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June/July Issue of Conversations Magazine

June/July Issue of Conversations Magazine
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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Conversations Magazine Presents... Excerpt from "Embraceable You" by Blair Erotica (Can't Get Enough)

Excerpt from “Embraceable You” by Blair Erotica, part of the larger anthology Can’t Get Enough: Erotica for Women, edited by Tenille Brown.

As she slipped out of the bed, a glimpse of her smile, captured out of the corner of his eye, caught his attention. It wasn’t her satisfied, what-a-night-we-had kind of smile, even if it had been that kind of night. No, this was her sneaky, crafty smile, the kind she put on when she had something devious in mind.

He ran his eyes over the lines of her body the same way he had run his hands over her earlier, in the early hours of the morning. Looking at her always made him think of the Gershwin song “Embraceable You.” Well, maybe she didn’t bring the song to mind, but the title for sure.

He wondered what her smile meant. What could she have in mind? Although she had a knack for coming up with delightful schemes and sexy drama, like the time she seduced him in an alley (well, he didn’t make her try all that hard), this morning there wasn’t time for any devilish plots. She was getting up to leave on a business trip; she had to catch some insanely early flight.

He sighed at the idea of being without her for an entire week, the emptiness he’d feel being without her company and body. He had nothing special going on at work to fill his time; nothing in particular to throw himself into; nothing to consume the extra hours.

It would be a long week.

He imagined it would be easier for her as she would be going to London for the first time, meeting important clients and staying busy. It was easy to expect that the days and even the nights would go by quickly for her.
His best shot was to get together with some old college buddies for a poker game or something, but that didn’t promise a week’s worth of distraction. But that was life.

She had done her best to make certain he knew that she would miss him too—body and soul. When they came home from dinner that evening, the night before her departure, she had him sit on the couch while she fixed drinks. When she walked toward him, the movement of her hips made her slinky black dress wiggle in the most enticing way. Then she handed both glasses to him and bent down to kiss him. Before he knew what was happening, she knelt down and undid his pants...

Sexy enough, perhaps, but it just got them both fired up.

As he recalled the evening, he remembered that those drinks were still in the living room, untouched, and he laughed.

“What are you laughing at?” she asked.

“We never drank the drinks you fixed,” he said.

Her eyes glowed. “It’s okay; I got enough to drink.” Then she kissed him and headed into the bathroom.


Get CAN'T GET ENOUGH: Erotica for Women today on Amazon here

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

How To Go From Broken To Your Breakthrough

To say that this year has been the most bittersweet of my life would in no way be an understatement.

As this magazine was originally going to press in the middle of May I was dealing with the declining health of my grandmother (affectionately called by most of her grandchildren as Aunt Quattie) while preparing for what was already a whirlwind of milestones for the Conversations brand. Like many of the people I have interviewed over the years I was juggling a mixed bag of emotions: celebrating my successes while aware that my grandmother's situation was not good.

How many of you know that feeling of being on a high and then having the wind sucked out of the room, leaving you feeling lost and unsure what to do next. In many ways that was where I found myself, and I can say it was one of the scariest experiences I have had.

Since nothing happens by accident, I think it is appropriate that the issue of the magazine that was next to be published by Conversations was our SURVIVAL issue. I had intended for this to be about individuals who had experienced a variety of challenges, setbacks and loss and still found ways to thrive. Little did I know at the time that I would be one of those who would be joining the group of survivors at that particular time.

On May 22, 2014 my grandmother passed away quite peacefully at home at the age of 90. Though her physical absence is profound I am surrounded by reminders of the life she lived and the lessons she taught myself and so many others. I hope that this issue of Conversations will show you that regardless of what challenge you face there is the opportunity for you to push forward and be the person you want to be.

What has happened to you doesn't have to keep you bound. You can break through your obstacle and come out better on the other side.Those who you will read about in this issue have done it, and you have the same opportunity.

What has been the key to your breakthrough? How did you emerge from your brokenness and begin to heal? Share your stories with me by email at cawebb4@juno.com or by posting at www.conversationsmag.com.

Until next time, happy reading!





Cyrus Webb, Editor-In-Chief
Conversations Magazine

Gospel Recording Artist Carol Maraj: Living Proof of God's Goodness

by Cyrus Webb

My first introduction to Carol Maraj was through her daughter,singing superstar Nicki Minaj. In her single AUTOBIOGAPHY from her mix-tape Sucka-Free Nicki says this about her mother:

She's my queen and I ain't even British
She's the only reason that I went to school and I finished
She told me that I had talent
Got on her knees and prayed for me when I started being violent
She saw something in me that, 'til this day I don't know if I could be that
But I'm a die trying...

It was obvious then that Carol Maraj was a woman of faith, and in her debut single GOD'S BEEN GOOD that officially released in April 2014 we are able to hear it from the woman herself.

"God's been good, He's always been good," she sings. The song, laced with an infectious beat that will capture audiences young and old, shares experiences that many can relate to. Whether it is getting a report from the doctor that you weren't expecting or coming out of a bad situation, knowing it wasn't through your own power. There are signs everyday that God is always looking after us, giving us reasons to praise Him each and every day.

Through faith Carol came to the United States, wanting to make a new life for her young family. As a singer, songwriter, and a playwright she is able to share not just her own experiences but show others what is possible for them as well. The single GOD'S BEEN GOOD is a reminder for all of us that God is able to bring us out of every situation that we face. All we have to do is trust and believe in His promises.

I had the opportunity to talk with Carol about the way that people were responding to the single. She told me she was "touched to see the response and the love that people have been showing."

When asked about the events in her life that got her to where she is today she says "It is a calling. I walked this path for this purpose that I am experiencing today. I know that it's going to change lives and help many people along the way."

Her overall message? Even when we are unaware of it God loves us so much. He's been good and watching over us and guiding us. When life seems the darkest God is able to brighten even the most difficult of situations. All we have to do is believe.

GOD'S BEEN GOOD is available on Amazon.com and iTunes. You can stay connected with her on Twitter at @carolmarajorg and her website www.carolmaraj.org.

Actress & Media Personality Tammi Mac: Finding Success on Her Own Path

by Cyrus Webb

"My God-given gift is to tell stories." ~ Tammi Mac

When Lisa Chance of Kyle Avery PR asked me about having a conversation with Tammi Mac, I jumped at the chance. She is an individual that has not just found success on television and the screen but through media platforms as well. We were scheduled to talk about her new play BAG LADY, but of course I had to find out more about how Tammi became the success story that she has, and that took us all the way back to her beginnings.

When talking about the creative process she tells me "It is an amazing feeling to have an idea and then you put it on paper, and then it comes off the page and it's in motion. It's in existence."

Here are the highlights from our conversation...

TAMMI MAC ON HER CAREER:
"It's been humbling experience to see people respond to the work that I've done. I don't take that into consideration a lot because I am so focused on the work that the reaction never really hits me."

TAMMI MAC ON WHAT GUIDES HER:
"I wear my heart on my sleeve. Typically when I do something I am led to do it either by God or by my heart through God. That is usually my green light. If I feel like this is something I should do not for me but for someone else then that is how I take on projects.

"When I first got to Hollywood it was all about me. It wasn't until I was trying to figure out what I could do for me to help my career that God set me down and said 'It's not going to work for you unless you allow it and use what you have for other people,too. Stop thinking about you and things will begin to transform.'

TAMMIE MAC ON WHAT IS POSSIBLE FOR HER:
"I've been told all my life that I could make it. I have a very supportive family. I've never been told that I could not do something. My family has always been the ones to say 'Do what you do.'

"People tell me I'm a celebrity, but I don't see that at all. I don't feel like a celebrity. I don't live like a celebrity. That is something that I probably will never get used to."

TAMMI MAC ON THE INSPIRATION FOR BAG LADY:
"My best friend and I were on a flight and going back and forth about the men who had dogged us out. We were laughing and joking about everything and then stopped and said it's funny but it's not really funny. Why did we keep ending up in these situations? It's because of  baggage, something that you are carrying with you and lives with you and inside of you. The message is to drop the baggage and let go of the past. It's time out for saying how it's hindering us and time to take a look at ourselves and say what is it about me that is keeping me from a life that is positively fulfilled. It's about not bad men but bad decisions because of your baggage."

TAMMI MAC'S NON-ADVICE ADVICE FOR OTHERS:
"I make it a point not to tell advice. I say it's not necessary: You already have what you need. We look to others for what we need when there is no secret. When we look inside ourselves and what we bring to the table, we get a lot further. Take your own path. Choose your own road."

To stay connected with what's next on Tammi's path connect with her at www.tammimac.com. You can also find her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/mstammimac.

Widows of Opportunity's Kimberly Richardson: Sharing Happiness After Loss

by Cyrus Webb

The traditional marriage vow, taken from the Book of Common prayer ends with this: "To have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part." On what is seen as the happiest day for couples you choose to focus on the good that is coming to your union. No one wants to think that dark clouds can roll in and the one you want to spend the rest of your life with is gone forever---but this is just what so many have to experience.

In 2003 one of those individuals was Kimberly Richardson. After losing her husband she went through years of experiencing the darkness that can come from loss, however, in 2011 she began an organization called Widows of Opportunity as a support group for others that had lost a spouse. It would prove to be a defining moment for her.

To date she has gone from helping women in just her local area to traveling across the country and even seeing the birth of a chapter in Zambia all because of her persistence and dedication.

"It's been a blessing and an honor that people are taking it in," Kimberly said to me this year as we talked about Widows and what it was accomplishing. Though she is appreciative for the attention the organization is getting, she knows firsthand how difficult the road can be for other widows. It took time to share her story and move forward, and now she is impacting the lives of other people and helping them to do the same.

"My whole goal was to help 1 widow," she told me about Widows' beginning. Kimberly wanted her to know that it was going to be ok. Now her goals have grown and so has the support of the organization.  "I am proof that there is happiness after a loss," she says. "I'm not giving up on this journey. I want to get the word out to as many as I can."

What keeps Kimberly going? The answer came quickly. "Getting messages from the widows." Also helpful is to remember that where she is today is not where she was some ten years ago. "I was in a dark place. I wish someone would have came at that time to help me." She is thankful and appreciative now to be that someone for others.

Other than inspiring widows, Kimberly has used the platform that is social media to share encouraging message daily with those that she connects with. By doing so she is recognizing the power that all of us have when it comes to the words that we speak (or type), never knowing how it might affect others.

I couldn't have a conversation with Kimberly without bringing up faith, just because I knew that it had to play a role in the way that she has gone from a shy, quiet woman who didn't care for the spotlight to the bold spokesperson of hope that she is today. "I've always had faith," she told me. "God was the only way for me to get through this loss. Because of Him I'm here. That is the reason why my faith is so strong. Because of Him I do everything that I do."

Stay connected with Widows of Opportunity and see how you can show your support on their official website www.widowsofopportunity.com.

Conversations with the Real Moms of TV

by Cyrus Webb

I, like many of you, have found that there are some reality televisions that I just can't seem to turn away from. Part of their popularity (I believe) is that they show us that no matter where you are from or what your economic status we all have problems and difficulties to contend with.

Over the years of hosting Conversations LIVE and publishing Conversations Magazine I have been able to share the stories of some of those individuals that we've gotten to know better because of reality television. In this issue thanks to Tara Thomas and the Tara Thomas Agency I am able to share the stories of some of the mothers of those stars. I think you will find their stories not just inspiring but motivating as we think about how to better live our own reality.

Known to many as one of the stars of Love & Hip Hop Atlanta and mother of music star Rasheeda, Ms. Shirleen aka Mama Shirleen has no problem speaking her mind. We chatted about the experience of not just being in the spotlight but what it's been like to share her life on camera for the world to see.

"It been a real good transition," she told me, saying that being on a reality show has been "easy and comfortable." "Everyday I run into people who want to share their stories about their boyfriends and husbands. It's really amazing." When talking about her relationship with Rasheeda, Mama Shirleen says it has a lot to do with their being able to respect each other. "I let Rasheeda do what she wanted to do in life," she says. "I let her play her life through, but I tried to teach her about respect. All the good things I taught her she remembered." Many focus on her exchanges with her son-in-law on the show, but Mama Shirleen says that was no act. "I was just being me. I was just being Rasheeda's mom and a mother-in-law. People are going to think what they want to think and feel what they want to feel. Everybody is not going to say and do the same thing. I've always been like that." When it comes to family, Mama Shirleen says there's one thing she knows. "In the back of your head you know there is one person you can always go to. Keep that relationship going. Keep the peace with somebody in your life."

***

When Platinum-selling recording artist Kandi joined the cast of The Real Housewives of Atlanta we were also introduced to her mother who we've gotten to know as Mama Joyce--and from the very beginning she has made her presence known. When I talked with her, however, about being a part of the show's success she seemed really matter-of-fact about it. "Kandi was coming on as a housewife," she told me,"and I was a mother, there to support her."

Not only was Mama Joyce a support for her daughter, she was not afraid to speak her mind. "I think for one thing I'm honest." she says. "I speak from my heart, and I don't sugarcoat anything. When the cameras are rolling I forget we are on TV. Nothing that you see is staged or rehearsed. It's all real. It's just me."

Being herself has definitely caused many to have their own perception of her, but Mama Joyce isn't phased by that. "What you see is me, whether you like me or you don't." At her core she is just a mother. "I love my children," she says. "I worked hard to give them the best, and I wanted the best for them. [Kandi] knows that I've always been there for her. A lot of people don't have that now. A lot of children are having children. I just try to be the best mother that I could be."

One of the things Mama Joyce shared with Kandi early on in her career is something we can all benefit from: "People only treat you different if you act different. I feel like I'm no better than anybody. We are here to help one another make it."

***

We've all heard the saying that behind every good man is a great woman, and for Hip Hop recording artist K. Camp that woman is his mother, affectionately known as Mama Camp. The week after her son's new album IN DUE TIME released I had a chance to talk with her not just about his success but how by being in his corner she helped to propel him forward.

"It's surreal," she told me. "It definitely puts dreams back into perspective. I put everything aside to get on board and support him, and I know that dreams do come true."

And when Mama Camp says she put "everything aside" she does mean EVERYTHING, becoming his biggest supporter and doing whatever was necessary to see that he was able to fulfill his potential. "It validates that this is real," she says. "I can't put into words the joy that I feel. I know that this is his passion. He told me he didn't want the fame. He just wanted the world to hear his music, but the fame has just come along with it." One of the lessons she instilled in K. Camp was that "what's meant for you is for you." This has led her to share with other parents the importance of encouraging their child in pursuing their own dreams and ambitions. "If your child has any type of passion for anything hop on board. You have to encourage them, and let them know that they can do anything. Anything is possible."

***

Music is something that has been a part of Dianne Pope's life for decades. As the wife of the late Charles Pope of the legendary group The Tams and mother of recording artist Tiny, she has lived her life in front of the cameras for quite some time.

Outside of her connection to music Mama Dianne has also become a vocal spokesperson for Alzheimer's Disease awareness. She talked with me this year about being recognized in 2013 for her commitment to supporting others and what it has been like for her since her husband passed away in 2013 of the disease.

We also discussed what it was like for her to grow up in China Grove, North Carolina and what it was like to be an interracial couple in Georgia during the sixties. "It made me strong," she told me during our conversation, and it is that strength that she has been able to pass on to her children and others. "I had a lot of support," she says, and that support is something she is now able to pass on. The work she is doing really helps us all to see the importance of using your individual platform for good. Mama Dianne is doing it, and through her example others can find the courage to do the same.

Mary's Motivational Message... Celebrating A Milestone

Earlier this year family and friends gathered as I celebrated yet another Birthday milestone.  Honestly, like most of my fellow Aquarius, when it comes to celebrations, we are the life of the party. However, on that night--my night--I felt as though I was in a dome, feeling as though my words and emotions were imprisoned. I was simply overwhelmed.

Following dinner all returned to my home, and as I entered my haven I felt alive. My Brothers’ Jazz CD (Secrets) was entertaining all, champagne was overflowing and the energy from the various conversations filled the room with a warmth that felt soothing to my soul.

Prior to the cutting of the cake, I was asked to take a seat. All stood around me and shared what my journey has meant to them. In addition, all wrote their thoughts and placed them in a vase to be read in solitude.

 Before concluding, I was asked to share a few words pertaining to what I was feeling. I will set aside a moment and share with you the message I delivered:
“This past year has been nothing less than a process for me. Following my 2013 Birthday, I immediately went into a zone that I can only describe as mini crisis. I was moving towards a milestone and regardless of my resistance, it was awaiting my arrival. And as the months passed, I set aside time to reflect on the cause of this emotional tango consuming my spirit.

"As I sat in solitude and reflected on my journey, I came to understand the relevance of “TIME” and how “TIME” has a direct impact on my gift to the world. The impact it has had on my legacy and my words. Regardless, of my accomplishments, my legacy transcends through my written work. And as I approached February 2, 2014, I was somehow feeling as though there may not be enough “TIME” for me to achieve the impact I was sent here to fulfill. I know that HEAVEN’S beauty is beyond our scope but GOD knows that I’m enjoying every moment here, impacting the world like so many others with messages of “HOPE”.

"I love hard each and every day and I take nothing for granted. Especially, my journey and the family and friends who place no condition on the love they extend…”

Long after the last guest departed, the dishes packed away in the dishwasher and the Birthday Cake refrigerated…I lay in my bed reflecting on this truth: The power housed in my journey is not measured in “TIME”. It’s measured in me continuing to live each and every day as though it were my last.

My message to all is to be cognizant of how one lifetime is not enough time to learn the lessons housed in one’s journey. As long as we exist our growth is continuous. With this knowledge, embrace lessons learned and the legacy you mold each and every day of your visit.
Love, Joy and Continuous Peace,                                                                                                                                                                                                      Author Mary E. Gilder                                                                                                                                                                                                            Mary E. Gilder is the author of the award winning novel, A Misrepresentation of Myself and her soon to be released novel, Even a Man Can Have a Broken Heart. In addition, Mary is available for speaking engagements. She can be contacted at: bookclubs.maryegilder@yahoo.com or meg@maryegilder.com 

Tony Lindsay Presents... Ann Petry

There is phrase that appears on the dust jackets of select novels, a writer’s writer. The phrase seldom appears on literary novels mostly commercial works and in the biographies of popular writers, but to be a writer that writers admire one has to use literary devices on a master’s level in an effortless fashion, and yet . . . weave a plot with a captivating storyline.  Ann Petry is a writer’s writer. 

           In her novel, The Narrows, Petry’s use of literary devices moves a complicated plot twisted with deception, lust, and love easily forward. She does this while switching from third person narrative to first person with stealth like accuracy.  The story has two protagonists: an orphaned boy and a class conscious widow. Each of their lives could have been a novel within itself, but Petry combines them with skillfully placed flashbacks that do not interrupt or pause the story. While meshing her protagonists’ lives, she includes themes of classism, racism, sexism, and colorism.

The novel was written in 1953 during a time when America’s race relations were being redefined and challenged. However, during this period of racial unrest Petry writes about a Black community that comes together to raise a child. Lines of class and social etiquette are crossed for the benefit of a parentless child. Petry creates and unlikely band of heroes that come together in the growth and development of Lincoln Williams: a schizophrenic cook, a nearly homeless photographer, a madam, a gangster, a female undertaker, and a tree named The Hangman.  
The widow protagonist, Abigail Crunch takes in the child when her husband is alive, but his unforeseen death consumes her, and the boy is again orphaned. Petry writes the widow’s loss so deftly that a reader is left in grief after her husband dies. Link Williams, the orphan, finds refuge with the town’s underworld boss, Bill Hods.
The two, Hods and Crunch have been at odds since Abigail moved to The Narrows. Crunch looks down on Hods and all that make the livelihoods through elicit means. The two are oil and water, but Petry writes their acceptance of each other for the benefit Link with such craft that their cohesiveness seems like an everyday event. They come together with the others in The Narrow to make a man out of Lincoln Williams.     
Link graduates from college, develops a love of history, respects and love his elders, and has genuine concern for his fellow man; this concern for his fellows is what leads him into an interracial relationship that knocks him and The Narrows off of their paths. Petry personifies The Narrows complete with flaws, strengths, and emotions. When Link goes into a whirlwind so does the community that raised him.


The themes of racism and sexism are the two most poignant themes in the work. Blacks and women strive throughout the work for more; success is obtained, but failure looms attacking the successful and the striving. Petry’s women are not all week and neither are her Blacks all subservient. The reader leaves the work with a whole view of Link Williams and The Narrows; a view created by a writer’s writer, Ann Petry.
                                                               ***
 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 on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tony.linssay2.

This is Only the Beginning: The Story of Jessica Taylor

by Fallon Brewster

Only the strong survive.

For many of us, 19 is a pivotal age of our youth. It’s when our focus is on having fun and transitioning to adulthood. But for 26 year old Jessica Taylor, her 19th year marked the beginning of an uphill battle with chronic illnesses. In the summer of 2007 while attending college, Jessica was admitted into the hospital with no clue of the source of her ailment. “I started experiencing severe chest pains one Friday night and was rushed to the ER. They diagnosed me with pleurisy (chest pains) and sent me back home. I had to go back two days later for same thing and same results.” After spending a week in the hospital, doctors finally diagnosed Jessica with Lupus. She was also diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Both Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis are autoimmune diseases marked by episodes of intense pain, stiffness, swelling, inflammation and extreme fatigue.  The combination took its toll on Jessica, causing her to be in and out of the hospital for 18 consecutive months with severe pain.

The next chapter of Jessica’s life brought on an unpredictable prognosis.  During what seemed to have been the most inconvenient time, Jessica discovered that she was pregnant. “What I thought was the worst thing ever at the time turned out to be just the right thing.” Surprisingly, she made a miraculous turn-around during her pregnancy with now her 4-year-old daughter, Jayda.   “I had a wonderful pregnancy and was taken off all of my medications. I didn’t have a flare up until 3 years later. GOD is SO GOOD!”

Jessica credits her daughter Jayda as being her motivation to overcome the obstacles of simultaneously battling two chronic illnesses. “I look at my daughter as being my main motivation because she believes in me no matter what, and I would hate to let her down. So I put on my Pandora gospel station, cry, and move on.” Despite her condition and physical limitations, she still manages to volunteer at her daughter’s school and participate in school PTA meetings.

When she’s not physically able, her family steps in and takes great care of both her and Jayda. “I have a wonderful support system. My parents and siblings help me out a lot with my daughter. When I can’t, they can and will. They know when I need to rest so they take over and help out with her. I thank GOD for that because without family support I don’t know where I’d be in life right now.”


Life is not a sad story for Jessica Taylor.  During periods of remission, Jessica has fun doing what she loves: dancing, attending sporting events and occasional shopping sprees with family and friends are a must.  She also participated in the Lupus Awareness Walk in April to help raise awareness about the potentially debilitating disease.

Jessica is indeed a survivor. She has touched many through her undying faith in God, her dedication to being a good parent, and her determination to beat the odds.  Though she is no stranger to pain and hospital admission, she continuously encourages herself with her personal mantra, “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”  “Why complain, because that’s not going to solve ANYTHING.”

While many may wish to someday become rich and famous or own an expensive home or vehicle, Jessica’s wish is simple: she wants to complete her education and return to the workforce. “If I could make one wish in life it would be for my parents to see me graduate, my daughter see me graduate, and me live long enough to see her graduate. I am currently on 3 pills a day for my illness and that’s a lot better than 12.”
Inspire someone today by sharing Jessica’s story.  Like her, you too can survive your situation and WIN!
“In all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37)


Fallon Brewster is a 27 year-old freelance writer, blogger and speaker from Jackson, MS.  She is a 2009 Magna Cum Laude graduate of Jackson State University and a graduate student at Belhaven University. Fallon is a wife and mother with plans to publish her first book this year. Stay connected with her at www.callmemrsb.wordpress.com.

*     Photo credit: Life Touch

The Top 10 Quickest Ways to Boost Your Happiness by Jonathan Robinson

by Jonathan Robinson, Author of Find Happiness Now: 50 Shortcuts for Bringing More Love, Balance and Joy Into Your Life

Articles with titles like this usually offer up simple platitudes for being happy, such as "accept everyone," or "live a balanced life."   While those ideas are true, they are also basically worthless. Such platitudes are so general that they don't really give you anything that impacts your daily life. This article is different. I'm going to tell you what scientific research shows are the top 10 things you can quickly do to boost your level of happiness. By doing any of the 10 items that follow, you will almost surely feel dramatically better in under three minutes. In addition, by combining items from the list below, you can increase their effectiveness even more...

10. Look at pictures of people and animals you love on your smartphone or computer. As you look at each picture, remember an enjoyable time you had with them, and send them a silent wish that they live a happy and productive life.

9. Exercise-even if only for 3 minutes. Take a quick brisk walk, do some jumping jacks, whatever gets your heart going and your lungs breathing more deeply. In even a minute you'll start to feel better. Hallelujah for such a simple thing.

8. Give someone money. Research shows that when we give to a needy person money, we immediately feel better about ourselves. It helps another person too, so it's a win-win.

7. Get cooler. By going from a hot or warm environment to a cooler one, our mood and sense of happiness tends to go up. Hooray for air conditioning!

6. Work towards an important goal. Whether it be cleaning your desk or selling more widgets, when you feel like you're making progress towards a specific and important goal, you invariably feel better. Just by reading all the way through this article, you'll have achieved something-so you'll feel good.

5. Tune into the power of gratitude. Just saying a sincere "Thank you" to people who serve you at a restaurant or bag your groceries can be a quick happiness booster. Another thing you can do to feel grateful is to write down three things you currently feel grateful for in your life. They could be big things-such as your children, or small things such as the great burger you had for lunch. By writing them down, you'll immediately see that there is a lot of good in your life.

4. Do a 90-second "heart meditation" that consists of taking a deep breath and imagining exhaling out the center of your chest. Then, close your eyes and imagine someone you love-such as a pet, child, or friend. Remember special times with this being, and bask in the gratitude that they're in your life. If you want, imagine hugging or holding them in a way that helps you to feel connected to them. This simple method can take you from stressed out to blissed out in about 90 seconds. Research shows that doing this for one minute can reduce your stress hormones for up to five hours.

3. Spend time with a beloved pet, toddler, and/or nature environment. Pets, young kids, and trees live in the moment they are in. You and I, on the other hand, spend most our time thinking about the past or worrying about the future. If you spend time playing with a pet, toddler, or enjoying nature, some of their ability to be present in the moment will rub off on you...

2. Play a song that you really enjoy and sing along. Here's something to try: sing along with I Wanna Hold Your Hand by the Beatles and try to feel depressed. You can't do it. By singing along with your favorite songs, you can lift yourself out of almost any bad mood.

1. ... And, the winner for the single most effective way to quickly boost your happiness is: do an act of kindness for a stranger or friend. Yep, it's true. When you do a small act of kindness, you feel better, your friend feels better, and the world has a bit more kindness in it.   Even something small like saying what you appreciate about someone will immediately boost your level of well-being-as well as theirs.

...So now that you know the top 10 ways to quickly boost your happiness level, do something about it! The world could use a lot more happy people. After all, happy people are less selfish than "normal" people, they're more productive, they make more money, and they are healthier than the rest of us. One simple way to boost your happiness this moment is for you to forward this article to friends and family. By doing that, you'll be doing an act of kindness (the #1 booster!!), and helping those you care about feel even happier. What could be better than that?   Do it now!

Jonathan Robinson is the author of Find Happiness Now: 50 Shortcuts for Bringing More Love, Balance and Joy Into Your Life (Redwheel/Weiser/ Conari, March 2014) a fun book offering easy ways to create more fulfillment and real lasting happiness. Robinson has taught more than 100 million people simple ways to be happier--through TV shows such as Oprah and CNN, and with his nine best-selling books. In his latest book, he focuses on ideas and methods that can be done in under three minutes-yet still have a dramatic impact on a person's life. For information, www.FindingHappiness.com.    

"Navigating Your Future" by George Cappannelli

by George Cappannelli

Those of us who weren't born yesterday and haven't been hanging out with Rip Van Winkle in Sleepy Hollow, know we are in a time unlike any before it. In addition to the many challenges we face - climate change, energy, education, healthcare, immigration, wealth inequality, gender and minority inequality to name a few -- we are also in a demographic revolution that will, over the next several decades, result in 50% of our population here in the U.S and Canda and in every industrialized country in the world being over 50 for the first time in history. Increasing longevity, decreasing birth rates and shrinking tax base are just a few of the startling and relatively immediate implications this demographic revolution will have for those of us who are older GenXers, Boomers and Elders here in North America and billions more around the world.

 Of course, having failed to do a stellar job addressing other critical challenges, it is not surprising that many in our governments, institutions, businesses and many of us in the general public are behind the curve on this issue as well. We are, in fact, uninformed on and unprepared for the consequences and opportunities that lie ahead.

To be fair part of the problem lies in the fact that as a species we've never been in this situation before. We have no blueprint or script that describes what billions of us are supposed to do with this additional time we are inheriting. Surely there must be some purpose in the grand design -- other than some outmoded belief in retirement - something of genuine consequence that capitalizes on our wisdom and experience and requires the presence of such an inordinately large number of elders on the planet at this time.

 Whatever that reason, one thing is clear. Those of us who are 50 and older have come to the end of the territory described in Acts One (Youth) and Two (Maturity) of the Human Drama and must now address the question of how to write a new Third Age (Aging).

 This question prompted me to reach out to several colleagues who are among the leading women authors and experts of our time and who are also members of AgeNation' World Council of Wisdom Keepers. I invited them to share some thoughts and recommendations that can help us all to begin to write this new Third Act, and in the process, better navigate the future. Here's some of what they had to say:

 Joan Borysenko, Best Selling Author and Expert on Spirituality and Health

 "Well, here's the thing. The world has bottomed out. The statistics are dreary. Some of our best scientists are feeling we don't have time to save ourselves. However, there's the alternate point of view. Unusual things happen all the time. The Berlin Wall fell. Smoking has diminished significantly in a relatively short period of time our country. We've made major gains in gender equality and, in some areas of human rights. We're more aware of the need to protect our habitat and to lead lives that are healthier and more conscious.

 "Still it's clear we are at a crisis points, but it's also a turning point. And if I can take a page from my own book: It's Not The End of The World, although some may think we're at the end, when people of good hearts get together and support one another, what can happen is a rite of passage. And what happens in a rite of passage is that in the space between where the world breaks down and reforms itself, between no longer and not yet, a whole new way can emerge. In this space we can get out of the rut of the habitual and make room for miracles to happen.

 "The Buddhists and the Hindus have a word for getting stuck in ruts- they call these sanskaras. They're like habit patterns of thought formed by repetition in the same way that troughs are created when water runs down hill in the same pathways. Knowing about brain plasticity and knowing that we can make new neural connections, I believe those of us who want to better navigate the future can get out of the ruts by changing our attitudes.. We can also remember that major growth often occurs during times of unwanted changes so if we are willing to finally say: 'I've seen enough of the inside of this box. Maybe it's time to flow in a different way, to look for and find new meaning, to make - as Viktor Fankl advised us in Search For Meaning - new meaning out of suffering and challenge. So I don't think it's the end of the world. I think it's a whole new age!"


Connie Buffalo, President of Renaissance International, Member of The Chippewa Tribe

 "As with many cultural beliefs, there is a marked difference between the identity of an elder in my own Chippewa tradition and that of the elder of the western world.

 "From earliest childhood, the Chippewa learn that the elders are those we are most grateful to and deserving of the deepest respect. All around us are the elders who enchant our imagination; the stars that shine in the black velvet sky, the towering trees, rocking in the wind, the oceans who carry the songs of the many who walk on, and the grandmothers and grandfathers who are first to be served and honored in the tribe.

"The elder is the one who gathers the gifts of a lifetime and takes care of us even as we take care of him or her. Once a person crosses 50, he or she no longer lives in and for the present moment and its gratification, but lives for the next generation. To be an elder is a great accomplishment with the significant role of preparing a good world for the children of tomorrow.

 "Passing on wisdom and insights then is part of the responsibility of the elder, but certainly not all of it. It also includes knowing that one is a sacred being living in a sacred, precious world. Quite different from the Western concept of "retiring," this awareness invites the experience of the elder to be respected and put into action for as long as possible.

 "Instead of hoping that others recognize their ongoing value, elders in my tradition, honor their own potency, sacredness, rights and responsibilities. In this way, elders use this understanding to become a humble light that shines his or her brilliance across the ages. For the Chippewa, who we believe ourselves to be influences how we expect others to treat us and our relationship to the world around us."


Sedena Cappannelli, Author, Co Founder of AgeNation and of the World Council of Wisdom Keepers

 "In our new book, Do Not Go Quietly, George and I speak to the issue of living consciously and aging wisely because we believe both are essential keys to learning how to better navigate these challenging times and to better prepare for the remarkable new world that lies ahead. Yes, even with all that is going on in our topsy-turvy world today, in fact because of it, this is a time for tremendous optimism because our challenges give us a clear sign that the old and the no-longer-valuable are breaking down to make way for the new.

 "Here are a few of the things I believe each of us can do to live lives of greater stability as this falling away occurs:

 "Remember to be true to our dreams, the dreams each of us has come here to manifest.
Continue to be open to learning from our stumbles and celebrating our breakthroughs.
Commit to a deeper level of healing in all areas of our lives-- physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.
Step more fully into our daily lives with genuine compassion for ourselves and others.
Look beyond physical accomplishments, possessions or wealth as the measure of our success, and instead to the quality of our character, our experience and discernment and turn them into the gold of wisdom.
To be successful in these efforts, let us also remember to be guided as much by our hearts as by our heads so that we might better align our thoughts, words and actions with a more elevated consciousness."


Very sound advice and some common themes present in their words of these wise woman. The reminder that crisis always provides opportunity and the prompt that if we are wise we will remember that the only thing that has ever created substantive change is the exercise of the Power of One.

 How? When we do our part to heal wounds from the past, complete some of the incompletes that dog our footsteps, forgive those who may have injured us and ourselves for our actions, and live in true gratitude for all that we have--both the gifts and the challenges.

 We are also advised to turn down the outside noise and turn instead to that place of silence within us from which real wisdom flows. So at home, at school, at work, in our churches, clubs and community organizations, we have the opportunity to raise the level of the game and navigate the future with greater levels of consciousness and love.  

  ####

George Cappannelli is the author of the award-winning and bestselling book Do Not Go Quietly, and co- founder of AgeNation and The World Council of Wisdom Keepers He is leading AgeNation's six transformational Navigating Your Future Weekend Journeys at The Awaken Whole Life Center at Unity Village. from May through November, which will feature 16 of the world's leading wisdom keepers addressing the needs, concerns and opportunities for "people who weren't born yesterday," as well as for younger people who want to chart a terrific and vital course for the future. The goal of the programs is to assist participants to explore some of the essential and relevant topics, and many primary and empowering tools they can use on the road to living more conscious lives, inheriting their roles as wise elders and playing an active part in recasting a more positive future. Visit www.navigatingyourfutureconferences.com.  

Four Ways Your Darkest Moment Could Be The Beginning of Your Life Change

by Mark Bowness


Crash. Bang. Reality. As I woke up, a dark misty haze was swirling around my mind. The moment that I recognized that I was in a hospital bed, the events of the past 24 hours came flooding through my mind. I had tried to take my own life. At the age of 26 years old, my marriage had ended, and along with it, the non- profit organization that I had worked so passionately to grow, was pulled from under me. At that moment in time, living ceased to be an option.

 After a seven-year relationship, my wife had walked out of the door, never to return--and as I sat in our apartment surrounded by everything we had built together, the future looked dark and overwhelming It was a future that I was certain I was not willing to endure. I turned to Google and keyed in the words "most painless and quickest way to kill myself."

I will always maintain that my attempt at wiping my existence off the face of the planet was the best thing to happen to me; it totally changed my life. Whether it's the end of a relationship, the struggle to get a job, or an overwhelming sense of hopelessness and lack of direction, we all experience "dark moments" in life. It is these most difficult times that can turn out to be the most profound.

 Let me share with you four ways that your darkest moments could be the making of your life, should you choose to see this as a new doorway.

Forced self-intimacy

 When life takes you to the darkest places, absolutely no one around you can understand how you feel or what you are going through. Others may have had a similar experience, but only you can react to your situations the way that you do. During our tough times, we are forced to stare at ourselves eye-ball to eye-ball, as though we are standing in the mirror and gazing deep into our very soul. As we engage in these moments of forced self-intimacy, we make crucial decisions that redefine who we are, what we want and what we are willing to accept or not accept for our lives. It is the choices that we are forced to make, during this dark period, that lay the foundation of our powerful life change.

Blank canvas opportunity

We absolutely take life way too much for granted. Trying to end my life was my awakening moment to this truth. I truly recognized with my head and my heart that we live life only once and so I made a decision to view my life as a blank canvas, to start again and paint whatever picture I so desired for my future. The result was that I created an eco-island business in Fiji that gained worldwide media attention, was filmed for 18 months and became a TV show that aired in the UK, Australia and America on BBC. My darkest moment became my catalyst to pursuing life in all its fullness, and as a result I embarked upon a crazy adventure.

Benchmarked experience

When we experience a powerful life situation and nothing feels as though it could get any worse, we have then built a foundation of experience on which to construct the rest of our lives. Nothing could be any worse than trying to take your own life, and so I launched a bold and daring business idea - if I went bankrupt it could never be as bad as non-existence. The tough times that we endure give us a place of reference and offer the motivation to continue. When we realize that we have endured 'X', and 'X' was horrific and terrible, yet we are still standing--then we are filled with the hope that we can get through the smaller battles each day.

 A moment of awakening

There are times in our lives when everything piles on top of us, and as a result, we make decisions for our lives that are not healthy, nor wise - wrong relationships, poor choices in behaviour patterns, addictions and more. Friends and loved ones may tell us we are on a destructive path, but we don't listen, as it is a path that brings us comfort in the moment. I truly believe that there are times in our lives that we are given a place to breakdown. It is through this "breaking down experience," we undergo a powerful transformation, letting go of all that no longer serves us, arriving at a moment of awakening. Now we rebuild ourselves, truly discovering who we are, what we are about and everything that we stand for--from the ground up. These are the powerful moments of true awakening.

During my darkest moment in my life, the only person who may actually have experienced much of what I was going through, was the poor guy who wrote that post on Google. If you are on the precipice as we approach the dawn of this new year, I encourage you to not simply endure your life, but to embrace it.

 In fact, so you won't need to go through this alone, I've created a free online community called New Year's Revolution where you can find the support you need from experts and other people just like yourself who are working to get over the hump! You'll find a community of people, a life-changing ebook, webinars and plenty of encouragement to start your new life. It was a New Year's resolution which changed my life!

 So don't wallow...grab life by the horns, wrestle it to the ground and overcome your demons. I truly know that you will look back and be able to say that this moment, right now, was the best thing that ever happened to you. I believe in you.

 Mark Bowness is passionate about changing people's lives. After trying to take his own life, he made a New Year's Resolution to totally turn his life around, and only three months later, he had created an international business which was featured in media around the world and became a five-part time series that aired in the UK, America and Australia on BBC. This year Mark has brought together 31 life-change experts who have created a FREE eBook, Webinar and community that will empower YOU to radically transform your life in 2014 and beyond. Register for free NOW: www.joinanewyearsrevolution.com

*     Photo from www.markbowness.com

Ronnie Terry: Encouraging the World to Turn Their Burdens Into Blessings

by Cyrus Webb

Being a survivor is so much more than about saving yourself. It's about setting an example for what is possible for others as well. Just ask Ronnie Terry. She's an individual that is not just a celebrated model and actress, wife to R&B artist Tony Terry and mother. Ronnie is also someone who knows what it's like to live with Fibromyalgia and by sharing her story has become a source of inspiration for individuals around the world.

"It has been a blessing to be where I am today," Ronnie told me during our conversation. "It is my passion. I have had a long 7 year journey with Fibromyalgia, but I had to go through it to get here and help others."

Fibromyalgia is a common syndrome in which a person has long-term, body-wide pain and tenderness in the joints, muscles, tendons, and other soft tissues. Fibromyalgia has also been linked to fatigue, sleep problems, headaches, depression, and anxiety.

Ronnie is showcasing that spirit that is sure to help others who share her diagnosis and struggle, but it hasn't always been that way. "In the beginning it wasn't an easy decision to share with others because I didn't understand what it," she says when speaking about the diagnosis. "It caused me to shut down from the world." Then she had what many would see as an epiphany about herself and her condition. "I began to realize that this is all for a reason. All that I'm going through is leading up to where I am supposed to be which is where I can reach out and help others."

This is why she can connect with people who feel like giving up. She's been there. "There were so many days that I didn't want to live anymore," she shared. "For me I wanted to give up, but once I made the decision that I had to fight, then I  had to change my thought process and get to a place of healing. Now I can share what my journey has been and allow people to walk through it with me. I want them to know that they are not alone. There is hope, and there is help."

Whether it is through speaking engagements or just offering support one-on-one, Ronnie has taken what many would look at as a burden and transformed it into a blessing. During our conversation she relayed an experience that happened to her just last year while on a cruise hosted by media personality Tom Joyner. "One day I got up and shared my testimony," she told me. "There was one young lady who came up to me afterwards crying and said 'Thank you. You've made me feel it was OK to talk about it, and that I'm not alone.' If I didn't do anything but help one person, that's all that matters. It makes the biggest difference in the world."

Ronnie is also taking full advantage of social media in helping to encourage not just those dealing with chronic pain disorders but anyone she comes in contact with. Whether it is sharing messages of faith or just speaking life into the lives of others, it is something she does almost daily. One such message is this: “Do anything you can do to keep your mind off yourself. Courage is fear that has said its prayers and decided to go forward anyway.”

Those aren't just words to Ronnie. It is the way she has chosen to live her life. May we find the courage necessary to faith down our own fear and move forward towards our individual callings in life.

Stay connected with Ronnie on her website www.ronnieterry.com. You can also follow her inspirational messages and upcoming event on Twitter at www.twitter.com/piecesofronnie.