. ‘Warrior Wednesday’ features individuals who are dealing with, or have dealt with, cancer, chronic sickness, a diagnosis or a difficult life challenge and are currently thriving or in the midst of surviving. I highlight the ways they are choosing to bloom in spite of whatever they are dealing with or overcame.

My experience with cancer increased my compassion for the many patients and people in our local community and in other parts of the world who have never received a surprise floral arrangement or gift basket. Therefore, one of the ministries of ‘I Choose To Bloom’ is to send flowers and gift baskets to people who are going through their cancer journey, surgery recovery, bereavement, major life challenges or simply showing up each day and being brave while inspiring others. With the help of floral sponsors, I have blessed people with an encouraging card and flowers/basket in Jamaica, England, Canada, Orlando, and Pennsylvania. I hope that I will be able to bless more people as often as I hear of a situation where I could bring a smile to someone’s face and help to brighten their day.

My life experiences were not easy because there was a constant theme of loss and letting go, but none of the seemingly negative experiences defined or diminished me. Instead, I became more attuned to the unspoken needs of others and sensitive to the silent screams masked by fake smiles and dismissive remarks. I became compassionate to the ones who go unnoticed and made room in my life to reach out, encourage, check-in and pray for those who don’t have a solid support system, especially people dealing with a health challenge.

Eventually, I would like I Choose To Bloom to be the brand and ministry that comes to mind when patients and people are in need of practical provisions and encouragement during their health journey. I would like to be known for promoting cancer wellness, normalizing conversations about chronic sickness and educating people about the appropriate ways to support patients and families impacted by cancer. My desire is that it will become a place where support is provided in tangible and intangible ways, not only during an awareness month.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If your best friends visited Orlando, what are some spots they could take them to?
If my best friends visited the Orlando area, I would make sure we visit and make memories at the following places:-

Madame Tussauds Wax Museum
Orlando Science Center
Sea Life Aquarium
Disney Springs
House of Blues
Harry P. Leu Gardens
Ritz Carlton Spa
Swan Boat at Lake Eola

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to give a SHOUTOUT to my mother, Joyce Wallace, who did an excellent job raising my siblings and I alongside my father, Rev. Eric Lewis. She seamlessly stepped into the role of a single mother when dad died at 42 years old, leaving her to continue the phenomenal parenting they both were known for. My upbringing in Jamaica was significantly impacted by the ways in which my mom provided practical life lessons which enabled me to be prepared for adulthood.

Website: www.ichoosetobloom.com

Instagram: www.instagram.com/theshannanlewis/

Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/shannan-lewis/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/IChoose2Bloom

Youtube: Shannan Lewis – I Choose To Bloom

Image Credits
Greater Entertainment, LLC C&J Media

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