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Friday, December 21, 2018

[To You,From Me] Be Determined to Win

2018 has been a year of extreme highs and lows for so many, including myself. I don't always get personal online but during this year I experienced the death of two aunts as well as health challenges with other family members and friends. I know that many of those who are connected with me have dealt with the same or even their own personal challenges and difficulties that has made the year harder than they would have liked.

It's easy to look at where you are right now and say that you'll never get where you want to go, or to wish that things could be different. The good thing is if you are here today. Right now. You have the ability to choose to win today. Maybe winning is different from what others are achieving, but giving it your best is the key to success.

This issue of Conversations Magazine is a celebration of life, of achievements and looking ahead. You'll be able to enjoy chats with the cast of one of my favorite shows on television, The Haves and the Have Nots as well as introductions to authors that have had a goal for themselves and in spite of what they could have done they saw it through all the way 'til the end.

This issue also introduces some great contributors to our readers. The "Joy Magnet" Shari Alyse, Fashion Contributor Gail Rayford-Ambeau and Fitness Contributors Ameerah Dean have great articles for you all, and we have a "31 Days of Inspiration" schedule from my friend fitness model and trainer Branden Nicholson.

No matter what comes your way today stay determined to win. I am living proof that behind every dark cloud is a ray of hope. You just have to look up to enjoy it.

Until next time!

Cyrus Webb, Editor-In-Chief
Conversations Magazine

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Conversations Top 50 Fiction Books of 2018

It has become one of Conversations' most prized reveals: what books read by Conversations Media Group founder Cyrus Webb are his top picks of the year?

Here you will find his choices for Top 50 Fiction Books of 2018. As over the past decade the list includes established voices as well as individuals who are rising literary stars.

(Listed in no particular order)

  1. The Cast by Danielle Steel (Delacorte Press)
  2. I've Got My Eyes On You by Mary Higgins Clark (Simon & Schuster)
  3. Material Witness by Norwood Holland (Windmill Books)
  4. Pre-Meditated Murder by Tracy Weber (Midnight Ink)
  5. Welcome to Moonlight Harbor by Sheila Roberts (Mira)
  6. Sold On a Monday by Kristina McMorris (Sourcebooks)
  7. Envy by Victoria Christopher Murray (Touchstone)
  8. Somebody's Daughter by Rochelle B. Weinstein (Lake Union)
  9. The Good Liar by Catherine McKenzie (Lake Union)
  10. Firestorm by Solange Ritchie (Stony Hill Publishers)
  11. The Escape Artist by Brad Meltzer (Grand Central Publishing)
  12. Cowboy: A Story of Yakima Canutt by David W. Huffstetler (Becher House)
  13. The Other Woman by Daniel Silva (Harper Collins)
  14. Not Perfect by Elizabeth LaBan (Lake Union)
  15. Addicted to Hate by Lucia Mann (Grassroots Publishing Group)
  16. A War in the Bronx by A. Shane Etter (Thomas Max)
  17. Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter (William Morrow/Harper Collins)
  18. The Painted Ladies by Sylvia Dickey Smith (Crispen Books)
  19. Death Logs Out by E. J. Simon (Endeavour Media)
  20. Faith Alone by Terri Ann Johnson (Brown Girls Books)
  21. Jenna's Case by Andy Siegel (Rockwell Press)
  22. The Widow of Wall Street by Randy Susan Meyers (Simon & Schuster)
  23. Louisiana Catch by Sweta Srivastava Vikram (Modern History Press)
  24. Skyjack by K. J. Howe (Quercus)
  25. The Perfect Candidate by Peter Stone (Simon & Schuster)
  26. Access Restricted by Gregory Scott Katsoulis (Harlequin Teen)
  27. Green Dots by Anthony Marcello (Page Publishing)
  28. A Steep Price by Robert Dugoni (Thomas & Mercer)
  29. Somebody's Daughter by David Bell (Berkley)
  30. The Cutting Edge by Jeffery Deaver (Grand Central Publishing)
  31. Vox by Christina Dalcher (Berkley)
  32. Blackberry Road by Jodi Lea Stewart (Sundown Press)
  33. The Forgotten Ones by Steena Holmes (Lake Union)
  34. Dog & B*tch Island by Robert Blake Whitehill (Calaveras Media)
  35. The Women on Retford Drive by Alretha Thomas (Diverse Arts Collective)
  36. Woman Last Seen In Her Thirties by Camille Pagan (Lake Union)
  37. Under My Skin by Lisa Unger (Park Row Books)
  38. The Epiphany by Alicia Rice (Alicia Rice)
  39. Deranged by Marcus Kimbrough (Xlibris)
  40. Tiffany Blues by M. J. Rose (Atria Books)
  41. Jinn by Jessica Cage (Caged Fantasies Publications)
  42. Three Showboxes by Steven Manchester (The Story Plant)
  43. Another Bump in the Road by T.M. Brown (T. M. Brown)
  44. Appearances Too by K. Reshay (K. Reshay)
  45. The Unkind Hours by Dwayne Alexander Smith (D*mn Good Books)
  46. Another Chance with You by Jacquelin Thomas (Harlequin Kimani Romance)
  47. The Last to Let Go by Amber Smith (Margaret K. McElderry)
  48. Stereotyped by Vick Breedy (Vick Breedy)
  49. After Nightfall by A.J. Banner (Lake Union)
  50. As Bright As Heaven by Susan Meissner (Berkley)

Conversations Top 50 Non-Fiction Books of 2018

It has become one of Conversations' most prized reveals: what books read by Conversations Media Group founder Cyrus Webb are his top picks of the year?

Here you will find his choices for Top 50 Non-Fiction Books of 2018. As over the past decade the list includes established voices as well as individuals who told amazing narratives either about themselves or others.

(Listed in no particular order)

  1. Intrinsic Hope: Living Courageously in Troubled Times by Kate Davies (New Society Publishers)
  2. Bill Duke: My 40-Year Career On Screen and Behind the Camera by Bill Duke (Rowman & Littlefield)
  3. Youtube Secrets by Sean Cannell & Benji Travis (Sean Cannell & Benji Travis)
  4. Abyss: Thought Provoking Poetry & Prose by D.G. Torrens (D.G. Torrens)
  5. Thriving Through Uncertainty by Tama Kieves (Tarcher Perigee/Penguin Random House)
  6. The Soul of America by Jon Meacham (Random House)
  7. Letters to the Daughter I'll Never Have by Ashley Brown (Mezcalita Press)
  8. The Top 10 Rules For Success by Evan Carmichael (Evan Carmichael) 
  9. Heavy by Kiese Laymon (Scribner)
  10. Daughters Betrayed by Their Mothers by Holli Kenley (Loving Healing Press)
  11. Redlined by Linda Gartz (She Writes Press)
  12. PTSD to Freedom by Linda Diane Wattley & William Sumner (Linda Diane Wattley)
  13. T.R.U.T.H. (Taking Responsibility Unleashes True Healing) by Mary Ellen Ciganovich (Conversations Media Group)
  14. Not A Poster Child by Francine Falk-Allen (She Writes Press)
  15. Act Like You Love Yourself by Lester Greene (Infinity Publications)
  16. Last Trip Home by Wanda Maureen Miller (She Writes Press)
  17. Unpunished Murder: Massacre at Colfax and the Quest for Justice by Lawrence Goldstone (Scholastic Focus)
  18. Sit Down and Shut Up by Cinque Henderson (St. Martin's Press)
  19. The Dinosaur Artist by Paige Williams (Hachette Books)
  20. This Is the Day by Tim Tebow (Waterbrook)
  21. Black Coffee: No Sugar, No Cream by Regina Duggins (Gina Mocha)
  22. Delta Epiphany: Robert E. Kennedy in Mississippi by Ellen B. Meacham (University Press of Mississippi)
  23. Cracking the Boy Code by Adam J. Cox (New Society Publishers)
  24. Food Fight by Chef Gigi Gaggero (Koehler Books)
  25. Pure by Linda Kay Klein (Touchstone)
  26. How Woman Rise by Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith (Hachette Books)
  27. Pocket Full of Dreams by Justine Wentzell (Red Balloon Station Books)
  28. Unbroken: Still I Smile by Tamara Charles (Tamara Charles)
  29. Never Shut Up by Marcellus Wiley (Dutton/Penguin Random House)
  30. The Sense of Success by Angelo Ellerbee (Ellerbee Group)
  31. Wherever You Are by Cynthia Lim (Coffeetown Press)
  32. Food for L.I.F.E.(Lasting Impressions Forever Enjoyed) by Lisa W. Beckwith (Rain Publishing)
  33. Align with Your Purpose by Earl Hall (Earl Hall)
  34. The Burn Zone by Renee Linnell (She Writes Press)
  35. The Change of Life: The Mario Loving Story by Mario Loving (Conversations Media Group)
  36. Letters From Max: A Book of Friendship by Sarah Ruhl & Max Ritvo (Milkweed)
  37. The Magic of Tiny Business by Sharon Rowe (Berrett-Koehler Publishers)
  38. A Mountain Too High by Michael McClendon (Xulon Press)
  39. The Book of Self: A Thesis on Energy and How It Interrelates by Floyd Williams (Floyd Williams)
  40. Astonishing Tales: Stories and Essays by Matt Geiger (Henschel Haus)
  41. Chos3n: There's A High Cost to Low Living by Bianca Harris (Chos3n/Conversations Media Group)
  42. The Triumph of Rosemary by Judge Marylin E. Atkins (Two Sisters Writing & Publishing)
  43. Women Who Launch by Marlene Wagman-Geller (Mango)
  44. When Women Ruled the World by Kara Cooney (National Geographic)
  45. Breaking Up with Busy by Yvonne Tally (New World Library)
  46. Craig & Fred by Craig Grossi (William Morrow/Harper Collins)
  47. Beloved by Greatest Poet Alive (James Gordon/GPA Media Inc.)
  48. How to be Perfect Like Me by Dana Bowman (Central Recovery Press)
  49. A Spy In Canaan by Marc Perrusquia (Melville House Publishing)
  50. WTF?!(Willing to Fail) by Brian Scudamore (Lioncrest Publishing)

Conversations' Top 10 Books for Young Readers in 2018

Over 3 dozen books for young readers came across the desk of Conversations Book Club President Cyrus Webb's desk in 2018. From those he is proud to share the 10 books for young readers that are sure to entertain, inspire and leave them wanting more.

Conversations' Top 10 Books for Young Readers in 2018
(listed in no particular order)

  1. Tradition by Brendan Kiely (Margaret E. McElderry Books)
  2. Diary of a Wimpy Kid (The Meltdown) by Jeff Kinney (Amulet Books)
  3. The Little Unicorn by Sheri Fink (Whimsical World Books)
  4. I'm Mixed by Maggy Williams (Loving Healing Press)
  5. Jack Wentworth: The Real Belt by Karen Ward Wilder (Karen Ward Wilder)
  6. Alcohol,Drugs  You: A Young Person's Guide to Avoiding Addiction by Marc Treitler with Lianna Treitler (DoGood Press)
  7. People Kill People by Ellen Hopkins (McElderry Books)
  8. Magic Thinking for Kids by Marrielle Monte (Seize the Day Publishing)
  9. Pidge Takes the Stage by Michelle Staubach Grimes (Pidge Media)
  10. The Magician's Hat by Malcolm Mitchell (Orchard Books)

[Review] Earl Hall delivers an inspiring pep talk with ALIGN YOUR PURPOSE

After knowing Earl Hall now for a decade it's been great to see how he has used what he has learned to not just build his own brand but to motivate and encourage others along their own path. For that reason ALIGN WITH YOUR PURPOSE is not completely coming from left field, even though most know him for his work in business.

The interesting thing about this book and its timing is that we have all seen what Earl has done. Now he shares what has helped him do it. Not the learning of a skill but the embracing of a calling. I talk a lot about purpose in my work, and Earl reminds the reader that its something all of us have. It's not just reserved for a few.

Now this book is sure to inspire you but will also have you reading some parts with a question mark. You see Earl's path is his path, and what he has learned has helped him get to the level of greatness he enjoys. Can you do the same? Sure! Will you have to walk the way Earl did? Not at all. The important thing is to find your way and stay on it.

Part inspiration, part motivation towards action, Earl Hall delivers a pep talk that you can refer back to when you are doubting yourself and what is possible.


Stay connected with Earl below:

There Are Only So Many Tomorrows by Shari Alyse

How many times have you said to yourself, “I’ll do it tomorrow” or have you promised yourself that you would start again tomorrow? (Guilty!) The funny thing about tomorrows is that they never seem to come. There always seems to be something that we are waiting for. Some perfect moment, some things to align, some…something. I know for myself that I made a lot of promises awaiting that tomorrow.

I spent a good portion of my life putting off things with excuses that certain things had to line up. I never really took the opportunity to look at what I did have. I never really took the opportunity to celebrate the moments in my life because I was too busy looking ahead at what I wanted or what I thought I lacked. Wishing that I was famous and successful and all that ever did was make me feel badly that I wasn’t. I spent so much time wishing for other things that I ended up losing sight of what I did have and then realized how important and special all that was to me once I lost it.

Until one day, I finally learned that there are only so many “tomorrows.”

I believe we have all heard that statement (or some version of it) throughout our lives, and yet, in my travels and opportunities to connect with so many people over the years, I have discovered that we don’t really think about the deeper meaning within those words. For most of us, it becomes just another inspirational meme we see plastered all over social media and until we unfortunately lose something or someone important, we finally begin to understand the true depth of that statement. My greatest hope is that you don’t have to experience any sort of loss or regret in your life for it to sink in. So, I thought I would share with you what that statement means to me and tips on how to live your greatest life NOW!

For me, it screams, “Jump in the game!”
“Love who you are!”
“Love who you’re with!”

Appreciate the challenges, the bumps, the bruises, the beauty, blessings, and milestones. Appreciate all the “no’s” you’ve heard in life because it’s made you strive for what you really want and made you realize what is truly important. It’s also allowed you to see that you are still capable of surviving in spite of getting what you think you want.

Appreciate the “yes’s” as those were confirmations that you were on the right path, that you were following your gut and listening closely to the whispers leading you.

There are only so many tomorrows.
Be present to it all. Stop and notice the people, places and things around you as they are all teachers, lessons and blessings along your journey. Be aware of what you are feeling. When you are present to those feelings, you are honoring yourself by giving yourself the space and freedom to feel what you feel and those feelings are guideposts for you in your life.

Say thank you! And say it again. Say it all day long. Shout it from the rooftops. Every single movement you make, every breath you take, every clear thought you have, are things to be grateful for. We so often don’t realize what we have unless it’s taken from us. Don’t wait for that.

Stop hiding. Stop playing small. Stop thinking that you aren’t good enough to show up in this world. You were born and that is reason enough to stand out. That is reason enough to hold your head up high. Remaining tightly in your bud robs the world (me and you) of the beautiful gifts you’ve been brought here to share. The world needs you. I need you.

There are only so many tomorrows.

Smile more! Laugh more! Be silly! Eat ice cream for breakfast, roll down a lush green hill, stay up till dawn laughing with your girlfriends, buy those ridiculously priced shoes that you really do love, and eat on your fine china every day!

Go after your dream. I mean, your real dream. The one that keeps you up at night. The one that you most likely think you have no chance of achieving but nags at you consistently because it is your true passion. Yes, that one. Don’t spend your entire life making excuses as to why you can’t. Just do it. Your soul will thank you for it. So will all your loved ones because you will be the most beautiful person to spend time around.

Forgive yourself. Yes, right now. Forgive yourself the times that you didn’t show up for yourself. The times you didn’t believe in yourself, weren’t kind to yourself and certainly not compassionate towards yourself. Forgive yourself as not one of us is perfect and why spend another day being unkind to the person you spend the most time with.

There are only so many tomorrows.

Love crazily and wildly! Don’t hold back your feelings because you are afraid somebody won’t return them. The gift isn’t in being loved, the gift is loving. The gift is being able to FEEL and experience that unbelievable swirling of love moving through every cell in your body. The gift is the realization that loving is simply enough and realizing that your happiness and fulfillment in life is not dependent on how others feel about you but rather about how you well you loved.

Accept your worth.
Learn your value.
Don’t settle for anything lower than you deserve. Ever.
No explanation needed here.

Accept yourself. All of yourself. Every curve, every imperfection and every perceived flaw. Look deeply into the depths of your soul through those gorgeous eyes of yours and accept the magnificence reflecting back at you. That is you. Beautiful and brilliant YOU. Breathtaking.

There are only so many tomorrows.

My grandfather used to tell me to get my head out of the clouds as he wanted me to be more practical and think more practically. He was what he would call a realist. I think he was a survivalist. Put in an orphanage from a young age dealing with physical and verbal abuse there until he was old enough at 18 to get out on his own. He then created his own thriving business, married and lived a life of always thinking ahead and doing the next practical thing to plan for the future. I believe he often forgot a lot about these things I’ve spoken about above. What gives me great solace, however, and what has driven me throughout most of my life is that when my grandfather was facing his end, he spoke to me only about loving, living, and being happy and nothing about planning, saving and being practical.

You see, I believe the greatest lesson he was trying to teach me was that there are only so many tomorrows so better get to living NOW. He forever changed the way that I saw and experienced each day of my life and made me realize that this very moment, as it is, is more than enough. Make your today’s the very best and most beautiful they can be.

There are only so many tomorrows.

Shari Alyse is the Joy Magnet - a Motivational Speaker, Truth Coach, Author and the Co-Founder of The Wellness Universe. Shari's mission in this world is to have you awaken to YOU. To your beauty, your magnificence and your inner joy! Shari currently lives in Los Angeles with her long-term partner, John, and their cats, Hershey and Piper.

"Look Good, Feel Good, and Live Better" with Ameerah Dean

I am Ameerah Dean, Owner of IV: Life Line Fitness, LLC in Northridge, California (just outside of the Los Angeles).  As the owner, I boldly standby the belief that I am CEO of Take Back Your Life before Life Takes You because that is exactly what I've done.  In 2014, I began to Live Out Loud, Love what I Do, & show others how they can to! 

As a wellness professional, I'm able to assist other professionals: corporate leaders, health enthusiasts, or fitness professionals create balanced living through a trifold principle. I leverage previous senior management roles where I acquired specific skills for team development, and transitioning new businesses to now build partnerships that assist with creating freedom physically, financially, and time.  

I ask a few specific questions to start conversations that lead people to successfully Look Good, Feel Good, and Live Better. How can you really benefit from a platform to promote your business, build strong client base, support a team, and improve people skills? What will happen in your Life if you begin to keep, attract, and build new business? Those questions and several more are addressed when you are willing to have The Conversation about How to live a Healthy Lifestyle! We are here and so are your dreams and goals….

Approaching holiDAYs is a heavy topic each and every year.  As a wellness coach that’s certified in Fitness training and a specialist in Group Fitness, I have tackled questions related to this topic as a concept, a question, or even as a principle. Oftentimes, a person holds certain beliefs from September through end of December, and now it’s expanded through February in some cases.  To the readers, I ask how do you view the holidays? Do you see them as one day or week-long celebrations? These questions are important when you begin to consider how you can create a healthy lifestyle, and not feel like you are missing out on festivities that take place during this season. To really understand The How, I first must help you uncover the Why!

WHY is it necessary to make healthy be a lifestyle vs a quick fix or seasonal endeavor?
WHY is a Day seen as anything other than that?
WHY does someone else’s approval dictate the desire to start or continue?
WHY does waiting create anxiety?
WHY does Healthier Living require extremes to kickstart actions?
WHY accept less?
WHY accept your goals can wait?
WHY accept the unknown as unlikely?
WHY accept help and not apply the steps?
WHY accept defeat?

The list of WHY’s is endless and there are certainly more I didnt’ list. In reality, being overwhelmed is what gets and keeps people stuck in a place of denial, regret, stagnation, or no action.  Which do you see yourself falling in line with the majority of the time? Typically, what is done in one area shows itself in other areas especially areas that present some sort of challenge. The idea of challenge is relative and is set by the individual.  It’s important to introspectively look within and take inventory of the thoughts that drive those responses. I will dive into each WHY individually. In the end of this piece, you will have a working knowledge of what you currently think and how you can use those thoughts to drive your actions on a healthier journey.  The goal of this article is to yes, spark interest in a healthy lifestyle, and also, give descriptions of roadblocks, stumbling blocks, and any other mental barriers that impede progress. Get ready to press the gas and pause where needed to make the necessary deviations on the journey to propel you forward.

1. WHY is it necessary to make Healthy be a lifestyle vs a quick fix or seasonal endeavor?
Have you ever heard perception is reality?  If so, then what does that mean? It means what one perceives, believes, defines, accounts for, or sees become the viewpoint/vantage point he’ll operate from.  So, if healthy is the vantage point, then the actions taken will align with that view. If on a healthy journey one sees healthy as seasonal, then it ends possibly four times a year.  When living by this belief, one will constantly start over. Seasonal marks changes, but it also describes ending. As a result, defining one's actions as lifestyle signifies it’s ongoing, and will change organically without first having to start over from the beginning.

2. WHY is a holiDay seen as anything other than that?
The struggle for balance revolves around the day being observed and celebrated longer than a day. In some cases, deviating from that may leave someone feeling unsettled.  If there are traditions that build up to the holiday, then reflect on how to engage in activities that will not derail progress or intended goals. Food is just one aspect of how to fellowship with friends and family. Once there is understanding around that belief, then one can speak, act, and expect the day to go differently.  The next step is a new day not carrying the celebration over. Enjoy and then elect to move forward on the healthy journey that’s been created.

3. WHY does someone else’s approval dictate the desire to start or continue?
Human being vs Human doings is how I can best dissect this question: Be state vs Do state. A Be state of mind means you are who you are without force or active intention, it’s just who naturally or authentically shows up in the world.  Do state means you do something to get into a specific state of mind.  When another's input or approval is required it means you are operating from a Do state. From that place you become dependent on that person and that influences actions.  Unfortunately, giving someone that much power diminishes the Be state. If the intent is to start, then Be state needs to take over to create authentic steps that will lend to a lifestyle that feels and aligns with current abilities.  If the intent is to continue, then the Be state and Do state need to be applied simultaneously. Once a decision is made, that need or influence from others to approve, agree, or disagree is eliminated. Let’s think of this from a fitness example:
Intent: Workout several days a week;
Be state: Monday, Wednesday evenings and Thursday/Saturday mornings you show up at gym, complete in-home workout (see Virtual Bootcamp offer), or meetup with a hiking group. These days were decided after carefully reviewing your planner for non-business meetings times and other non-work duties.
Do state: Once husband, bosses, or child’s schedule is clear, then you will see what’s possible for workout times. No days are confirmed because actions are dependent on others responses.

4. WHY does waiting create anxiety?
The anticipation of what’s to come builds up over time and leaves one with a feeling of uncertainty about the outcome.  This unknowing becomes burdensome and leads one to question their ability to succeed in reaching goals. On a side note, those that already suffer from anxiety through exercise may improve mental health by helping the brain cope better with stress from the release of endorphins that exercise provides.

5. WHY does Healthier Living require extremes to kickstart actions?
Heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, inflammation are all drivers to get in action and create healthier habits through fitness and nutrition.  The unsilent majority seem to rely on these conditions to motivate change. As a coach, I've assisted hundreds start and reach their health goals. After reviewing the list, a large majority were urged to start because of medical conditions or fear of an impending condition if immediate changes were not instituted.  Have you heard the saying sometimes you have to hit rock bottom to make you not want to be in that place? Well, in the world of healthy living hitting rock bottom is not a place someone can afford to wait for because at that point making changes may not reverse the adverse effects.

6. WHY accept less?
If you don’t know your worth or belief you are worthy, then how will you expect and accept anything more?  This is not a question as much as it is a statement about setting the value for what’s of value. When it comes to the love of Family, Friends, or Faith why wouldn’t Fitness be included with the F’s of importance.  Healthy living will cost more overtime if there is less upfront investment. An upfront investment is actively working nutrition and fitness solutions. Until there is a true connection and desire to this lifestyle, then less is all one will give.  This means healthy living will receive the leftover time and attention vs the fresh and raw investment it requires.

7. WHY accept your goals can wait?
When there are millions of other tasks ahead that require immediate attention how do you decide which comes first?  The answer is representative of the person and what is seen as the most pressing task at that time. In my experience as a coach, people place others needs before their own not because they want to, but because they feel their goals can wait or there will be time later. How do they know there will be time later? Actually, they don’t but they trust that will be the case.  Also, they hope for a better tomorrow so they can squeeze in time for their hopes and dreams. Now, as a coach I tell them today is the tomorrow you are waiting for. Go ahead and create the time in your schedule! The response is always how do I create time, and my answer is how can you not. Time is a priceless, invisible, powerful force that will bully and leave you feeling defenseless.  However, the opposite is true when you stand up to time and break down what’s available during the 86,400 seconds in a day.

8. WHY accept the unknown as unlikely?
Yes, you do not know what you do not know, but what you do know is you have the ability to achieve great things.  Before I state that as a fact, ask yourself do you believe you can achieve greatness in the categories that matter to you? If this is not a belief you currently hold, then that’s an area to work on.  The best way to sustain a healthy lifestyle is believing in the unknown because there's no way of knowing what will happen. Yes, you will have results, but in what way will they reveal themselves first.  It’s important to embrace the journey and be open to physical and mental surprises that happen differently for each person.

9. WHY accept help and not apply the steps?
Some trust the solution, trust the coach, and trust the results they’ve seen will happen for them. If that trust truly exists, then why would one sabotage results and block goals from truly happening.  That questions tells a story about trust in self, and their ability to sustain results. What will reaching goals change, and what will it look and feel like? After casting their vision, it’s the role of that coach to passionately support, show, and shift their perspective along the journey. Eventually, the person grows to take ownership of their progress.

10. WHY accept defeat?
If uncertain about one’s ability to win, then they are settling for defeat.  This doubt will stop one from taking chances. As a result of not taking chances, succumbing to defeat will happen.  This is not the only option, going for your goals will lead one on a path of discovery. Along this path, the outlook, possible goals, and lastly thoughts will shift as well. 

As I close out the series of Why’s, it blends nicely to another series called the How’s.  Those How’s are also a list of questions. To answer those questions, I’ll provide specific steps for mental, physical, and nutritional support along the path to healthy living.  It is important to go through these stages of goalship to successfully build a healthy lifestyle that does not stifle daily life.

Actor Philip K. Boyd: Building His Success Step by Step

by Cyrus Webb

When I was headed back to Los Angeles this year I knew I wanted to try and catch up with some of the great individuals I had spoken with on Conversations LIVE the radio show and see if they would join me for a segment of Cyrus Webb Presents on camera. One of the first people I reached out to was actor Philip Boyd, and I was excited when he immediately said yes!

It was our second time meeting in Los Angeles for a chat, and this one was just as engaging as he first.

Ever since he was 5 years old Philip knew he wanted to entertain. Now as an actor,writer and director he is able to do just that, and the world is able to come along for the ride. For 20 years he has been working hard, honing his craft and seeing it all come together over time in the television shows and movies he's been able to be a part of. Recently, though, millions around the world were introduced to his character Oscar on the hit show written, directed and produced by Tyler Perry called THE HAVES AND THE HAVE NOTS.

Though he stays constantly on the go, Boyd says about his career: "I look back on it and say I have been able to live my dream and do things I wanted to do in my life." What a great thing to reflect on! When it comes to acting he says "Being able to create anything in life is what it's all about. Being an actor and being able to be different characters is very fulfilling for me."

At a young age he knew he wanted to "be a lot of different things" in his life. He says that influenced him to "create different personalities and characters", and set the stage for where he is today.

The career as a working actor is not something that Boyd takes lightly. "It creates a level of responsibility that you have to own," he says. "When you're creating characters you want to give the fans what they want." That sense of responsibility is also part of the gratitude that he has. "Anytime I get a phone call that I've booked a job it makes you want to work harder and be better than you were before. I'm still climbing up the ladder. It's about constantly working, constantly creating and trying to be better and make it to the next level."

Being a part of the successful series The Haves and the Have Nots is definitely part of that next level. "Tyler Perry is a very special person," Boyd says. "He is a great storyteller. He has an energy about him that is infectious. The people that are surrounded by him make it their own personal journey to be better. I feel honored and blessed to be a part of this show and to be around the amount of talent that is on it."

For fans of the show part of the fun of Oscar's character was trying to figure out what was his motive towards Candace (played by Tika Sumpter) and the other cast members. Season after season we got to see the character evolve, but this year Oscar met his demise, adding to the drama of what is  a much-watch show on Tuesday nights. "I kinda had an idea of where the character was going throughout the show," Philip told me. The response to his character definitely made him feel good about his run on the popular series.

Outside of The Haves and the Have Nots, Boyd says he just wants to be able to use his life and path as an example for others. "If I can inspire one person in the world to chase their dream, then I feel as though my job is done.." He also adds that when it comes to the future "One of the greatest things about being an actor is that you really don't know what's next. It might change from day to day. It's really exciting,"

At the end of the day he says he just wants to be the best Philip Boyd that he can be, wherever that might take him, and fans of his work are invited to stay along for the ride.

Lots more to come from this talented actor. Tweet along with Philip at @PhilipKBoyd. He can also be found on Instagram at

Actress Renee Lawless: Celebrating a Year of "Haves"

by Cyrus Webb

She may have become known to many through her work on stage, but 2013 solidified actress Renee Lawless as one of the unforgettable stars of the runaway hit by Tyler Perry The Haves and the Have Nots on the Oprah Winfrey Network.

In the first 10 minutes of the first episode we saw her character Katheryn Cryer as the strong matriarch of her family, however, the show has also revealed another side of the woman whose cutting retorts and strength masks a world of hurt and pain. Millions have made the show must-see television and Renee couldn't be happier.

I have had he pleasure over the past 5 years to have her as a guest on Conversations LIVE the radio show, but in April 2018 we met in Los Angeles for the first time for a taping of my web-series Cyrus Webb Presents---and it was like being reunited with an old friend.

"I have been incredibly blessed along this journey," she told me when I asked what it has been like this year to reflect on the success. "Everything that has been afforded me that I never thought possible has been life-changing." Discussing her thoughts of the first episode of The Haves and the Have Nots in 2013, Renee says it occurred to her what was happening. "This is going to be a hit, and I'm a part of it." She went on to tell me that they expected high numbers on the first one and as we have continued to grow that's what has really been more overwhelming. The importance of that moment is not lost. "Not too many people get to be at the start of something great," Renee said to me.

Renee Lawless' place in the spotlight is something that has been in the works for quite some time. "Even as a young child I was singing the loudest in church plays," she told me. "I always dreamed of being a movie star." When she began in theater, it just felt right to her. "This is my home," she said of the experience. "This is where I want to be." She knew in high school that no matter where she went that performing would be a part of her life. "I've been on stage many years, but my ultimate goal was always TV and eventually film." The Haves and the Have Nots has made that dream come true. She said that to not only have achieved her ultimate goal of being a series regular and a star of a series is an experience she is loving.

It was really intriguing to talk with Renee about how she has brought Katheryn to life. "I knew all these layers before you all did," she told me. "With any new television drama everyone is brought in in the middle. It's up to the characters to bring you in. The one thing that I love about Katheryn is that she's a very multi-layered person, it's like peeling back layers of an onion. She's like a hollow oak tree: outside she's a strong pillar of strength but on the inside she's rotting and hollow. What her husband and children and life have given her has made her a very lonely person. It's basically what it means to have and to have not."

Renee then gave an example that I think resonates with everyone. "Even though she's worth 50 million dollars she's a woman who's over a certain age, who doesn't like getting old, who is dealing with cancer and problems with her kids. Not many can relate to being worth 50 million dollars, but 50 million people can relate to what she's going through. She in many ways is one of the most relatable characters because she has all of these layers. She's just like me."

Though things are going well for Renee and she is doing what she loves, it hasn't happened without a real commitment to her craft. "I worked very hard and long and got many more rejections than I've had successes," she told me. "I do this because I love it, not for the award or the paycheck that it affords me." Speaking of the world that actors live in she adds: "Our career is very unsure. If you're just doing it for the fame and glory you're not going to go very far or last." Her next words are great reminders for all of us with a dream. "You have to love what you do in order to truly be successful at it."

May those words resonate with us as we identify our passion in life and vow to pursue it.

Renee's website is and you can follow her online at and

Actor Gavin Houston: Claiming Persistence Over Resistance

by Cyrus Webb

Through the show The Haves and the Have Nots Tyler Perry has created a cast of characters that know what it's like to be one thing in the public and another in their everyday lives---and we can't seem to get enough of it! Since the show debuted in 2013 Tuesday nights have not been the same, and actor Gavin Houston who is bringing to life Jeffrey Harrington couldn't agree more. From episode one millions have been captivated by the show, and Jeffrey's seemingly perfect house of cards as been shaken. Gavin talked about the show's success, it's cast and the experience in this conversation.

"There really is something that everyone can relate to. The things that the individual characters are going through are so much like the issues of our fans. I couldn't have imagined all the things we covered...This whole season is so packed with so many story-lines going on that anybody can find something for them. We all have stories to tell. The show really explores who truly has and who truly have not. It's been really interesting to watch it unfold and get more in-depth. It really shows that all that glitters is not gold."

"In my childhood I created story-lines for my toys. I used to love performing and putting on a show when I was little. I come from a family where my mom and sister used to model, so I kind of fell into it. My first job was on the Cosby Show. Since then I knew this is what I wanted to do. "

"Persistence overcomes resistance. I feel like you have to realize and remember it's a craft. The business side can muddy up the arts side. You have to have a love for it. There's down-times when you're not working and you have to hold on to the belief. I don't hope it works out. It has to work out. You can't leave it. There's no time limit. You have to keep growing."

"I think one of the main things I had to do is keep making discoveries about this character. He comes with a lot of pressure, pressure that parents can put on you. So much of who we are can be related back to what we got in our childhood growing up. I try to identify with the soul of the character. Jeffrey has so many different things and layers to play.

"I love this responsibility to bring the character to life.  A lot of it is about promoting acceptance. One of the biggest things is acceptance from your own parents.  Jeffrey shows the extremes that people will go to in order to find love is what makes it a great story. What he's going to do and how it ends is going to blow people away."

"First Tika is such a talented actress. Her character Candace sees through people. She's that straight line where all of us are kind of looping around and putting on this little facade of who we want others to think we are. She is the truth and calls people out on what's real. She's blunt. She's honest. She's fearless."

Regardless of what comes next for Jeffrey it's obvious that Gavin Houston is moving full steam ahead in doing what he loves. As he says "Persistence overcome resistance". As long as we push forward success is sure to be ours.

Stay in touch with Gavin Houston at

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Fashion Forward in 2019 with Gail Rayford-Ambeau

Well hello everyone.  Welcome to 2019!

Let’s get this party started!  It’s 2019 and everyone has someplace to be.  Let’s do it being fashion forward.
The New Year brings bold fun colors, patterns and prints and texture. Glamour and romance are on the rise for this season.
So let’s start with Colors.
Cherry red: a “full-bodied” color, ideal to enhance velvet, tulle and satin. Ideal for elegant, retro-feel looks.
Digital blue: the color of almost all social networks. A color that evokes technology, and the future. If you are into cyber these may be just right for you.
Fuchsia pink: it’s still one of the favorite hues with designers. Exuberant if worn from head to toe, or as a creative pop of color.
Lavender: also called “lilac”, it’s a pastel tone that, unlike pink or baby blue can add character to a statement or intricate outfit.
Orange: Fall’s symbolic hue, it will stand out with its “effervescent” effect. Dare to wear an orange suit to fight the dark dreary days of winter.
Sapphire yellow: to uplift classic patterns, like florals or checks.

Now this is where I get excited! Patterns and prints I LOVE animal prints! Leopard prints are Haute’ this season.  Whichever animal print you fancy they are in. The season trend is to wear an allover print.  They can be worn in natural tones or vibrant colors. Whatever you pick wear it with confidence.

Checks have made a big comeback this season. You can find them in all multiplicities and styles.
Scarf prints are all the rage this season and can be worn in a multitude of ways. From bandana to artsy or designer logo prints. Adding a scarf print adds a little glamour to any outfit.
We all know a floral dress is perfect for spring and summer. This season florals of all kinds were given an update. Black background florals add a dramatic twist to your winter fashion stock. And all over prints are just on the right side of fabulously chic.

Textures are essential this season.  Feathers in almost any shape and form are hot! Feathers add the right amount of detail and drama to bring a jacket or dress to life! You might even want to consider up-cycling a jacket, dress or pants by adding a feather trim (for my DIY group we’ll discuss that at a later date).
Other textures to consider are silky tops and dress.
Leather of course will always be a permanent fixture in the fashion world.
Velvet adds a pop of surprise and glamour.  It can be used in just about any silhouette. Try out a pair of velvet booties to add a kick to any dress.

Glamour and romance are on the rise for this season.
Ahead scarf can add a touch movie star glamour to your daily look. Long capes worn over billowing gowns or wide leg trousers can add a bit of glamour to any outfit. Use a cape as a way to either camouflage and showcase your body at the same time.  If, you like the look of a cape but don’t think you can handle all of the extra fabric try a cape sleeve instead.  A cape sleeve will allow you to pull off the look without the extra burden of fabric. Add a long glove and there you have it, instant glamour.
If you are the romantic type this seasons long flowing dresses are just for you.  Long and flowing dresses and tops with flowing bell sleeves, lace and a few ruffles are right on point this season for the romantic type.
It is time to break the so called rules. Mix it up and have a little fun in the New Year.  There’s No need to worry about conforming. Define your own individuality.

As always remember the first thing you should to put on everyday day is your confidences because it is the first thing everyone will see. Wear it and wear it well.
Until next time, keep it fabulous.

Gail Rayford-Ambeau

Monday, December 17, 2018

Conversations' 20 Indie Artists You Should Know

Conversations' Cyrus Webb has interviewed over 300 recording artists over the past year through Conversations LIVE radio show and Conversations Magazine. As the year is coming to an end he is excited to share 20 Indie Artists that he was introduced to through Conversations that he knows audiences will want to pay attention to headed into a new year.

CONVERSATIONS' 20 Indie Artists You Should Know (listed in no particular order)

  1. Ali Caldwell
  2.  Jason Little
  3. Arika Kane
  4. Jeremy Parsons
  5. Chelsea Crites
  6. Jahna Sebastian
  7. Sarra
  8. Eryn Woods
  9. James "Mississippi" Marshall
  10. Troy Petty
  11. Gracie and Joey
  12. Jason Pure
  13. DJ Prince Hakim
  14. Amber Sauer
  15. Kwadi
  16. Michelle Brooke
  17. Rai
  18. Iyse Gibson
  19. Michael Egleton
  20. Izzy Escobar

Author Lisa W. Beckwith: Choosing to Enjoy L.I.F.E. Fearlessly

by Cyrus Webb

FOOD FOR L.I.F.E. (Lasting Impressions Forever Enjoyed) by author and speaker Lisa W. Beckwith was chosen as one of Conversations' Top Non-Fiction Books of 2018 and for good reason. It takes us into the "courses" of the author's journey and how what she has learned can help the reader to enjoy as they are going through their own daily life.

Talking with the author about the book, however, reveals that she had no plan of being as open when she began writing it. "I wasn't expecting all of the attention that is coming with the book," she admitted, but then added "I now that it is time for me to share my story and hope that it inspires others."

That is the encouraging thing about FOOD FOR L.I.F.E. Yes it shares a part of the author's story, but it is really a reminder for the reader of what they can achieve. "Sitting down and just reflecting is powerful," Lisa says. "I know that being transparent is important for people to feel comfortable. I needed to be as open about who I am and things that I was challenged with as possible. Moving from one stage of life to another can be scary. My transition happened through my children. In those transitional moments you are shifting into a newer person than you once were. You learn the stages as you go along."

Yes difficulties can happen to all of us, but Lisa wants you to know that they don't have to stop you. "Life can get out of whack," she says, but she has learned the importance of "moving forward in spite of the challenges.

"My strength comes from my Creator,"she told me. "Life is a journey. Through it all you have to tap into what will give you the strength to get through it." Part of that for her has been surrounding herself with what she calls "effective, powerful energy". That good association, she says, is key.

"When storms of life come you are able to stand," Lisa says. "The hardest part is letting your children go. We are not alone.We are here to share. When we share then the fear of not being able to move forward vanishes. At the end of the day we all are human and go through things, and we're here to support each other."

The truth is that no matter how much faith you have fear can still come. How has Lisa dealt with it? "Fear will stop you from doing anything," she says. "You have to face that and know that it is real. It's not always a bad thing to have fear. It just means that it's something new that you're tapping into. I had to just trust and have faith in my journey, in my Creator and myself. We have to break through some chains and some barriers. It's okay to be afraid. You can figure it out and be an encourager for somebody else."

Looking at fear that way brought freedom for Lisa. "I felt there was liberty out there for me. I could get ready for what's new and explore. God is unlimited. Why am I limiting myself?" This is true even when it comes to people trying to tell her how she should walk on her path. "I'm respectful of other's opinions, but not depending on other's thoughts and ways. I have to trust my inner ways. If I do make a mistake it's okay. All I can do is learn from it."

At the end of the day Lisa sees FOOD FOR L.I.F.E. as a book less about her world and more about it being a resource for others to see how they can get the most out of life. If it does that, she says, then it was worth the vulnerability of writing it.

Get Lisa's book on Stay connected with her at

Author Vicky Nelson: Enjoying Life without Limits

by Cyrus Webb

Author Vicky Nelson and I connected thanks to Facebook. She is the author of WOLVES IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING, a book that takes us into the experiences of the main character Michelle and her having to come to grips with deception and the possibility of love after hurt.

"This is a dream come true," Vicky told me about the writing of the book and getting to share it with the world. "I wanted to write a book for some time and didn't have the courage to do it. Now that it's completed I'm so excited."

In an exclusive interview with Vicky on Conversations LIVE radio show I told her that even though the main character is a woman that is dealing with deception and lies the book speaks to men who also find themselves in that situation. "I wrote this book in the mind of single women initially," she told me. "As I was writing it I realized it was something that I wanted men to get into as well to have a takeaway and for them to understand what it does to a woman when you come into a relationship with lives and deception."

When asked when she first knew she had a story she wanted to tell Vicky says that it began just by her living life. "I had female friends and relatives who were talking about being deceived and hearts being broken because of it. I said to myself 'This is a story that everyone needs to hear.' I wanted people to know that just because you go through things (in relationships) there is still love out there."

In WOLVES IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING the main character WAS deceived, but it's obvious there were signs there that could have avoided some of the heartache. I asked Vicky if that is something she wanted readers to think about as well, how we sometimes contribute to our heartache. "She made some bad decisions," she said, speaking about her character Michelle. "As humans we make bad decisions. We know there's something not quite right there, but because we are looking for love we overlook things."

As Michelle has to deal with the fear of getting hurt, Vicky and I discussed how she got over the fear of what people would think about her writing a book. She says "Having someone in your corner...a mentor, is very helpful." She was able to join a writer's group and hear from others about their experiences. She also had someone rooting her own right in her family. "My daughter is such an inspiration to me," she says. "She told me this is a story that people need to hear. Just write it. You never know. Stop limiting yourself. That helped me a whole lot."

Though Vicky wants the reader to be entertained through her book there is a message. "We have a responsibility to the truth," she says. "Acknowledge the truth and know that (if you choose to ignore the warning signs) you're getting into something that is probably not going to work out for your good."

Get WOLVES IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING on Stay connected with Vicky on Facebook at