Tanya Wilson, aka “The Mango Lady” is a self-described mango addict who needs no cure. Born in Kingston, Jamaica she is a woman deeply rooted in her Christian faith.
In her book “Living The Mango-Licious Life: Sips & Tips On Surviving & Thriving Beyond”, she describes her early life in Kingston as “a euphoric cocktail, mixed with its share of danger, excitement, and discovery,”
“Kingstonians understand that our survival is dependent on maintaining and respecting the equilibrium of each unique part within the city’s colorful tapestry. I think I learned all of my urban common sense, street smarts, and ability to survive from growing up in Kingston.”
The mango-licious life, which is the theme of her book, reflects this resilience and fierce resolve to live a life of fullness and purpose despite life's servings of sweet and sour seasons. Says Wilson:
“Well, I happen to be a mango addict. Beyond the bitter and sour seasons, I believe that this luscious fruit offers one of the best metaphors for describing the bitter-sweet life that we live.”
Mangos, she notes, come in so many forms, some of which are “extremely sour and just awful while others are sweet, desirable and savory.”
In her book, she takes readers on a brief history of the mango fruit which first originated in Southern India and is referenced in Hindu writings as far back as 4000 BC.
Centuries later, mangos are still considered a sacred fruit among many cultures in southern Asia.
In the U.S. mangoes have been cultivated for little more than a century and can be found on a commercial scale in places like Florida, California, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico.
As a nutrition enthusiast, I was jazzed to learn from reading Wilson’s book that mangoes are a super fruit that possesses copious amounts of Vitamins A and C. It also provides 11% of the daily recommended intake of vitamin B-6 which promotes the production of serotonin. Notes Tanya in her book:
“This hormone elevates your mood, so mangoes are not just delicious, but also a great way to improve your overall well-being.”
But the focus of this book is not on the nutritive quality of mangos. Rather it is inspired by Tanya’s personal journey where she encountered many adversities including childhood trauma, complications during childbirth, a life-threatening terminal illness, and strained familial relationships. She says:
“With each bitter tragedy, God has taught me to persevere. I sip my cup of mango-aide and savor the sweetness this life still has to offer.”
Today as the Planning, Zoning, and Development Director for the City of North Miami, she is playing an important role in helping that area navigate the Covid-19 pandemic upheaval.
Wilson says she has deep empathy for the adversities many area residents may be facing amid the pandemic having weathered some of her own difficult life storms as a cancer survivor and parent of a premature baby.
“I’ve really been through certain levels of adversity that the average human doesn’t encounter at 44 years old. It’s a blessing to still have the opportunity to tell my story.”
Asked about her proudest achievement to date and she’ll exclaim that it’s “serving as mother to two witty, rambunctious, and endlessly curious girls, Jada and Moriah.
Wilson believes that her book offers a reminder to readers that at some point in each of their lives, adversity is going to visit their doorstep. The question, she says, then becomes how are we going to overcome these difficult seasons.
Wilson exuberantly notes that “she had squeezed a whole lot of lemons in her life,” reflecting:
“Given my life circumstances, I could have chosen to be bitter and angry and destructive. Yet I decided to squeeze the hell out of these encounters and make lemonade out of it. And then write a book about it and sell it on Amazon,” she laughingly notes.”
Wilson says that she wrote the book as an encouragement to those who are currently going through their own seasons of adversity or may be emerging from it.
“My aim is to help them feel empowered and enlightened, and to celebrate the fact that there’s a sweetness about life that’s worth living and savoring.”
More than anything, Living The Mango-Licious Life reflects a “fierce resolve to never give up, accept defeat or play the victim in the face of adversity.”
“The mango-licious mindset allows us to glean value from every experience, journey through the pain, and recognize that better days are ahead.”
Humans are designed to bounce back. And you will. My life has been nothing but unpredictable. My expectation for the future is that the best is still yet to come. In the meanwhile, I will endeavor to sip, reflect and embrace the undiscovered sweetness left to be explored in the mango seasons ahead.