Thursday, February 23, 2012
by Cyrus Webb
What would you do in your life if you were not afraid?
I first heard this question on Oprah's Life Class on The Oprah Winfrey Network in late 2011. It seems like such a simple one, but it underlines what keeps so many people from making strides in their lives. Fear, in my opinion, is not only a dream-killer but a thief of greatness and potential.
It's not something I am just recognizing as dangerous. At the age of 14 I made the following journal entry on November 24, 1989:
"My Greatest Fear
"My greatest fear is that I will never be 'anything.' I've never just sat along at my desk and gave myself twenty minutes of anything. Every since second grade I have been writing poetry, short stories and book articles...few of them have been published. But, never have I thought about quitting. Quitting, to me, is like committing suicide---you think about it and plan it, but your soul says no.
"I don't want to grow old and think that I've left something uncompleted. My life hasn't been anything but one disaster after another. I've never had a complete family, because my father died when I was about four. Sometimes, I dream of me drifting off into the senseless world of eternity... I mean death.
"My grandmother is a minister, so she teaches me about the Bible and its meanings. Another thing I dare not do is die in vain. My life is too valuable for me to ruin it drinking, dropping out of school or doing drugs. Who is stupid enough to ruin somebody else's life by selling that stuff.
"I hope that God will stay with me all through my life and secure my soul in tings that will help America...not hurt it."
So the question is posed to you: What is your biggest fear and how are you combating it? no matter what it is the important thing to realize is that as long as you give in to it you will not be able to enjoy all that is meant for you.
Want to share how you are conquering fear and living a purposeful life? I want to hear from you! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Name of designer and line: Niiamar Felder, NIIAMAR
New York City, NY
Year Est.: 2008
Specialty: Women's Ready to Wear, Couture, and Made to Measure Couture
When did you realize that your journey in life was leading you to fashion? I was 16 years old when the passion for design became very apparent and fluent to me. Up until that point I had always been an artist ( painting, drawing, classical tenor, dancer). So the influence was always there, but the focus transitioned... I feel it was a Divine move, it was my destiny.
As you have pursued your vision and your goals how have you stayed motivated and kept your eye on the prize? The love and fiery passion for creating influential and stunning fashion has forced me to continue to follow my vision and goals in this industry. Even when I did not know where the money was coming from to complete a collection my faith and passion willed it to be. Giving up is not an option, becoming the first Black American designer to show couture collections in Paris is my fate.
Fashion is able to do different things for different people. When someone wears one of your pieces or designs what do you hope they feel? When a woman wears a NIIAMAR design, my hope is that they feel transitioned with beauty. If a woman feels beautiful she will be confident, radiant, and fierce. A NIIAMAR design should bring the inner beauty out in every woman.
What advice would you give to anyone reading this that is looking for a word of advice about following their own dreams? My great- grandmother said this often, and it was passed down to me by my father: " Once a job has begun never stop until it is done, be the labor big or small, do it right or not at all." Couple that with Talent, Tenacity and Faith and you cannot go wrong.
For more information about Niiamar, visit www.niiamar.com. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter.
Name of designer/ line: Liz Fields
Year Est.: 2009
Specialty: Wedding Dresses, Bridesmaids Dresses, Prom Dresses and Social Occasion Gowns
When did you realize that your journey in life was leading you to fashion? I grew up around the special occasion industry, but was originally headed toward the medical field. I was given an opportunity, while in college, to work abroad in Kazakhstan in the Costume Department of a major motion picture alongside award winner designers such as Merit Allen and Michael O'Conner. This experience was the catalyst in my changing career paths.
As you have pursued your vision and your goals how have you stayed motivated and kept your eye on the prize? Patience is definitely something I struggle with as I have really high expectations for myself and my company. However, seeing the reactions I get from customers, the growth of our fan base and customer base and seeing my hard work pay off is what keeps me motivated. The women who send me gorgeous photos of themselves in my gowns are the reason I keep getting out of bed every morning and continue to work so hard at making my business a success.
Fashion is able to do different things for different people. When someone wears one of your pieces or designs what do you hope they feel? I hope they feel like a woman. Femininity is something so many women struggle with these days as so many of us work so hard in our careers, in our relationships, at home and while we have to be all things to all people it is difficult to always feel beautiful and sexy. I hope that when a women puts on one of my gowns, she feels like the most gorgeous, sexy woman in the world!
What advice would you give to anyone reading this that is looking for a word of advice about following their own dreams? Follow your heart, expect to work harder than you ever have at anything, and don't expect it to be easy...but don't EVER give up.
Georgia native Jackie Carpenter never intended on becoming an author, however, the events that took place in her life in 2009 set in motion not one but two literary works that she believes have been divinely inspired. THE BRIDGE (Between Cell Block A and a Miracle Is Psalm 91) & GEORGIA JUSTICE allow you to go into the events that would have destroyed many but seemed to fortify those involved. What has been great to watch is not only the response to the books but how they seem to set off a ripple effect including a movie called GEORGIA JUSTICE.
First of all, Jackie, congratulations on the success of your book THE BRIDGE and GEORGIA JUSTICE. How does it feel to have something that came from a tragedy inspire so many people?
It feels like for the first time my life has a "real purpose" and that purpose is to share "what God can do" with all of the hurting people who do not need help in their lives, "they need Miracles! I am learning for the first time that there is nothing in this life as satisfying as telling others what God can do!
Before the events that happened in your life that prompted this book, did you ever think of being an author before?
Before this tragedy I never even so much as entertained the thought of writing a book.
Your not intending to write before the events just a few years ago is one of the most interesting aspects of this journey. So take us into your world growing up. In reading the book, it's obvious that faith was instrumental to getting you through your trying times as an adult. When did you realize the power of faith?
I had a great childhood. God blessed me with Christian parents and also a Christian sister. My sister Susie and I were raised in the country. Playing barefoot in the dirt, running through mudpuddles, and having fun all day. My dad was a hardworking man and my mom was a homemaker. We were always involved in the church. I gave my life to the Lord when I was 13 yrs. old. I always thought that I had faith that would conquer anything, but that's easy to think when it hadn't had to conquer anything. But when my world was turned upside down, how did I build my faith strong enough to turn it "right side up"? That's a whole different ballgame!
(author Jackie Carpenter, Cyrus Webb and Kimberly of the Pearl Public Library in Pearl, MS) Jackie, for those just hearing about your books THE BRIDGE and GEORGIA JUSTICE, tell them what the books are about.
My 28 year old son, married to a beautiful wife with a 7 year old son, was a homebuilder. He was also a victim of copper theft in his under construction homes. After numerous thefts, each theft costing approximately $6,000 a deputy agreed to meet my son at the construction site to give him advice on how to handle these thefts. The bad advice that this deputy gave my son resulted in the death of a young man. Due to "false accusations" by so many people, my son was "falsely accused" of Felony Murder.
These books were totally inspired by God. I am not a writer, but God wrote a Best Seller. The first book was inspired about 2 months following my son, Jason's "high profile murder trial". This "Tragedy" is something that could happen to anyone on any given day. The early morning hours of June 28th, 2008 just happened to be my day. Never in my life did I ever think for one split second that our family would ever experience anything like this. But the call came at 2:00 a.m. on June 27th, 2008 just the same!
How did this happen? Why did this happen? Upstanding citizens of the community, Christians, always trying to give back , always trying to do what's right. How in the world could something like this be happening? What do we do now? We have never dealt with anything like what we were dealing with now.
God was my only hope. Things were dire. Money was of no value. All news was bad news. Without God's renewed strength in my body I would not have been able to take another breath or walk another step. I moved my life into the Book of Psalms. I read Psalms day and night!
"The Bridge" and "Georgia Justice" take you on the journey of "utter helplessness" that our family endured, and the strong Faith that brought us to the place of Victory. Ten long months we lived in the very pit of hell where Satan viciously attacked our family continuously.
Looking back on it now, do you think the trials that your son and your entire family went through were in some ways a larger testimony of what God is able to do in all of our lives?
YES! God doesn't make mistakes. He could have stopped this tragedy at any time. What if Jason had not gone down there that night? What if I had not bought that "Psalm 91" Book? What if the "deceased" had just cooperated until the police arrived? What if the police had not got lost? What if the gun had not misfired? What if I had gone down there with him? What if a "bad cop" had not given Jason "bad advice"?
For 10 months I wrestled with the "what if" factor. What if God doesn't help us? What if God let's Jason go to jail even though he's innocent? It was all those "what if" questions that weakened my Faith. It was only when I stopped doubting and started trusting that I received "Peace" and now God is showing me the next piece of the puzzle. He is allowing me to share "what He did for our family" with countless others who need for Him to do the same thing in their lives. He is affording me the opportunity to tell them "He is there for them"!
Not only do you have the two books that chronicle the experience, but now there is the movie Georgia Justice that is sure to inspire others as well. Jackie, there are people reading this interview who might not be going through a situation like you experienced, but they are dealing with their own difficulties. What advice would you give them?
The books and the movie are totally based on what I experienced "start to finish" from a great life, to a tormented life, from the arrest of my son until the last day of his "Murder Trial, and everything that I experienced along the way. I experienced humility. I experienced what it means to be "Scared to Death" I experienced embarrassment. The Newspapers were Relentless. I experienced the maximum in the "frustration arena". I experienced what it's like to "Bottom Out' as a Mama.
Even if the reader has not experienced this tragedy, they may have experienced the same feelings in dealing with their own hurt that they are facing. If they haven't experienced these feelings "Hold On My Friend" before June 27th 2008 neither had I. But God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He can do the "supernatural". He can take the devices of the wicked and make them to non-effect. God can take the crooked road and make it straight. God is the Only One that can do this. God is the Only one that can "heal a broken heart". There is nothing too big for our God! Amen
As an author that is getting the recognition that so many aspiring writers want, what would you say to them about following their dream when it comes to writing?
This is a difficult question to answer because I never dreamed of becoming an aspiring writer, but God is an "Inspiring Writer". He wrote a bestseller you know! If you believe in Him I know that he will help you with whatever you are doing as long as you keep Him first. He can't fail.
Just when everyone in the family had started moving on from this tragedy approximately 2 months after the verdict , as I was sitting at my desk working , God asked me this question: "Jackie, what was the worst part of this ordeal for you? I answered: Oh God, that was when my son was in Cell Block A. God then asked me, "Jackie, what was the best part of this ordeal for you? I answered: Oh, God that was our Miracle Verdict. He then asked me" Jackie, what was that "Bridge" that joined the worst to the best? I replied: Oh God, that was Psalm 91 that I claimed for my son all of those tormenting months. God said: "Very Good, now let's start writing!" You have to share it with others, you cannot hide it! Miracles are meant to be "shared"!
Friday, February 17, 2012
Like the rest of the world Conversations Magazine and its parent company Shadow Play Entertainment were stunned and saddened by the death of musical icon Whitney Houston. Her passing on Saturday, February 11, 2012 marked the loss of yet another international treasure, which is why LL Cool J referring to it as a "death in the family" is shared by so many.
Few entertainers have been able to provide not just the soundtrack of love and empowerment that Ms. Houston did but showcase that with hard work and dedication all things are possible. Selling over 170 million albums and singles is one thing, but impacting the lives of individuals around the world is something that few people have the opportunity to do.
There have been and will continue to be many things said about the woman that Oprah Winfrey labeled as "The Voice," but Conversations Magazine wanted to take this opportunity to share some of the reflections of our friends and colleagues, remembering the talent that was taken from us much too soon.
"Whitney Houston was and will continue to be one of those entertainers who have provided a soundtrack for the world for over 20 years. She will be missed, but her music remains with us to replay and enjoy. Through their dedication her fans will ensure that she lives on." --- Cyrus Webb, Editor-In-Chief Conversations Magazine
"Selfishly, I am sorry to see Whitney Houston leave us, because her spirit was so bright. Optimistically, I am happy for the peace that she is enjoying right now. Sadly, as I ponder what it must be like for the people that were closest to her. To lose a mother, a friend, a partner is never easy. The Legacy of Whitney Houston will LIVE on forever." --- Rodney Perry, comedian/talk show host
"I like so many others mourn the passing of Whitney but I am comforted by knowing that her gift is still with us. That is the true test for any artist: whether their music will be able to outlive them. Whitney passes that test with flying colors." --- Tray Chaney, actor/author/recording artist (courtesy of Shadow Play Entertainment)
"Whitney Houston was an unbelievable talent and one of the greatest voices of all time. Her passing is a tremendous shock and a terrible shame. She had a rough life and was under so much pressure as an artist, because she meant so much to the music community. She was one of the most admired singers ever, who was loved by everybody. We're praying for her family." --- Legendary producers Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff (courtesy of Randex Communications)
"For me Whitney will be remembered for not just the power behind her voice but the way in which she was able to mesmerize the listener. The world has lost one of its priceless treasures, but she has rewarded us with the gift of her music that she leaves behind." --- Stanley Clark, Real Deal Entertainment (courtesy of Shadow Play Entertainment)
"I had the pleasure of seeing Whitney one time, which was the most memorable in my music career. She was and still is a blessing to all who love music. She will be missed and remembered as the greatest female voice ever to record. Her classic tunes are just that Classic! And will remain for a lifetime." --- Breeze McDonald, manager of Island Def Jam recording artist Abraham McDonald
"We love Whitney Houston so much for sharing her special gift with the world.Whitney took the torch from R&B Pioneers before her and carried it to unimaginable heights. Our heartfelt condolences go out to all of Whitney's family members.We are thankful for the many years of support from Whitney's mom, Cissy Houston, and cousins Dionne Warwick and Dee Dee Warwick, who all are recipients of the Rhythm & Blues Foundation Pioneer Award." --- Rhythm & Blues Foundation Chairman Damon Williams (courtesy of Randex Communications)
"Whitney Houston was more than just another singer. She had the ability to tell your story through her words and delivery. That is what will be missed the most about this shining star. No one will be able to take her place. Whitney's talent put her in a category all to herself. Gone but not forgotten." ---Diane Lacey, Lacey's Promotions
by Cyrus Webb
For screenwriter Tanner Grover his passion comes from the ability to bring his story and character to life. I was impressed by not just the way he approaches the things that matter to him but his ability to inspire others as well.
As someone who values the opinions of others, its been a great thrill to hear how his work is resonating with others and that people like what he is producing. What more could someone in the creative community ask for? Like myself, he is fascinated with not just the present but what is coming next, and that keeps him pushing himself and his creativity more.
An interesting part of our interview came when I asked Tanner how does he keep the challenges of life from stopping him for doing what he loves to do. "In a way I am the posterchild for adversity," he told me and our listeners on Conversations LIVE. As someone who has dealt with a physical disability all of his life, Tanner told us that he has always had walls put up in front of him. People told him what he couldn't do, but he told us that he has found a way over, around and through those challenges that he has faced. "Little by little I am finding my way through," he says. "If I keep my head and keep moving forward eventually I will reach that next level."
Instead of letting the difficulties dictate what he could do, Tanner Grover is showing all of us that no matter what our circumstances we can succeed if we don't become defined by the challenges. If I know Tanner we will continue to hear a great deal of exciting things from this talented young man. Stay in contact with all of his new projects and updates on Facebook at http://facebook.com/tanner.grover.
When February comes around alot of people automatically think about Valentine's Day and love. There's nothing wrong with that, but what about those of us who might not have a significant other? For us, all the talk about love might not get us excited at all. You mention passion, however, and that will surely make people like me smile and become motivated.
The great thing about passion is that it is multi-faceted and able to be all things to all people. For some it can be seen in the care in which we do things like cooking and cleaning Others are able to show it in the way they pursue a goal or the attention they give towards something they care about. Regardless of what it means to you, the great thing is it doesn't have to be tied to anyone else.
Being passionate about something is great, but it's nothing like having a genuine passion for life. Living your passion means that each day you are excited about the opportunities in front of you, and no one is going to control the way you feel about your life and what you choose to do with it. In short, when you are living a passionate life you have identified and are walking within your purpose.
In this issue we explore the journeys of individuals just like you who are passionate about life and all that they do. Gracing the cover this time is comedian and author Elaine Williams. Her motivational story and book STOP THE MADNESS is sure to encourage you to stop just existing and start living. Outside of sharing our regular profiles of individuals living their dreams we also take out the time to remember the woman Oprah Winfrey called "The Voice", Ms. Whitney Houston.
What is it you're passionate about? What stirs you and excites your outlook on life? I want to hear your stories about what motivates you. Email me at email@example.com. We might share your comments with our readers online and in print.
Enjoy this month's issue and remember to live with passion and purpose each and every day.
Cyrus Webb, Editor-In-Chief
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
by Cyrus Webb
"If you can dream it, I can draw it!" Those are the confident words you find on the website of talented illustrator Michael Auger, and you know what? I believe it!
When he appeared on Conversations LIVE recently I got the feeling that this was someone who was sure of his purpose and was using every day he was given to share his passion with the world. "All my life I've been drawing," he told me "It just developed." After being told by everybody that he was good at it, Michael not only continued but he has improved along the way. The reason he was able to remain so faithful to the gift? "It's always been a part of me," he answered.
When I brought up his slogan and inquired about the confidence, Michael told me that it has always been there, even through the rough times. We all know that life doesn't always unfold the way we would like, but that never deterred him from staying true the gift and nurturing it. I believe that if anything it only inspired him to hold on to it.
As with any craft not everyone will like what you do, but that doesn't deter him, either. "I don't focus on the haters," he says. "I focus on those who get it." Michael sees that as a better use of his time: finding and connecting those who are your audience.
What about those who do "get it"? How does it feel for him to find those who love his work? "I believe that art is the true test," Michael says. "Does it make you feel something? Emotion is where it's at. My art usually makes people smile or laugh. Knowing I have made their day is such an uplifting charge that it motivates me to do more."
Regardless of what your passion is, Michael Auger has this advice for you: Stand up for what you're worth. Know what you're worth. Don't cheapen yourself or your craft. What a great reminder for anyone who is fostering a dream and looking to see it pay off!
You can find out more about Michael and his work by visiting http://www.arty4ever.com/.
by Cyrus Webb
The path that has guided actress/model/director Celeste Thorson can be found in this adage: 'Say the things you want to say. go the place you want to go. and love like there's no tomorrow.' She is an individual who has learned what it means to discover your passion and move forward in it come what may.
When I got the opportunity to talk with her about her career, it was difficult not only to see her joy but her genuine gratefullness for the opportunities that have come her way. "It's been a really challenging experience," Celeste told me during her visit to Conversations LIVE. She says that she takes each day one at a time, but make sure to follow her personal bliss along the way.
I was curious as to how her success has affected her and the way that she looks at herself in the world today. Celeste told me this: "I try to be greatful for every opportunity and put as much energy into each goal. It's important to enjoy the process. I love to see that seed of an idea grow into something bears fruit for everyone." She also realizes the balance that you have to strike as well. "It's important not to lose who you are. We are all passionate about our own individual interests. Everyone has a different journey and truth to follow. There is enough for everyone." This has gone into the various roles that she has been fortunate enough to be a part of and her own projects such as www.yogaphiles.com.
As her star has continued to rise, Celeste Thorson has been busy using her place in the public to bring attention to causes that matter to her, including environmental and human rights. Giving back, however, is not just something reserved for people in the public eye. She told me that she feels it's important to follow that bliss and put as much effort into it as possible, regardless of what your profession. "It's better to do it today then to put it off until tomrorow and have it be just a dream."
One of the many ways that Celeste speaks to her fans is through social media. "They move me just like I may be able to motivate them," she confesses. Talking about the role that sites like Facebook and Twitter play in her life she says it's like "being on the pulse of what we all care about."
When sharing her own advice for individuals, Celeste believes that you have to be your biggest cheerleader. "You have to challenge yourself," she says. "Follow the things that you are passionate about. If everyone can tune into whatever their specialty is it makes it easier to distinguish yourself from others."
Celeste's overall message is to stay present in each day of your life. "The journey is sometimes the most rewarding part. Each one of these little moments will never come again."
To find out more information about Celeste Thorson and her current projects visit www.celestethorson or www.yogaphiles.com. You can also follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/celestethorson & on Facebook at www.facebook.com/officialcelestethorson.
by Cyrus Webb
"What does God want to do with me?" That was the question that recording artist Da Answer asked himself when he looked at the road he was headed on and started to turn his life around. The answer to that question has come in the music he is now able to produce, inspiring message of hope, faith with a beat that would rival any popular music on the radio.
I had the opportunity to hear his music and invited Da Answer to share his story with our listeners on Conversations LIVE and his story resonated with listeners in such a way that I wanted to bring it to the magazine. Da Answer is not just another artist talking about God. He is an individual who has recognize his role in spreading the good news about the true answer to the problems we are all facing.
So how did this all start? "I was going down the wrong road for a long time," he told me. Growing up in the streets of Cleveland he was was surrounded by poverty with no real inspiration around him. "I knew that if I didn't change I would end up being another statistic. That wasn't the life I wanted. I knew there was more for me."
It was at that point that Da Answer began to see how he could use his gift for music and impacting a crowd in a different way. Now through his label and the support of his wife he is seeing not just being people having a good time. He is seeing lives changing. "I use my music to come from where I have been delivered from. I am trying to feed my listeners." Truth Music isn't just a label for him. It is the definition of what he is doing with his life through words.
This doesn't mean that Da Answer is immune from the challenges that all of us face. I asked him about the pressures that come from not just being a celebrity but an individual who is living a life of faith. "The enemy is going to try and attack you," he says. "If you can praise your way through it you will be alright. I have learned, though, that the best way to minister to anyone is through your lifestyle. I may be the only Bible that someone reads. We have to keep that in mind."
What a powerful way of looking at our lives! Instead of talking down to people and beating them up, Da Answer is now using his gift to lift them up. He is using his passion for music and the message to inspire others towards their own greatness. His message for those who hear him is this: " God has no favorites. If he did it for me He will do the same thing for you."
Find out more about Da Answer at www.truthmusic-records.com. His album Truth Music is available on his website and at online retailers.
The original copyright date for The Angry Ones is 1960; however, the work was later published under Williams' title, One for New York, in 1975. In 1996 the book's title returned to The Angry Ones, and thirty-five years later new readers became aware of one the most important American novelist this country has produced: John Alfred Williams.
1950s and 1960s were decades of unrest in The United States, largely brought on by discrimination, segregation, and citizens demanding and protesting for civil rights. Many African American novels of the era were coined or labeled as protest novels. However, The Angry Ones (One for New York) not only speaks to the protesting mind set of Americans of the 50s and 60s, but it serves as an essential warning to those attempting to survive the institutional racism of today, and it reminds one of the physical, psychological, and spiritual sacrifices Williams' generation gave for civil rights advances.
Steve Hill, the protagonist of the novel, is engaged in a battle: a fight for his dreams. A World War ll veteran and college graduate, he is unable to find suitable employment. On the surface, his battle appears to be with Jim Crow maintained unemployment, but what John A. Williams offers the reader is a war for a basic human necessity: the ability to dream.
In the novel, The Angry Ones (One for New York), the American dream was being denied by poor economics brought on by the segregation of the times. The majority of African Americans were forced to live below the standards of white Americans, and such meager existence left little energy to dream. However, Williams' protagonist, Steve Hill did dare to dream. He was not willing to accept his unemployment of Los Angeles, and he decided to move to the hopefully fairer New York City.
In New York, he encountered a more subtle but just as restricting and damaging menace: institutional racism. There he was given interviews, but it soon becomes apparent that he would go no further than the interview. Due to legislation of the day, companies had to interview and appear to seriously consider all applicants. But Steve Hill quickly learned that the interviews were a farce:
On the way downtown I thought of what Obie and I had talked about a couple of years before, that as opportunities for Negroes appeared on the surface to be getting better, they would at the same time become subtly worse for some segments. The gains made in blue collar arenas would be balanced by heighted barriers in the white collar fields, and would be the toughest in the professional fields stressing public contact.
In the first agency, tacked on the wall, was a big State Commission Against Discrimination poster. It didn't give me any confidence.
Later in the novel, Steve's friend Obie, who was unemployed due to a magazine folding, comments on the institutional racism he was forced to face, "… this thing is so massive without form, and so rigid without apparent strength."
However, for Steve Hill the final confirming statements in regard to institutional racism came from an agency owner, Mr. Graff;
"I want to show you something." He brought some cards and placed them on the desk. "Look at these cards," he said. "They're from dead files of an employment agency I worked for years ago. Doesn't matter how long ago-they haven't changed their practices at all."
He took out a pencil and pointed to a space on the cards in which the interviewer's remarks were scribbled in ink. Excellent was the comment on the first card.
"You know what that means, Steve?"
"It's code. It means Jewish, don't send out. "
He picked up another card and pointed to another comment. "That means Negro, don't send out."
"Do most agencies use codes to get around the law?"
"Most," he said, shuffling the cards back together. "A lot simply file the applications away and forget them. There are codes for Puerto Ricans, Catholics, Orientals and so on."
"Who else is there to discriminate against?"
He laughed. "You would be surprised."
The unharnessed power of institutional racism proved too much for Steve's friend Obie. He eventually took his own life after being denied the right to dream and sustain himself. John A. Williams displays an uncanny ability to illustrate the stressors of that era and yet provide a warning for the readers of the future. The novel does ends on the positive however: Steve proposes to his true love, Mr. Graff has employment leads for him, and the American Dream seems possible with love and suitable employment on the horizon.
What one leaves the work with is appreciation for past sacrifices, pride in what has been accomplished, and a cautious eye for the future… because history can, and has repeated itself.
LOVE'S SPECIAL HOLIDAY
I love Holidays and I believe that Valentine's Day is a fabulous celebration filled with endless passion. It is an appetizer and a compliment to the main event; the main event being LOVE.
I can clearly recall last year during the week of Valentine's Day, observing how many shoppers appeared to be in a frenzy. I believe that they presented in this state because there is an expectation attached to Valentine's Day: Money, Flowers, Candy, Cards, Jewelry, Dinner, Dancing, Travel etc… So many of us do this song and dance each and every year while being worried, burnt out, stressed out and then like a cool evening breeze…February 14th is over, shutdown and forgotten by many, for twelve months.
I'm asking, is it possible to lose one's self in Love's many facets or is Love's Special Holiday simply an indulgence; an indulgence reserved for one special day and if so, why not experience such an indulgence three hundred and sixty-five days out of any given year.
How can one cultivate love, hold on to love, embrace love and indulge in love continuously? Now let's place an "I" in front of each question: How can "I" cultivate Love, how can "I" hold on to Love, how can "I" embrace Love, how can "I" extend Love and how can "I" indulge in Love continuously?
My eldest daughter stated, "It's amazing how many only feel loved during Love's Special Holiday. There are individuals who are abused and disrespected on every level but on Valentine's Day, they are showered with endless gifts and on February 15th, it's back to pre Valentine Day behaviors!!!" My youngest daughter also shared her perspective in stating, "For this one day many are showered with symbols of Love. The expression is so deep, so powerful and profound because it is in your face. And for many, not all, the acknowledgement is simply reserved for that one day."
I strongly believe that Love's Special Holiday is about embracing Love. The Love of your spouse, the love of your children, Love of your boyfriend or girlfriend, the love you hold for extended family and friends. For those of you who wait until February 14th to express what it is you feel within your heart…shame on you!!! Trust me when I say that Love is a good indulgence.
Allow yourself to be unrestricted. If your budget allows, be assured that Flowers, candy, a romantic dinner, Passionate love making or just dancing the night away is a welcomed treat 365 days out of the year.
LET ME CLUE YOU IN ON SOME POWERFUL INFORMATION:
1. The best gifts are from the heart and come with no price tag. Your time, a phone call, your time, a big hug, your time, a letter, your time, conversation.
2. Don't assume others know what it is you feel. Try expressing what is in your heart such as: I love you, I appreciate you, I respect you or I honor you, holds more value than you could ever imagine.
As we move past Valentine's Day, be mindful of this truth, Loves Special Holiday is what you proclaim it to be. It can be as simple as one day or as long as each and every day of your life.
Love, Joy, Peace and Endless Passion, Mary
Mary E. Gilder is the author of the award winning novel, "A Misrepresentation of Myself." She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Also visit her website at: maryegilder.com .
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
After being abused at the age of 9 by a serial killer and keeping it a secret, Patrick Dati has now broken his silence and written a memoir about the abuse and bullying he endured from an older brother throughout his childhood and adult life.
The memoir is also a torturous coming out story of a man raised in the midst of a devout Catholic family whose members he loved and spent years trying to please by realizing their dreams for him. He attempted suicide twice, and found freedom and himself one day in three simple words: "I have survived."
When asked how he is feeding his love of life as a survivor and helping others in the process, he answers this way: "By showing other victims of child abuse and bullying how I have gotten through my depression from my trauma and prove to them that they can survivor as well. Life does get better."
Find out more about Patrick and his book at http://youandmecanstopbullies.com/
"Having struggled with food, drug and alcohol addictions since age 12, I personally know the pain and hurt in can cause in oneself and in family and friends. I am 11 years sober!! And my personal mission in life is to help break down barriers between classes and cultures through thought provoking, enlightening, and transforming theatre, writing, and comedy.
"My projects deal with people embracing their humanity, questioning their beliefs, and broadening their own perspectives and horizons, and therefore causing audiences to engage in this process as well.
"I have just published my first book, Stop the Madness: How to Identify Addiction Warning Signs in your Friends… and What to do About It, in hopes to help people recognize the dangers of abuse, but also open a dialogue where people can get help and realize they are not alone. I've also released a Meditation CD and workbook to accompany the book and really help people take those first steps in healing.
"My commitment is to be a part of the global shift of raising the world's consciousness. By constantly embracing my own creativity and compassion, I am giving others the permission to raise their own spirit and engage in higher frequencies of thought, energy, light, and flow."
Elaine Williams, author/comedian/speaker
Discover more about Elaine at www.elainewilliamslive.com.
What Feeds my Love of Life is knowing that what I do matters. That who I am
matters and that how I show up in the world matters.
Following a lifetime of hardwired thinking that what I did had no effect on
the rest of the world, I have now immersed myself in the world of personal
growth. It has changed everything for me and now I teach personal
development to others so that it can have similar benefits and rewards for
Personally, I feeds my love of live by:
1) Working harder on myself than on anything else. When I stop blaming others and look within the answers always appear. Always. I continuously read, listen to audios, attend sessions and fuel myself with positive ideas.
2) Finding inspiration everywhere. It is at the grocery store, in the eyes
of the elderly, in the skip of a child, it is everywhere - we just have to
tune in and look to find it. Let the inspiration wash over you and motivate
3) Take action. Reading, listening, watching - it's not enough, it's the
getting out there, trying, failing, embarrassing, crying, fearing,
frustrating myself - all those things that add up to eventually feed my love
of life. Learning to push past obstacles is exhilarating.
4) Grow your group. My circle of friends and people of influence are
continually growing and changing as I grow and change. Being open to new
relationships and adventures with people who are not exactly like me, adds a
new element to life that makes it fun and exciting!
5)Knowing that by growing myself I am helping other people, making my
relationships stronger and helping to make the world a better place
ultimately is the pinnacle of feeding my love of life.
I have seen the lows and experienced the high and life is so much better on
this side of the fence. I will never go back!
Stephanie Staples, www.YourLifeUnlimited.ca
Welcome back to "Tough Love" with Meg Collins. Thank you for being a dedicated follower to my column. I decided this issue to ask the men of the world what are the type of women that one searches for and what are warning signs and red flags for you, personall. This time of year I know many are without the arms of another, so I went to a source to help women and men both find potential mates for their lives.
I would want to be definitely snuggling with the right gentleman, personally, so await the right man, as many of you await the right person as well. I could possibly be a Nun at this juncture in my life; however I would probably be more of a Sister Act participant.
I had the pleasure to interview Gordon Basichis who is the Co-Founder of Corra Group, specializing in background checks and corporate research both nationally and globally. They are headquartered in Los Angeles. He is the famed Author of four books and has been featured on ABC News. Gordon states, "The more serious minded men, and more successful men tend more to consider the woman's motives for the date. They will wonder if she is after their money and whether she has had considerable serial relationships with men of means. Romance and idealistic love may be wonderful, but such concerns are a sign of our times.
Men, in general, don't wish to hear about the woman's legacy of boyfriends. Should past paramours be a principle topic of discussion, it's a definitely turn off. It is a common belief from our feedback that women who talk openly about past paramours have either serious issues, baggage, or they are more likely to take their twenty three best girlfriends into confidence and providing the details of their love affairs. Men don't appreciate being the subject of group girl discussion. I should add that the women, who pause at dinner to answer her phone or look at her texts for purposes other than serious business, will probably not be asked on a second date.
Another big red flag is Mother. Again, the common belief is girls who on the first dates talk extensively about their mothers tend to have issues with their mothers. Many men fear being entangled in the perpetual turmoil that can be created between mother and daughter. But then, men being men, and with the right woman with the right line, in the right time and place, all of the above can be easily overridden. I have seen that happen time and again."
Gordon raises many good points and I have been on dates with men who answer or check their phones and never had a second date with them because I felt like they were already committed, yet not saying so in person. I have also been approached by many men online who are facades of what one would want to date or even be seen with, for their lies had lies. I have five questions that I ask before a first date: 1) Are you close with your Mother? 2) Are you married or separated? 3) Do you drive? 4) Are you employed? 5) Have you ever been in prison? Gordon Basichis, thank you for your interview.
Be blessed and have safe dates over the next month, and share with me your stories and opinions, as I am here for you, the readers. If in date doubt, contact Gordon: he appears to be the guru of the non-sociopathic, non-boiling bunny rabbits in a pot type of individuals.
Meg Collins is a Columnist, Radio Host, Author, Poet, Editor, and Ghostwriter. You can email her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Author C. A. Webb welcomes you back to IN THE BEGINNING, the first book in the BLESSED series. Missed the beginning of the story? Find it online at www.blessedbycawebb.com.
“Did you have a good flight, Pastor James?”
The driver’s question temporarily broke the spell of reflection Ezekiel had created for himself. He looked away from the car window towards Carter, a man who had been with the President since the campaign. Ezekiel saw him wiping his nose.
“I’m sorry,” he asked, having heard the voice but not understanding the words.
The drive sniffed. “I was asking about your flight.”
Ezekiel faked a smile. “Sorry about that. I zoned out for a moment. The flight was fine,Carter. Thanks for asking.” He turned back to the window, afraid the uneasiness he was feeling would emerge enough to be noticeable.
It was too late for such concern, though. Anyone who had been around the President for any significant amount of time knew that things were not as they appeared. And Carter Winsley had been around the Pastor and his family enough to know that this was no ordinary visit, especially having seen what he had over the past few months.
Nothing had been the same since that woman--referred to by many at the White House
as The Woman In Black--had met with President Reynolds. Carter found himself wondering if everything would ever be the same.
“Pastor James,” he said.
Ezekiel turned to face him again. “Yes?”
Carter cleared his throat. “Everything is going to be alright, isn’t it?”
The look of concern staring back at him caused something within Ezekiel to break, and
for the first time that night, tears formed in his eyes. What could he say to this man? Everything alright? How could everything ever really be alright again? Forty years ago he made the naive mistake of believing he had the ability to make everything right. He thought he was favored. Blessed.
Now he didn’t know what to believe. With every news report and death, his conscience
was even more convicted. This all began with him, and he was convinced it would have to end with him as well. “I pray it will, son,” he finally answered, and turned away again as the tears began to fall.
The change in Ezekiel James, Sr.’s life was a moment that seemed to be innocent
enough, yet he would look back at it and realize it was anything but innocent. It was during a week-long revival in Dallas, Texas in the Fall of 1967 when he was given the opportunity to preach his first sermon to a large assembly.
He was already nervous about the assignment and being away from his young family
for the first time. Ezekiel had only been married to Elizabeth for three years, and the twins had just celebrated their first birthday. Anyone else would have felt quite a bit of accomplishment, but Ezekiel’s mind was on his son and namesake. Before he had left for Dallas, Ezekiel, Jr. became sick. After a week of doctoring on him at home, they took him to the hospital to see what was wrong.
Ezekiel had only been preaching in Mississippi a few years at that time. He was young
in the ministry, but his faith was strong. Some test were run on the boy, and it was determined he had a cold or maybe even the flu. If he was older, it wouldn’t have been a cause for concern, but at his young age it could prove fatal for him if the fever didn’t break soon.
The conference was in just a few days, and Ezekiel was prepared not to go and stay
home with Elizabeth. She was worried, true enough, but she knew how important this sermon was to him. “There’s nothing you can do here,” she had told him. “The hospital is doing all they can for him. Your mind will be there, anyway, so you might as well be there, too.”
It was an argument that really didn’t need to be made, because if anyone knew him and
his heart, it was Elizabeth. She had no doubt how Ezekiel felt about her or their children, but this revival was an opportunity that few little known ministers were getting.
He had to go.
There were over three thousand in attendance at the We Are The Light Of The World
conference that year, and Ezekiel James’ compassionate style and eloquent message of hope resonated with almost everyone in attendance. While on stage, there was no sick child or family hundreds of miles away. There was only the audience and him, and in that moment he took control of his destiny.
That night after the assembly, Ezekiel was treated like a rock star. People from all over the country who had heard him speak were coming up to him just to introduce themselves and say hello. The highlight for Ezekiel was having the organizer of the revival, Michael Silver, personally congratulate him.
“You are the future of our movement, Ezekiel,” Michael told him. “Stay focused and
true to your faith, and you’ll never go wrong.”
Those words couldn’t have meant more to Ezekiel if they had come from any other
evangelist. Michael Silver was the senior mouthpiece for an organization called The Heavenly Messengers of The World. What little was known about it came from secondhand information and speculation from those who wondered aloud about their actual purpose. What was known was that it had a private membership of 12,000 men and women worldwide, and though it was believed Michael was one of the founding members, from what Ezekiel had been told his role now was more of a motivational force for the group.
“Thank you, sir,” he had responded to the compliment with a large grin and handshake.
“Tell me,” Michael continued as he waved to passersby and shook hands with those who tried to get his attention, “when will you be heading home? Are you staying a few days in Texas?”
It was the last day of the revival, and though Ezekiel had wanted to catch a ride with some of his church members that were leaving for Mississippi that night, he wasn’t sure if Michael was asking for a reason.
“It all depends,” Ezekiel decided to say. “Some of my church members are leaving
tonight, but I was thinking of staying to fellowship a bit with some of the others.”
Ezekiel wasn’t exactly sure at the time, but there seemed to be a flash of
disappointment across Michael’s face. If it had been there, however, it was quickly replaced with a smile. He draped his arm around Ezekiel’s shoulder. “If you decide to stay,” he said to him, “there are some people I want to introduce you to, including my half-sister Evelina…”
Michael Silver had seen many dark moments in the history of mankind, yet what had
occurred just two weeks before Ezekiel made that late night trek to Washington D. C. was by far one of the most difficult yet. He had to tell one of the men whom he had great admiration for that it was possible his only son was going to die. A proclamation of death was something he had delivered many times over the years, but it was harder this time because Michael knew what was at stake and what was coming.
The wars that had plagued the world over two thousand years were all about to come to
a head, and finally things would be the way his Father had intended.
“Mr. Silver.” His secretary walked into his office located inside the Standard Life
Building in Jackson, Mississippi. They had only been there a few weeks, and depending on what happened in D. C., there time in the state might be brief. “You told me to let you know when Evelina had arrived.”
The secretary noticed his frown. “Yes, Ruth,” he told her, “send her in. Thank you.”
Michael glanced down at the report that had just come in over his email. The next
several days would be critical. He didn’t envy the President, or Ezekiel, Sr. for that matter. Life and death decisions were coming soon, and as Michael glanced back up, he knew that no one understood that more than the woman in front of him.
“Hello, Michael,” she said in the Spanish accent that she had adopted many years ago.
Out of courtesy to her, Michael stood. “Evelina,” he responded curtly, not trying to in any way hid his displeasure with her. “You weren’t at the assembly today.” He gestured to the chair across from him, and once she had sat, he resumed his seat as well.
“I didn’t think my presence would be welcome,” she answered, crossing her long
shapely legs, causing her flowing black gown to ripple around her body like the waves of her shoulder-length red hair. Evelina then smiled, her shining blue eyes seeming to dance. “Did you miss me, Michael?”
This was not a discussion that Michael wanted to have, this night or any other. He
tolerated her because he had to per instructions from his Father.
“We just assumed you would be there to represent the League,” he responded.
The dynamics going on in that office were striking on many levels. Here was Michael,
a distinguished-looking man with jet black hair touched slightly with gray at the temples and brown eyes, dressed in his daily attire of an all white suit, cream-colored button-down dress shirt and pointed black shoes sitting across from a woman seemingly young enough to be his daughter---and definitely not his type. The two, though, were connected in ways that few on the Earth would understand. Their origins similar, but their mission and purpose couldn’t have been more polar opposites of each other.
Evelina ran her manicured fingers through her hair. She had been looking forward to
these occurrences for quite some time, and now it seemed she would have her revenge.
“The League is aware of your plans, Michael,” she finally said, her tone cynical. “It is the council that seems behind the times. Like before, you are slow to act…”
“Our Father is never slow to act,” Michael interrupted. “He is allowing time for the
truth to be told so that everyone can have a chance at---”
“At what,” Evelina snapped, leaning forward and narrowing her eyes into slits. “At
everlasting life? Is that how you are trying to save these people, Michael, by selling them that ole story?”
Michael stood slowly, and as he did the lamps around his office brightened for several moments and then dimmed, casting long shadows across his face. “You will respect this space, Evelina,” he thundered. “I am not now nor have I ever been afraid of you.”
Evelina knew she had gone too far. “I…I apologize, Michael. It’s just…” She shook her
head. “Look at what they’ve done to this place. This was not the way it was supposed to be.” She rose to her feet. “You know, you might not believe me, but I wish things could have been different between us.”
Michael smiled, and the room seemed to respond to the warmth that emitted from him.
It even caused Evelina to close her eyes, wrap her arms around herself and remember the protection and love the feeling used to offer. In that moment, he caught a sliver of the woman he had known in the beginning with Adam---and it reminded him of the opportunity still available for mankind.
“It’s not too late, Evelina,” he called out after her as she walked to the door.
Evelina smiled back at him, though the sadness in her eyes gave her away. “It is for me, Michael,” she said and closed the door behind her.
Read chapter 5 of IN THE BEGINNING now at www.blessedbycawebb.com. Missed the introduction and first chapter? Find them there as well!
by Cyrus Webb
When it comes to discussing the universal power of love, I couldn't see myself doing it without mentioning author Wendy Williams. Her book THE GLOBALISATION OF LOVE helped me and readers around the world to think about the complexities of love in a totally different way---and we are better off because of it.
When she appeared on Conversations LIVE in late 2011 I knew that I had so much more to discuss with her that we needed more time than just the radio show could provide. I reached out to her in Vienna, Austria, and she graciously agreed to continue the dialogue in print. In this interview Wendy discusses what she calls the "GloLo" community, how using humor to discuss what can be a serious issue is not just suggested but a must and what advice she has for new authors.
Wendy, thanks for taking out the time to talk with us. First of all, congratulations on the success of the book The Globalisation of Love. I know we have discussed it on the radio show but tell our readers what led you to write the book.
Thanks Cyrus. There are many reasons why I wrote the book. Firstly, globalisation has been the buzz word of the past 20 years, yet little attention is given to the most profound influence of globalisation, which is the effect it has on people. People from everywhere are falling in love with people from everywhere else. Secondly, multiculturalism is another term that is bandied about to describe some kind of pesky nuisance to society, yet multicultural, interfaith, and biracial couples and families are constantly increasing and becoming a social norm. Thirdly, multicultural couples, what I call GloLo couples, get a lot of negative attention, like they are all destined to fail. In fact, most GloLo couples describe their multicultural relationship and experience as enlightening, enriching and the most amazing journey to take through matrimonial life. Ultimately, what I saw in my own marriage as well as with multicultural friends, there is a story to tell, and a funny story too.
You describe individuals who are living an experience like yours and so many others as the GloLo community. Has it made it easier to know that you are not the only one who has had to deal with challenges in relationships due to background and upbringing?
Definitely. When conducting the interviews for The Globalisation of Love, I was sometimes amazed how other couples faced the same set of issues and sometimes experienced remarkably similar stories even when the country and culture mix were different. Now when my husband and I are having a GloLo moment (good or bad), I'll say to him, "it's all in Chapter 10, read it and then we can talk about it again". Inevitably we start laughing.
I think our readers probably think more of race when it comes to thinking about multi-cultural relationships. What was interesting to me was that you take out the time to show it might be difference in religion & geography that may cause one to approach things in a different way. What has surprised you the most about the way the book is being received and discussed?
The biggest surprise is who defines themselves as multicultural and who sees the book as being relevant to their situation. There are couples who are culturally different on so many levels – they are international, bilingual, interfaith and biracial – and yet they are so beautifully unified and unfazed by their ethnic constellation that they don't even consider themselves to be multicultural. Other couples will have everything in common except that they grew up in a different state or province 100 km away and they will say, "oh, do we have stories for you!" Another surprise, and pleasant surprise I should add, is the gratitude that non-GloLo readers express. Almost everyone knows someone or even has a family member in a GloLo relationship, so they are grateful to learn about the issues and to understand the family dynamic better.
Though it is a serious topic, you have managed to address it with humor and personal stories as well. Do you think those elements will make it a little easier for others to discuss?
Yes. There are many wonderful books about multicultural dating and marriage however The Globalisation of Love is the first book that is deliberately written with humour and wit. I wrote the book in an accessible style so that everyone can relate to it. One interviewer said that it is “for real people, not just academics”. Humour has probably been the defining theme throughout my marriage – next to skiing that is! – and I think that humour, along with respect, is one of the best ways to deal with multicultural issues.
Wendy if you had an overall hope for the book, what would it be in terms of its purpose?
I love that question. Firstly, I would hope that multicultural couples who read the book or my blog learn to recognise that a multicultural relationship is inherently different than a monocultural relationship. It is more challenging and possibly even more fun. Secondly, I would hope that family and friends of GloLo couples also begin to understand that GloLo couples are constantly dealing with a different set of variables in their marriage and understanding that is going to make it easier for the couple. In my book, I also conclude that multicultural families promote world peace. So that would be my third hope for the book, that it promotes cultural understanding and tolerance, and therefore world peace. It is a pretty grandiose wish list considering that the original idea was to write a book about funny cultural faux pas that occur in multicultural relationships!
For our aspiring writers out there I should also say this is your first book. What advice do you give others now about the writing process that you have applied or learned on your own literary journey?
I have two bits of advice that I like to share with aspiring authors. Firstly, write about something that you are passionate about and like to talk about or read about all day long. Writing a book takes an incredible amount of discipline and time and it is a long and often lonely journey. Therefore you need to be absolutely fascinated with your subject matter and enjoy spending time with it, even if it is a work of fiction. Secondly, don't tell your friends when the manuscript will be finished! I missed at least 5 of my own deadlines and it was painful to repeatedly hear "is it done yet?!" from excited friends and family.
Thank you for your time, Wendy. How can our listeners find out more information about you and the book online?
The fastest and easiest way to read about the book is on the good old-fashioned website www.globalisationoflove.com. I have posted book reviews and other interviews there along with the blog. Amazon also has some interesting reviews to read. Most of the online book shops have picked up The Globalisation of Love, so it is easy to find.
(South Main Enterprises)
The Paranoid Parent's Guide is Confessions of a Slacker Mom meets The Worst Case Scenario Handbook--an irreverent yet imminently practical guide to help parents shun the alarmist parenting culture while keeping their children, sanity, and their budgets healthy.