Conversations Magazine's October/November Issue

Conversations Magazine's October/November Issue

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: Dennis Perkins

Monday, October 12, 2020

Rep Your City with Conversations: Jessica Bertulis of Los Angeles, CA

Conversations is excited to announce a brand new monthly feature: "Rep Your City". Created by one of our new Features Editor Herschel Dixon, "Rep Your City" allows you, the reader, to show where you live, what makes it special and why we should visit. 

Our debut feature is with Jessica Bertulis of Los Angeles. Enjoy!



Name:  Jessica Bertulis 

City/State:  Los Angeles, CA

How long have you lived in your city?  19 years 

What makes your city special for you?  Los Angeles is a place where dreams come true and there’s surprises around every corner if you are open to them. 

What is your city known for?  LA is known for it’s amazing weather year round.  We are also known for being able to access the mountains and ocean in a single day.  LA is also becoming recognized more for our food and art scene as well.  We’ve been having quite a renaissance in our downtown area and it’s very exciting.  LA was always very spread out with mini-cities all over and we are now finally seeing our downtown take a stand as the hub of this massive city.   

Any best-kept secrets in your city?  A lot of people don’t realize how much amazing hiking this city has.  Right in the middle of Hollywood you can access hiking trails for that quick access to nature.  LA is also very close to mountains and nature if you travel just outside of the city.   I highly recommend adding the Hollywood sign hike to your list of must-dos when you visit.  If you’re feeling really adventurous I recommend continuing your hike to the Tree of Wisdom.  It’s a lovely spot to have a reflective moment with an epic view of the City of Angels.    

Another secret that many don’t know is that there’s actually some great diving here in Los Angeles.  Catalina Island and The Channel Islands have incredible kelp forests that are truly a unique thing to experience and they are very easy to access.  I recommend diving in the spring and early summer when the water is still on the colder side.  The kelp forests don’t flourish in the warmer months when the water heats up a bit.  

Favorite Restaurant:  I LOVE BESTIA.  Bestia is an Italian restaurant downtown that is just amazing.  I highly recommend the bone marrow – I dream about it.   Make your reservation in advance.  Otherwise, my pro tip is showing up just before they open and being the first one in line to sit at the bar.  (Although, it may be different now with Covid.)  

Have a favorite “home away from home” in your city you can share?  I love going to Malibu and hanging at Paradise Cove which is a tiny little spot right on the water.  It always makes me feel like I’m on vacation and I just love how relaxing/ chill the vibe is there.  

Why should people visit?

LA is a really fun city that’s got a bit of something for everyone - Nature, art, shopping, film and TV studios, Disneyland & Universal theme parks.  You’re odds of running into someone famous are pretty high since there’s so many celebrities that live and work here.  That’s always a fun thing to complete your LA checklist.  It’s also a great place to rent a car and drive to other areas in So Cal.  We are 2 hours from San Diego Santa Barbra, Joshua Tree & Palm Springs.  Drive a little bit further north and you’re hitting wine country with the Paso Robles and Salvang.  Go further east and you’re in Las Vegas.  There’s an infinite amount of adventures and possibilities awaiting you here.


Want to Rep Your City with Conversations? Contact Herschel Dixon at Herschel.dixoncmg@gmail.com with REP YOUR CITY in the subject line.  If chosen as a feature all “Rep Your City” features need a photo of the participant and can also include a picture from some place or something in the city they are representing. 

Sunday, October 11, 2020

[MOVIE REVIEW] The Campaign of Miner Bo


 I remember hearing about Bo Copley and his path to running for office, but now after watching THE CAMPAIGN OF MINER BO I have a better understanding of the journey and the man who took it.


I love how it shows what the seed was for running for office. It wasn't ego. It wasn't pride. It was purpose. He felt led to the task, and from there we see how it unfolded. We see how some believed while others doubted, but that didn't stop Bo from moving forward. Even when at times he was misunderstood or even ignored, he kept on going.


Why? Why put yourself and your family in this position? Bo himself is able to share. He was following what he felt like was God's plan for him. One of the most emotional moments for me was when Bo says he knew what he was told to do, but he wasn't sure what the outcome would be. That should help us all to see that the important thing is to be obedient to our calling. We never know who will be inspired by it or what it might lead to.


A great example of what one person can do, THE CAMPAIGN OF MINER BO inspires you to stay true to your purpose and passion.

MOVIE REVIEW: Yes


 So many great messages in this film.


YES is all about not just living but making an impact. Even when things don't always turn out the way you hope, there are teachable moments that can be seen and felt.


For the character Patrick Nolan we see that things may not happen as planned, but you can still make an impact. The important thing is to not lose yourself along the way. If you can stay the courage you might be able to inspire someone like the character Jeremiah.


Love how through Patrick we are able to see how you can be flawed and still make an impact. It also shows that life's events can either define us or refine us. We just have to choose not to lose ourselves along the way.


The last part of the film I think really sums up so much about the entertainment industry and life. Patrick is told that he is still 'useful', something he struggles to see. Jeremiah also realizes that you have to be led by what you love if you aren't going to be broken by the uncertainty of the career you choose.


YES is about answering the call, affirming what you want and how you can keep moving forward even when things seem bleak. Is it all worth it? YES. Without a doubt the answer is YES.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Debbie Nau Redmond: Giving SILENT VOICES and Mental Health the platform it deserves


by Cyrus Webb

All of us have a platform. The important thing is what we choose to do with it. For Debbie Nau Redmond she has been able to take what was a family tragedy and use it as an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of mental health, and what all of us can do.

Her book SILENT VOICES shares that journey, and I think readers of it are sure to see not only how we can help give a voice to those who feel ignored but can make sure those who need help get what they need, too. 

Debbie, it’s great to catch up with you again. You re-released your book SILENT VOICES in 2015, sharing with the world your family’s journey with mental illness. What has it been like for you to see the continued response to what your family experienced? 

Throughout these last few years, majority of the responses has been very positive. People have embraced my book and have sent me very kind and encouraging emails. I think what makes me feel the best is to hear them say the have learned something new about mental illness, that they now have some understanding of the struggles that families go through, and they were moved by the loyalty and forgiveness my parents demonstrated. Hearing these wonderful confirmations makes me feel like I accomplished what I was hoping to achieve by writing this book.

Was it an easy thing for you to relive the events while writing the book?

Actually, No. At first it was a struggle. I was going back and forth on if I should even write the book. Then my mom encouraged me to move forward. She believed and trusted in me, and felt it could help others. I had to interview my parents, siblings, friends, neighbors, and go through a lot of paperwork. Talking about the events with my family brought up a lot of unresolved feelings that I did not realize I still had. Emotionally, there was healing that needed to be done, however, I also realized writing down my feelings and the events became very therapeutic for me. By the end of the book, I felt like a heavy burden was lifted off my shoulders and I was free.  I think it was the best healing activity I could have ever done for myself. Writing this book made me feel blessed because I was able to accept and let go of the pain and sadness, and rediscover my own happiness. It helped me close the chapter to this part of my life.

We see in the world that we don’t always grasp the impact of things unless we have experienced them personally. Do you think that is true when it comes to mental illness and the importance of our mental health?

Yes, I think there is a lot of truth to that with any difficult situation. I feel most people try to understand to a point. They want to have compassion and understanding but until you actually experience it, you truly do not know how difficult it is. Living with mental illness or watching a loved one struggle with mental illness is very complicated because it can be a vicious cycle, for instance: Sick, get help, take medication, feeling better, stop medication and then get really sick again. This cycle of ups and downs can be mentally, emotionally and spiritually draining. Most people do not witness the full aspect of dealing with an illness. 


When we read SILENT VOICES we get the sense that you were living in two worlds: one at home with your brother who struggled with mental illness and then life outside the home. 

What do you want people to know about the importance of taking care of themselves when helping a family member that might be ill? 

Good question and a lesson I did not learn until after the fact. When you live with a family member that has mental illness, you have to remember to step back and take care of yourself.  It is very important for your emotional and mental health. Watching a loved one struggle can be very stressful because you want to help, but either you can’t or they wont let you help. You have to take the time, even if it is only for a few minutes a day, to release the stress. You need to find ways that can help you release your frustrations– Exercising (walking, running, biking, tennis, swimming, etc); a calming activity (mediation, reading, playing or listening to music); or an artistic activity (painting, drawing, sewing, cooking, etc), anything that brings you joy. Also, find outlets that allow you to talk about your feelings. Visit with a counselor, support groups, family or friends. Discussing how you feel can be very therapeutic in many ways. Always remember it is okay not to have all the answers and it is okay to feel mad, frustrated, hurt, scared, sad and/or confused.  What’s not okay is when you hold these feeling inside because you will eventually break. You won’t be helpful to your loved one if you are struggling yourself. You need to stay balanced mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. Taking care of yourself should always be your first priority. 

You discuss the judgment that your family experienced. Do you think that is one of the reasons why some don’t address mental illness?

Absolutely. Unfortunately, in our “enlightened age” social stigma against mental illness still exists today. Why is it that?  When people talk about someone who is ill, for instance, the flu or even cancer, they will discuss it openly, however if it is a mental illness, say depression or schizophrenia, they will whisper about it. Why? What is it about mental illness that people get embarrassed about?  It is a disease no different than Cancer, MS, MD or Parkinson’s and should be treated with the same respect as these diseases.  So many people are scared of mental illness or they dismiss it thinking it is a personality disorder, when in fact; it is a chemical imbalance of the brain. It is a physical ailment.

 I feel people tend to ignore things they do not understand, like mental illness. They would rather not have to deal with it because it is easier. The sad part of it all, people who have mental illness have to deal with a double-edge sword. Not only do they struggle with the symptoms and disabilities that result from their disease, they are challenged by the stereotypes and prejudice that result from misconceptions about mental illness. One fourth (24%) of the world population has some type of mental illness. I hope some day that mental illness will be accepted and respected like any other disease, considering more people experience mental illness than cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, MS or MD. If society treated mental illness with more respect and understanding, maybe more people would address it and get the help that is needed.

Forgiveness is something you and I have discussed on the radio show when it comes to your story. Do you feel as though that is something that has evolved for you over the years when it comes to the tragedy your family experienced at the hands of one of your own?

When we first discussed forgiveness, I told you that I forgave my brother instantly for what he did. What I didn’t realize was there was an underlying layer of forgiveness that I was still working on. When the tragedy happened with my brother Ricky, I was able to forgive him immediately because I loved him. I watched him go through a terrible two-year downward spiral of mental illness and I knew the tragedy was due to his illness. So it was easy for me to forgive him for the “act.” 

However, where I struggled with forgiveness was years later. As I grew older and I started to look back on life, and I realized what I was missing. I recognized I felt angry and robbed from having many wonderful family experiences.  I was robbed of my teenage years. I was robbed of my childhood innocents. I was robbed from experiencing love and happiness in my twenties, and I recognized I developed fear of judgment, betrayal and some PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). 

I learned over the years that forgiveness can be a very difficult thing to do, but it is also can be the greatest gift you can ever give yourself. It’s not about the person who hurt you or betrayed you… it’s about you and ONLY for you! Forgiving is not taking away the person’s accountability for what they did, it just allowing you the freedom to move on.  Just remember this… Not forgiving someone only hurts you, not them.  Forgiveness can be a very wonderful thing because it can free you and help you to truly be happy and enjoy life. My message would be not to rob your self from a happy life due to another persons act, even if it had horrible consequences. We all deserve love, peace, harmony and happiness in our life. The only way to accomplish that is to forgive and let go.

How have you found the courage to keep speaking out when it comes to mental health awareness?

I don’t feel it is a courage’s thing to do, I just feel it is the right thing to do. Since mental illness affects so many people (24% of the population), it is important to always speak freely and honestly. I never want anyone to feel embarrassed or ashamed of mental illness.  I personally look at it as a physical disease that needs to be addressed and respected. I hope being honest and speaking out will only teach compassion and understanding for all the families and individuals who have to deal with mental illness. I pray some day that the social stigma against mental illness will go away and that society will learn to understand and treat it with the utmost respect that is deserves.

I’ve never asked you this next question before, Debbie. Seeing what your family has dealt with, have you ever been concerned about your own mental health and the importance of checking in with yourself, making sure you’re okay?

Yes, it was a deep fear of mine. Statistically, women get Schizophrenia at a later age, so I was really scared that I inherited the “gene” since the illness was present on my dad’s side of the family.  I did talk to doctors and discussed my fears with counselors asking questions about schizophrenia and mental illness in general. Luckily, both the doctors and counselors said it was highly unlikely I would get Schizophrenia. They both felt if I were going to get it, it would have been during the time of the tragedy. The extreme amount of stress I was under would have triggered the disease. I have to admit, I felt very relieved to hear them confirm I would not get it. After seeing what my brother went through and how difficult it was on him, I would never wish that upon anyone.  

However, I did struggle with depression for a few years after the tragedy. I was dealing with survival guilt, bad dreams, anxiety, PTSD, anger and death. I recognized immediately that I needed to take care of myself and focus on getting help to resolve these issues. I did not want to live my life in sadness. My counselor was fantastic and helped me to work through all my issues and helped me grow spiritually. I feel very blessed to be happy and healthy. If you ever feel depressed, seek counseling. It takes a lot of courage to recognize you need help and then to purse getting help. Taking time to care of your health to become the best person you can be, is the best gift you can give yourself.

Though you have experienced tragedy in your life you have managed to move forward. What would you say to our readers about the importance of not giving up, even in the face of challenging times?

Thank you for asking this question, because I feel it is so important. Overcoming a difficult situation is not easy, it’s very hard! It takes courage, patience, understanding and acceptance that you DO deserve to be happy. It took a lot time and spiritual growth for me to forgive Ricky and to get to a peaceful place. I feel blessed for the experience because it made me a better person. Without the Ricky, I would not be the person I am today. Ricky taught me a level of spirituality that I otherwise would have never known. He taught me a level of understanding and compassion I would have never been able to find by myself. He taught me that I could overcome anything as long as I believe in myself. 

Out of tragedy grows knowledge and wisdom. I also realized that life is a choice. Personally, I decided to choose happiness and not hate. I remember reading many self-help books when I was younger to help me overcome and work through grief and forgiveness. There was one particular quote by Charles Swindoll that always stuck in back of my mind: “Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you respond to it;” which is very true if you think about it. If we make the choices not to let bad things effect us, it won’t! 

I was lucky to learn and understand that life is not about lessons; life is about experiences - good or bad. They can help us grow mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Difficult situations help us to develop our inner wisdom. I now take difficult situations and turn them into a positive life experience. I try hard to see what I can learn and how I can overcome. It is not always easy, but I made the decision to never allow anyone or anything to predict and determine my happiness. Happiness comes from within you and you will always have the power to make the choice to be happy or not. Choose wisely, because life is short, and there are so many wonderful things to see and experience. Never give up and never make a permanent decision based on temporary situation. Always choose yourself and always choose happiness no matter how hard it can be. It will get better as long as you forgive, let go of your pain or anger and believe in yourself.

You and I have also discussed that this story—your story—is the thing that movies and TV shows are made of. What do you hope those who are just discovering your book take away from it?

My goal for writing the book was to teach people compassion and understand about mental illness and the struggles that families and individuals go through. Mental illness is the most ignored disease and I hope that after reading my book, people will give it the respect that it deserves and help stop misconceptions that are causing social stigma.   I hope my book encourages conversations with family and friends. I also hope my book demonstrates that you can overcome any difficult situation. That love, commitment and family loyalty can conquer all, and forgiveness can bring peace.

Thanks, Debbie, for your time. Continued blessings and success to you. How can our audience stay connected with you and get the book. 

Thank you Cyrus for all of your questions. I appreciate you bringing awareness to my book and mental illness. Blessings to you.

You can get my book through Amazon or my personal website at www.debbieredmond.com. Ebook is also available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo. 

I also have a charity called Silent Voices Foundation at www.silentvoicesfoundation.org. Here you can get facts and information about Schizophrenia. I accept donations that will go to finding a cure and building half way houses for Schizophrenics. Tax receipts are available. Any help would be blessing and appreciated. 


Monday, October 5, 2020

21 Books YOU Should Read During #NationalBookMonth in 2020


 Looking for some great books to add to your reading list as we recognize National Book Book in 2020? Conversations' Cyrus Webb has you covered with 21 Books he has personally read that he believes YOU should read as well. 

NON-FICTION TITLES (Listed in no particular order)

  1. The World Looks Different Now by Margaret Thomson (She Writes Press)
  2. Beyond the Holocaust by Sylvie Heyman (Balboa Press)
  3. The Courage to Step Out of the Familiar by Dennis J. Perkins (Xulon Press)
  4. Healing Words: Life Lessons to Inspire by Mary Ellen Ciganovich (Conversations Media Group)
  5. B!tch Hunt by Taetrece Harrison (Sovereign Noir)
  6. The Power of Pain by Kneika Robbins/Audra Bush/Kenya Frazier (BlaqRayn Publishing)
  7. Silent Voices by Debbie Nau Redmond (Aspenglo, LLC)
  8. Seminole by Tina Siemens (KDP)
  9. Unapologetically: I Am A Man by Cornelius J. Maxwell (Leaked From My Pen LLC)
  10. The Answer Is...Reflections on My Life by Alex Trebek (Simon & Schuster)
  11. This is Not a Fashion Story by Danielle Bernstein (Vertel Publishing)
  12. Side-Chick Savior by Jamiah Alexander (Conversations Media Group)

FICTION TITLES (Listed in no particular order)
  1. When I Was You by Amber Garza (Mira Books)
  2. Countdown America by M. C. Fox (M. C. Fox)
  3. You Can Go Home Now by Michael Elias (Harper)
  4. The Silent Wife by Karin Slaughter (William Morrow)
  5. K3 by Tracie O'Neil Horton (Outskirts Press)
  6. The Unspoken by Ian K. Smith (Thomas & Mercer)
  7. My Daddy's Baby Too by Charmaine Marie (Real L.O.V.E. Publications)
  8. Chaos by Andrew Hess (Phoenix Entertainment and Development)
  9. World of Rage by A. Shane Etter (ThomasMax Publishing)

Sunday, September 27, 2020

[Book Review] Dennis Perkins' THE CAMOUFLAGE OF DECEPTION reminds us to search for truth

 In a world where what is good is presented as what is bad and vice versa, we have to do our part to make sure we are not being deceived and doing what is right, not in our eyes but God's. For that reason I really appreciated Dennis J. Perkins' new book THE CAMOUFLAGE OF DECEPTION. 

He literally takes us back to the beginning with the lie told to Eve by the devil---and how lies are affecting us today. Perkins also shows us through his own upbringing how we can choose to do what is right, in spite of what others may say and do. 

The big takeaway for me is this: We can't allow ourselves to just go with the flow. We have to use our own God-given conscience and training to do what is right, especially if we want to be pleasing to our Creator.

A thought-provoking book that makes you think,  THE CAMOUFLAGE OF DECEPTION reminds us to search for truth on our own. 

Get your copy of Dennis Perkins' new book on Amazon

TAKE TEN with Recording Artist Kizzo

Kizzo, welcome to Take Ten. Even though 2020 has been a challenging year you have been able to continually give the world good music. What has it been like for you to see the response?

It’s been like fuel, pure energy. You’d think that with the events of 2020, things would slow down. It has kind of been the opposite for me. Sure, for a while you have a quiet time where you step back and evaluate everything to see what you’re going to do. That’s a good thing though because you can step back into it more channeled and focused. 


As far as the listeners, it feels like there’s more of an appreciation for the material right now. The big companies are holding back products, but the indie creators like us will still release it. It’s like we have nothing to lose. So we’re still giving content, and it just seems like people appreciate that. To receive that kind of energy, it fuels you to keep going. So actually it becomes a cycle, a circle of energy. 

 
Have you always known that music was something that you wanted to do?

Not really. Maybe by later during my high school years, I guess. Before that, though, I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do as far as a serious career. Once I graduated high school it was a lock.

Actually, my vision was to become a producer or have a music entity that could support and promote the people I knew that were much more talented people than myself. That’s why I decided to pursue the music business aspect of it. We didn't have access to people who really knew the business or how to release projects, publishing, and things like that. I was in a group at the time, and I wanted to be my groups’ producer, or at least give us an avenue to success. 

 
Who would you say have been some of your musical influences?

That’s an ever-growing list. I’d hate to exclude anyone. I could compile a huge list from different eras and, even genres. I’m influenced by some because of creative content, and some because of career execution. It could even change depending on the time period and what’s going on with me in my life at a particular point. I’ll be inspired or influenced by something or someone depending on how I relate to it at that moment in time. I tend to draw more towards the ones that lead the crowd rather than follow though. 

 


Marketing is a big part of brand as well. Our readers will see me with my Kizzo face mask in this issue. Did you always know that the promotion of your brand was going to be just as important as giving us good music?

Yes, I learned the ratio early. The music business is 10% music and 90% business. Also, I learned it’s all in the presentation. Whether it’s an article of clothing or accessory that your favorite artist always wears or that awesome, unforgettable logo of your favorite group. Those images are just as much a part of the legacy as the art they create. In fact, it is an art within itself.

Lastly, you are your greatest asset. You are your billboard, your flyer. You yourself are the product. The creations and content just enhance you. So you are the brand. So for me, my music is one branch of the brand. I am the entity. 

 How would you describe the Kizzo sound?

Kizzo’s sound is an ever-growing merger, similar to my influences. Without all those labels and genres that you have to mention, I would just say that my sound is familiar but also the future. I have those essences of the ones before me, but I’m always expanding into different sounds as well. It’s just creation. Even if you took an artist and said he or she is ‘this’, you could probably do some extended research and see that they are actually a little bit of “this, that, and a sprinkle of that too”.

As time goes on and music evolves, if you're a creator who’s been doing it for a while, you’re going to have your own unique sound, that is in fact a merger of everything you’ve heard, absorbed, experienced and so on. 

 Social media has helped to fill the void while many have been sheltering in place around the world. How have you used that to connect to your fans?

It was already such an important avenue and tool before all of this. This current situation really just intensifies the impact of it. So for me, it’s been trying to be more consistent with content, because I know people may have a little more time on their hands.

I have quite a bit of music out there, so I get to go back and circulate some things that maybe didn't get the time and attention that I would have liked earlier on. I’ve been focusing more on constant visual content as well. Music isn't the only thing being streamed. TV is probably an even bigger market. So visuals are imperative. You just want to give people something they feel is worth stopping on while scrolling through their timeline, and hopefully, I’m doing at least that.

Overall, I think it's beautiful, if honestly and positively engaged and utilized. For instance, I appreciate followers. More than followers, come likes. More than likes come positive comments and, confirmations. More than that; is someone actually going and streaming and buying the music or watching a video, then coming back with what they like about it. Then more than that is sharing that experience with someone they know and hoping they continue the process. So just to have a social media account and someone liking a post isn’t the highest plateau, although some treat it that way. 

 

I know you are looking forward to getting back out on the road. Talk with us about the live performance, Kizzo. What is it like for you to be able to get up on stage and see the response of the audience?

Whenever things are done right, and the proper preparations have been made, then the live performance aspect is still an incredible experience. It’s that rare human interaction that we get today, especially right now. It’s the difference between texting an entire conversation versus sitting down face to face and talking in person. You know, hearing the actual laughter instead of reading (laughs). 

It’s actually hugging someone instead of the hug emoji. That’s what the live performance should be about. Seeing people sitting in front of you smiling, waving their hands, bobbing their head, or even giving a not so satisfied look of disapproval, For better or worse, though, it's real-time and it's authentic. However, even as a fan and concert goer myself, I’ve realized that sometimes you get more wrapped up in live streaming and posting your experience than just actually experiencing it purely. So there’s that part of it as well.

 

What should our readers be on the look out for as we go throughout the rest of this year?

Right now it’s about maximizing all of the music and projects and, making sure that people are getting a chance to really experience all of the songs, visuals, and everything. Things are so fast-paced, and there are so many distractions that sometimes you don’t get to take in all of this new content that people are releasing. I want people to really soak it up and enjoy it, multiple times. Remember it. Then next year, we’ll start it all up again. There are some other creators that I’ve been working with, so I’m really looking forward to seeing them do their thing. Then there are some other forms of media that I have in the works as well. Even going back to the performance topic, we’re working on putting together a virtual show as part of our Soul-Out Tour. So we’ll see if we can put something together worth presenting.

 What advice do you have for other artists out there when it comes to pursuing their goals and dreams?

Define success and what that looks like for you. You need to know what the end game is and what you’re trying to reach. Some people say, “I just want to do music”. Then after a  little while they may slow down or even quit, because what they really wanted was to make millions of dollars doing music, or become nationally famous doing music. So in their eyes, they’ve failed. This concept of ‘making it’ can destroy people. So it’s important to understand what you’re doing, and what you’re in it for. 

I would say surround yourself with or get into a circle of those who understand you, appreciate you, and will push you. You need to be in an environment that allows you to blossom and reach your potential, but doesn’t let you do just any and everything. You want people to hold you accountable, and know that they want to be held accountable as well. This elevates everyone. 

Be honest with yourself. Be honest with others. There will be moves you have to make that will require both. Then, and this could really be the first thing; work on your craft and learn the business of whatever it is you’re trying to pursue. Lastly, giving up doesn’t hurt anyone but you. So don’t give up. 


Thanks for the time, Kizzo. How can our audience stay connected with you?

Thank you. I really do appreciate the conversation and the opportunity to do this. It was an amazing and inspiring experience. Everyone can connect with me on Facebook and twitter at @kizzotainment , and on Instagram @kizzomatic. You can stay up on things I have going on at www.kizzotainment.com

TAKE TEN: Recording Artist Marcell Cassanova


by Cyrus Webb

Marcell, we had a great conversation together on Conversations LIVE the radio show. Glad to have you featured in our Take Ten series for Conversations Magazine. Let’s begin with where we are right now. What has it been like to see the response to the Southern Love music?

 It has been amazing to see how everyone has reacted to Southern Love. It feels so good that it seems like Southern Love has become its own genre. The people have embraced the music, and I’m grateful.

You are one of those artists that not just create your own music. You have worked with a lot of other artists, too. Why has that been important to you to show that support?

 It’s important for me to show support because no one can truly make it alone, whether it be music or life. A lot of times we hear people say, “I’m self-made" or "I got here on my own”, but in reality, we all have had help in one way or another. It also feels good to help others, even if those same people never come back and help you or acknowledge what you have done for them.

To continue with that thought, Marcell, our association is crucial, especially when it comes to staying motivated. How important has it been for you to watch the energy you allow around you, especially with everything going on right now?

Energy is very important. I only want people with positive energy around me. People that have that 'I can and I will' attitude. In life, we have to keep moving forward no matter how good or bad the past was, we have to get away from the negative and think positive and be positive.

For those that are just discovering your music, Marcell, tell them when you first realized music was your passion.

I’ve always loved music, as most of us have, but I would have to say I realized music was my passion when I was in college trying to find my way and figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I had been involved with music professionally since I was a teen, but I never saw it as a career. It was just a part of who I was.

How does it feel to go from having your favorite artists that you like to listen to on the radio show to now having your own music being played on the radio?

It’s a wonderful feeling that actually never gets old. It doesn’t matter how many times I hear my songs, songs I’ve written, songs I’ve produced, recorded, mixed, or mastered on the radio it’s a feeling of success; and it’s something that no one can ever take away from you.

You, like the rest of us, have been using social media to stay connected. How has that helped you to reach your fans and introduce yourself to new listeners?

Social media has been an amazing tool to help connect with fans. It creates an opportunity for fans to get a closer look at you and for you to get a more direct look at what the fans like and want to hear and see. Social media is like a secret entrance to another dimension where you and the fans can get close, but no too personal.

Before things shut down this year you began 2020 performing. What is the difference for you when it comes to being in the studio and performing live for your fans?

 I’m a creator, and the studio is where creative juices flow freely. The difference is that I see the studio work for me and the performing live is for the fans. Being in the studio lays the groundwork for the live performance. When I’m performing, I just work to give the fans what I was feeling while I was creating in the studio.

What should our readers be looking for as we go throughout the rest of this year?

They should be looking for more visuals of the Southern Love Experience, merchandise (shirts, caps, etc.). I may even squeeze in a few exclusive releases for the fans.

What advice do you have for other artists out there when it comes to pursuing their goals and dreams?

The advice I have is to believe in yourself and don’t look for validation from anyone else to make you feel qualified to do what you are doing. Love yourself and be yourself, because there is always someone watching and copying you.

Appreciate your speaking with us, Marcell. How can our audience stay connected with you?

Everyone can go to my website www.marcellcassanova.com . Follow my Instagram @marcellcassanova , subscribe to our YouTube page, Feel Good Music Studios where they will get all of the videos and music. I’m also on twitter @themrfeelgood and my Facebook page is Marcell Cassanova. 

My music is available on all digital download outlets. I really would like to thank you for taking the time to allow me to speak with your audience, and like I always say when signing off #preciateitbaby.


[To You, From Me] 3 Reasons Why NOW Is the Perfect Time

Going into the final months of 2020 many people are just waiting for the time when things are going to be "right" for them to do the things they have been wanting to do. I get it. This is NOT the year many planned on, but as I have said before it is the year we have. Instead of waiting for a time in the future, I want to share with you 3 reasons why NOW is the perfect time to start on the path that can lead you to where you want to go. 

  1. IT'S THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED: The main reason why this is the perfect time for you is because there is less competition. Think about it: The majority of those around you are "waiting", right? That is why if you make the decision today to start that project or business you have an opening to fill before things get crowded again. 

  2. THE COST OF ENTRY IS LOW: If this time has shown us anything it is the power of the free tools right at our fingertips, namely social media. With the main cost just being your time and energy, the world is literally in front of you. All you have to do is reach out to them.

  3. TOMORROW IS NOT PROMISED: I have personally lost friends this year, individually who had no idea that this would be the year their lives ended. With that said all of us have to be reminded of our mortality. We can't afford to wait for a time that we don't even know we will have. 
In this issue of Conversations Magazine I am excited to present individuals who are making the most of the moment in front of them. They are blazing a trail in their respective industries as well as showing by their perseverance that they are overcomers, not victims. 

My hope is that you are inspired by them and what they have achieved and realize what is possible for you. 

Remember there is no time like the present. The time to act on your goals, dreams and ambitions is NOW. 

Happy reading!




Cyrus Webb, Editor-In-Chief
Conversations Magazine/Mississippi Success Magazine 

Monday, July 27, 2020

[To You, From Me] Navigating the New Normal

If 2020 has taught us anything it is to expect the unexpected.

For many people this year has meant a loss in employment and security. For others even a loss in life. We all know someone who has been impacted by the events of this year, but the question remains: What will it all mean?

There are those who are using this as a reset for themselves, an opportunity to realize what they want to do and may be able to do moving forward. For others they are picking up the pieces and trying to make sense of where they are and what to do next.

In this issue of Conversations Magazine we wanted to remind you of one thing: No matter what this 'new normal' has done to you don't allow it to stop you! Those profiled in this issue could have allowed their lives to be paralyzed by the uncertainty of it all. The truth is, though, they have realized how to use what is at their disposal and keep going.

Whether we are talking about the Coronavirus pandemic or the racial unrest and conversations about inequality, what all of us have in common is the ability to put one foot in front of the other and keep making strides in the right direction. It doesn't mean you are going to move as quickly as you would like or even in the direction you initially thought was right for you. What it does mean is that you are determined to figure it out.

That is what acting on faith is all about. Believing that with hard work and dedication our best days are still ahead.

Want to share with me how you are navigating the new normal? Feel free to reach out to me at cawebb4@juno.com. Would love to hear your stories.

Until next time, Happy Reading!





Cyrus Webb, Editor-In-Chief
Conversations Magazine

[MOVIE REVIEW] The Conversation

When I was introduced to THE CONVERSATION it had my attention from the very beginning. It's a simple yet powerful message about how two people (played by Ashley A.Williams and Michael Cory Davis) can have two different perspectives of one event---and the importance of understanding the other person's perspective.

To be honest when I watched it the first time I could see parts of both sides, how one might get the wrong impression. But the overall message is clear: listen to what others are saying. Don't go by what you think. Go by what is being said and expressed.

The film itself is less than 20 minutes long, but it is packed with so much to digest that it will have you talking about it long after the credits roll. The overall message is clear: If we are open to understanding the perspective of others and not making everything about ourselves then we will definitely avoid problems and misunderstandings that can lead to disaster.

Watch THE CONVERSATION today on Amazon.

[MOVIE REVIEW] Street Survivors: The True Story Of The Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash

by Cyrus Webb

Raised in the South I have known of the group Lynyrd Skynyrd for some time, as well as the tragedy that befell the group in 1977. What I didn't know is what life was like for the group, their music and what happened after the crash to the members left behind. THAT is the story that STREET SURVIVORS tells.

Through the voice of band member Artimus Pyle we see his passion for music, what it was like for him to join the talented group and the antics that were a part of life on the road. We also see the passion for the fans and performing, and the connection the group shared through music.

The film gives us a look at the tragic crash and life afterwards for Pyle, but it really shows the heart of someone who was part of something that seems almost bigger than life.

STREET SURVIVORS is the Lynyrd Skynyrd story that we have been wanting, and is sure to give us a new layer of understanding why the group's music continues to live on.

Rent or buy STREET SURVIVORS on Amazon.

Jared Cohn: Pursuing His Passion While Telling Stories that Matter

by Cyrus Webb

There are few people I have been introduced to that are as passionate about creating as Jared Cohn. He is a Writer, Producer, Director and Actor that has made a name for himself and doing the work (and telling the stories) that he is passionate about.

We were first introduced to each other back in 2016. During the time he was promoting his film that he wrote, produced and starred in called Wishing For A Dream. It tells the story that so many creative individuals can relate to: having a dream and what it takes to see that dream realized, both the good and the bad.

We reconnected in 2020 as he was celebrating the release of his powerful film STREET SURVIVORS: The True Story of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash and gearing up for the debut of his Lifetime movie HER DEADLY GROOM.

Our chat was inspiring and shows why Cohn is such a respected figure in the entertainment industry.

JARED ON WISHING FOR A DREAM:
"It's still like an ongoing struggle.  I'm still in character. It's very real... Making the film was kind of like a documentary---but not a documentary. When I write a script I try to invoke something that makes the viewer think. I wanted to make something personal, hopefully that would resonate with some people."

JARED ON THE BUSINESS:
"If you go on the internet and you're looking for feedback, you have to have thick skin. I'm so grateful that there are people who are supportive. It's a tough business. It helps to know some of your work is received well."

"It's like a roller coaster: Some days you feel unstoppable, and other times you're like why am I doing this? It comes in moments. It's a crazy town...it's a crazy industry, but I can't do anything else. I selected this path, because I am a fan of entertainment. That's what I wanted to make my life about."

JARED ON WHAT KEEPS HIM GOING:
"You have to have that sense of this is possible and believe in that. If you don't believe in yourself no one else is going to believe in you. You have to keep going."

"It's always about the next thing. If you're just focusing on what you're doing right now when it's done you're going to be idle. I like to have multiple things going on. I'm constantly writing, looking at other projects. I'm a creator. It's all about content. At the end of the day that's all that matters."

Stay connected with Jared and Trap Light Media on Twitter at www.twitter.com/traplightmedia and Instagram at www.instagram.com/jaredcohn1.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

TAKE TEN with Steven Manchester, author of THE MENU

by Cyrus Webb

For years I have been a fan of author Steven Manchester. Through fiction he is able to share not just some entertaining stories but some real-life lessons that the reader can take away from them. His newest, THE MENU, is so different. Though a tad different in subject matter the message is one that is typical Steven Manchester. We discuss his literary success and new book in this Take Ten. Enjoy!


Steven, great to catch up with you again. Congratulations on the new book THE MENU. We’ll get more into it soon, but I want to begin with this writing journey for you. What has it been like for you to do what you love from book to book and see the response from readers?
It’s been a dream come true. It really has. From a young age, I wanted to be a writer. Twenty-five years ago, I  embarked on that journey and never looked back. Even during the failures, it’s been worth every second of my time and effort. The love I’ve received in return from my readers is the icing on the cake.

You have definitely given us some great stories, but there are some themes that seem consistent: family, faith and forgiveness. Is this just a part of who you are, or do you find they just find themselves naturally into your work?
I would have to say both. I write reality-based fiction and, although it’s a bit cliché, we can only write about what we know, who we know, and where we’ve been. Family means everything to me. I believe that we’re all connected.  As long as I’m writing stories for my children, I figure I can never go wrong, and I would never waste their time with anything that doesn’t have meaning.

With THE MENU the faith element is probably the strongest we have seen. How did the story come about?
When I first started, I knew I did not have the skill set to pull off a story of this scale and depth. The Menu is a story of hope and healing, of finding real peace. Originally, I wanted to write a story that had the potential to break my children’s fear of death. That naturally evolved into a spiritual work and, in my opinion, the best story I’ve ever written. None of us are ever alone, not ever, and The Menu was written to show that.

Like some of your other characters Phinn is definitely flawed yet so relatable. What was it like to navigate the world through his eyes and experiences?
Phinn was an easy character for me to develop because he is so flawed. I don’t think people relate to characters that are perfect. The trick to pulling off a story like this is to make the characters as real and relatable as possible. By doing that, the reader is able to feel the character’s joys as well as his sorrows. And as soon as we move from thinking into feeling, we have a novel worth reading.

One of the big messages in THE MENU is the importance of making the most of each and every day. How has that message served you well? 
As you know, I served in the first Gulf War. It was a brutal experience. But sometimes in the shadows, I think we’re able to see what’s truly important in life. Being an optimist and seeing the glass as half full has allowed me to live a joyous life, filled with hope and purpose. I’m trying to teach my children to approach each day the same way.

I mentioned your readers earlier. What has that part of the experience been like to see how they have gotten the message of THE MENU?
I’ve always been blessed to receive some amazing feedback for my novels. The Menu has been at a whole different level. I am incredibly humbled by the kind words that people have sent me when providing feedback on this novel.  The story is clearly affecting most folks at a deeper level. Conversations about purpose and passion, faith and forgiveness, have all been a part of the book’s discussion. I honestly feel blessed that I was able to write the story, and I feel equally blessed that my readers have been willing to jump into the deep side of the pool with me.

You and I haven’t met each other yet, Steven, but social media has kept us connected. How have you used that tool in your marketing as an author?
We haven’t met in person yet, though I do feel quite connected to you and your work. At first, I hated social media. There’s so much hate and divisiveness spread on these platforms—where courage is not required for people to express their biases. I’ve since learned that we can also use the platforms to unite and spread positive messages. Social media has been an effective tool for me to get the word out about my work. If it wasn’t for Facebook and Twitter, the kids I graduated from Kindergarten with would never know I’m a writer.

2020 has been a different kind of year for all of us. What has it been like adjusting to promote a book while dealing with a pandemic?
Writing time has been in surplus thanks to being quarantined. Promoting books, however, has been the opposite. Social media is fantastic for marketing, but it doesn’t come remotely close to meeting my readers face-to-face and discussing one of my books that they’ve just read. With The Menu, I intend to promote the story long after we’ve all been vaccinated for the Coronavirus. I’m remaining optimistic.

You’ve been able to consistently deliver great work. You don’t stop. Unfortunately so many out there haven’t even started doing what they are passionate about. Any advice you want to share with our readers about the importance of going after their goals and dreams and not giving up?
The simplest advice I can give is this: For me, it’s all about the three P’s—Purpose, Passion, and Perseverance. I believe that the trick to success and joy is to first find your purpose. Once you do, pour all of your passion into it. Perseverance will take care of the rest.

Always a pleasure, Steven. How can our readers stay connected with you and get their copy of the books?
The pleasure is mine, my friend. I can’t thank you enough for your continued support. I love to follow your successes and accomplishments, as well. I’m proud to count you amongst my friends.
The best place to get The Menu—in both print an e-book—is on Amazon.

Actor/Producer Jamison Jones: Acting on Faith While Paying It Forward

by Cyrus Webb

Jamison Jones* has been able to do work that he loves on stage, television and film as well as expanded his brand as a writer, producer and acting coach. While many movies were being shuttered in 2020 due to the pandemic he also starred in the film THE WRETCHED which has gone on to be a #1 film at drive-in theaters. 

During his first visit on Conversations LIVE radio show we discussed his success and the movie. "With THE WRETCHED it's been a very strange blessing in disguise," he told me. "It's been such a joy to see people's response to the movie." (THE WRETCHED is currently available on your favorite streaming platform.)

When I asked him about the 'strange blessings' of his career and what led to where he is today Jamison offered this insight to his success. "As an actor it's always challenging to know which is the right project. You have this team around you encouraging you to do certain things or not do certain things. At the end of the day you have to follow your heart." 

Following his heart and his listening to his gut is what led Jamison to THE WRETCHED. "I loved this script when I read it," he explained. "For me it was a story about a father and a son trying to reconnect after a difficult time. It was great for me to play a character like this."

In discussing what led him to want to be involved behind the camera, Jamison says it was something he was missing from his time in the theater. "In theater you're a part of the entire creative process," he says. "I really do enjoy being a collaborator in the creative process."

Outside of pursuing his own career Jamison started the Jamison Jones Acting Studio as a way of paying it forward to the next generation. "It took me 15 years to really work and find a way to stay connected to people," he says. "It was important to me looking back at that time to help other actors coming up." Speaking of having the opportunities he told me: "It's all about the creative aspect of it. Being an actor without opportunities is like being an artist without paint. There's nothing you can do if someone doesn't give you the opportunity to do it." He does see the independent projects as a plus, with more creatives taking their career into their own hands.

Whether pursuing his own projects or helping others do the same, Jamison Jones is a perfect example of how acting on faith can lead to some amazing opportunities. 

Stay connected with Jamison on Instagram at www.instagram.com/realjamisonjones.

* Photo by Joanna DeGeneres

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Actor Preston James Hillier: Taking One Step at a Time Towards His Goals


by Cyrus Webb

It’s easy to look at where someone is now and think “I wish I was them”.  The real question to ask is are you willing to do what they did to get to where they are today? When it comes to actor Preston James Hillier* he is someone who has been on a nice climb in his career. The point to remember is that it’s been a CLIMB. Nothing has come easy.

The two of us connected in 2019, one of the biggest years of his career. He’s had the privilege to grace the screen for television and film—and there is more to come.

In this conversation we discuss the journey to where he is today, the challenges and the reward for not giving up.

What has it been like for you to see how everything you've done has led up to this year?
You know, it's a very fickle business. There's highs and lows. There's ups and downs. There’s always transitions. I think looking back at some of those times where you're the right age and the right look for a certain time, and then you have a little bit of a lull. Then you're into the next category…the dad or whatever. It's those times in between the work that really test you. As an actor in this business a lot of people don't have the tenacity. It'll break you as a human being sometimes when you're not working, and just trying to get to that next level and you keep thinking, ‘When is that time going to come?’

I think that's always the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for every actor. You’re waiting for that moment, and hoping that it's going to come. And when it starts pulling together, and when you can kind of take a step back and look at what you've done—from  where you are to where you started—you do say I guess I really have done quite a bit of stuff. At the time it doesn't seem like it. You're just constantly fighting and trying to get to that next level.

So glad you shared that. It really shows that you have to be willing to do the work. So my question would be, I guess, did you know going into this industry that it was exactly what you said:  fickle with some highs and lows?
Yeah, to an extent.  I moved out here when I was 24, and everything I ate, drank and breathed was about moving to LA and pursuing this business. Nothing was going to stop me from doing that. And as you get here and look at things your friends are doing and you look at other people's careers, you kind of get a better idea of the scope of what lies ahead. I didn’t get to the border of California and they were handing out TV shows, but you just start chipping away at little things here and there. You realize there's a lot to this. There's no such thing as overnight success.

It’s been two decades now, Preston, that you’ve been able to do work in front of the camera. That is amazing. There have been some people who have come and gone in the time that you have been in the industry. As I look at where you are and how you kept pushing, what is it that helped you to do that? What is it that you think helped you to keep going even when it seemed difficult?
It's a good question. You know, I think a lot of it is surrounding yourself with good people. You know it can be a competitive business, and I have a lot of friends that are in my categories and we go out for a lot of the same things. When you can find those people you just keep pushing each other and helping each other up the ladder. That helps immensely, because you need a good support group. Otherwise it can be really difficult. Getting a little bit of work here and there satisfies you and makes you want more. I think that those are the little things to keep you going.

Follow Preston online through Instagram at www.instagram.com/prestonhillier and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/prestonhillier.  


*     Photo by Rob Nixon

Actor Sean Ringgold: Benefiting from Hard Work, Patience and God's Timing


by Cyrus Webb

Actor Sean Ringgold is a man that is not afraid of putting in the work, and now he is seeing the results pay off for him in a big way. We first connected in 2019 when he was on the hit show Family Business on BET, and 2020 found him on another hit show, For Life.

In this conversation we talked about the success, the power of patience and relying on God’s timing in his career and life.

Sean, thanks for the time. We're just going to jump right into it. 2020 is probably not shaping up exactly the way that people felt that it would, but you are just roaring along. What has that been like for you professionally to look at how things are lining up for you?
Oh man. I sometimes pinch myself and say it's all about God's patience and His will. I've also learned God will never give you more than you can handle. Everything that is happening is happening in it's divine order. It's funny: the people that you see in the beginning of your career you'll see through the middle and towards the end of your career. I've learned it's very important to nurture relationships and be respectful and never have that ego. Do the best you can on any job, no matter how small your character is, how medium, how big it starts to get. Have that certain level of humility.  If you do the doors opening just keep going on and on.

People look at where you are now, Sean, and will say, ‘Wow, look at that.’ But they don't realize what it took to get there. Do you think your appreciation for the process in addition to the patience is kind of what helped you to be where you are today?
I definitely appreciate the process, because it gives me the gratitude for where I'm at. Some people get to a certain place in their career very fast, and they just feel like they got there all on their own. They forget about certain levels of rejection. Everyone has their own journey and their own path.

I just have extreme gratitude, and I'm enjoying the journey. And I love the rejection, because when you start reaping the fruits of your labor, you look back and you just never forget how challenging it was. You never forget. And I try to help motivate and inspire other actors who are coming up to be patient and to work hard and to have rhinoceros’ skin. Do not have thin skin in this business. You have to be able to take everything that comes with it. It's a lot of rejection, but the reward is unbelievable as you continue to keep moving forward.

Let’s talk about the importance of relationships, nurturing those and not burning bridges. Like you said, you never know what's going to happen. How has that lesson served you?
I think a lot of times people don't realize that you treat everyone with respect, because you never know who you're going to meet on this journey. You never know who's going to come back into your life. I would say it served me in an incredible and an incredible way. It's everything. It's probably more than half of my career.

You have to remember something, Cyrus. Everything that you want to obtain in this world is controlled by people. There's a book that changed my life that I read probably when I was about 17 years of age. It was called HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCER PEOPLE by Dale Carnegie. That book changed my life. There's another good book called PERSONALITY PLUS. It talks about the different personality types.

Everything that we want to obtain has to do with our interacting with people. It seems like things are becoming more distant now, because we're going through computer screens and having less human interaction. But common courtesy, decency and respect are things that I've learned never to falter from. And it's very important to show everyone, whether it's the janitor, the PA, or people who are on their grind coming up the chain in the entertainment world courtesy, decency and respect.

Stay connected with Sean and what’s to come on Instagram at www.instagram.com/seanringgold.

Acting On Faith: Christina DeRosa, Actress/Producer /Content Creator


by Cyrus Webb

Actress Christina DeRosa* made her first appearance on Conversations LIVE the radio show this year. The two of us discussed not just the exciting way she brought in 2020 with the movie INHERITANCE, but her career in front of the camera and supporting projects that she believes in. If you follow her online you know she is also a fan of social media and expressing her creativity that way, too.
In this conversation you’ll read about Christina’s career, her passion and what keeps her moving forward even through the challenges we’re all facing.

I love the fact, especially on Instagram, you know, you don't take yourself too seriously. You're still able to have fun. What has it been like for you to see the way that you've been able to do work that you love and then have people love that work as well?
I always say, one of the things I always preach is gratitude is the best attitude. And I start my day and I end my day and every moment of my day is filled with gratitude. And I never stop being grateful. In fact, I think it's a practice. It's an ongoing practice. I write down what I'm grateful for and I never stopped being grateful for all the people in my life, all the opportunities in my life. And I believe the more you express gratitude, the more you have to be grateful for, the more the universe gives you to be grateful for.

And when it comes to acting, Christina, did that just seem like a natural thing for you? Was it something you always wanted to do?
Oh yeah. It all started back in Long Island, New York as a munchkin alongside Natalie Portman in the Wizard of Oz. I started singing and dancing at a young age, and that eventually led me to my musical theater career at the Boston Conservatory. I studied there and then I took the expression while at the Boston Conservatory “break a leg” literally. I fell and broke my leg on stage.  After that I just focused on acting, and that's when I moved to LA, graduated from UCLA and been here ever since.

Do you think that's kind of part of the balance for you that you've been able to find success, but also realize where real happiness comes from?
Absolutely. I think especially as an actress in this entertainment industry, it's very easy to get caught up in me, me, me. It's a very ego-driven industry. It's nice to have other outlets to focus on. It's nice to be able to give back. It's nice to be able to serve. For me, that is so important and focusing on not just my career, but all the other aspects of who I am: a daughter, a sister, you know, anything that I am. All the titles that I wear, not just my career. I always say my career can't dictate my happiness. It's gotta be coming from all over.

And along the way, Christina, not only have you been able to find success and appreciate gratitude, you have fans literally around the world that have been able to enjoy your work as well. What has that been like for you to wrap your mind around?
Oh, it's such a blessing. I think that we keep on going because of the fans, and in a time like now where social media is everything…it's the main way we network. We use it to continue to stay connected and to appreciate our fans. It could be the fans that post something that actually gets you your next job. You just never know.

The last thing I want to talk to you about is your work as a producer.  I have heard it said before and I totally agree, Christina, that creators just create. You mentioned how young you started when it came to acting and how that blossomed. What about working behind the camera as a producer? What has that experience been like for you?
There's a creative fire inside of me for storytelling, and I've seen so many projects that with just a little bit more effort on everybody's part could have been exponentially better. So my strengths as a producer are putting the artistic team together, finding great writers, finding great directors and I just love everything about it. I've really embraced it. Especially during this time now it's where it's at, and to be able to still feel like I'm creating as a producer right now when I'm not currently on set during the stay at home time, it's been powerful. I teamed up with some amazing partners, and we have a production company. We are currently working as producers on a feature film trilogy, and as soon as things are able to be shooting, we will be shooting that movie in Savannah, Georgia.  It's amazing that during these troubled times I was able to shift my creativity from being in front of the camera to being in the back of the camera and still feel amazing about it.

Yeah. And I think too, and I've had conversations with others on this program, Christina, especially over the past couple of months about the importance of embracing one's power. And I think this is a great opportunity for a lot of people to be able to do that. I mean, you are not only I think a living example of what is possible, but I think just by what you just said, you really show about the importance of taking advantage of an opportunity and not just sitting back and waiting, but being able to do your own thing. Is that kind of your advice for others out there when it comes to this period of weight that a lot of people find themselves in or even uncertainty that just to go for what they want to do?
Absolutely. And I feel nowadays, especially with social media, you as an actor out there don't want to just be an actor anymore. And in all honesty, you're not. You're actually becoming an actor, a writer, a director and an editor. If you're making your own TikTok videos, you're in there actually editing your own video, directing yourself, setting up the lighting and more. You're experiencing all aspects of the creative process, which is beautiful. It's way more fun when you get to do it with more people, but it really gives you a sense of appreciation when you're able to do it all yourself too.

Stay connected with Christina at www.christinaderosa.com. She can be found on Instagram at www.instagram.com/actresschristinaderosa

* Photo by Alisa Banks


[Ask Mary Ellen] Allowing Love to Transform and Detoxify your Soul

Holding in anger or any negative emotion can allow toxins to enter at the very level of your soul changing your energy patterns and throwing you into disharmony.

First, you must look at how you allow these toxins to become part of your existence. Do you hold onto past hurts? Are you unforgiving of yourself and/or others? Do you have judgments about yourself, others or our society as a whole? Do you let go and allow the Universe – your world to flow freely? Do you take care physically and mentally of this temple for your Holy Spirit or do you feed it with junk food and fill your mind with the “negative” news talk?

Spiritual teachers have always pointed to the soul/ heart as the seat of consciousness. Anyone who has taken the time to explore the soul, and more importantly the connection to the heart, knows the connection between these two and a consciousness greater than the ego. Approaching life with an open heart means you have opened the door to the greater consciousness at the soul level.

 Become aware of how you can create positive change by choosing the language you use and the perception of how you see your world. You may already have ideas about phrases you would like to transition out of your vocabulary. It is challenging to examine how you see your world. You do not need to actively try to change either of these patterns just become more conscious of yourself. Treat and speak to others the way you would like to be treated and spoken to by them!

When you affirm you are fulfilled, instead of articulating deficiencies, you are committing to your natural essence of human existence. Choose to focus on satisfaction instead of dissatisfaction. At your very soul level understand the energy of your thoughts determines the response you receive from the Universe/God. When you work with all of this creative power within you, it will empower you to achieve the peaceful life you want to live.

The secret for any detoxification process is to become grateful. Allow the power of God’s love to transform you. God and His love transforms ordinary humans into compassionate beings to vibrate at a level of love and kindness. You can raise your vibrational level through gratitude. Feel gratitude for all you have and all the goodness God has bestowed upon you.

Feel gratitude for everything! There is always a reason to be grateful even if you are simply grateful that something good has happened to someone else!

To detoxify your soul, you must
1. Let go of past hurts
2. Forgive unconditionally – especially yourself.
3. Stop judging yourself and others.
4. Allow all emotions/toxins that come into contact with your soul to be felt in entirety and let go without judgment.

To have a peaceful full life you must detoxify, especially at this very basic level of the soul. 

Regularly release these toxins through writing – such as journaling or crying as your tears will flush out your toxins. When you feel a toxin (sadness or yucky feeling) FEEL it let it. Let it come out (as tears or another positive way such as boxing or exercise) and do not judge it. You can sing or make any kind of sound to free up your soul. Music is very Healing!

 Become aware and elevate your soul. By opening your soul to free up the toxins (sadness, judgements or other yucky feelings) that have been binding you will make you feel tender and vulnerable. That is okay. Again, do not judge it! This process takes practice, patience, compassion and unconditional love.

Sincerely with love,
Mary Ellen Ciganovich
Author of "Healing Words, Life Lessons to Inspire” and "T.R.U.T.H- Taking Responsibility Unleashes True Healing"
www.askmaryellen.com  askmaryellen@aol.com  423-653-6446