Get your subscription to #ConversationsMag today!

Summer Issue of Conversations Magazine

Summer Issue of Conversations Magazine
Click the cover to order yours for only $6.99, shipping included!

Need help promoting? Contact us!

Monday, June 24, 2013

D. C. White Presents... Jill Scott (New Orleans Jazz Fest 2013)


The lovely, beautiful and most talented Jill Scott, blessed the Jazz Fest stage in New Orleans, LA on April 27, 2013.  Her performance was the most magical and soothing experience for the younger and older generations.  From beginning to end, as she sang the first song, she inspired and captivated the audience. Ms. Scott truly commanded the stage with her blends of jazz, R&B, rock and at the very end, she topped it off with some classical.

Thousands of fans roared with excitement and enthusiasm during the entire performance.  Simply AMAZING. That's how I would describe Jill Scott's performance.  If you've never had the opportunity to see Jill Scott perform live......you're missing a real treat.  This Grammy-winning, singer/songwriter and actress will not disappoint you.  She's out on the road touring this summer so you may want to check her out if you can.

D. C. White is a contributor for Conversations Magazine and the founder of History Records and Entertainment. White also serves as a Producer for "Conversations with Cyrus Webb" television show. You can reach him at dwightcalhoun@yahoo.com and find out more information about him at www.dchistoryrecords.com

Sunday, June 23, 2013

TO YOU, FROM ME: Learning From Visionaries


I am someone who has always been inspired by the creative process. When I look at the road map that others have taken, how they have dealt with disappointments and the challenges they faced, it has always helped me to remember that success may not come easy but hard work and dedication does pay off.

In this issue of Conversations Magazine we are able to showcase two individuals that are not just inspiring the world but helping others to change the way they see themselves: Oprah Winfrey and Devon Franklin.

For me, Oprah has been an example for some time of what is possible for each of us, regardless of where we are from. When she began her network, one of the shows that really spoke to me was called Visionaries. Through it we are given a rare glimpse into the brilliance behind some of the most creative individuals around. Included among those profiled have been four influential men: Tyler Perry, Tom Ford, James Cameron and Will.i.am. Each of them seem at the top of their game, but the journey that got them to that point wasn't always an easy one.

I think by taking a look at the road they have traveled it will give us some insight into what we can do in our own lives:

IDENTIFYING THE DREAM: This is one of the most important steps for a visionary because it's the point where you actually articulate what you want. Each of those profiled on the series had to figure out what they wanted before they could actually start the process of achieving it. This doesn't mean that it won't change or even expand, but it has to begin somewhere.

KEEP IT YOU: This was something that really stood out to me. In order to make sure you don't tire of your dream and abandon it, you want to keep it true to who you are and what you can best represent. Nobody likes a phony, and if it appears you are just doing something to please others or what you believe others will want then it will be difficult to be authentic while doing it.

NURTURE THE BRAND: You can't just sit idly by once you have gotten a taste of success. It is a continual process that will require some long nights, difficult decisions and the drive to push yourself again and again. None of those in the series has been content with just one triumph. I believe it is because they realize that they are only as good as their last great idea.

As you consider the three points above ask yourself this: Have I started doing the work to bring my own vision to life? That is the only thing that separates us from those who are seeing the fruit of their labor. They were willing to do the work. May we find the courage to do the same, and inspire the next generation of visionaries along the way.




Cyrus A. Webb, Editor-In-Chief
Conversations Magazine www.conversationsmag.com 
cawebb4@juno.com      601.896.5616

Total Law of Attraction: Will It Work For You?


by Cyrus Webb

I am always excited about a book that encourages us to be the best we can be everything and not let the negativity around us adversely effect the progress we could be making. This is exactly what TOTAL LAW OF ATTRACTION by Dr. David Che accomplishes for me.

The book is written in a way that is simple enough to understand and practical enough that anyone can apply what it says. Che seems to be an individual that knows everything is not going to always work out the way we want, but encourages us to be happy with the progress we make. At a time where the world is full of enough fear and dread, it is good for someone to remind us that the glass is always at least half full.

One of the biggest moments of clarity that came to me while reading the book was the importance of applied knowledge. Your knowing what to do in order to get what you want is only half the process. You have to be willing to put forth the work. Identify your goal then make sure your life is in concert with it.

David Che's career as an author is proof that the total law of attraction is alive and well and doable. I suggest that anyone looking for positive reinforcement when it comes to their goals and dreams take a look at this book. In my opinion, you will be a whole lot better off because of it.

* * *
ABOUT TOTAL LAW OF ATTRACTION:
The Law of Attraction is one of the most popular topics in the area of self-help. At the same time, it is also one of the most misunderstood. Why is that? There are three main reasons: First, there are hundreds of Law of Attraction books available, and most either rehash the same information or completely differ on what they teach, which results in confusion. Second, the big-name "experts" on the Law of Attraction never teach the real secrets in their books, as they mainly try to convince you to enroll in their expensive courses, which supposedly teach the real secrets. And lastly, the majority of Law of Attraction books are either motivational and/or inspirational while lacking practicality.

In this economic recession, people more than ever need the Law of Attraction to find a new job, earn more money, or simply to improve their lives. What exactly is the Law of Attraction? Plain and simple, it is the process of tapping into the hidden powers of our subconscious mind to "manifest" what we desire into our physical reality. Total Law Of Attraction explains in plain language that it’s our emotions, not so much our thoughts, that play a greater role in attracting what we want. Total Law Of Attraction avoids the need to search through many different Law of Attraction books to get the most important information. In one book, Dr. David Che has made the most powerful secrets of the Law of Attraction accessible for any individual who seeks them.

Seven years after the release of The Secret, Simon and Schuster has re-released David Che's book TOTAL LAW OF ATTRACTION as an e-read. Find out more about TOTAL LAW OF ATTRACTION at www.totallawofattraction.com.

GIFTED BY DESIGN: Fashion Designer Leanne Ramnarine

by Cyrus Webb

If there one thing I have learned over the last decade of my life it's that we all have something special within us. It's just up to us to allow it the opportunity to show itself.

We are all gifted by design, however, if we don't allow what the Creator has given us to come through the world will be deprived of that gift. Fashion designer Leanne Ramnarine is one of those individuals who is not just talented, but she is allowing that talent to take her places she once only dreamed about.

We were introduced to each other earlier this year, and the conversation we shared really showed why she is an individual that is living with purpose and passion.

"It feels really good," she told me when I asked what was it like for others to be able to discover her talent. "It has always been my dream to create beautiful clothes, so to actually be making it and seeing it come to life is exciting for me."

Leanne's talent first showed itself in drawing. She told me that it has always been a part of her life. "In the beginning I didn't realize I was any different than anyone else," she says. "It was a bit of escapism for me. Others would say 'You have something special going on there.'" It was the encouragement from her mother, though, that gave her the ok to move forward."

When it comes to inspiration, Leanne told me that she finds it all over the place. "It could be nature or different historical periods for me," she says. For her the important thing is to just do it. "If I wasn't doing this I wouldn't be as fulfilled right now. I have to be create. When it comes to artists it's hard to stifle that dream. If I stifle it I would feel as though I was suffocating a part of yourself. I yearn for this sort of existence. I have to make this a big part of my life."

Though she enjoys the creative process the critical aspect of the business is something that takes some getting used to. "What we do as designers is an art form that is so subjective," Leanne explains. She told me when you are sharing your work, "it is very exciting and scary." That fear doesn't stop her. It almost empowers her. "It's important to do what you love to do because you love doing it. What opportunities come from it is a bonus."

Leanne's advice to you is simple: "The most important thing is when you get beaten down you have to keep getting up. You have to keep going and believing in yourself." If we follow that and stay true to the Creator of our gift there is no way we can go wrong.

To stay in touch with Leanne Ramnarine find her online at https://www.facebook.com/LRCLOTHINGLINE and https://twitter.com/leanneramnarine


Recording Artist Eric Dill: Stepping Into His Passion

by Cyrus Webb

We all know what it's like to not feel as though we belong. Though we might be surrounded by people who know our name there is something about feeling as though they really know YOU.

Recording artist Eric Dill knows this feeling well. Many around the world go to know him as the lead singer and face of the group The Click Five, but he was so much more than another guy in a group. Realizing that there was more for him to do and explore, Dill walked away from the group and ventured into his own world created by words that came from him. Part of that process is now seen in his single Wherever You Are. It's obvious in listening to the song and watching the video that he has not only step out on his own but stepped into his passion.

Dill and I discussed not just the transition from being a part of a group to going solo but the music that drew him from the very beginning. "I don't know when I realized it was a part of me," he said in our interview when talking about the music, "but I knew I loved it and was drawn to it."

Growing up as a shy kid the artist that has been places many people can only dream about says that he has always been an observer of people and things. It was through music, however, that he realized that he had something to say. "It has become a way for me to go beyond talking," he explained.

One thing that impressed me about Eric Dill is his realization of the responsibility that comes with any gift. "You have to be careful," he told me. "Everyone has something to say, but you want to make sure you have something worth saying and worth sharing. Music is that universal language that transcends actual words. You harness and expand on it, pushing those boundaries. Hopefully you put it back out in a sophisticated way." That is his hope with every release.

I was interested in how it felt for Dill to go from being a part of a group to stepping out on his own in a solo career. His answer to the question fascinated me. "While apart of The Click Five I felt lonely and alone. I was not in touch with the experience. It was kind of moving in its own way. The experience was amazing on one hand and unsatisfying on another hand. We were different people. We went from nothing to front and center. At the end of the day it wasn't so much can I do it by myself. It was more about growing and moving forward in my life."

Yes, for Dill it was about the music. Ironically he shared with me that he didn't really write for the group. As soon as he left The Click Five, though, he says he started writing almost immediately. "It was a positive experience," he shared. "The way I look at it, you keep moving and doing things. What was important for me was that I needed to make a record. It became about leaving some kind of legacy. It was all about continuing the music."

So what does Eric Dill want you to know about the power of passion? "What passion will do is keep you fueled, keep you motivated and push you into those places you need to be. You don't have to know exactly where you're going with it. There should be inspiration, and if you follow it then hopefully that passion will allow you to express something great." He then breaks it down this way: "The passion allows me to do things that others might not do. My love of music keeps me in music. You have to have that courage and the desire and the rest will follow."
Stay abreast of all things related to Eric Dill at  www.ericdill.com and make sure to watch his music video for "Wherever You Are" on Youtube.

Eliza Smith: Using Music to Replace Fear with Faith

by Cyrus Webb

Sometimes it takes a tragedy to cause us to look at our lives and where we are in the world a little differently. That was surely the case for Eliza Smith.

Singing was something she loved and with her brother as her biggest cheerleader she had made a goal of pursuing it. With he passed away at the age of 17 Eliza knew that she had to keep going not just for herself but for his memory and all that he was to continue as well.

"It's been absolutely amazing," Eliza told me during our conversation when I asked her about what it has been like to share her musical gift with the world. "For me this is what I am meant to do." She went on to say that she knew this was always what she was meant to do, and for the past ten years she has been doing just that.

When talking about her brother and the impact he had on her career as a musician, it is obvious the two are intertwined. Forming a non- profit organization called the “Ride Free Community Association.” Eliza has put on several benefit concerts in a span of the past few years to raise money to build a skate park on Gabriola Island, British Columbia, the very place where her brother and her spent hours skateboarding. "He was supportive of the music I made," she told me. "That is why I am so dedicated. Giving up on music would be like I was giving up on him."

After listening to some of Eliza's music I told her I felt as though she was in a unique position to capture the emotions of those who would hear her. "When I write something it's personal, but you want to be able to touch people and get them to relate to it," she told me. "If I can do that for people in any way I think my job (as an artist) is done."

Music is something special for Eliza. "This isn't what I do," she says. "It's who I am. If I try to be somebody I'm not it's not going to work. I realized that I'm at my best when I am just being myself."


Social media had done wonders for her journey to share her music with the world as well. "The way the world works now is the internet," she says. "The majority of the opportunities I have gotten have been because of my constantly promoting myself." The worldwide web has been the centerpiece of that promotion.

The lesson? "You have to believe in yourself," Eliza says to anyone with a dream or a vision. "No matter what, you are going to have doubters. For years I felt I was fighting for everything.  All I had was myself. Who knows where I'd be if I had given up. If this is something you really want to do, you have to find out every aspect around it." 

Stay in contact with Eliza Smith on Twitter at @elizasmithmusic. To discover her music and what's coming up for her visit www.elizasmusic.com.

[Feature] 12 Songs That Speak to the Heart

by Cyrus Webb

I love music. I can remember during my years in band while in Junior High and High School how much I enjoyed the opportunities to pick up my trumpet and play. I love the way music not only reaches you where you are but also pushes you forward towards where you want to be. Music has power, and those who are bringing it to the forefront or powerful forces in the world.

I'm asked sometimes what keeps me motivated and music is honestly one of those things. When I am trying to get centered or to focus, I turn to songs that I've heard which take me to that very space.

Are you looking for some musical choices that will not just speak to your heart but keep you moving forward? Here are 12 songs that have done just that for me:

  1. "Lose Yourself" by Eminem 
  2. "I Believe In Me" by Abraham McDonald
  3. "I Dreamed a Dream" by Susan Boyle
  4. "I Gotta Feeling" by Black Eyed Peas
  5. "Excuses" by Estee
  6. "I Believe I Can Fly" by R. Kelly
  7. "The Voice Within" by Christina  Aguilera
  8. "I Will Be Alright" by Livre'
  9. "Live Your Life" by T. I. featuring Rihanna
  10. "Unwritten" by  Natasha Bedingfield
  11. "Release It" by Vickie Winans
  12. "Lucky Day" by Tomas Doncker
What about you? Have songs that have gotten you through a particular valley in your life? Share them with us online at www.conversationsmag.com or email me at cawebb4@juno.com. Would love to share your choices as well.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

From Tragedy To Triumph: The Story Of Gospel Artist Gary Samuels

by Andrea R. Williams

We all know this life comes with challenges.  Gospel artist Gary Samuels seems to have had more than his share.  Bouts with cancer, paralysis, partial blindness, sexual abuse, witnessing the shooting of his mother and the death of a child are just some of the life-changing challenges he's had to endure.  Where others have succumbed to life's heartaches, Samuels seems to have conquered each one.  He knows that it's only by the grace of God that he's not only survived, but succeeded.  Every problem and its ultimate solution has given Samuels a point of reference to sing from.  The multi-octave vocalist, with a golden voice and a tonal quality that rivals some of today's best singers, is truly a divine instrument.

Raised in Harlem, New York City, Gary was one of fifteen children.  Surrounded by music, his mother was a pianist and singer; his stepfather, who did not live in the home with Gary, was a Jazz pianist.  In addition to his parents, his Grand Aunt Madam was a strong influence as well teaching Gary his first song entitled "Wooden Church on A Hill".  He loved music; it was a personal escape, especially after his life took a bad turn.

"Being raised in a home where neither my birth father nor stepfather was present, I was left without the male leadership that was needed," explains Gary.  "A male teacher decided to take me under his wing.  The summer that I was to turn nine, two major changes happened.  In July, I watched as my mother was shot by my stepfather and then in August, the teacher, who we will call Mr. O, was given permission by my mother to keep me for the remainder of the summer.  He did everything that a father would do for his child - except I was molested by him and his friends."

When Gary mentioned the molestation to his aunt, she accused him of lying.  It wasn't until his mother saw evidence that she and his aunt believed him.  But by that time, years had passed and the damage had been done.  Mr. O had also introduced Gary to drugs and his life started spiraling out of control.  Promiscuity followed and he fell deeper into drugs.  Other traumatic events followed including a face-first fall at a skating rink causing partial paralysis and then while in college the diagnosis of a malignant tumor.

Going back to the one place where he knew he could find answers, he went back to church.  Gary found himself at Progressive Baptist Church and heard the message, "There Is Room at the Cross".  He says, "Rev. Walter Martin prayed for me and asked me if I believed God would heal me. Out of obedience, I said 'yes!'"  Gary's surrender opened the door to complete healing from drugs and alcohol; shortly thereafter, the cancerous tumor disappeared - while he was listening to Donald Vails' recording of "Jesus, I Love You".

In spite of it all, Gary Samuels has always had a song on his lips and a love for Gospel music.  As a youngster, he was a member of his family's singing group called "The Samuels Singers" and the ensemble toured the country.  As an adult, he broadened his musical horizons by singing for countless choirs including the Martin Luther King, Jr. Choir, The United Negro College Fund Choir, The Orangeburg Gospel Choral Union, The Serenity Singers, The Eternal Light Community Singers, Just By Faith Gospel Choir, United In Christ Fellowship Choir and United Eternal Voice In Christ Choir.

As he continued to sing, his love for the musical art form grew, but it always seemed like he was the loudest in the bunch.  "I was always referred to as 'big mouth,'" recalls Gary.  "I just couldn't sing soft - although I tried.  People would tell me that in a group of dozens of singers, they could hear me!"  Not only was the vocalist a stand-out, but because of his unique gifting of a multi-octave range, he could easily float between tenor, alto and soprano, making it a challenge for choir directors to determine what part he should sing.  "When you ask me what's in my natural vocal range, it depends of the day of the week," Gary quips.   It wasn't until he heard vocalist Linda Hopkins sing that he knew he wasn't alone.  At the performance, he heard Hopkins glide between soprano and tenor effortlessly and realized that he truly had something special.

His gift has truly made room for him with opportunities to sing in front of Presidents and the Pope; he's experienced what some only imagine. Living a dream, he's been able to act out his life on stage with his play called, "Gospel Of The Blues".  With original music and riveting performances, the play merges two of his musical loves: Gospel Music and Blues.  The play is a testament to the power of faith and is a theatrical display of Gary's testimony.

God's favor has followed Gary and he's been blessed to sing for President Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, President George Bush, Pope John Paul II and Nelson Mandela.  He's performed at The Apollo and Radio City Music Hall.  He's sung with Opera Diva Grace Bumbry and Jazz Great Wynton Marsalis and opened up for Kelly Price, Donnie McClurkin, and Mary Mary.  Although he's thrilled at the many opportunities he's had to sing for notable people, he receives the most joy from singing at nursing homes, senior centers and prisons.

He's tackled the role of Minister of Music at Bethel AME Church in Connecticut and his home church, Progressive Baptist Church, as well as Baptist House of Prayer, both in Harlem.  It was at the Little Mt. Calvary Baptist Church with Rev. James Peoples that he began to write music; ultimately his musical catalog would encompass close to 200 songs. In November 2006 just before his mentor Rev. Leroy Ricksy of Church of the Resurrection passed away, he summoned Gary to his bedside and prayed a prophetic prayer that his music would take him around the world, and millions would be blessed by hearing it.  Since that time, he's shared his musical talent overseas singing in Africa, Spain and other countries.

Gary added the titles "Recording Artist" and "Co-Producer" to his burgeoning list of roles when he recorded two CDs, I Believe in 2009 and I Can in 2010.  The ground-breaking video for the single, "I Believe", was entered in the 2010 BET Awards for Best Gospel Video.  The first two projects were followed by Grace of God, an EP featuring the title tune, "Grace of God", and other moving tunes, released in 2012.
But success hasn't come without a price.  The verse, "to whom much is given, much is required", could have easily been written for the psalmist who has experienced tragedy after tragedy.  But through it all, Gary has allowed the Lord to take the lead.  Seeing his life as a set of songs, the title of the new Versatile Entertainment CD is called Soundtrack of My Soul.  All of his experiences have been poured into his music as God has written songs through him.  "When I sing about God's healing power and his saving power, it's not from a movie screen or something someone told me," says Samuels.  It's what I know. I know it for myself."

Gary's testimonies have been the impetus for the upcoming project scheduled to drop in the summer of 2013.  His label head and producer, Jaeson Marks, has been in the studio putting the finishing touches on the CD.  Fans of the artist's unique vocal and musical style won't have to wait much longer for the forthcoming release.  For Gary, it's been worth the wait.  Scripture says that the ending of a thing is better than its beginning.  That verse certainly could have been written with Gary Samuels in mind.



Andrea R. Williams is the President of Tehillah Enterprises, LLC, a Gospel Music Publicity Firm. For more information visit www.TehillahEnterprisesPR.com.

Bruce Tretter's "Gotta Eat, Can't Cook" Recipe: Tortilla Wraps

Tortilla Wraps


The recipe you see here for a cold or warm tortilla wrap is a purely text version of one of the step-by-step video and picture book recipes included in a free, fully capable book sample available at the iTunes store (just type either “bruce tretter” or “dorm room food” in the book search box).


Preparation Time: 1-2 minutes
Optional Cooking Time: about 45 seconds

Needed
(for 1 wrap)

1 Tortilla
Favorite Sliced or Grated Cheese
Favorite Cold Cuts
Topping (use your choice or combination of mustard, mayonnaise or favorite sandwich spread, hot sauce, relish, salsa and/or even plain yogurt or sour cream)
Microwave Oven Safe Plate
Tablespoon
Table Knife

1. Spread an even layer of mayonnaise (or your favorite sandwich spread) over the entire tortilla, and put the tortilla on a microwave oven safe plate (if you’re planning to warm the tortilla wrap in the microwave oven).

2. Top with your choice or a combination of cheese, cold cuts, mustard, relish, salsa, and/or plain yogurt.

3. Roll up the tortilla, cut it in half, add an optional shot of hot sauce, and either have the tortilla wrap as is cold or put the tortilla wrap in the middle of the microwave oven and cook using HIGH heat or 100% power for 45 seconds. NOTE: Cooking time will vary depending on microwave watt output power. The tortilla wrap shown here was cooked in a 1200-watt microwave oven for 45 seconds. If your microwave oven puts out less watt power, cooking time will take a little longer. If your microwave oven puts out more watt power, cooking time will be shorter.

4. After cooking, carefully remove the cooked tortilla wrap from the microwave oven. The tortilla wrap is done when the cheese has melted.


To see a full picture demonstration of this recipe and so many others visit Bruce Tretter at www.gotta-eat.com.


(Feature) Just In Time

by Ester Nicholson, Author of Soul Recovery---12 Keys to Healing Addiction

Ester Nicholson"I hung around Cocaine Anonymous (CA) and AA meetings for two years before I was even able to string ninety consecutive days together. As I look back now, I didn't actually want to heal at a deep core level. I just wanted to stop doing drugs so I could get my man back, and keep a job for longer than a month-maybe even get my daughter back. So, I hung around the meetings, flirting and looking for approval with my dingy red dress on and a mouth full of cavities. I had barely looked at the 12 Steps hanging on the wall, let alone tried to practice them.

But over time, I came into contact with people at CA and AA whose lives seemed to be working. They had a sense of personal security and power. And I wanted that for myself. I wanted to have a life that I could be proud of, a home for my child and a mate who respected me. Sometimes, we need a reason to get serious about our healing. My reason started with wanting simple things. That was enough to begin stringing a few days together, then a week, a month and more.

I was entirely unprepared when one evening after being clean for almost ninety days-going to work on time and paying some bills-that "thing" happened again. My mouth started watering, my gut was in knots like I had just taken a laxative (symptom of a drug addict in the midst of a craving), and my heart was palpitating. I was ravenous for just one more hit-one last party. My inner voice said, "Don't do it, Sweetie, you're doing so well-please don't do it." I knew that once I started-once the monster was out of the cage- no matter how badly I wanted to stop, the binge would not be over until it was done having its way with me. Maybe this time, it would finish me off once and for all.

Even as I tried talking myself out of it, I was already out the door. I didn't even take time to put on a pair of shoes, I noticed as I was hailing a taxi. The hunger hit me so suddenly, and took me over so completely, it was if I had become possessed- blinded utterly by the insatiable need for a hit of cocaine. I knew that where I ended up was entirely out of my control.

"The alcoholic/addict will absolutely be unable to stop with the unaided will." -Bill Wilson

I hopped in a taxi to take me to the neighborhood where I could feed the monster raging in my gut, my head and my soul. I was shaking as I got into the cab. I couldn't wait to get there. "Dunsmere and Redondo," I told the driver. I was already paranoid, looking around, sitting low in the back seat just in case someone from AA spotted me.

We drove a few blocks and the driver pulled over and turned off the engine. "What the hell are you doing?" I thought to myself. "Hurry up and get me to the hood, man. The face of God turned around and looked deeply into my eyes. He said to me, "Young lady, don't do it. You're better than this. Don't kill yourself. God loves you. I love you."

In that instant, I knew if I persisted on my current path, that day would be my last. The grace of God was speaking through this cab driver, extending to me the branch of life. I could listen, turn around and go back home, or I could drive on to certain death. The monster raged at the cab-driver and said to me, "Don't listen to him, he doesn't know what he's talking about! Come on-you'll just get one and then you'll be done." But the loving will of Spirit had won. I heard God speak to me, and for once, I was listening. With tears in his eyes, the cab driver turned the car around and took me back home." Excerpt from "Soul Recovery"

In the first step of recovery, we're told that we must admit we are powerless over our addictions. Those addictions can be the usual ones that come to mind when people hear the word "addict"-alcohol, cocaine, heroin, painkillers...any type of narcotic. But they can also involve things that we don't typically call addictions: worry, fear, and the lifelong illusion that we're not worthy of anything good. That was certainly my experience for many years - I was powerless. And if you're suffering from addiction or dependency to the point where you have lost the power to choose whether or not you will act on your addiction, you are too.

Day after day, week after week, year after year, you have tried to effort your way into wholeness- just to fail, over and over and over again. It is at this point that you're demonstrating a misguided belief in a God outside yourself: a God who isn't available or friendly, a God who deems you to be unworthy. But you keep begging and hoping that one day there will be mercy and a reprieve from the torment of addiction-a reprieve from the repeated pattern of pain and suffering.

Believe it or not, this is a wonderful step. It's an important and necessary starting point on your spiritual journey. But you were never meant to pull over and park there. Step one was designed to create a state of surrender such that you would stop trying to save and change your life from a limited sense of power. It opens a way for you to connect to the real power-the one power-Spirit.

However, many of us in recovery end up doing exactly that; we pull over and park in "powerless" mode even after practicing the 12 Steps of Recovery for many years. Why? Because we're still operating from the illusion of unworthiness, childhood trauma and deep-rooted fears.

The way to enlarge your spiritual life is to take God out of the sky, churches and books, and put Him back within your own heart. It's from this conscious union that you are restored to wholeness and can reclaim authority, dominion and mastery over your life. You get to take a journey from what you now believe about God and your oneness with Spirit, to an actual realization of your oneness with It. From that place, you are on the road to true healing and transformation.

Ester Nicholson, renowned vocalist for Bette Midler and Rod Stewart, former addict, teacher, speaker and author uses her own astonishing story as the core of her powerful book: Soul Recovery - 12 Keys to Healing Addiction....and 12 Steps for the Rest of Us-A Path to Wholeness, Serenity and Success (Hay House/Agape Media). Soul Recovery, the process that Nicholson developed to heal herself of cocaine addiction - unifying the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous with a spiritual pathway-filled with metaphysical principles and practices - has guided thousands to their recovery and highest potential. The book includes a forward by Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith. For more information, go to:www.soulrecovery.org

Friday, June 21, 2013

Tony Lindsay Presents... Walter Mosley's Twelve Steps Toward Political Revelation

In The Twelve Steps Toward Political Revelation, Walter Mosley offers brutal statements in regards to America’s political and economic systems. He combines the two systems through the labor of the people and their ignorance concerning the worth of their production. He argues that Americans are addicted to the idea of being an American, and that they are unaware of this addiction.

The idea of being an American citizen, one who has a say in the functioning of the government, one who is fairly paid for their labor, one who can afford health care, one who can pay their mortgage and eat, and one who knows their personal worth to the country is what most citizens believe they have.

But, Mosley argues that vast numbers of Americans are not citizens but denizens. Merely inhabitants of the country, the working cogs in a system with minimal rewards. And due to being denied true citizenry, the denizens abuse substances and are in need of psychotherapy. The denizens are victims of Capitalism and the profit seeking heartless “Joes” that run the system. “Recognizing our unconscious sorrow, the system of wealth has offered to sell us addictive products, both physical and psychological, to console us on the long nights of isolation and, for the most, unrecognized rage” (5).

Mosley argues, convincingly, that the majority of Americans have been negatively acted upon by Capitalism, and placed outside of any decision making powers that affect the whole country; thereby, stripping them of the inheritance due from their forefather’s labor. Believing that the contributions of a citizen’s forefather should earn one some political muscle, Mosley reports that those accounts have been nullified by Capitalism and the rich “Joes” who control the systems.

Mosley, “In truth, capitalism is closer to totalitarianism and fascism than it is to the democratic process; that’s why unions appeared and why Congress once led a campaign against monopolies and cartels. Democracy has nothing to do with the decision-making process in the organization of capital. The wealthy would like us to think it does. That’s why they build monuments to themselves, name foundations after their families rather than after the people they set out to help. The only affinity that the wealthy have with democracy is their money and their control of the media. They tell us the news, dress up the candidate, set the value of our dollars and our labor until the poorest among us join the army to slaughter other poor people in the name of freedom while the wealthy are safe and richer each day” (51).

The work suggests that Americans will not move from denizens to citizens until they see the truth of their situations and start speaking the truth to each other and themselves. Honest communication among the masses begins with understandable communication. Americans must move past the divisions of dialects, religious teachings, education, age, and gender differences that have worked to separate them in the past to become a cohesive unit to truly affect the decision making process of the country. The well being of denizens who wish to become citizens cannot be left in the hands of politicians directed by Capitalism and profit.  
 
To truly become a citizen, to be paid fairly for one’s labor, to understand one’s worth to the country, one must bring about change; and this change is depended upon a revelation in the thinking of the denizens. A revelation brought on by thinking outside of the media influence of Capitalism. What Walter Mosley does in this work is lay out a step by step plan in accomplishing this new thought. He makes valid suggestions that he hopes well improve America for all its citizens, not just the wealthy.

Twelve Steps Toward Political Revelation is an informative read that at times is a bit brutal for those who are unaware of their denizen status, but the information is much needed.

Tony Lindsay is an award-winning author and adjunct professor at Chicago State University. His book ONE DEAD DOCTOR was chosen by Conversations Book Club as one of its Top 100 Books of 2012. Lindsay was named Conversations Author of the Year 2012-2013.  His new book EMOTIONAL DRIPPINGS is available now on Amazon.com. He can be reached at tonylinsay7045@sbcglobal.net or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tony.linssay2.

Mary's Motivational Message: Stay Focused

Have you ever experienced a situation that left you mesmerized? Well, you are going to be blown away at how GOD reached out and delivered a message to me several weeks ago.

Many of my readers already know that my earthly assignment is that of a writer. I connected with my assignment in the seventh grade. However, recently I was contracted to work with our Vets and I was honored to do so. This short assignment required that I make a major shift within my life; relocating temporarily from family, friends, commitments and my community.

I had numerous reservations but I knew without doubt I was called for this short assignment. Every obstacle that presented was resolved. The path was cleared and all I had to do was get my business in order, pack my bags and obey.

Weeks after settling in, I found myself overwhelmed and perplexed. I knew that I was where I was supposed to be yet; I continued to host a heaviness. And the heaviness engulfed me as I dined at one of my favorite eateries weeks ago. On this day in particular, the eatery was extremely crowded and as I sat indulging, from a distance my eyes settled in on an older woman in her Sunday best. This older woman appeared to be heading in my direction.

As our separation slowly minimized, I found myself questioning the connection. Was she an acquaintance of my mom, god mother, grandmother or my Aunt Carol? She appeared to be in her eighties or early nineties and she was beyond beautiful. As she approached my table she smiled with the grace of a Queen as she stated, “Hi baby. Do you have kinfolk in Texas or Louisiana”? I responded, “Yes. My Grandmother is from Louisiana.” And, she replied, “You look just like my kinfolk.”  We shared a moment of awkward silence then she said with a heartwarming smile, “You have a beautiful day.” I replied, “Thank you.” I watched intensely as she slowly walked away towards the buffets exit.

As I reacquainted myself with my meal, I was startled by an indescribable feeling. I glanced up to find her…the beautiful older woman standing in front of my table. Her welcoming smile was gone and replaced by a no nonsense stare as she looked deeply into my eyes and gifted me with this message, “Stay focused. It is important that you stay focused.” After delivering the message she simply turned and walked away.

I don’t know where she came from but without doubt, I have come to understand that she was sent to deliver the words I needed to hear. Just like I need Food, Water and Shelter; I needed to hear those words.
As you continue to journey through your life, never forget that GOD has a plan for you.  Regardless, of what life throws your way, find reassurance in knowing that if need be, God will send one of HIS representatives to simply remind you of the importance of staying focused.

Love, Peace and Continuous Joy,                                                                                                                                                                             Mary E. Gilder

Mary E. Gilder is the author of the award winning novel, A Misrepresentation of Myself and the soon to be released, Even a Man Can Have a Broken Heart.  Visit her website at www.maryegilder.com or contact her at bookclubs.maryegilder.com, meg@maryegilder.com or on face book. Author Mary E. Gilder is also available for speaking engagements.                     

Oprah Winfrey: Creating A Place All Her OWN

by Cyrus Webb


We have all heard the popular line from the hit movie Field of Dreams: "If you build it they will come." When I think of those words I think that it means when you do the work, the reward follows. Few people can attest to that fact like Oprah Winfrey.

For 25 years the world has benefited from the talent and tenacity of the Queen of Daytime Talk, Oprah Winfrey. She has managed to acquire adoring fans from every corner of the globe and in the process made us feel as though on some level she could identify with us. Isn’t that after all the source of her power? The ability to be all things to all people? I would say so, and whether you have followed her over the years or just recently joined the Oprah bandwagon, there is no doubt that she has changed the way most of us look at life.

For me Oprah represented the very essence of what is considered the American Dream. She came from extremely humble beginnings in my home state of Mississippi to achieve a level of wealth, prestige and power that few can truly comprehend. Over the past couple of decades we have witnessed her tackle her own personal demons while helping us battle our own. Year after year her loyal supporters united in with their time and their hearts, and she gave of herself freely and willingly with each and every show.

There has been talk over the years about the level of influence that Oprah holds, and some have wondered aloud exactly where would it end. She has denied any political ambitions for herself, but in the 2008 election it was undeniable that her support of then Senator Barack Obama over then Senator Hillary Clinton contributed to his amazing victory. Though some criticized her decision to openly back a candidate, in many ways I feel it would have been “unOprahlike” for her not to do so. As she said time and again her heart told her it was the right thing to do, and we know her to be an individual that goes with her heart.

Due to listening to her heart, Oprah announced that her 25th season of her talk show would be her last. In January 2011 a new chapter of her life began: that being the birth of the Oprah Winfrey Network or OWN. Here was a channel devoted entirely to content approved by Oprah herself and it featured a mix of docu-dramas, reality shows, movies and of course talk shows. Among the stars who came on board with the network were journalist Lisa Ling, the Judds, Shania Twain and Rosie O’Donnell. Since its launch it has gone through some changes, however, the premise of the network has remained the same: to help individuals realize their fullest potential.

As someone who was excited about the new endeavor I have found my favorite programs that speak to me and my own interests. In the beginning it was Season 25: Oprah Behind The Scenes, Our America hosted by Lisa Ling, the reality show Your OWN Show and Master Class. Currently Oprah's Super Soul Sunday, Master Class, Oprah's Next Chapter and Tyler Perry's The Haves and the Have Nots are my top picks.  Regardless of whether I can relate or enjoy everything on the channel, there is also a certain excitement in knowing that no matter what day you might tune in you are getting a glimpse into the wide-ranging demographics that Oprah has managed to speak to and inspire over the years.

So what is next for the woman that seemingly has everything? It’s hard to say, but regardless of what she chooses to do next, you can believe that the world will continue to watch, take notes and talk about how the little girl from Mississippi was able to conquer the world.

Find out more about Oprah, the network and her current projects at www.oprah.com/own.

A Conversation with Sheri Salata, President of the Oprah Winfrey Network

by Marianne Schnall

Marianne Schnall: I would just like to say that I almost feel like I know you from watching all the Season 25: Behind the Scenes episodes, so I have a real sense of not only what an incredible person you are, but how key and important you were to The Oprah Winfrey Show and now to OWN, so thank you so much.

Sheri Salata: Oh, my pleasure and thank you for the compliment. That's very nice.

MS: What is the history behind OWN? What inspired Oprah to found her own network?

SS: Let me think how I see that through my lens – I would say that right before she made her final decision to end The Oprah Show at 25, 25 was feeling good. 25 felt like a good number to have been able to grow and build that platform and have such an impact for 25 years, that felt good. As you can guess, if you have watched Season 25, a daily syndicated show is really challenging. It's challenging schedule-wise, it's challenging to continue year after year to raise the bar. And I think at a certain point you're ready to spread your wings and do something else. So when she got the call from David Zaslav at Discovery, I think she was very intrigued - she's a person who would say God has a bigger dream for you than you could dream for yourself. When that call came in, as we were talking about when we would sunset the show, I think it felt very much like a divine path. Like a divine opportunity. And when you have an opportunity to take the work we've done and then try to create something new in cable and expand that, I think that was very intriguing for her.

MS: How would you describe the mission and vision for OWN?

SS: Here's how I would describe it, and we are on the climb to get there, but I think it's not too far away from the mission and vision of The Oprah Show, I think it's just expanded. And we would always say we are here to entertain, we are here to inform, we are here to enlighten. And from crazy makeovers and big stars to 200 adult men who are willing to stand up and say they were molested as boys and to free a male audience and the women who love men who are struggling with it as adults. It kind of that! It's really that same thing. And I think what energizes us so much is that to be able to take everything Discovery knows about a successful cable business and successful cable series that resonate with viewers and then to take the Oprah lens and her experience in how she connects and engages with people and marry the two and align the two to move forward, that's what we're all about doing right now.

MS: What has the experience been like for you and Oprah, in terms of founding and running a network?

SS: I can speak it since...I feel like we're going to say we announced it in July, but it felt more like August. I think I took a little snooze after the finale of the Oprah Show and here we were, talking about it and planning about it and kind of dreaming about it - like, where do we go from here? I would say the experience is expansive. Very expansive. It is like the world is your oyster - you get to innovate, you get to create, you get to try things. And I would say the learning curve – I think we’re all, as producers - because I don't really feel like an executive, to tell you the truth. That doesn't really feel like that's in my energy field. I always feel like a producer. To be on this growth curve when I came off doing something, sitting in the EP chair for five years, is like on a rocket ride. And the innovative things that we can try on this network – which, you know, we had done some things like that on the Oprah Show - we were the first people to bring Skype into a show on a daily basis like that when you weren't necessarily covering a war. But to really break that loose and say in every way we are going to continue to try to innovate. We want to do shows that resonate with people. We want ratings. But as we do this, we're going to try to innovate. We're going to try to do some things that nobody else has done. So that is very energizing to me.

MS: I don't know who I was talking to, but what came out of my mouth recently was that OWN was not just a network, it was a movement. I feel like it’s part of an evolutionary movement to create a shift in human consciousness, if that's not too bold a thing to say.

SS: It's not too bold, and I would have stated that as our mission, but I would expect that would sound too highfalutin. I think that is exactly what we're about. It's all how you define it too. What I like personally, as a seeker myself, and actively working on evolving my consciousness, is I like being able to turn a channel on Sunday morning and watch interviews with people like Deepak, or Wayne Dyer, I love that conversation in that space. I love being able to watch an audience engage and show their stories on Lifeclass - that's really great for me, too. I'm also keenly aware and again, this was one of the biggest lessons that I learned when I was EP'ing the Oprah Show, that I would watch viewer comments and responses and I could see that some of the stuff that I thought was less pointed in evolving consciousness, that was broader, was actually impacting a huge amount of people in the way that I hadn't thought it would. Like I would read something from somebody, and I spend a lot of time with viewer's comments on OWN and a lot of time reading the social media stuff. But like, "I was having a terrible day. And I'm really struggling with my son. I saw Miss Robbie on Sweet Pie's. She's taking the bull by the horns, but she's still loves her family and she's trying to grow a business and keep her family together." And I thought, I always have to remember that - that everybody's at a different level and what's really key for Oprah, with this network, is that we make sure that all levels are covered. Even people, who literally, would watch Lifeclass 24 hours a day, are as important to us as the people who get something out of Sweetie Pie's. So that’s the balance and it's a delightful opportunity to reach everybody.

MS: I watched the Oprah's Next Chapter on Gloria Steinem, who is one of the co-founders of the Women's Media Center, and I don't know if you know this, she's also somewhat of a personal mentor of mine. She just hosted a fundraiser for the organization I run, Feminist.com. I thought the Oprah’s Next Chapter episode on her was fantastic and it was great seeing both Oprah and Gloria together. What do you think about the state of women around the world today, in terms of: how do you see OWN as filling a need you see in today's women, as both a voice for women and a positive influence?
SS: Well, clearly there's a void. Clearly there is a void in how women are engaged and connected with on television. She is one of your personal mentors - I did not know that, but I am not surprised by that. I will tell you the fact that Gloria herself was very pleased with the episode meant the world to me. I would say that our opportunity, without wearing a sandwich board saying that we're about the evolution of consciousness and empowerment of women - that is definitely what we're about. So when we're looking for series or shows, we're trying to find women who stand in their shoes. That whether we speak it directly or whether you get it from watching something - I just looked at something the other day where there was a really strong female character and a lot of entertaining shenanigans around her and I thought, wow, look at that. There's yet another strong female character of a woman who has worked hard to develop herself, so that she can impact the lives of other women and even if it's wrapped in entertainment, that is really going to resonate with people. So I think we have a huge opportunity there. I would say down the road, the vision would be conferences on television and on a digital platform, simulcasting, finding a way to bring some of the female thought leaders from the United States and around the world and giving them a space where they can speak to a larger audience. Those kinds of things are all on our vision board.

MS: I know Oprah’s main audience has been primarily women but I loved seeing so many men in the Lifeclass audiences, as well as the segments with Steve, and all the male guest teachers Oprah has been including on Lifeclass like Tony Robbins and Deepak Chopra. I think that’s also very important, because men need this too. Men need to be able to embrace who they authentically are and Steve needs to be able to cry on television. I think that is one of the important messages…

SS: God, I am so - you got it! You got it. That is so great to hear.

MS: I absolutely do get it. In fact, I am feeling almost magnetically drawn right now to what OWN is doing - I feel such synergy with the mission of OWN, and I think it has such huge potential, so please let me know anything at all I can do to help. Without being hokey, it makes me feel hopeful about the future of humanity.

SS: Let me just say this, the Jane Fonda Master Class, one of the highest rated Master Classes, which is about calling in the tribe and there's no question that we speak to women, but what we're really trying to speak to is a spirit, an energy field, whether you're young or old or anything. Whatever your external labels are, if we can continue to get our offerings out there and serve them up with the intentions of our mission, and continue to gather the tribe for these conversations and to share in things together – I will say that our little secret mission is that at the end, everybody is a Lifeclass teacher. That really is what we're about here. That's really the way you can help us. In every minute, we are trying to figure out how we make sure that people are aware and have specifics about what we're offering. That's the best you can do!

MS: You've had such an impressive career and you worked your way up the ranks with Oprah. What advice do you have for women on work ethics and success and following your own dreams?

SS: Well, the truth is my path to Harpo was very zig-zaggy and filled with lots of disappointment and a little despair. So I would say that my naive belief that I was going to have my whole thing figured out by the time I was 25, I was schooled on something else. But I will say that once I really energetically connected with the fact that I wanted to do work that made a difference in people's lives and I really wanted it to be in T.V. and I really understood that while I could appreciate my career in advertising as a producer, and I could be grateful for the things I learned along the way, that really nothing else would do. And that's when amazing things happened and doors opened up.

I would say that never once, one single day, has this ever felt like a job. Of course, in part, because I work for Oprah and it's every bit as amazing and incredible and life expanding as you can imagine - but even more so I think it was something that clicked in me that I was never going to look at what I offered every day to the world, through my work, as a job. That requires me to continue to evolve myself. If I focus on doing that, my own evolution, as a human, on the planet, then everything else kind of falls into place. And if I stay, even in the midst of - there's nothing harder than production. There was nothing harder than that last season of the Oprah Show. And now I have new opportunities. In it all there are such gifts and if I don't, every night, kind of go through it and keep wowing myself about it, I would lose the magic of it. So I would say that what I think I do best, is work on myself and in that, I realize it's never going to be about me in a moment, it really is going to be about having the people who work with me, or for me, begin to feel the way I do about it. And help guide and lead them on that, because I think that is the life altering vision of the role work can have in your life. And you're also surrounded by people like that all the time, so you know what I'm saying. The faster you can understand that, I think the more rewarding any experience that you're having around work or career or profession, becomes.

MS: I know that one of the messages of shows like Lifeclass and that Oprah always talks about is it's about self-care and taking the time to go within. One of the things I can't help but wonder, because I see how busy you must be, how do you personally keep yourself centered and balanced, which I think is a challenge for many women?

SS: It's very challenging and I'm not always successful at it, because the world calls. I'm looking right now at my to-do list as I talk to you. Just this morning, there's 20 things on it and I'm going to have to manage my anxiety that I'm not going to get through it all. That is definitely where I continue to evolve and grow. I meditate, it helps a lot. On the days I don't make time for it, I can totally see the difference. I try to be very clear on what really matters to me, but I would say in this particular time of the network's development, that is going to be a challenge for me for awhile.

MS: What are your ultimate hopes and dreams for OWN?

SS: Oh my goodness - and I can see it. I can see it. We're on the mountain and I can see it. It is really that we have created a platform that engages and connects with people and the real conversation that matters, which is everything we've talked about. Which is that there's something that can speak to everyone, but most importantly the people who are really ready for the shift. Who have made a decision to be a part of it. I think when we put on Lifeclass and it's not just 200 countries, it's every country and we have teachers on television, and on the web, from countries all over the world, I can see it. I can see those conversations. I can see it happening. When people say, wow, OWN is the most innovative, engaging network that's ever been, I think I'll be like, ‘okay!’ that's where we were going.

MS: Obviously, you know Oprah so incredibly well – is there something you would want to say about her or about Oprah's spirit and passion?

SS: Well, she is the most famous person who cares the least about fame that I know. I remember thinking one day, it was a total epiphany for me and it really has framed our relationship from my point of view and my feelings about her, that she would be just as happy being a fourth grade teacher with a little house, with a porch swing and three oak trees, because she would be working to be the best teacher for those students and that would be her mission. Over the years, I've spent a lot of time with famous people and some are on the same path, about evolution and enlightenment, and they are curious and puzzled in wonderment about the fame thing, but I think Oprah stands apart in that she really could care less about it. She saves toast. Can I tell you that? She saves toast.[laughs] I have been in her office and she's putting toast in a baggy for the next day. And every time I'm always reminded that this is truly one of the most rare and unique women who have ever walked the face of the earth. She is - with all the heaps of accomplishment and fame and fortune, I always know every day and I'm very clear in every moment, what she cares about most, and that is the connection and the reaching out with her hand, to, whether it's one person or a billion. So that is the light that guides my work every day, because I know that to be true. It's very illuminating.


Marianne Schnall is a widely published writer and interviewer. She is also the founder and Executive Director ofFeminist.com and cofounder of EcoMall.com, a website promoting environmentally-friendly living. Marianne has worked for many media outlets and publications. Her interviews with well-known individuals appear atFeminist.com as well as in publications such as O, The Oprah Magazine, Glamour, In Style, The Huffington Post, the Women's Media Center, and many others.
Marianne is the author of Daring to Be Ourselves: Influential Women Share Insights on Courage, Happiness and Finding Your Own Voice. Through her writings, interviews, and websites, Marianne strives to raise awareness and inspire activism around important issues and causes. For more information, visit www.marianneschnall.com and www.daringtobeourselves.com.