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J. Nadia Headley BS MA

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About the Book

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Embracing the Valley is a journey through the ups and downs of life with a reminder that there is purpose to it all. As leaders we often use analogies about life on top of the mountain, not realising that life happens in the valley. When we use these profoundly simple tools to recognise the evil, see the good and focus on the beauty our stories change from victimisation to victory. Nadia takes readers through the transformational process of shifting defeatist mindsets into powerful determinants of the future. These steps are punctuated with stories that dynamically illustrate the guidance provided. Treat yourself to her personal Memoirs from the Valley through her poetic expression of love, pain, joy, isolation and victory. Allow yourself to renew, rediscover and relaunch regardless of the hard paths of life so you can define your vision, find your voice, determine the version of your story that you want to be told and live a life of victory.

From the Author

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The idea for this book came from a Eureka moment at church. Now, understand this, I grew up in church, my preferred religion is Christianity and as Marx suggests, I am quite satisfied with that opiate.

I was prepared to write about financial hardships, difficult relationships, finding opportunities when everyone else sees challenges. Life was looking up, solutions were in place to a few problems. I was going to be writing about these tough times in past tense. Then, the valley had another dimension. Thirty years old. I felt a lump in my right breast.

Honestly, the original idea for this book was going to be very business oriented and self-helpy, but entering this dimension of the valley made it important to personalise the book, so I can hold your hand and we could embrace your valley together.

Chapter Titles

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The Myth of the Peak

All the glory is experienced on the mountaintop and the valley is for the unimaginative, uninspired and unwilling people who didn't have what it would take to reach the peak.

Life Happens in the Valley

Nothing grows at the top of a proper mountain. We'd have to carry all essential supplies to sustain life. In the valley rivers flow, bunnies hop. flowers grow and everyday the stuff between birth and death happen in the valley.

Recognise the Evil

We can pretend that everything is always fine all the time or we can pluck our heads from the sand and recognise that there are really bad elements of which we need to be aware and for which we need to prepare ourselves.

See the Good

Now that we are prepared and protected, we can take the time to look around and see how much good is around us, within us and within others. As all consuming as a challenge may seem, there is so much good right here, right now, in this space.

Focus on the Beauty


Seeing is believing but focus is a choice. Not only can we see good around us but we must choose to focus on the unparalleled beauty of the simplest whispers of love that surround in, even in the hardest moments of life.

Provision in Dark Places

While we may prefer for the deepest and darkest dimensions of our valleys to just disappear, it doesn't work like that. Everything that we need is provided for us in the valley with abundance so we can make it through with grace.


Now that we know better, we can allow this great news to wash over us and to bring us into a place of rest instead of a frantic and nervous need to fix everything else and everyone else.


As we renew ourselves, it's as though the world around us seems to become new as well. Now with childlike wonder we can explore this valley that seemed so awful with new eyes and rediscover ourselves in the process.


Congratulations! Like a caterpillar in a chrysalis we have done the work and spent the time to heal from within. Now we can start again and we can start again as many times as we need to in order to thrive here, appreciate the journey up the mountain, fully experience the moment on the mountaintop and descend with love and grace to help others live full lives of victory by Embracing the Valley.

Poetry Album

Poetry Album

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At the end of each chapter is a personal Memoir from the Valley. These are poems I had written to dissipate very raw emotions at the time.


I thought it would be a good idea to show the realness of these valley moments, since we are so used to glossing over them or pretending that they never happened. Talk about vulnerability!


I took my husband’s suggestion to record the poetry to whole new heights. Thanks to an amazing sound engineering and production team, you can listen to these rhythmic poems on the album Memoirs from the Valley

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Memoirs from the Valley

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Why try?

A poem about an insignificant disagreement within the first year of co-habitation. We had a good laugh at it afterwards. If the first year is the hardest and the biggest problem we had was disagreeing over a cleaning schedule then we would be just fine together.

On the album, this track is set to a Bashment Soca Riddim, paying homage to my home country Barbados and the amazing young creatives there.

The Seeking Heart

This poem came with one of many breakups....and there were many! It had become clear that my heart was tender and fragile and only meant to be handled by a partner who would treat her as she desired and deserved.

On the album, this poem is set to a slow hip hop back beat.

The Gospel According to Emotional Dichotomy

This work is raw and visceral and one of the most vulnerable pieces that I share. Honestly, it was difficult to record and put out there, but it was necessary. This piece discusses a break up from a psychologically abusive relationship.

The language is old and the track has this old timey feel to it with harp strings and a gentle beat. Makes me think of minstrels playing before the court.



Waiting for Love

Have you ever had an epiphany beyond your years but unfortunately didn't have the maturity to actualise it? I had a moment of enlightenment but unfortunately went through a lot more trial and error, error, error before I learned how to wait for love.

Again, paying homage to my Caribbean background, this poem is set to a lover's rock reggae beat that is just so smooth and groovy. 

Flower Petals

I know you're not supposed to have favourite children, but this is one of my favourite babies. This is a real coming of age piece where I started to understand love. At this point, I was still convinced that it was too good to be true. While I questioned whether or not I was truly experiencing love, all of the evidenced pointed to a resounding yes!

This track is a little playful, like a child plucking flower petals and singing to herself, but then powerful in the spoken word response.



We tend to see relationships from our side in terms of what we need. I think that the real depth of love creates a level platform for both our needs and our partners' needs with elevating one above the other. Here was my acknowledgement of what my husband needed and my commitment to deliver it.

Many people are now discovering that I also speak Spanish fluently, and so I had to bring in a Latin beat on this one.

Myself I Find

This is such a strong piece and a clarion call for all the independent ladies out there, the single moms, the feminists and those who love them. This spoke to early days as a Mom when I still felt like I could do it all and before I learned how to ask for help. 

Again, a hip hop back beat to bring some powerful undertones to this rhythm poetry delivery.


Triumph and victory are the words that come to mind when I think of this poem. The lines are so short but each packs a punch. I wrote this after chemotherapy and it was really eye opening for me. I discredited my own strength and power for so long constantly seeking affirmation from others. Suddenly, I knew that it had been within me the entire time.

Nothing could accompany this piece better than an afro beat to highlight a newly found cool confidence.

There’s Our Story

This one is for my husband. This is a summary of our own highs and lows and the power of the love and respect that kept us close and kept us moving forward. Life hasn't been easy, but we've had each other and that has made it all bearable.

Zouk love closes out the album because it is so sensual and leaves you wanting more, just like this final poem in the book.


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There’s an additional feature to this book that I am most humbled and honoured to present to you. At the centre of the book is a collection of creative short stories. Massive congratulations to the women who sat with me and shared their stories. These visionary women knew that it would be important to open up and share. Sharing would help them to rid themselves of any guilt, shame, pain, self-doubt or any other debilitating emotion that would seek to control them. Sharing would also give you an opportunity to see how their transformations that be translated into your own life. I’m pretty smart, but my now seven year old is a genius. At her suggestion, I’ve included a blank page for you to add your own story to the collection.

This interlude is a collection of creatively written short stories. Brave women have honoured us with their tales from valleys they have personally experienced. These are all true stories. Some of them have details that are modified with pseudonyms to protect the generous women who have participated in the interviews. I am so grateful to be able to share this wisdom. It is an amazing gift of courage and grace to help others who are currently in their valley moments to renew, rediscover and embrace the valley.

Alessi’s Story

A tale of a mental health journey from the valley of a survived teenage suicide attempt.

Annabelle’s Story

A tale of rebuilding from the valley of divorce

Cameron’s Story

A tale of finding self again from the valley of infidelity

Crystal’s Story

A tale of mental health from the valley of loneliness.

Hyacinth’s Story

A tale of celebrating new life from the valley of multiple miscarriages.

Liz’ Story

A tale of finding love and acceptance from the valley of childhood abandonment.

Lydia’s Story

A story of family bonds from the valley of adoption.

Nicole’s Story

A tale of renewed dreams from the valley of an unplanned pregnancy

Venetia’s Story

A tale of resilience from the valley of gun violence.

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Download your free Guided Journal to Tell #YOURstory

Click here to download


Cover Design

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Grace Miah Artistry

Grace Miah is an upcoming artist from Ghana who resides in Canada. She considers herself a self-taught artist who gets her inspiration from conversations, social media and the rich histories within the diversity of the world with her subject matter mostly from a feminine point of view. Her aspirations are to use art as a therapeutic tool to elevate people from their daily activities and to channel their inner child. Grace has been actively involved in the community by hosting paint therapy for YMCA across the GTA, young men in the Toronto housing community as well as doing live paintings for events that are
geared towards a cause. In the future, she hopes to open a multifaceted gallery that will help give back to the community by teaching and donating to causes that change lives.

You can visit my website at

Follow on Instagram @gmartstry

Book Nadia

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Events and News

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The very first TD IRIE Music Festival was presented in 2002 in collaboration with the Toronto Urban Music Festival. IRIE Music Festival has since continued to expose culturally diverse artists to hundreds of thousands of fans while providing the larger community with a unique opportunity to celebrate African-Canadian culture. The TD IRIE Music Festival is widely recognized as a world-class event offering the highest quality of reggae, world music genres including Latin and African, and gospel music to our community every summer.

Nadia debuts her book here with an introductory reading and she features one of the #HERstory short stories.

Nadia is so grateful to have been interviewed by partner Tracy Schroeder Cromwell. Being told by her doctor in 2006 that she was pre-diabetic and headed towards a future as a Type 2 Diabetic, Tracy had to start making better lifestyle choices. A yo-yo dieter most of her life, the news of this diagnosis was frustrating but put her on a solid path to wellness. Today, Tracy is no longer pre-diabetic, feels healthy and strong taking on century bike rides, eating in a way that supports her body, and finally feeling good in her own skin.     Tracy’s personal health journey inspired her to go back to school, where she trained in more than 100 dietary theories and studied a variety of practical lifestyle coaching methods as well as science-based personal training.      Tracy now helps clients create a completely personalized “roadmap to health” that suits their unique body, lifestyle, preferences, and goals. Enjoy this conversation between friends.

Nadia shares with Minna Rhee of Global News Network the importance of community, even if it's virtual, when dealing with a cancer diagnosis.

This Giving Tuesday campaign in support of the Canadian Cancer Society is Nadia's debut on national television across Canada.

Nadia donates copies of Embracing the Valley to each branch of the National Library Service in her home country of Barbados on behalf of her nonprofit organization Small Enterprises for Education and Development (SEED)

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