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Sunday, August 31, 2014

[Review] Kristen Moeller's WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

What I am waiting for?

It is a question we have all undoubtedly asked ourselves at some point.

Maybe it has to do with going after something that we say we want or moving to a new level in pursuing our passion. For Kristen Moeller the question forced her to do a self-examination of the good, the bad and the unknown, and what she has learned is now being shared with us in the book WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

After losing her dream home and all her worldly possessions to a raging and sudden wildfire that killed three people and demolished twenty-one homes, Moeller dove into an exploration of our cultural discomfort with grief, the existence of God, finding humor in the midst of tragedy - and what it means to be a human being with all our fabulousness as well as frailties.

I approached this book with some nervous excitement, mainly because I like others want to know the answer but then realize this will force upon me the need to do the work necessary to get what I want. Kristen went through degrees of loss in her life and afterwards found herself wondering what was really important. Sometimes we have to go through the fire (literally for some) in order to realize what is left behind, what have we chosen to carry with us and more importantly what are we going to do with ourselves now. Kristen helps us to understand the importance of not just being in the moment but embracing all the little things that it brings because those times and experiences will never come again.

This doesn't mean that we should live life in wait of the 'other shoe to drop', but we should always be mindful that what we have right now---this very moment---is unique and special, and so is what we choose to do with it.

Kristen encourages the reader to stop looking for the "perfect" time and instead focus on making the most of the time and moment we have right now. Using her own experiences and "Gentle Knocks" through the book for us to do self-reflections, she gives us everything we will need to move forward, making the leap that can result in our being present every day of our life.

Poignant and powerful, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? prepares us for the work necessary to rise to the occasion of our lives.

Stay connected with Kristen Moeller at www.kristenmoeller.com.

[Special] NBA's Chris Paul Talks Fatherhood with 'My LIfe As A Dad'

NBA star Chris Paul is the proud papa to son Chris Paul II, 5, and daughter Camryn, almost 2, with wife Jada. He recently caught up with parenting expert Daddy Nickell for My Life As A Dad, the popular new web series that delves into the lives of celebrity and professional athlete dads.

During the interview, the NBA star chats about what guys can expect when their partners become pregnant, his best advice for dads, and how he feels about traveling for games.

Daddy Nickell: What can guys expect when all of a sudden their beautiful little bride is now pregnant and starting to go through changes? How can men support and help their partners?

Chris Paul: “Those experiences are exactly why I am not having any more kids. [laughs] It was a lot of fun and, well, for me, I am not the one whose hormones are changing and whose body is changing. Especially with our first child, my wife was on an emotional roller coaster.

I’ll never forget how we were about to walk into our bedroom and I stepped into the laundry room to mess with her, and I jumped out and scared her. She was hysterical and cried and cried. It’s funny, I still think back to it now. My son is kind of scared, and I think that because I scared her that day and that she jumped the way that she did, my son is a scared person now.

You definitely have to take deep breaths and you have to understand what is taking place. She is the one who is experiencing all of the body changes, but it is an experience for the husband, too. I was reading a book, What To Expect When Expecting. Every flight that our team got on, I was into that book to see what is happening this month, what is happening that month, what’s this, what does the baby look like now?”

Daddy Nickell: What is your top advice for all dads?

Chris Paul: “Every dad is different, because you don’t know his work schedule and things like that, but I say this as it pertains to me: the most valuable thing that you have is your time. I can care less how much money you make or anything like that. I tell people all of the time that my kids are the most important thing to me.

Any time that I have to go somewhere, it kills me. I hate it and hate traveling now, because my son is old enough and will tell me ‘Dad, I am going to miss you while you’re gone. Why are you leaving me?’ When my brother and I grew up, our mom and dad didn’t miss anything. You know how you see in those movies where the kid is looking for his parents at his recital and they are not there? We never had to look because we knew that they were there. It kills me to know that there are times where my son will be playing a basketball game or something like that and I won’t be there. Time…that is one thing that your kids will never forget. They may not remember something about money, but they will remember whether or not you were there when they needed you.”

My Life As A Dad (www.mylifeasadad.com) is the first show of its kind to delve into the lives of celebrity and professional athlete dads to get their answers to important questions, such as how they feel about being a dad, their parenting philosophies, how they balance their family life with their professional life and, in some cases, how they relate their unique upbringing to being a dad today. The series features interviews with the likes Dancing with the Stars winner J.R. Martinez, NBA star Chris Paul, TV Host AJ Calloway, 2014 Super Bowl Champion Michael Robinson, and many more! You can subscribe to MLAAD on YouTube and follow them on Facebook (www.facebook.com/MLAADad) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/MLAADShow).

Recording Artist Troy Petty: Using Music to Speak to the World

by Cyrus Webb

With my schedule I am not able to attend as many live events as I would like, but when I discovered the music of Troy Petty and James Tristan Redding in 2013 (and learned they were coming to my home state of Mississippi), I know that was one event I had to attend.

Petty is a artist that definitely bares it all in his music, and the listener is better off because of it. His album FAIRY TALE PEN is one that you will find yourself listening to again and again---and each time you will discover something unique and mesmerizing about it.

"I put myself through some tests to see if this was really what I wanted to do," Petty told me after his appearance in Mississippi. "I started pretty early on (about 8 years old) and growing through my teenage years I was pretty isolated. I imagined being on stage and carried on with my life. Music has been a form of therapy, something that became a part of me. It was something I could always rely on. As I was getting into my adult years I knew I was going to do it for the rest of my life regardless."

That is how I know that Troy Petty is an artist in every sense of the word. "I don't know what it would feel like to not have music," he confessed.

I can tell you from experience that he gives a part of himself away to the audience with every performance---and his project FAIRY TALE PEN is probably his most personal to date.

"I had a group of songs that I couldn't get out of my head," he explained. "At first they were just for my own personal satisfaction. I was feeling kind of vulnerable... I can't not be honest. I went for broke and picked the ones (songs) that moved me the most. FAIRY TALE PEN tells the story of what it's like to be an artist. I dug deep and really put myself out there."

Instead of feeling afraid, Petty says the release has had an opposite effect. "It was very liberating and like a renewal," he says. "A lot of times when I hear certain songs it's like a reminder: 'Look at what you did.' Everytime I hear it (the album) I am very grateful."

Stay connected with Troy Petty on Twitter at www.twitter.com/troypettymusic as well as on Reverbnation at www.reverbnation.com/troypetty. Information about his album and current projects can also be found on his website www.troypettymusic.com.

Michael Cory Davis: Using His Gift to Make A Difference

by Cyrus Webb

When it comes to examples of individuals who know what they want in life and are going after it, you have to give a nod to actor and activist Michael Cory Davis.

Known to some for his roles on shows like the soap opera All My Children or on the SYFY network, Davis has gained international attention and respect because of the causes he has lent his time, energy and resources towards. In late 2010 he was enjoying the success of his latest project, the thought-provoking movie FOR COLORED GIRLS, directed by Tyler Perry, and this year he appeared in Tyler Perry's FOR BETTER OR WORSE on the Oprah Winfrey Network.

Never one to shy away from a challenge or an opportunity to provoke discussion, Davis stripped down for his 2011 calendar BODY OF CHANGE as a way to raise awareness and funds for his non-profit Artists United For Social Justice. I have a great deal of respect for him not just because of the way he conducts himself professionally but also because of the way he uses the gift that is the public eye to make a difference. 

In 2013 he launched his new campaign I STOP TRAFFIC in an effort to increase awareness about child trafficking and child exploitation of American children by creating and distributing cause related multi-media.  In this conversation he discusses when he discovered his love of the arts, how he has chosen to use his celebrity when it comes to helping others and even how he views what he has been able to achieve.

Michael, thank you for taking out the time to talk with us. First of all, congratulations on your achievements on tv and in movies. I want to talk about what it was like to be a part of that project, but I first want to go back to the beginning. When did you realize that you were interested in being in the entertainment industry? Thank you for the opportunity. My parents encouraged creativity. I was involved in a lot of school plays. Growing up I also got involved in debate school. I realized early on that I always had a flair for being on stage.

Looking at what you have done so far and the projects you have been a part of, what surprises you the most about your career and how you are perceived?  What continues to surprise me is that people are surprised that I am a black man that has taken on what has been seen as a woman's cause. Let's face it, when it comes to topics like human trafficking. It tends to be more Caucasians bringing attention to it. It never ceases to amaze me how people perceive me. I welcome the surprise, because I am able to turn over the perceptions and let the world see black men are more than what pop culture says we are.

I as an independent filmmaker have been able to do so much. I have been able to raise tens of thousands of dollars for orphanages in a country (Bulgaria) where I don't even speak the language. My accomplishments let me know there is a whole lot more that we as artists can do to change the world in a positive way because we have the microphone to do it.

You mentioned your work in Bulgaria. That is, in fact, how I first became aware of you because of your short film. For those who haven't seen it, Svetlanta's Journey is a film you wrote, directed and produced that came about because of a victim of trafficking that you met. It was a 13-year old Bulgarian girl who had basically been sold by her adoptive parents into prostitution. The project has gone on to not only win awards but aired on national television in Bulgaria. What did you take away from that project regarding how we in the United States view issues like that?  I would say how ambivalent we sometimes are. If people are looking at children as commodities, that's a problem. If we have a society that has been victimized because they are not getting the services they need to heal, that's a problem. People don't speak enough about it,  especially in the black community. I think that's why more haven't taken on the cause. At the end of the day it deals with a form of slavery, and we should know about it and care about it. I do understand, though, that alot of the apathy about the subject is because alot of us are so focused on our own problems.

(Note: Though much of Davis' work over the past decade has focused on what's going on in other countries, through his new film project CLOSE TO HOME he tackles the issues in the United States. In a startling article for The Huffington Post in August 2013 he said this about what is going on in the States when it comes to trafficking, abuse and forced prostitution: "The United States has a child trafficking problem -- it can't be denied any longer, in particular after such horrors endured by the teen sex slaves in Cleveland have been exposed, and most recently with the FBI raids that resulted in the rescue of 150 children across dozens of cities.

I believe that one of the main reasons why this crime has been able to grow so quickly is because of the abundant supply of children, mainly girls, who are vulnerable and easily exploited for prostitution by shrewd pimps and traffickers... We as a society have done an excellent job of staying intentionally silent to abuse in its many forms that plague so many of our youth, thus leaving them vulnerable to pimps. We as a society have done the work for the pimps to make young children feel that their real core value and self worth comes from money and the "things" they possess, therefore it is okay to do whatever it takes to get that money, even if that means using their bodies for sex. We in society have done an amazing job of teaching our young girls that their beauty comes in the form of measuring up to Hollywood starlets who are air-brushed, starved, and altered for the masses to consume all the while helping to reinforce that beauty only comes from the external representation of oneself and thus focusing on developing sexuality before even truly understanding it.")

Michael you are in a business that is covered from all angles, both the good and the bad. What are your thoughts about the 24-hour news cycle and the public's desire to know so much about celebrities?
What's happened in society today is that we have made the internet a loaded gun. People learn things and share things instantly. What's worse is that you have people who make money off what goes wrong in an individual's life. I don't know why it is that whenever someone is on top and doing well, there is some need for us to wait for that person to do something wrong. When people look at me, I want them to know that I am just as human as they are. I am fully aware of the issues that we as men have with women. Though I have my faults as a man, I have empathy and compassion towards women that are victimized and that's why I do what I do.

Thanks again for this opportunity, Michael. We really appreciate the opportunity to share a snapshot of your life with our readers and your passion for the work you do. Before we let you go, I have to ask you about success. It's something that is relative to most people. What does success look like to you?  Success for me is being able to overcome challenges without having to compromise myself and staying true to my authenticity. It's having the power to create my own content and not having to have my hand out in order to do so. Success is also when I am able to fulfill my purpose being on the planet, challenging myself and using my art and talent to move us all forward.

That's not to say I'm always trying to do deep movies and stuff like that. I just want to do what I love and help others in society along the way. That's when I am most happy. That's success.

You can find out more about Michael by visiting www.michaelcorydavis.com. You can also discover more about the work of Artists United For Social Justice and his new campaign by visiting www.istoptraffic.com.

[To You, From Me] Becoming New From the Inside Out

I tell everyone that I am a work in progress.

When I see the way my life has evolved over the past decade I have many reasons to be thankful and to feel blessed, but that doesn't mean the work is over.

I, like many of you, began 2014 with a list of goals that I wanted to be able to achieve. Have i accomplished them all? No, but I choose to focus on the strides that I have made, the people I have inspired and the impact that I am able to make in my corner of the world. The same should be true for you. If you haven't achieved what you have wanted to up to this point, don't let that get you down. If you are reading this that means that you have been given another day to make some amazing strides. The choice is totally up to you.

In this issue of Conversations Magazine we hope to inspire you to become new from the inside out. What does that mean? Well, I believe the articles will get you to thinking not just about the individuals profiled but about yourself and what you are able to do beginning right now. It all begins with the decision.

For those who read scripture Roman 12: 2 says in part: "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind..." That shows us that anything that we want to manifest on the outside must begin within. The three individuals on the cover of this issue (Michael Cory Davis, Glenda L. Hunter and Branden Nicholson) have all realized that. No matter what their professions they have been able to 'renew their minds', activating their gifts and seeing how they are being used in the world.

That is my challenge for you. No matter what you want to do (pursue a career, perfect a craft or improve things on the homefront), you can do it, but you have to approach it with the right attitude. As I mentioned I haven't been able to do everything I started out to this year---but that doesn't mean I am going to stop trying. Neither should you.

What is it that you are striving to do? What steps are you taking right now to do it? I want to know! Drop me a line at cawebb4@juno.com. Would love to be able to encourage you along the way to not just think about it but start doing it!

Until next time, happy reading!





Cyrus Webb, Editor-In-Chief
Conversations Magazine

Tony Lindsay Presents... Ralph Waldo Ellison

In American literature, there was a period between the Harlem Renaissance and the Black Arts Movement; the Black writers of this period are referred to by the historian Lawrence P. Jackson as the “Indignant Generation.” One of the leading writers of the era was Ralph Waldo Ellison.

Largely respected for his 1952 novel Invisible Man, Ellison wrote other fiction during the period as well; his short stories were gathered and edited by John F. Callahan in a posthumous collection titled Flying Home. The thirteen stories of the work reflect the development of Ellison’s literary style along with his use of themed stories, and any student of literary technique will be well served by the collection.

Ellison experiments with point of view in the four warm hearted coming of age and friendship stories with the protagonists, Riley and Buster, two young Black boys who: brag of the conquest of Mister Toussan (Toussaint Louverture), survive the Depression with creative pastimes and diligent parents and sports heroes, learn that all actions have consequence, and that one man’s witch could be another’s vixen.

In the story, “A Party Down at the Square,” Ellison creates another boy protagonist. This time the youth is white, and he is enticed into witnessing a killing, the burning alive of a Black man. The town gathered in the square for the “party.” Ellison reduced the victim, the Black man, to what the crowd and the boy saw; the Black man was no more than “a barbecued hog.” However, Ellison interrupts the celebration with a cyclone that causes a plane to crash, and a woman to be electrocuted, but despite the catastrophes the boy and the town’s people returned to the “party.” The boy did manage to generate a simulant of respect for the Black man when he broke free of the burning ropes with his last breath, “That Bacote nigger was some nigger.”

Ellison employed another boy child character in “The Black Ball.” John, the protagonist and the loving father of the boy works as a maintenance man. Ellison expertly built tension around the father and son love while juxtaposing Jim Crow restrictions with unions; causing John to understand that working without a union was working behind the blackball.

The titled story of the collection, “Flying Home” is the lengthiest story in the work; dealing with Jim Crow, classism among Blacks, self-worth, and community belonging are some of the apparent themes covered in this multi layered story. The protagonist can be easily interrupted as a Tuskegee Airman who felt he had elevated himself above Jim Crow restrictions and the more ignorant of his brethren. Ellison used reality as a sounding board for the character and the reader by having the character in out of consciousness pulling empathy from the reader, and at the same time reducing the character’s pompousness by having him depend on those he viewed as less than himself.  

  The stories in Ralph Ellison’s Flying Home exemplify the artistry of the writer and the pain of the era he wrote in. The stories are a must read for any serious student and writer, and a pleasurable read for anyone who enjoys good stories.    

 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 atwww.facebook.com/tony.linssay2.

Monday, August 11, 2014

[Mary's Motivational Message] Celebrating Fatherhood

Who says Father's Day is something to be celebrated once a year?

With fatherhood everyday is an opportunity to be exposed to millions of valuable life lessons/challenges and teachings that provide insight. I would like to set aside this time to share a few examples that have inspired me.

Example 1: The reality of Dads and who they are:
So often we hear and read about the men who are not being good providers, good role models and leaders for their children and families. We have all heard the reports of those men who have walked away from their families and have just detached from their responsibilities. Well I’m here this morning to tell you that the painting is not a true reflection of the entire portraits depth.  The reality is that those who do step up outweigh those who don’t. The majority of fathers are proudly standing on the front line each and every day for their families, while being the constant protector.
- They are working extremely hard to ensure that shelter is provided and warm food is on the table
- They are inspiring their daughters, encouraging their sons while being emotionally supportive of their wife or significant other
- So many of you beautiful DADS make sacrifices so that your families will have.

My mom once shared with me how my maternal grandfather, who was a proud City Employee,  so often to prolong the purchasing of new work boots, would wrap his torn work boots with duck tape because he felt that the money would be better utilized within the family home.

So many Dads are the constant protector. Many times when we think their reading the news paper or guarding the remote control, numerous DADS are actually thinking about, “Is my wife ok? Are my children alright? Will the bills be paid this month? Are there enough groceries in the cupboards? Am I doing all that I need to do? Am I being the husband and provider GOD has ordered me to be?" Not the minority but the majority of men love, cherish and adore their children beyond what we could ever imagine.

Example 2: Pertains to never giving up on your relationship with your children:
One year ago, a dad was sharing with me, his frustration with his daughter.  Years prior there had been words pertaining to him being absent from her life when she was a young child. And as a result, they had not spoken in some time. Whatever advice or suggestions I provided, he remained hopeless and bitter. How many of you DADS are filling a void because there is a rift with your child?  How many know a DAD who is facing various challenges with their child and is consumed with guilt.  Well, I’m here to say that:
- It’s never to late to transform your relationship with your child
- There are some things you can give up on but never give up on cultivating a positive relationship with your child
- God has the power  with blink of an eye lid to  bring about a healing and a understanding
- Fight for renewal in your relationship with your child and remember that through GOD all things are possible

Example 3: Pertains to Having No Regrets:
 Many of you like myself, had to say good-by to our DAD much too soon. At least you feel that it was too soon. Five years ago my father went in for an outpatient surgery and passed away on the operating table. We had shared a conversation the day before laughing, gossiping, just having a great time. His last words to me were, “sweetie, Daddy will talk to you tomorrow” but that never came.

I find it difficult searching for Father’s Day cards and not purchasing one for my dad. I miss him so much. I’m so thrilled that whatever we needed to address we did. He knew how I felt and I knew his heart as it pertained to me.

A reminder for you: this journey called life is so very short and because we are only here for moment, you don’t have a life time to re event your child. And children you don’t have a lifetime to re-invent your DAD. All you have is this moment. Enjoy your DAD, love your DAD, and cherish your DAD.

When was the last time you said Dad I love you, Dad I appreciate you, thank you Dad just because. Well, no better time than today, to get some pep in your step and spoil your daddy.  And as you journey through your life spread the love around, extending appreciation to the various Dads that you come into contact with.

And to all of you Dads out there standing on the front line 24/7 for your families, we see you, we honor you, we love you and we want you to know, that even though we set aside this day to treat you like a king and shower you with love, within our hearts we know, and acknowledge that Father’s Day is every day.

In closing, Happy Father’s day to the Father’s, God Fathers, Grandfathers, Uncles, Brothers, and Mentors. Many of you wear many hats and we love you for it, never forget that.
Love, Peace and Joy,                                                                                                                                        Mary

Mary E. Gilder is the author of the award winning novel, A Misrepresentation of Myself. And her soon to be sophomore release, Even a Man Can Have a Broken Heart. In addition Mary is available for speaking engagements. She can be contacted at meg@maryegilder.com or bookclubs.maryegilder@yahoo.com. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

[Review] HELP by Grammy Award-winnning Artist Erica Campbell

We've all been there: felt as though our backs were against the wall and not able to see how we are going to be able to move forward.

For individuals of Faith we know that God is able to do all things, and when things are looking their worse that is when we need him the most. Sometimes we don't know what to say, but thankfully He gives us just what we need at the right time. HELP, the debut album from Mary Mary's Erica Campbell, offers us the words we need in such a time as this.

The project offers not just words of encouragement but praise for all of us when it seems all hope is lost. I had a chance to talk with Erica during her promo tour about the lead single and the way it was affecting the lives of others. "It let's me know that what I'm singing about or talking about is needed right now," she told me during our phone interview. "I don't think it's ever inappropriate for anybody to call on help, especially the help of God... I feel honored to be used in that way, to sing a song that is reaching people, helping people, touching people."

For over a decade Erica and her sister Tina have been a blessing to others, sharing their gift of ministry through song with the world. In HELP Erica is able to show that being a Christian doesn't make you immune from life's trouble, but it does give you help. "I choose to live for God, and I do it proudly," she told me.

Featuring Hip Hop artist Lecrae the single HELP touches on many areas of our life that we might struggle with. I asked Erica if she went into the single knowing she was going to be that transparent about her own life. "Not necessarily," she said. "I thought I was just writing a song, and then 2013 happened with all it's fury...And all you can really say is help."

No matter who you are there comes a time when you have to surrender, knowing you can't go any further on your own. That is what Erica sings about, and it is that message that resonates through every verse of the single.

Other stand-outs on the album are LOOKING LIKE which through faith speaks that "I'm going to make it through this" and the single NOBODY ELSE which reminds us that He (God) did it for us when nobody else could.

Stay in touch with Erica on Twitter at www.twitter.com/imericacampbell.The album HELP is available wherever music is available in stores and online.

Actor Jonathan Chase: Living In the Moment, Loving the Process

by Cyrus Webb

Living your life with purpose and passion is more than just words. It's about action. Just ask Jonathan Chase. In the past decade he has gone from being a supporting actor on hit shows such as Monk and Veronica Mars to one of the bright stars on the runaway comedy LOVE THY NEIGHBOR on the Oprah Winfrey Network. I had a chance to talk with him about the experience and what this journey has been like for him, and the conversation was nothing short of inspiring.

JONATHAN CHASE ON LOVE THY NEIGHBOR:
"As soon as I take a breath and realize we shot 26 episodes of a sitcom in such a short amount of time (about a couple of months), something that takes Hollywood 10 1/2 months to do... I can't believe it. I truly appreciate the speed that Tyler Perry is able to perform and function. It's a feat beyond itself. When I got to LA and worked on another job I couldn't believe how slow it was compared to what we did in Atlanta."

JONATHAN ON THE EXPERIENCE:
"I was actually going to be a sports agent. I took a semester off and traveled abroad to London for 6 months and saw a play a week. That's when I fell in love. So many musicals I saw that changed my focus. After that I did some off Broadway and got my first gig in TV for a little show called Oliver Beene playing a tennis pro. They flew me to LA from NY in 2003, and I never went back. Seeing people perform live is what got me hooked. That is what I love about Tyler. He comes from that world (of live performances), and his live audience has translated and been his devoted fan-base for television and film. Take Love Thy Neighbor for instance. It was a play, and Tyler Perry created the show around them. He's like King Midas."

JONATHAN ON BELIEVING:
"I believe that at some level you have to be able to push yourself beyond what you can even imagine. You have to be willing to never give up and never surrender and not listen to the noise that comes from outside of yourself. You're the only one that can tell you what you can and cannot do."

JONATHAN ON HIS TRUTH:
"I know what it's like to struggle. I was doing what I could to pay for class and coaching and wardrobe. There have been so many ups and downs. Right now I'm on a huge high. It's a dream come true. That is my truth. I've also had the lowest lows. It's all about the work. I do it for the work. I try to make everything I do look effortless. People ask me what I do,  and I tell them I'm in the pursuit of a career of an actor."

JONATHAN ON HIS ONLINE SUPPORTERS:
"It's like a digital blind date with 10k people at once. I feel like I'm blessed to have them. The support from fans means getting up and making it to a meeting and doing the best I can. Knowing my work has affected someone helps me."

JONATHAN ON ENJOYING THE MOMENT: 
"I take it one step at a time and try not to 'future' myself too much. As long as I'm right here right now I give you everything I got. I have no regrets. I can just focus on the work that way. That's my best approach to acting and all aspects of my life, living in the now."

Want to keep in touch with what's going on with Jonathan Chase next? Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jonathan_chase and like his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/actorjonathanchase.

Lessons Learned From William Sirls' THE SINNERS' GARDEN

by Cyrus Webb

Everyone who knows me is aware of the fact that when I find something I really like, I have to share it. This is especially true of books, so when author William Sirls' released his sophomore offering THE SINNERS' GARDEN I knew it was a book that I had to tell others about. 
First I shared my review on Amazon. Then I had a great conversation with the author on Conversations LIVE about it. Finally I shared the book with Conversations Book Club in Mississippi (photo from this event above). What makes this book something that I thought others would appreciate? Here are the highlights:

We live in a world that is so quick to count us out or put us down, depending on how it sees us.

How grateful we should be that our Heavenly Father sees who we are, knows what we have done and loves us unconditionally. In Williams Sirls' newest literary offering THE SINNERS' GARDEN, we are reminded not only of God's love but his purpose for all of us.

The cast of characters we meet are just like us: broken, imperfect, yet capable of things that might seem impossible to some.

Take Andy for instance. Many will be able to relate to the resentment he feels in life because of what we has experienced. Will he be able to accept the truth and forge a better relationship with those who love him before it's too late?

And there's Uncle Rip: a man that many would have dismissed because of his past deeds, but when he begins to share lessons that are the result of his transformation and renewed sense of purpose will others give him the benefit of the doubt?

We also meet Heather the police officer: another individual who wants to do good, hoping to find some peace in her life. Will some unexplainable events in the town be just what she needs to not just have faith in God but renewed faith in man as well?

One of the characters that will really stick with you, however (not that they all don't make their mark), is Pastor Welsh. The way he appreciates what God has done in his life and that of his father and now the town will remind you of what He is able to do for you as well.

One of the most powerful passages in the book (and there are many) is when the Pastor and Andy are having a serious conversation about God and his Will: "God has blessed you," Pastor told Andy, " and you're helping Him help others.". Andy seems doubtful. "I want to help," he says to the Pastor, " but other than that dream, it seems like God's left me." THAT'S when the Pastor gives us a huge nugget of encouragement: "God never leaves," he says. "People leave Him, but he won't leave you."

That is, to me, one of the main messages of this book. God loves us so much that He is willing to meet us where we are. All we have to do is make the effort, and that is what Sirls shows so beautifully in this book.

Rich with meaning and full of characters you won't soon forget, THE SINNERS' GARDEN is sure to leave you wanting more. Stay connected with author William Sirls and find out more about his books THE REASON and THE SINNERS' GARDEN at www.williamsirls.com.

Recording Artist Lexi Noel: Moving Full Force Towards Fulfilling Her Dreams

by Cyrus Webb

From the time she was a little girl Lexi Noel knew she wanted to be a singer. In fact she enlisted the support of her friends who joined her as back-up singers and even charged her parents and theirs to watch them perform! Today she has no problem finding an audience, building up a loyal fan base through YouTube and having over hundreds of thousands stay in touch with ever tweet on Twitter. Lexi is living out her dreams--and loving every moment of it.

"It's been crazy for me," she explained during our conversation when reflecting on how much her support has grown over the years. "I didn't realize how much of a huge impact I could have on people's lives."

She says she hears almost daily from people who say they can relate to her and the stuff she sings about---and even what she wears. "My fans know that I am one of them."

What began with just covers of popular songs on YouTube has definitely grown to tens of thousands of hits per video. "I was taking a chance and it exploded," Lexi says. "It all became such an amazing thing. It still hasn't hit me. People will randomly shout out my name in the mall. I'm still getting used to it."

Now especially Lexi is showcasing not just her own talents and skills but showing others what they can do as well. "I thought I had to be older to be a role model," she told me, but that is exactly what she is to many young girls and women today. And it's not just through music that she is making her mark. Her anti-bullying campaign has caught fire on social media and tweets like "I am so much more than what you see..." have allowed her fans to know that they don't have to allow others to judge them or dictate who they are. They can be themselves and do so proudly.

"I'm on my own tour (the CHASE YOUR DREAMS tour), spreading positively to my fans and encouraging them to go after their dreams." Lexi has been checking in with her fans, keeping them updated on new music and performance updates. "With social media it can be spread so many different ways," she says "We're all united through the Internet."

Lexi's advice for anyone with a dream? "People are going to tell you what you can't do. As long as you know you have the power and the will do to it just go for it! Keep on going for it full force and never give up. You never know what can happen."

Stay connected with Lexi at www.twitter.com/leximusic411, www.facebook.com/leximusic411 as well as Instagram at www.instagram.com/leximusic411. You can also find her videos on Youtube at www.youtube.com/LexiMusic411Vids.

Branden Nicholson's '31 Days of Inspiration'

Conversations Media Group President Cyrus Webb is excited to share daily words of encouragement from celebrity model/fitness trainer Branden Nicholson of B. Nick Fitness in California. The purpose? To encourage the reader to be the best of themselves each and every day.

"We have enough negativity in the world," says Webb. "I'm glad to share Branden's motivating quotes to help spread some positivity."

It was Branden's conversation on Conversations LIVE about 'discovering your why' in life that prompted Webb to want to share more of his inspiring words. Readers of the magazine online or in print or invited to take out time to find a daily dose of motivation and visit Branden online at www.brandennicholson.net.



Day One:  New day, new attitude...Take control, stay positive and be great!
Day Two:   The reason why people give up so fast is because they tend to look at how far they still have to go, instead of how far they have come.
Day Three:  If you're not growing, then you're not living. You should never be the same person two days in a row. Make it your goal to get better!
Day Four: When you are going through something hard and wonder where GOD is, remember that the teacher is always quiet during the test.
Day Five: Don't give up on what God has called you to do. The end result is worth the pain. Keep the faith.
Day Six: Today is all about choices. Choose to count your blessings rather than your problems!
Day Seven: You may be the only one that can see your vision, but if you can see it that's all that matters.
Day Eight: Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.
Day Nine: The same people that are hoping you fail will be the same ones that will have to watch you succeed. Never stop. Always keep going!
Day Ten: The WRONG people in your life will keep the RIGHT people out. You've only got a few spaces so choose well!
Day Eleven: You are where God wants you to be at this very moment. Every experience is part of His divine plan.‪
Day Twelve: All liabilities must be let go! If they aren't building you up then they're tearing you down.
Day Thirteen: An original is always worth more than a copy. Be original!
Day Fourteen: When you focus on problems, you'll have more problems. When you focus on possibilities, you'll have more opportunities.
Day Fifteen: People who judge you by your past don't belong in your present.‪
Day Sixteen: Look around...Is this where you wanna be? If not, now is the time to decide to change it! The power lies in you.
Day Seventeen: Don't let your thoughts talk you out of the changes you want for yourself. Your body can do anything. It’s just your brain you have to convince! ‪
Day Eighteen: Get up & Go forward! Let go of the past so you'll have a free hand to open the door to your future!
Day Nineteen: They can copy you but they can't be you. Just keep being a better you and get a kick out of them trying to keep up.
Day Twenty: There are quick fixes for everything in life, but greatness is not achieved in one day. It is a process that each of us must experience.
Day Twenty-One: Don't let a bad day make you feel like you have a bad life.
Day Twenty-Two: You can't expect to live a positive life around negative people.
Day Twenty-Three: I Will NEVER lower MY standards, to RAISE someone else's!
Day Twenty-Four: Direct your thoughts today because your thoughts will direct your day.
Day Twenty-Five: ‪Temptation doesn't surrender. You have to come ready to fight everyday!
Day Twenty-Six: If you don't invest in yourself then your dreams will go bankrupt.
Day Twenty-Seven: Not everyone's opinion should be relevant in your life. Stop making irrelevant people relevant.
Day Twenty-Eight: Never let your,"mind"bully your body!
Day Twenty-Ninth: One day, you'll be just a memory for some people. Do your best to be a good one.
Day Thirty: Want to see your biggest opponent? Look in the mirror.
Day Thirty-One: Don't stress. Do your best. Forget the rest

*Branden Nicholson Photo Credit: Black Russian Studio