Conversations Magazine's Fall Issue 2020

Conversations Magazine's Fall Issue 2020
Click on the cover to order yours today!

Saturday, November 28, 2020

One-On-One with Recording Artist Robert Eberle

by Cyrus Webb

During 2020 I discovered recording artists Robert Eberle, Don Da Menace and Ethan from Versa the Band. They had come together to bring to life the single ENOUGH. 

It tackles the times we are living in, not just with the pandemic but what we see when it comes to racial profiling and the shooting of unarmed people of color. 

In this One-On-One I talked with Robert about his journey and the music. 




Robert,  thanks for the time, and congratulations on the single ENOUGH. Who would you say are some of your musical influences? 

Thanks for the opportunity, Cyrus. My musical influences are definitely Ruel & Finneas.

Have you always known that you were interested in creating music?

Yes I started singing when I was two years old. My grandparents got me my first acoustic guitar, and everything kinda played out from there! 

What inspired you to be apart of Enough?

What really inspired me to write this song was anger to be honest. I saw everything that had been going on with the Black Lives Matter movement, and it really opened my eyes. I wrote this song and then brought it to my two friends, Ethan & Don. They helped finalize everything, and I think we made a pretty cool song. 

With everything going on do you think music is an outlet for you?

Definitely. Music has been an outlet for me my whole life. 

How has social media helped you reach people all around the world?

Social media has definitely influenced my career, especially with the app, TikTok. I am able to share my music on there, and it has a chance to reach people all around the world!

Speaking of music, who are you currently listening to?

On my playlist right now I have Ruel, Finneas, Rex Orange County & Bazzi. 

What’s some advice to give to people just starting out with music?

Some advice I would give is to just go for it. You never know what’s gonna happen! Don’t give up, and always believe in yourself.

IG: @roberteberle1
FB: @roberteberlemusic
YT: @roberteberle 
Tik tok: @roberteberle 
TW: @eberlemusic 
website: roberteberlemusic.com

Thursday, November 12, 2020

BAHA MEN: Over 20 Years of Music and Memories (with More to Come)


by Cyrus Webb

 For over two decades the members of the group Baha Men* have been able to give us music that has gotten us to dance and helped to create memories that will last a lifetime. Though most of us know the group for their infectious single WHO LET THE DOGS OUT, there is definitely more to the ensemble than that as we discussed in this conversation.

I had a chance to interview Dyson Knight of the group some 5 years ago on Conversations LIVE the radio show. This year he returned with fellow member Rik Carey to discuss their journey, the memories and why they are excited about what’s to come.  

Rik, I’ll start this conversation with you. Over the years Baha Men has definitely stayed on the minds of so many music lovers around the world. What has it been like for you to be able to see the way the fans have stayed with you all over the years?

It's been awesome. I try to stay grounded. Going back to 2000, I would consider that era of career like a whirlwind. So much was happening so fast. I was new in this game. I was learning as much as I possibly could. I had a lot of great influences surrounding me.

And just to be able to see the decades past…it happened so quickly. I've been able to see the highs of the highs and the lows and the lows of the group. In spite of it all, we just still stick together. And when you see the catalog of music that we've been putting out, it's a certain consistency that a lot of artists haven’t been able to have throughout their career. I feel very fortunate and I'm thankful, and I can speak on behalf of the rest of the guys. They feel the same way. To be able to wake up in the morning and go to practice and to be able to perform the songs that the fans love and make music and be on stage and travel is a blessing.

 Dyson, I want to talk with you about something that Rik mentioned: the success you all have had as a group. Do you think that family atmosphere is what has kept you all together?

Absolutely. It's the type of family that wants everyone to win. The type of family where we respect each other's company. We are all allowed to speak our minds and give our input. We all believe in one another.  It's just a beautiful opportunity as everybody keeps learning from one another.

 


Rik, I think it goes without saying that when people think of Baha Men the song that everyone talks about is WHO LET THE DOGS OUT. Here we are now 20 years later. How does that feel to think that it's 20 years and this song is still talked about?

It’s bittersweet. I've had my reservations in the past. I still feel like I would like the world to receive the band for what we really truly are: a bunch of awesome musicians and artists. We are so much more than WHO LET THE DOGS OUT. It’s a blessing and a curse at the same time. During my travels I hear the song still playing in stadiums. It's still playing on certain stations. I'm getting more and more feedback online, more than ever before.

Totally understand that, and I think new music like the single TAKE A CHANCE will be able to show listeners a different side of you. Dyson, I'm going to follow up on Rik’s point, about the blessing and the curse.  The flip side is that many artists haven’t had nearly the success that you all have or created music that has made such an impact as WHO LET THE DOGS OUT. Is that part of the blessing for you, that at least you all have had that experience?

Without a doubt. I'm very thankful, I understand where Rik is coming from. As the newest member of the group I wasn't with the band in 2000 when they released it, but I've been able to travel the world and see the impact of it. I value the fact that the song is such a big hit. It gives us now the opportunity to introduce and to keep introducing new music to our audiences off of the love of WHO LET THE DOGS OUT. That is something I love to see on the faces of our live audiences, the response to the new and the old music.

 Dyson, what was it like for you to see how the new single TAKE A CHANCE has been received?

It's a magical experience. I mean, to go from hopping on a plane to Miami to meet up with the producers in a studio, to just brainstorm and then to say ‘Hey, what are we going to sing about?’, to hearing the music and ending up writing a song and then recording it. Then we shot the video and released it.

Now we’re having these tens of thousands of streams on Spotify. This is something that we just humbly created together. That's the powerful part about music and creators and the creative. So shout out to all the creators right now who continue to create new music for people to enjoy, because at a time like this it shows just how important entertainment is.

Stay connected with Baha Men at www.bahamen.com and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/bahamenmusic

* Photos by Jesi Cason www.instagram.com/jesicasonphotography 

 

 

Sunday, November 8, 2020

[BOOK REVIEW] THE ANSWER IS... by Alex Trebek

 


by Cyrus Webb

Alex Trebek has shown us what it means to fight and the key to moving forward, even when dealing with challenges. For those who question what it takes to not give up THE ANSWER IS delivers. I love the reflection of his life, how he has overcome challenges growing up and become such a beloved public figure. He also allows us to realize that even though we are dealing with life's challenges we can't be defined by them.

Another takeaway is that Alex Trebek does not live for himself. It's very obvious he is concerned about others and want to see them shine. His professional life highlights that, as does his own personal fight. He's a team player and the kind of person who will be rooting for you along the way.

As we reflect on his life may we also remember what is possible for us. That fight that has gotten Alex Trebek here can get us through whatever we go through.

A story of fight and a man who realizes the blessing that is life, The Answer Is . . .: Reflections on My Life is a must read for fans of Alex Trebek and anyone who wants to be reminded of the gift that life is for us all.

Get THE ANSWER IS on Amazon

[MUSIC REVIEW] With MINE Madelyn Mandry shares the feelings and fears of many when they find love

 


You can listen to MIDNIGHT TO MORNING by Madelyn Mandry on repeat throughout the day, being swept into the stories she shares from song to song---and the emotions in each one. MINE, however, is the song that seems to get me the most.

The message is one that I have felt, and I know others have as well. It's all about being with someone that you want and wondering if they are all with you or still thinking about the one they had before. It's about appreciating what you bring to the table, but wondering if they see it.

"Do you wish you could go back in time to when she called you mine," is the line you'll find lingers with you.

And to be honest maybe we have been the one who finds ourselves trying to enjoy what we have now and the one we loved before.

Either way it's a song that is relatable and shares the feelings and fears of many when they find love.

[MUSIC REVIEW] Kane Brown's WORLDWIDE BEAUTIFUL reminds us that love has no color

 


Kane Brown is a go-to when it comes to great love songs, typically dealing with relationships. WORLDWIDE BEAUTIFUL continues that message of love in a bigger way, reminding us that when you're focusing on black and white you're missing out on all the greatness that this world has to offer.

It sounds simple, but to remind people that we're all the same is something that is powerful in this song. Looking past color and location, we are all people. Kane Brown says that when he sees his people they're not the same but they are all equal, meaning that regardless of how they look they are just people.

A great song with a message that should unite us, WORLDWIDE BEAUTIFUL reminds us that love has no color.

[One-On-One] Willis Victory and Dr. Roni of Phoenix Life Sciences

by Cyrus Webb

Over the years Conversations has made it part of its mission to not just feed your love of life but keep you educated and informed along the way. 

Willis Victory is an entrepreneur and trailblazer I have known for seven years now. We first featured in him the pages of Conversations Magazine back in 2017. Since then he has continue to grow his brand and connect with amazing individuals along the way. 

This year he introduced me to his newest partnership with Phoenix Life Sciences International as well as one of his associates Dr. Roni. The three of us discuss health and wellness and the role that CBD products are playing in helping with a variety of medical condition. 

Willis, great to catch up again with you in the pages of Conversations Magazine. Tell us audience about the mission of Phoenix Life Sciences. Why was the work of Phoenix Life Sciences something that appealed to you?

Willis Victory: My mother passed away from Diabetes complications in 2007. I began researching and spending a lot of time understand Diabetes and what could potentially assist in bringing a cure to the vicious disease. I was approached about  Phoenix Life Sciences initially as an investor. I was very impressed with the vision and the idea of bringing affordable alternative health care methods to global citizens. The opportunity to enhance lived, be of service, bring value to humanity and provide a lifestyle strategy for the betterment of society and people around the world. The mission in Port Vanuatu really touched my heart & soul. I was intrigued by the opportunity of working with the Government of Port Vanuatu, Minister of Health and the beautiful people of the island. 

Along with the opportunity to provide hope and all natural products and treatments; there is a major opportunity to assist in comforting people who are dealing with pain. I believe we are all deserving of a great experience during our time on Earth. Without a healthy body or an opportunity to restore the body, it is extremely difficult to enjoy everyday life. I am committed to providing top quality products to our customers, research, education and bring value to our shareholders. I believe through research, education and awareness; Phoenix Life Sciences International will be a top company in the industry of Pharmaceuticals & Biotech. 

Dr. Roni: I was bought in to Phoenix Life sciences after Key persons involved realized that the growing Cannabis industry was a perfect complement in doing what I do with 21 Chronic Illnesses. I implement a customized approach to CBD protocols for clients. Every CBD is accurately dosed, and the delivery of CBD oils are specific to each client and their illness. CBD is distributed to treat 21 chronic illnesses, including pain, Diabetes, autoimmune disease, cancer, and Lyme etc. As a Naturopathic Doctor I treated Cancer for many years and used prescription grade CBD with specific Terpenes. It was phenomenally successful protocol in treating many of my clients with Inflammatory type of diseases. This led to my increasing excitement and further research. It was a natural transition for me to join Phoenix Life Sciences.

My program encompasses the following 8 pillars that create “The Dr. Roni 21 21 Experience”.

1. CBD oil

2. Education SEARCH curriculum

3. Essential Oils 

4. Innovative food as medicine, products, and supplements.

5. Advanced technology treatments to promote healing 

6. Retreats and custom health protocols

7. Membership community

8. Community engagement

Would love to hear from the two of you what you think of the changing perception of CBD based products, and how that is helping others looking for alternatives when trying to life a healthier life. 

Willis Victory: I believe people have been so miseducated about Marijuana, Hemp and Cannabis as a whole. While research and education are proving valuable insight as to the healing elements of Cannabis and CBD; there is still along way to go in regards to the evolution of the plant and implantation into the daily human regiment. People are now understanding how to digest CBD and the profound health effects it has on the body, as well as the mind. Implementing CBD into a healthy lifestyle and utilizing CBD to restore the body back to its natural essence is the goal. I truly believe the cosmetic CBD market will explode over the next 1 – 5 years. The skin being the largest organ of the human body; we have placed a focus on our product development in this area. All of our products are made from natural ingredients, superfoods, organic and are Non-GMO. 

Dr. Roni: The education about the difference between Marijuana, Hemp and Cannabis is changing the way people think and feel about the Cannabis industry. Elderly population now feel safe taking CBD oil especially if they have inflammation and pain. They are now willing to try it, they feel safer taking it on a consistent basis. The education allows them to feel safe. The other changing perception is the many ways that people can consumed the product. Drinks, oils, edibles, creams, lotions, and potions.  The changing perception is we Smoke dope, but we get well with Oil. This concept is fast changing.

Willis, you shared on Conversations LIVE the radio show that you have introduced the products to your family. What do you want the public to know about the various ways CBD-based products can be incorporated in their lives?   

Willis Victory: Yes, I have introduced several CBD products to my family. I am a firm believer that health is wealth and education around health is very important to my family. We have incorporated CBD oil into our coffee, tea and also cook with it. We mix superfoods with CBD to assure all daily nutrients are consumed and absorbed properly. We use CBD shampoo, conditioner, lotion, lip balm and also hand sanitizer. I workout 5 – 6 times per week, and the CBD products have really assisted in my recovery, reducing lactic acid during workouts and over all reduction of inflammation. Drops of CBD oil are also consumed through the day. We are currently developing dental products and feminine products for women as well. 

Dr. Roni, when you were on the radio show you talked about the various health benefits you have been able to share with those you work with. Do you mind sharing an example with us?

Dr. Roni: The most amazing and unforgettable experiences that I have had with CBD oil is when a client experience multiple vague symptoms like bugs crawling all over you feeling, extreme insomnia, extreme anxiety, and pain all over your skin with no diagnosis. I put them on 1500 mg of CBD oil with no THC, within a few weeks she had no pain, no bugs crawling feeling, slept much better. My cancer clients in general do well on chemotherapy while they are on CBD or hemp protocols. The chemotherapy causes less nausea and vomiting, less anxiety and better sleeping.

Willis, you had told me that Dr. Roni and you are working on other projects together, including a book. Can you tell us more about that?

Willis Victory: Yes, we are very excited about this book. The purpose is to educate and increase awareness about CBD, it’s health benefits and how to implement CBD into every day life. We believe this book will provide valuable insight to misconceptions around Cannabis and CBD, while highlighting the effects of the mind & body. We will also discuss CBD and its effects on CTE and May other chronic diseases; including Diabetes and Cancer. This book will serve as the Bible for Cannabis & CBD. We look forward to you reading our book and providing a review. 

Dr. Roni: We will implement education in a myriad of ways, including, but not limited to, Private consultations, by phone or email, live group classes, online education, webinars, use of online tools, such as live video, updated blog and vlog articles posted on marketing channels and website, live presentations to groups, weekly TV and radio. 

Willis and I together are writing a health book to educate on Cannabis and 21 Chronic illness. I have written a song called SEARCH and the content for the book will have a SEARCH curriculum Simple- Essential- Actionable- Relevant- Conscience -Healthy, applications, information and protocols

We will educate using recipes that are easily prepared to treat a variety of health concerns. We will use visual storytelling to share experiences and stories from people with great success with Cannabis. Every protocol for clients who seek one on one coaching receive a completely unique protocol for their situation and needs. We offer CBD for 21 Chronic illness, so anyone who seeks to improve their health, has a pathway to do so. Our goal in reaching millions around the globe, is to help all people demystify healthy living. We simplify so that the chaos in the health and CBD use industry is removed and clients become clear and focused on what they need, versus the latest trends. 

Our membership community is for clients who want exclusive content, “members only” discounts on products and services, access to online live video calls, where they can ask their questions, private door email and access to a closed Facebook community.  Members receive a monthly live online video group call, prerecorded webinars offering education and exclusive content. There is a “member only” Q and A for members to send in questions that can be addressed collectively on these members only events. 

 Thanks to the two of you for the time. How can our audience stay connected with you and keep up with updates?

The best way to stay connected by email: willis.victory@phoenixlife.co and  drronideluz@gmail.com

You can also visit www.phoenixlife.co


[Ask Mary Ellen] Getting fit keeps you healthy and R.E.A.L


For me, fitness has always been fun! I was lucky. Being born in the ‘50's, meant coming home from school, doing my homework or chores, grabbing my bicycle and riding around our neighborhood with my friends. In the summertime, we would ditch our bikes for a game of kickball in the street. If we could find a mason jar, we would run around catching fireflies (lightning bugs). Our neighborhood had a small creek running through it, so on really hot Atlanta nights we would wade through the creek like a band of pirates! You see all of this “fitness" was disguised as childhood fun!

Even though I was diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of 6, I continued to play. I had a mild case; I did not feel different so why should I stop. Plus, playing outside got me out of the house.

Growing up, my home life was not what it “looked like" to the outside world. It was fighting, name calling, throwing things and knocked over Christmas trees! It was verbally and emotionally traumatic for me because I am a sensitive person. When these “fights" would happen, I would either try to sneak out of the house to ride my bike or go into the woods next door to talk with God.

All through high school I continued being athletic. I was a cheerleader during all my years at Tucker High school in Tucker, Georgia. At the University of Georgia, I decided not to try out due to school and sorority obligations. The dreaded freshman 15 happened- meaning gaining 15 pounds as a freshman.  Actually, I think I only gained 10 and my clothes were tight. I did not like the way I felt. Lethargic! The real turning point came when my mom and dad came to homecoming at UGA. They wanted to see the sorority house and go to the game! (I need to preface the next point with the fact that my parent, at this time, had not seen me for 6 months- my mother told me since she was paying for college I shouldn’t come home!! She meant it) The first thing my mom said when he saw me was, “wow, you’ve put on weight!” Okay, got it! They were correct and she could have said hello first!

After this incident, I began walking to classes, cut out drinking (alcohol) and began eating better. I also signed up for physical education classes like fencing and aerobics. All of these put me back in shape.

I continued to workout. In 1986, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.

After my first husband left, I took up racquetball as a positive way to get my anger out. I was playing in a national racquetball tournament when I began to have an excruciating pain in my right eye. I had to drop out of the tournament.

The next day was Sunday. I was lucky because my girlfriends’ husband was an eye doctor. He agreed to see me in his office. He was a very wise doctor as after the examination he did NOT tell me what he “thought” was happening to my body.  He said, “Mary Ellen, I will give you a prescription for prednisone IF you will promise to see your internist as soon as possible.” I said okay and went home. Of course, the prednisone took care of my eye pain. I thought about not going to the doctor. I had promised I would go, so I went.

By the time I was in my neurologist’s office, I knew something was wrong. I just put it in God’s hands and waited. After an MRI, my neurologist told me I had Multiple Sclerosis. Again, I did not worry because I had no idea what MS was or wasn’t.  My first question to the doctor was, “can I still work out?” She hesitated a moment before saying,” you are going to work out anyway, aren't you?” I said, “yes”. She told me to go ahead! It probably won't hurt.

In 1986, there were no medications or shots to take for MS.  Nothing but a few prescriptions to deal with the symptoms. I read everything I could get my hands on about Multiple Sclerosis. I even called the national MS society asking them to send me their literature. In 1986 it was not optimistic! When I received and read this horrible junk, I called the MS society and told them what they could do with their MS literature! I slammed the phone down and tore it all up! I was determined to learn what I needed to do to be as healthy as possible.

After months of educating myself I learned 3 things that would work to keep my MS in balance:

  • 1.      I must control my mind through meditation, prayer and reading spiritual, meditative books and The Bible.
  • 2.      I must maintain my body through eating correctly, detoxifying weekly and exercising daily!
  • 3.      I must allow my spirit (soul) to breath by letting go of anger, resentments, past hurts and allowing God to work His magic through me.

  I now work out daily! I used to work out at a gym here in Chattanooga Tennessee. Since Covid19 hit, I workout at home.  I began walking the neighborhood about 5 very hilly miles! Since the temperature heated up, I workout downstairs.  I am fortunate to have a couple of aerobics machines, a yoga mat, hand weights and a television that has tons of workout videos to use. (My MS acts up when I become hot, get stressed out or am tired)

 To be healthy and stay fit, you must listen to your body. Whether it is a food to eat, a medicine to take, or an exercise to do, your body always knows what you need. You must listen! Even on my bad MS days when I am feeling so fatigued, I can hardly move, I go downstairs and workout! A miracle happens! God lifts my fatigue and my MS monster is back in his cave!

To all of you reading my story: What is your excuse? Time? Money? It’s hard to do? Or you just don’t want to!

Time – even when I taught middle school all day, before I went home to grade papers and do lesson plans – I stopped at the gym for at least a one-hour workout. Now with Covid19- you have time!

Money – okay you do not have to go to a gym or even by fancy outfits. Make sure you have comfortable shoes to walk in – use books or cans of soup for hand weights. There are always ways to when you want to!!

Hard to do – anything worthwhile is hard, takes time, energy and planning. I know I am worth it and I KNOW you are worth it!

You just don’t want to – then my answer is: please do not complain when you cannot move your body any longer.

NO EXCUSES! That is the way I live and that is the way I stay healthy. There are so many types of exercises out now – from basic weights, cycling, yoga, dance, Pilates, kick boxing, walking etc…choose what you find fun to do and this way you will keep doing it! You can become fit – you can stay fit and you can become R.E.A.L - Really Enthusiastic About Life!

 

Sincerely with love,

Mary Ellen Ciganovich


Mary Ellen is the author of T.R.U.T.H Taking Responsibility Unleashes True Healing and Healing Words, Life Lessons to Inspire as well as the host of "Miracles with Mary Ellen" on Facebook and "Truth of the Day" weekdays on Conversations Daily News radio show as well as every Friday on Instagram. Stay connected with her at www.askmaryellen.com

[BOOK CHAT] Cornelius J. Maxwell, bestselling author of UNAPOLOGETICALLY: I AM A MAN


by Cyrus Webb

 There is nothing like being yourself UNAPOLOGETICALLY. It was something I had to grow into myself, but when I meet people like bestselling author Cornelius J. Maxwell it just reminds me of the importance with being happy with who you are and were created to be.

 His book UNAPOLOGETICALLY: I AM A MAN’s subtitle is “From slavery to independence, poems reflecting the transition from the past to the prosperous future- it’s a mindset”. The book is powerful and the message shared by the author is sure to inspire and motivate those who read it. In this conversation we discuss the response to UNAPOLOGETICALLY and what it all means to him.

 Congratulations again to you, Cornelius, on the success of the book. It’s already an Amazon bestseller. What has it been like for you to see how people are responding to it?

It's been an exciting. This is the first book I've ever written. It was one of those things that I prayed about and said I’m going to do it. I went for it, and people are responding to it great. It's just been humbling and empowering,

There's a lot of different messages in this book. They all give us something to think about. The thing that really struck me, though, is the reflection aspect, You're able to look backwards to where we have come from, as well as where the country has come from. Then you look at us today. How has that reflection encouraged you?

It's something that I've been inspired about pretty much my entire life. And the thing about it is the fact that even the concept of the book UNAPOLOGETICALLY: I AM A MAN was inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King jr.’s last protest I Am a Man and the history behind that. I think he was 39 years old when he was assassinated, when he gave his last protest. Four days after I turned 39 on Juneteenth is when I actually released this book. I wanted to plant the seeds that eliminates America's slave history or slave thinking, and also provide us into a prosperous future. And I think that is very important, especially moving on into the future for our next generation and the generation following them as well.



Do you think that kind of helped you to realize what you could achieve? Do you think being able to have that, positive force there behind you encouraged you as to what you could do in life?

I believe so.

My whole life people told me: ‘You'll never be successful. You're dying young. You’ll never be able to provide for your family. You'll never be a pillar of society. You'll always be a failure.’ This is what I've been told, but the fact that I've always had a strong support system—especially being that my father was a minister and my mother is a missionary—they told me to trust in God. In doing so, by leaning on my faith and what I've been taught, I can't understand the concept of what I've been told by society. It doesn't make sense to me.

 I've been told that I am more than a conqueror, and I can conquer all things. With that, no matter what society places in front of me, I can overcome that. And I share that message so that other people know they can overcome as well. It’s important to surround yourself with people who have that mentality that is positive. Iron sharpens, iron. It's just one of those things: If you want to be successful, you have to surround yourself with people who also successful.

Get your copy of UNAPOLOGETICALLY: I AM A MAN on Amazon. Stay connected with Cornelius at www.mr-maxwell.com as well as on social media at www.twitter.com/corneliusjmaxw1 and www.instagram.com/corneliusj.maxwell

Conversation with Debra Davis, author of MY DADDY, THE DEVIL, AND ME

 

by Cyrus Webb

It was nine years ago that I first discovered Debra Davis’s story. What she has been able to overcome and achieve was chronicled in her powerful book MY DADDY, THE DEVIL, AND ME—and it’s a testament not just to what we can do with faith but the lives we can impact as well.

After she first appeared on Conversations LIVE radio show with me almost a decade ago, Davis and I have kept in touch. Like all of us she has had to make adjustments due to the pandemic and other issues that have come our way in 2020, but it hasn’t stopped her from achieving personal and professional goals. In this conversation we reflect on her journey and how she continues to move forward.

 Debra, glad to speak with you again. Let’s begin where we are. What has it been like for you to reflect on this past decade and all the great things you've been able to do?

Nine years. It seems like nine minutes sometimes. Time flies, you know? I've been very busy during those nine years. I've actually just finished getting my Master's Degree. In June I graduated with my Master's Degree. I'm so excited about that! And, of course, I continue my quest with reaching out to those that are hurting and in pain. I was visiting the jails, but with Covid-19 that has stopped that for a bit. I just keep moving forward. 

You bring up some interesting things, Debra. This has not been the 2020 a lot of people had planned for themselves, but you and others have been able to keep pushing forward. I think it's a great parallel to your story, and also what you've been able to achieve. When people read MY DADDY, THE DEVIL, AND ME what they're able to see is that even though you went through some horrific things, you found a way to be able to come out the other side. Talk to us about that. What is it like for you to show how you have turned things around in your life?

Good question, Cyrus. When you read the book and you see all that I went through and you take that journey in the book with me, you are saying to yourself, ‘Wow. She's still at it. She's still doing these things.’

I had to ask God those questions. I had to ask God, “Why? Why me?” I'm satisfied with the answer that I got from God. He told me I was chosen. He said, ‘You're chosen. You're chosen for such a time as this.’ We never know what people will be going through. I always thought I was the only one, but when God let me know that I was chosen, it was so much easier for me to accept and be proud of the fact that God chose me. A lot of people will never understand. God didn't let me die. He protected me the entire time, and He brought me through for such a time as this. 

In the book you do talk about the things that were done to you, but you also are very honest about the things that you did yourself. In one chapter you talked about even as a mother not being as careful as you should have been with habits. What was that like for you to hold a mirror up to yourself?

Well, I didn't even know. I didn't even understand what I was doing to myself. When I was a child and as you're growing into an adult and you're getting older and you're being abused, you have somebody to blame. It's the blame game. ‘Oh, if it wasn't for him, this wouldn't have happened to me. If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't have done that.’ But once I got older and I needed an escape, I had to accept my responsibility and my part and my choices. And I had to look at myself in the mirror and say, ‘You did it to yourself as well, because you're older now. Now you should understand. Now it's time for you to look in the mirror, accept what you have done and make a change.’ How do you make that change? You look at yourself and you say, okay, now it's time. Time for me to love me. Until I accepted what I had done to myself, accept what was done to me and accepted the responsibility—my part in it—I couldn't heal. In order for me to heal, I had to accept the responsibility of myself so I can work on me and then I can start to love me.

Do you think because of what you've gone through and how faith has helped you get to where you are now, Debra, that you're able to be more empathetic toward people in the situations we sometimes find ourselves in?

Yes. I can look at others, and I can sympathize with others. I understand what it is they are dealing with. At the time I didn't understand what I was fighting against. I didn't know that I was fighting against spiritual wickedness, principalities, and rulers of the darkness of this world. I didn't understand all of that. I developed a way of existing and accepting what was happening to me and believing that this is just something that happens to children. It was all a lie. A big lie. But I didn't understand until God exposed the devil to me. Now I can look at others and sympathize with them. I can relate to what is happening. I understand it more and now I can deal with it better, and I can help other people become free as well.

Stay connected with Debra at www.mydaddythedevilandme.com

[Book Chat] Audra Bush, co-author of THE POWER OF PAIN

by Cyrus Webb

2020 has been a difficult year for many, but that doesn't mean it has to stay that way. Through all of the challenges there have been bright spots that have emerged, reminding us of what is possible. 

BlaqRayn Publishing  released a book this year called THE POWER OF PAIN featuring the real life experiences of Kneika Robbins, Audra Bush and Kenya Frazier. It allows the reader to see what they had to endure but also the road to a better place, reinforcing for us what is possible. 

In this conversation Audra Bush reveals a part of her experience and the lessons learned. 

Audra, thank you for the time. How did you decide to be a part of the project THE POWER OF PAIN?

I decided to be a part of this project through casual conversation with Kneika. This project brought us together to share our experiences and provide inspiration to others. She saw the vision and the idea took off from there.

Your collaborators are also being included in upcoming features by Conversations. How has knowing you’re not alone helped you in getting through the difficult times in life?

In life we never know what hand we are going to be dealt. This is a fact. However, it is up to us

how we deal with it. Some people choose to be bitter, blame, fold, or do the best they can with

the hand they have been dealt. I am grateful that God allowed these two lovely ladies to cross

my path. I realize that the only people worthy to be in my life are the ones that help me, and

the two of them did just that. They were my peace, they encouraged me, made me laugh, they

were empathic and they acknowledged every difficult situation when I was in some dark places.

There’s comfort in knowing that I have these ladies to pour into me when I am empty. It’s a

blessing to be able to release without fear.

It’s not easy to share your personal story with the world. What made you want to do it?

What made me want to share my personal story with the world is the fact that a lot of people

that I interacted with on a daily basis believed that I had it all together. I was able to suppress

my hurt and pain, but I struggled to feel joy. I found myself re-experiencing my childhood

trauma often, and this had a profound effect on how I was able to navigate through life daily. I

want to show people that trauma is not a life sentence and there is no trauma bigger than God.

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

The thought of writing never crossed my mind, because I never enjoyed writing. In the past I

wrote for school and for fun.


What has been the response from your part of the book?

The response that I have received from my part of the book has been a lot of dismay. For some

reason, since I am the youngest most people believed that I had a good life. In all honesty I did

because of my loving parents. They did everything in their earthly power to protect me and

keep the family together. The fact of the matter is that because of the love they had for all of us

and their stance when it came to their religious beliefs, most people can’t fathom how I

experienced so much trauma.

 For aspiring authors that are reading this what advice do you have for them with it comes to

pursuing their goal of publishing?

First and foremost, talk about it. I recommend connecting with someone who shares your

dream. I will also say write something that you would enjoy reading and set the standard high.

Finally, keep writing every day.

Social media is a big part of marketing these days. How has it benefited you?

For me social media has allowed me to share the information quickly with a large group of

people at once as well as make connections with acquaintances near and far.

When people finish reading THE POWER OF PAIN what do you hope they take away from it?

When people finish reading THE POWER OF PAIN, I hope they realize that in order to move

forward in life forgiveness is key. This is the first step. I want them to know that is okay to let go

of relationships with toxic family members. This can be a deeply painful decision especially

when it comes to family, but never feel guilty. We have every right to protect ourselves from those

who verbally, emotionally, and physically abuse us. Trauma is not something you get over

quickly, it takes time. Remember it’s not your fault, it’s your fate. As long as you have HOPE

you can make it.


[Conversations Book Club] Excerpt from K3 by author Tracie O'Neil Horton


Conversations is excited to start offering teasers from great books of all genres in the pages of our magazine. Enjoy this excerpt from Chapter 78 of K3 by author Tracie O'Neil Horton. 

ABOUT K3: A controversial political thriller—or a glimpse into our future? K 3 is a timely, thought-provoking read for today’s audience.

In K 3, the United States has been strictly divided into racial provinces. When Mikela Flanders discovers her country’s true past, she enlists the help of an American Indian, her friends, and an army of wolves to reunite the USA.

Mikela is a brave, smart, strong young woman with courage and honor that help her fight against forces intent on keeping the country separated by race. Her story incorporates elements of adventure, romance, and suspense, along with a tangible love for animals and nature. Above all else, it’s a cautionary tale about how far politicians will go to further their own agendas.

Chapter 78

            Two of the things moved toward the group.  Mikela ran her knife through the eyeball of one of them.  She kicked at another, sending it back and away from her family.

            “Dad!  Boomer, now, let’s go!” Mikela gave out orders while Westmoreland has his face under water.

            “Move, move, move!  Let’s go!” she said to the people who still sat in shock around the table.  People rose numbly.  Michelle and Janice couldn’t stop looking at Sarah’s still body on the table.

            “I know.  But we can’t do anything for her, and your daughters are waiting for you now,” Mikela said as she gently tried to hurry them out the door. 

            “Lexi is going to need you now.”

            Molly and John were already out the door.  James and Peggy were right behind.

            “Chris and Ben…” Peggy said.

            “Should stay right where they are,” Mikela said, hoping the boys would hear.

            “Okay, they’ll stay right where they are,” Peggy said.

            The boys heard.  They needed no encouragement to stay right where they were.  Chris and Ben hugged and stayed quiet under the dining room table.

            Everyone crammed into the Boomer.  John started the vehicle and they were off like a bullet.

            Westmoreland went to the freezer and grabbed a steak to put on his face.

            “Get after them! Follow them!” he yelled.

            His men sprang into action.  He yelled into his E-phone for all local AI to converge on his signal.

            Westmoreland had men in pursuit.  He waited for the new teams to show up.  He had machines from Coopers Falls and every neighboring town within a twenty-five-mile radius.  Vehicles converged on the street.  Neighbors stuck their heads outdoors, asking what was going on.

            Westmoreland told them to shut the fuck up and to get their asses back inside.

            Several gasps ensued.  Indignant old ladies stepped on porches.  Large men dressed in black approached the old ladies with angry faces and large fists raised. The ladies retreated into their homes and watched out windows while spreading the gossip on their E-phones.    Mothers ran outside and picked up their children. 

            Mikela instructed her father to drive to the five combines along the towpath.  John left North Oak Street and drove down East Street to School Street to Pearl Street.

            “They’re following us!” Michelle shrieked.

            Mikela craned her neck to look through the rear window.  It was difficult with all the people crammed into the back of the car.

            “That’s not all of them,” Mikela said.  “Only some are following.  The rest will come when reinforcements arrive at the house.  They will follow those guys’ signal,” she said as she pointed her thumb back behind them.

            John followed Pearl Street until he came to the parking area at the top of the combines.  He paused to park.

            “No, go all the way down.”

            “We aren’t allowed to drive down there.”

            “We are today.  Move it Dad,”

            John glanced at his daughter.

            “Sorry, Dad.”

            He smiled weakly at her.

            “It’s okay honey, we’re all a little tense right now.”

            Mikela couldn’t help it.  She laughed and reached out to squeeze her dad’s shoulder.

            Mikela knew they were following the signal on her phone.  She turned off the GPSE.

            They drove down the steep hill past the stairway that was the five combines.  John didn’t stop until he was at the T at the bottom of the road.  Mikela’s truck was backed into an off-road, a small, man-made road that led to more fields and trees.   She told her father to park next to it. 

            Farmland was out beyond the T paths and Mikela could see her horses grazing.  Two hundred feet from the horses she could see tall grass, reeds and cattails.  There was a pond nearby.

            River was walking to her.   Mikela ran to him, throwing herself at him.  Molly and John watched this with great interest.  Lexi, Alex, Elena, Brian and Sky came to them as well.  Michelle and Janice ran to their daughters.

            “Where’s my mom?” Lexi asked.

            “She stayed with my nephews,” Mikela said.  “They were scared.  I didn’t want them to be here, and I couldn’t leave them alone.”

            She felt terrible for lying to her friend, but it wasn’t a complete lie.  And she needed Lexi to be able to focus on the fight about to come.   The other mothers heard.  They said nothing.

            “He’s human.  The leader is human!” Mikela said to River.  She told him of her mom throwing hot soup at his face.

            “She scalded him.  He is real.”

            Mikela gathered everyone together in front of the truck.

            “Mom, Dad, James, Peggy, Michelle and Janice, go to where the horses are, and head for those reeds.  I want you to hunker down in the reeds and cattail and don’t move.”

            “But Mikela, it’s dirty down there, and there will be bugs,” Michelle said.

            “Mom, get dirty!” Alex barked.  “Better dirty than dead.”

            Michelle flinched.

            “I can help,” James said.

            Mikela smiled and shook her head.

            “No, bro, you can’t.  Just go with the ladies and keep them safe.”

            “The boys have my E-phone.  I slipped it to Chris when they crawled under the table,” Peggy said.  “Please let us know when we can go back to them.”

            Two black Millennium Mountain Lions pulled into the parking area at the top of the five combines.  They were followed by two more, and then two more behind that.  The things looked around and found nothing.  Mikela’s signal had stopped here.  One spoke into his E-phone.  Westmoreland barked orders for them to check out where the road led.

            “Will they come after us?” Peggy asked as she walked towards the pasture.

            “They will.  They are waiting for the boss,” Mikela said.

            “I love you,” Molly said as she walked away from her daughter.

            “I love you, Elena,” Janice said.

            Alex hugged Michelle.  “I love you Mom,” she said.

            “Okay, enough.  Go.  Now!” Mikela said sternly.

            Her parents shrunk from her.  The girls’ parents, with Peggy and James, walked down the slight hill to the pasture and disappeared.  They appeared again briefly, then were lost in the reeds and cattails.  Michelle’s comment of ‘YUCH’ could be heard.  They all laughed for a bit.

            Alex put a hand out.

            “Robot stoppers, let’s go!”  They all put a hand in.

            “To freedom!” Lexi cheered.

            “Yes, let’s get ourselves emancipated!” Alex yelled.

            The hooting and cheering abruptly stopped.  All eyes turned to Alex.

            “What?”  Alex asked.  “What did I do?”

            “Why is it always the not smart ones?” Elena said.

            “The Emancipation Proclamation is the key,” Mikela whispered.

            “Oh, my stars.  OH! MY! STARS!!” Lexi said.  “We can turn them off.”

            Mikela fumbled with her pockets.

            “Where is it?  Where is it?” she was frantic.  Her eyes grew wide as she fumbled for her E-Phone.  It must be in the Boomer.

            “What?”  Elena asked.

            “My E-phone. I need to call my nephews.  They can help.”

            “Here, use my E-phone.  Call my mom,” Lexi handed her phone to Mikela.

            “Oh, honey,” Mikela looked at her friend and her lip quivered.

            “No...no,” Lexi stammered.  Brian came up behind her and held her.

            Sixty cars pulled into the parking area.  There was no place to park any more.  The cars lined up one behind the other in the parking area, and more just stopped, overflowing from the lot onto Pearl Street.  Car doors slammed shut, making a noise as loud as thunder.

            “I’m so sorry, Lexi.  Your mom was hurt.  That’s why she stayed behind.”

            The man with the scalded face was walking towards them.  His face looked red and angry.  I hope it really hurts, Mikela thought.

            “Lexi, I need you to be strong now.  That asshole walking towards us hurt your mom.  We have to be strong and level headed so we can beat him.”                                                        

            Mikela took Lexi’s phone and called Peggy’s number.   Chris answered on the first ring.

            “Chris, it’s Aunt Mike.  I need your help, okay? Can you help me?”

            “Yes,” Chris whispered.

            “I want Mommy, I want Mommy,” Benjamin was saying repeatedly.

            “Good boy.  Go in the kitchen to where the man is standing in the corner.  You need to turn him on.  He’s turned off, like one of your toys.”

            Mikela looked up to see the man she had scalded.  He was close, and he had a gun. They all had guns.

            “Disperse!”  Mikela said. 

            Everyone ran for the woods.

            “Chris, we need him turned on,” Mikela said while she ran to the woods.”  He can help us, so we can come home.  You want us home, right?” she was whispering now.

            “Yes.” Chris’ voice was soft, and quiet.  He was in shock, she knew.

.

Enjoyed this excerpt? Get your copy of K3 on Amazon today at www.cyruswebbstore.com