Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Real Women...Ride BIKES!

By Assistant Editor,
Dee Thompson

"Karmal Delite"

Motorcycles are not just for the boys any more! Now, they're for real women!

I had a delightful conversation with Ms. Karmal Delite about her passion for motorcycles and their role in her life. She belongs to a group called the Hurricane Biker Girls. The group promotes unity among female riders. Here’s more about the group: “Founded in San Diego, CA in 2002. A Sisterhood of nothing less than extraordinary riders, spreading across the U.S. and reaching as far as Hawaii. We share a passion for pushing our toys to limits that rival a hurricane....”

Although she’s nearly forty years old, Karmal has a lot of history with motorcycles. “I was inspired by my mom. My mom was a rider but she didn’t talk about motorcycles. She let me ride on the back of her bike when I was growing up.” A native of Kalamazoo, Michigan, Karmal [real name Robyne] likes the feeling of freedom and adventure she gets from her bike.  “It’s always been a passion of mine. There are a lot of ladies who have a passion for riding.”

Karmal’s mother would be proud. She passed away in 2003, and Karmal lost her father a year later. She keeps looking ahead and thinking positive, though. Her Michigan Hurricane Biker Girls Chapter [one of five chapters around the USA] is a supportive group of friends, and they welcome women of all backgrounds, races, and religions. They aren’t just about fun, either. They recently sponsored a donation drive for a Veteran’s Hospital in nearby Battle Creek. They are also getting ready to adopt a family for the Thanksgiving holidays. They raise money for school supplies for homeless kids. Community service is a big part of the group’s aims. 
"We're career women who have jobs and families. It takes some juggling but we find time to do everything," Karmal explains.
"Hurricanes," Kalamazoo, Michigan Chapter

Karmal has a passion for helping children. She has been an employee of the Kalamazoo school system for some years, as a tutor, mentor, and para-pro, among other things. She also does parent engagement, trying to get parents more involved in their kids’ schools. Karmal is a mom to four children, ranging in age from 10 to 20 years old. “I also advocate for Great Start Parent Foundation. We try to reach parents of kids’ ages zero to three, to help them understand the importance of early intervention.”

Karmal is looking forward to March of next year, when she can buy a new motorcycle, a 900 cruiser.  Until then, she rides a borrowed “crotch rocket” – a smaller, faster bike. (She had to explain that term to me.)
The type of bike isn’t as important as what it represents, however – freedom and adventure. “We ride in the city and the country. We try to ride to places that are at least four hours away.”

Photography by Otis Wilson III, Steele Candy

Karmal has three daughters, and she is setting a great example for them of being a caring, involved parent, and a person who is also strong and independent. She won’t let her life be defined by others’ expectations or preconceived ideas.~

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Healing Our Past:
An Inside Job

By Author,
Epiphany Toi Williams

My name is Epiphany Toi Williams and I am a Survivor of childhood sexual abuse. It has taken me many years to be able to say that, but now I can say it without fear. Writing my new book, Epiphany Rise, was an act of healing. It began as I was writing down my thoughts as part of my therapy. I now want to educate others and remove the stigma of getting help  for survivors of abuse.  In telling my story, I also hope to demonstrate the healing power of forgiveness. When you survive an abusive childhood, you can spend a great deal of your life running from the past before you are finally able to turn and confront it. I was very self-destructive most of my adult life. I had no control over my impulses.  I was numb. 

In order to understand my experience, I must go back to the very beginning. Everything innocent and pure was robbed from me at the age of 4 ½, when I was first abused, and it continued for the next seven years.  I was molested by my mother and other, family members, and raped by my mother’s boyfriend when I was 12 years old. 

I was born into a dysfunctional family.  My family believes you don't discuss things like mental illness. You don’t see a psychologist or a counselor, or get therapy. That sort of thing is taboo. I was expected to just "deal" with it. However, I believe the issues that have affected my childhood and adult life have been part of a long family cycle that needed to be broken, so let it start with me.

My teen years were very turbulent. So many things happened that left me broken, and longing to be free. I had built walls around my pain, and just wanted to be able to be like everyone else. But that didn’t happen.
The result of that abuse was terrible shame. It also resulted in psychological problems throughout my life – great fear, panic attacks, sleeping problems, nightmares, irritability, and outbursts of anger. I experienced shocked reactions to being touched, especially by a male.  Because of my trauma, I struggled with emotional demons for years. I knew the pain, the loneliness, the lack of trust, and all the other feelings that occurred from being abused.

For many years I thought I was okay. I thought I had made peace with it. I thought I could live my life like a normal person. For many years I put a smile on my face and pretended that I could forget it happened. I was not OK. Now I'm done being quiet, and I'm done pretending it didn’t happen. I know I've hit rock bottom on more than one occasion. I've cried myself to sleep and I know at times I have crumbled... but I did not fall. I set out to prove that I could heal. I am not a victim. I am a survivor.

The Truth is there are over 73 million children in the United States alone and of these thousands are abused every day. My book was written as a way to give a voice, my voice to some of the unspeakable things children suffer. There is nothing pretty about abuse, but there are ways to help those that are suffering now, or have suffered in the past.

There is healing in forgiveness. From Victim to Advocate, I have come full circle, but it has taken time. My story is not unique, but it is mine.

Excerpt page 210:

My newfound freedom came when I began to face my past and confront it head-on. I had to face the truth. I had no choice. I wanted to live. Instead of having pity parties and thinking my life was over, that I had failed and nothing good will ever happen to me, I begin to think like this: I’m hurt about my past, but I believe God will take care of me. And no matter what will happen, I will trust in God and be positive.

Start setting forth positive thoughts for your future and see yourself as you want to be. The universe will align for future events and circumstances to take place and please you. You don’t have to believe in God, but believe in a higher power greater than yourself that’s good, loving, and gentle. A power that will bring you peace of mind and set you free.~

Epiphany Rise * No More Secrets * There is healing in forgiveness. You can RISE…Just Let go.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Living Our Divine Essence

...& how it impacts our self image & life Erika Matos

"The Sex & the City  Life = what by societal terms was ideal. Let me tell you, it was not as glamorous as many may think."

I was sick. Sick of my life. Sick of my friends. Sick of the men I was dating. Sick of the job I had. Yet everyday I found a way to cover up the pain. I had a drinking problem, frenemies galore, an unfulfilled love life, and a job that was sucking the life out of me and paying me handsomely for it, yet I was broke. My closet was full of beautiful things I could barely afford to present my façade publicly, which after the first wear, looked like a waste of money and a big mistake. Who was I trying to impress? I bought into it wholeheartedly, but the glitz and glamour were deteriorating me slowly.  I was miserable.

One day while hanging out, I desperately gathered myself and went home. It was my turnaround moment. I wanted to be in the shelter of my home and away from all the toxicity I had allowed into my life. How did everything get so out of hand? A period of reflection followed. Hiatus was bliss. My inner guidance had kicked in, and I was willing to listen because I no longer wanted the life I was living.  I sobered up and much like an inquisitive seven-year-old, asking WHY?, was my starting point and my fuel. Why was I doing these things if they were not making me happy?

I had to strip down all the old ideas and nonsense and answer internal questions like:
Who are you? What is your purpose? How are you going to improve your life? The life of others? The planet? I needed a hand (these are the important questions after all) so I read self-help books, the Bible, the Bhagavad-Gita, and every text that would give me some insight as to what to do next. Yes, it was a spiritual revolution.

It was time for some serious house keeping. Letting go of people who were not lifting me to higher grounds was not easy. Learning to stop making excuses and overcome the life-long victim mentality was one of the most challenging parts. Understanding how to love myself unconditionally was the other. Then, the world opened up and anything was possible.

The moment of liberation happens when you no longer care what others have to say about you or what you do, because you know there’s something majestic and larger than life supporting your every action and giving meaning to your very existence. At that point, you know what your mission is, and you are determined to push forward by any means necessary. Gratitude supports you, and brings forth more blessings. Being happy is the only thing that matters.  Following a path that does not sustain your joy is unthinkable.

When we live from within, nothing from without can shake or stir us. When we are grounded in truth, we can trust our foundation to be the sturdiest and most reliable. When the inner void is filled, the material band-aids are no longer needed to determine worth or value.

Nowadays, I can be in rags, and still feel regal. My daily alcoholic drink has been replaced with my morning power smoothie. I ask “How may I be of service?” rather than “What’s in it for me?”. My attitude change has connected me with new amazing individuals, who are in synchronicity with my feelings, goals, beliefs and ideas, and who support me no matter what. I found a new job with a non-profit organization I am proud to work for and I also began my health education and life coaching business. I love what I do, and my job does not feel like work. Did I mention I am also in the most emotionally fulfilling relationship of my life? Oh, yes, happiness reigns these days.

After all my searching, it was simply about embracing the bigger picture. Basically, the world is much larger than my little self. I am still learning. There’s joy in every lesson, and a blessing around every corner. I am a proud representative of my Highest Power, and my goal is to teach others everything that I have learned. Spirit feeds me and what a feast it is! Bon Appetit.~

Erika Matos is a transformational agent, a certified health and nutrition educator, intuitive healer, and life coach helping people shift in the right direction by critically rethinking everything assumed to be true about what it means to be a happy, healthy, prosperous being. To learn more about her work visit

Please leave a post or comment & JOIN The BBB! 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Lady with Whole-Life Swag

A Conversation w/ Author & Lifestyle Coach, Chloe Taylor-Brown by Assistant Editor, Dee Thompson 

When author and personal excellence coach Chloé Taylor Brown walks into a room, the energy shifts. Tall and elegant, cool even on a 95 degree day, she carries an aura of class, but there’s more to her than that. Much, much more...
We met for our interview at a local Barnes & Noble, and I was sitting in the coffee area keeping an eye on the door when Chloé walked in. She introduced herself and immediately I knew I was in the presence of a Lady [capital L]. She spotted a clerk in the store that she knew, a young college girl, and gave her a warm hug and chatted with her for a few minutes before our interview.  When our interview was over, she sought her out again.  A former model married to a professional basketball player, Chloé has every reason in the world to be a snob, but she’s not. Warm and engaging, she’s just the opposite of that.
Chloé Taylor Brown is not a magician, but she’s in the business of changing lives. “When people come to see me their energy shifts. Their lives are transformed,” she explains.
She calls herself a Lifestyle Enhancement Specialist. She helps professional women enhance their careers. She helps young women create their careers.  Most recently, she has started the Global Girls Initiative, to help young girls learn their value and become the people they were meant to be. “I’m an advocate. I have been called to inspire, encourage, and equip girls and young ladies to live the lives of their dreams.” After spending time with her, I am confident she has an amazing ability to do just that.
Chloé’s life didn’t start out as one of wealth or privilege. Born in rural Mississippi, she was one of eight children. Her mother died when she was 13 years old, and she went to live with her grandmother. She had a tough time emotionally and struggled with self-esteem, until she went to live with her aunt Anita at age 16. Her aunt became her role model, and inspired her to pursue a college education, a modeling career, and other important goals.
Transform-ed from a tall, gawky teen to a poised young lady, Chloé reinvented herself and developed a system to coach others.  
Chloé Taylor Brown’s glamorous modeling career and marriage to NBA star Rick Brown didn’t shield her from more tragedy, though. Her young son Justin, age 3, drowned in 1996. Chloé pursued help for herself and her other children and husband from various therapists. What she found was that after therapy, nobody felt better. In fact they felt worse. “Many therapists process the problems, over and over again. How does that make you feel?” she reasoned.  Her 10 year old daughter and 7 year old son finally asked her and their dad to discontinue therapy. Real healing took place when she realized that the tools for healing were already inside her and her family. She seeks healing for everyone.
Chloé is justifiably proud of her Global Girl Initiative, founded in 2008, and her new book, Girl-Swag: The Platinum Guide to Personal Development for Girls & Ladies, a workbook for teenage girls to discover their authentic selves. “When the girls finish the processes in the workbook they are close to self-actualization.”  She feels the book is more than just a tool, though. “It’s going to transform many, many lives,” she explains.
I asked Chloé to define the word “lady.” It’s a word often misused, sometimes even maligned. “My definition of a lady starts with understanding your self-worth. When you know who you are, you have a special glow about yourself. You want to take care of yourself. You speak highly about yourself.”
Chloé Taylor Brown personifies those words, and she is on a mission to transform females of all ages into true Ladies.~
For more info visist: &!

Girl Swag Projects are Sponsored in part by: 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Conversation w/ Author, Mercedes Warrick

By Assistant Editor
Dee Thompson

“Love transforms, transcends and transmutes all...
everything!” ~ Mercedes Warrick

Mercedes Warrick, businesswoman, intuitive, and author of the book The Soul Inspired Tune Up, has a passion in life for helping people help themselves. “Every soul has its own journey,” she was told when she was growing up. Those are words she lives by today, as she helps others on their journeys to personal and professional fulfillment.

Mercedes’ journey began in Canada. College brought her to Nevada, and she ultimately settled in Las Vegas, where her husband worked. After finishing school, Mercedes became a successful marketing professional, and she thought life was OK, until one fateful day several years ago...

Mercedes was at home, and thieves invaded her home, tied her up, and robbed her at gunpoint. That traumatic incident started her most recent journey. “When I was on the floor being robbed, I took three deep breaths and surrendered,” she explains. “I went to a place of peace. The energy in that space changed. The robbers asked me if I could breathe, if my hands were tied too tight.” When she later told the police about the transformation, they were shocked. Mercedes knew, however, that the terrifying experience had been a turning point in her life.  She took time off to regroup, and in the process found herself changing her entire way of thinking. She became convinced that “Love transforms, transcends and transmute all, everything!”

One person at a time was not enough, and Mercedes found herself writing the book The Soul Inspired Tune Up, a process she found deeply satisfying and healing. She is an intuitive, a person who relies on information she believes comes directly from God. She clarifies, “I am just God's ink pen. I have to incorporate these spiritual musings into my life as well and I am human!” She starts each day with a conversation with God.  Peace is the ultimate goal. “When you get to that place of peace, you can conquer the world. Peace is the steady calm. When you are totally immersed in your personal peace, an incredible envelope of peace, that is when you begin to design an authentic life."

 Click & Buy The Soul Inspired Tune Up 
by Mercedes Warrick
She also feels that success is a sacred right we all have.

How does one achieve success? Is it money, possessions or fame? Not necessarily. After she was robbed, Mercedes spent a lot of time suffering from the aftereffects of the trauma. Success for her became about small steps back to normalcy, such as getting out of bed every day and facing life. She kept learning and growing, even while going through a bad divorce.

“The first step is to release anything between you and the Source. Negativity, fear, lack, worry, doubt – those all come between you and the Source. When you release those it creates a space. The universe abhors a vacuum, and the space can be filled up again with Love. You can choose to live the path of Love.”  Love is an energy source.

Breathing intentionally is a cornerstone of Mercedes’ belief system, and she can teach people how to improve their breathing, and that in turn can improve one’s life.  “There are nine breaths for conscious living, and I talk about this in my book. You take three breaths to connect to the earth, three to connect to the right to claim your place in humanity, and three to claim yourself in the universal world of higher thought, to align your relationship with a higher source greater good, higher power.”

That is only the beginning of the breathing process. There are other techniques she teaches individual clients. What is the ultimate goal? She doesn’t want clients to have to keep consulting with her the rest of their lives. She gives them tools to help themselves to be in a better place. Many of her clients are in crisis mode – foreclosures of homes, divorce, loss of money. These are the very serious issues with many of her clients.

The national economic downturn has hit Las Vegas especially hard. However, Mercedes feels that redirecting conscious energy towards inner strength works in outward ways, too.  A huge issue she sees with many people is that they are controlled by their fears. “People don’t like to admit they are afraid, so they can’t heal.” She helps them to realize that it is okay to say "I am afraid, today." The Soul Inspired Tune Up then allows them to release and move towards infusing a more positive energy into their thinking and activities. Mercedes tries to get clients to believe, as she believes,  that “Success is my sacred right. I am success.”

I asked Mercedes if one had to believe in the soul tune up she discusses in her book, and her answer surprised me – no. “You don’t have to believe to do the tune up. What you do have to believe is:

1) You have to show up – in other words, take 5 minutes to simply be present in your day.
2) You have to believe in a higher Source – whether it’s God, Buddha, Allah, the Universe, etc.

For Mercedes Warrick, achieving success is a spiritual goal that impacts one’s business and professional life, and all other aspects of life. Finding and eliminating fears and coming to a place of peace are the most important tasks we face today! And, according to Mercedes Warrick, we should face it bravely!~

Mercedes Warrick is a spiritual intuitive with a business background. This combination of spiritual wisdom and pragmatic intelligence has guided people through the changes they have wanted to make in both their business and their lives. She leads people through a process of connecting with their Divine Guidance called, The Soul Inspired Tune Up. Mercedes’ soul level intuition began to emerge as she recovered from a 2005 home invasion. Her work has aligned and centered people through prayer, meditation, breath and energy healing. Her main focus is to IN-Power people to have direct and spiritual conversations with their higher Self and their Higher Source. <Click & Learn More About Her & Her Work Here!>

Please Leave A Comment & Be Sure to Follow & LIKE Us! Thanks for Reading!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Women Who Inspire Us!

Carrie Redwine, Atlanta, GA.
By Asst. Editor,
Dee Thompson

"I always say that I feel like a hottie despite the fact that I'm not a size 2!" ~~Carrie Redwine

As I’ve gone through life I have been blessed to encounter some ladies who inspire me, because their inner beauty and qualities always shine through. I met my friend Carrie Redwine when my son started playing on the tennis team with her son Clay. Carrie is a tall, Rubenesque lady who has an indefatigable warmth and a generosity of spirit that makes her a delight to be around.
An artist and mom, she has three children, works in marketing, and has a lovely home that is always a warm and welcoming place. She makes the best macaroni and cheese in America!
Carrie always says she feels like a hottie despite the fact she isn’t a size 2, which is a great attitude. I was delighted that Carrie agreed to share some of her wisdom with us.

Tell me a little about where you were born, and your early life.
 I was born in Athens, Georgia at St. Mary’s hospital.  I am an only child.  My parents had both been married previously when they met.  My mother was told in her early 20’s that she would never be able to bear children, and she was married to her first husband for 10 years and never used contraceptives, and never got pregnant.  She and my father married in their mid-30’s, and were talking about adopting when she found out she was pregnant with me!  My mother had to undergo an emergency hysterectomy when I was born, and almost died.  At the time (1961), I was written up in several medical journals of the day as a “miracle baby”.

My mother was one of the few career women of the 1960’s, holding down a position at The Institute of Government at the University of Georgia for 20+ years.  My father was a salesman and traveled all over the southeast. 

My parents were not the types to sit on the floor with me and play a game, go camping, or take me for a walk in the park – I was expected to “entertain myself”.  I’ve always loved drawing, even from an early age, and art became my favorite activity.  My father built me a large desk in my room, with shelves to accommodate my art supplies and give me a place I could use for my projects.  In elementary school I excelled in art, my fourth grade teacher even framed a clown I painted and it graced the walls of her classroom for decades. 

Tell us a little about your life now.
I’ve been married for 24 years to a wonderful man.  We have 3 beautiful children, twins Claire and Carly (17) and Clayton (14).  I never wanted an only child, and God blessed me with the twins right off the starter line.  My kids are truly the best thing that ever happened to me!

My husband, Stan, is a successful video engineer.  I work part-time in marketing.  I enjoy having time during the week to spend with the kids, and we love going places and doing things.  I have always been very active at my children’s schools, and when they were in elementary school, in 3 separate classes, I always went up on Halloween and carved 3 big jack o’lanterns for the 3 classes.  I have always been very teary-eyed and sad with every stage that passes with the kids, it has gone by so fast, and I have loved every minute!  With my parents deceased and my husband’s parents deceased, we are a very close little family.  I have so much I am looking forward to – college and weddings and grandchildren!

What do you feel is your best quality?
I’d have to say personality and confidence. [I can second that – Carrie has never met a stranger and she is always an interesting and lively conversationalist!]

How do you want your daughters to feel about their bodies as they mature into young women?
I have always struggled with my weight.  In high school and college I starved myself to be thin and remember being dizzy from not eating.  It was not until my mid-20’s that I accepted myself and embraced my natural body type.  My daughters are naturally thin and have their father’s metabolism so it is extremely doubtful that they will be overweight.  I have always encouraged them to be their own person and look their best and be confident, and most of all have self respect and treat others well.

What does it mean to you to be sexy?
To me being sexy is feeling pretty and exuding that to the world!

Do you feel the media puts a lot of pressure on women to be unnaturally thin?

Yes!   The media has turned many people into superficial assholes, judging people on how they look, rather than what the person has to offer, intellectually or otherwise.  There is beauty in every single one of us!

You’ve been married for a long time – what’s the secret?!
I get asked this a lot.  The answer will surprise you.  TOLERANCE!

What’s your passion in life?
Creating a loving home for my family.  I love and cherish my children more than words could express.  I also get great satisfaction out of doing for others – as an only child, I have always loved doing nice things for other people, it is very satisfying.

Who inspired you, growing up?
My mentor from the 3rd grade until now – my art teacher Michael Pitts in Watkinsville, Georgia. 

How does your art influence your life?
My art IS my life really.  I live my life in an aesthetic way from the way I arrange my home, from the jewelry I wear, to the landscaping in my back yard.  I am very detail oriented in many regards.  My best friend always comments on my style as “successorized”.

If you could say anything you want to the women in America, what would it be?
Be confident in who you are and present yourself as the beautiful woman you want everyone else to notice.

Is there a woman that you know who inspires YOU? We would love to hear all about it & possibly feature her in an article or have YOU tell us Herstory! Please contact us at

Please leave a comment and/or FOLLOW US! Thanks!

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Brotha's Perspective on Real Beauty

By Christopher D. Sims, Edited By Dee Thompson

"My current female friends are very instrumental in the way I look at & treat women. Those connections are sacred."

I have given a lot of thought to what makes a person beautiful, and through my poetry and my writing, I try to transmit my thoughts about real beauty. Through my work as a Writer, Poet, Activist, Open Mic host, and traveler, I continually seek to deepen my understanding of beauty, and how to nurture an appreciation of real beauty in children and young people.

I am single and I have no children, but I have had significant relationships that helped me grow as a man and taught me a lot about love and how to treat women. My current female friends and associates are very instrumental in the way I look at and treat women. Those connections are sacred.

However, when I truly think about beauty from a brotha's perspective, I must first recognize the three beautiful black women that raised me. I grew up on the west side of Rockford, Illinois. The three women who were instrumental in the person I am today are my mother and my two sisters, Della Sims, Marquetta Alexander, and Kimberly Sims.

Their presence instilled in me a light that will always glow and attract positive energy. Their warm smiles and affection helped me harness the real beauty that I possess as a man and as a human being. I took their love and held it and nurtured it inside me until I beamed just the same on the outside. It takes a conscious man to understand this, and to be able to share it with others in a positive and productive way.

When I was nine, I began to really find myself. I became a lot smarter, more social, and dug into my creative energy. I could feel real beauty from the inside. I know it made me stand out amongst my peers. This light, this internal beauty, became my guide through my life. Real beauty is internal beauty. It starts inside. I had an early start, so I shine brightly because of this. I've never recognized external beauty as the real beauty in my life.

As someone who “dresses nice”, I tell others my clothing is an extension of how I feel internally. I hope the people I share this with understand it. Materialism has never been the core of my being. It has never pushed me to compete with others or to enhance my status amongst my peers or other groups of people. Even in the era of Michael Jordan tennis shoes and jump suits, I held on to my internal beauty and let my real light shine.

I still believe real beauty is not a man's shoes, a man's wardrobe, a man's haircut, or a man's nice car. These things are not long lasting and they add no real value to one's life.

I've focused on knowledge, wisdom, education, friendships, and family to strengthen the beauty I possess. I've made many friends and have had countless enriching conversations. These experiences have empowered me and kept me focus on what is real, wholesome, and worth cherishing. I am beautiful because knowledge, wisdom, education, my friends, and my family are beautiful. This is real and can never be taken away from me.

We are pressured in a society that encourages us and pushes us to focus on external beauty. We are taught and brainwashed to believe we must show beauty from the outside and not focus on our true selves, our true beauty.

In my poetry, I am asking us to take a look at ourselves, especially when it comes to black women and men. I am asking us to remember where we came from, who we are, and what we have to offer the world. This can only be accomplished through remembering we are moons and stars. We are born to beam internally first. We are universal people who possess so much culturally. This culture is another form of light.

This  quote from one of my poems, is a constant mantra that reminds me of who we really are: "...we are forward peoples from nation after nation of achievers, believers, gold breathers, and deep thinkers..."

As a black man, as a brotha, I have a duty to shine, to be truly beautiful. I want (black) children to see their light within and use it to be the best they can be. They will rise to be powerful and beautiful adults if we help them realize real beauty starts within. The fights at school, the competition, the arguments they have with peers, these are often a result of the being taught to be very critical of others’ clothing, shoes, or hairstyles. They forget that we are beautiful inside first, and that physical appearances can separate and wreck our friendships and connections.

If young people are reading my poetry and listening to my hip-hop music, they are not hearing me speak about how I look or what I possess. They are reading and hearing about the stories I have to tell, the way I use words to elevate others, and the attention I give to simply being an artist. I won’t waste my time speaking about things I may or may not own. My inner light and beauty won’t allow me to do so. I am using my gifts, just like Maxwell, to show where real beauty can take us.

I want us to pause and consider our true light and real beauty. As a child, I did a lot of this. That knowing child has grown into a man who is respected because he is beautiful internally and it shows externally. Someone once told me “The best thing you can give someone is just being yourself.” Knowing this is a testament to real beauty.

Be you and be beautiful. ~

Christopher D. Sims is an internationally known poet, spoken word artist, collaborator, and educator. He is also a community organizer and activist. He is a leader in the spoken word and open mic circuit. He educates youth on the art of writing and performing poetry. He has a growing Facebook presence where he is actively involved in bringing artists together. He travels as a performer and is always willing to perform or speak at coffeehouses, cafes, and the like. For more info on his work visit:

Please leave a comment & Follow US! Thank you.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I Know Who I Am

By Michelle Williams
Edited by Asst. Editor,
Dee Thompson

"I started another relationship to get away from the abusiveness of that man, only to be abused again."

My name is Michelle Williams, and I am a Gospel singer, author, wife and mother. My story is one of triumph over terror and abuse, to my present state of grace and faith.

I am blessed to be a mother to 6 girls and 1 boy, and a grandmother of 2. My husband is my manager and biggest supporter. We travel the country singing and telling the goodness of Jesus. I have endured very difficult times in my life, but I have come through the storms and learned to value myself and love the God-given talents I have.

For the first twenty years of my life, though, I could not see beyond the darkness of despair and abuse.

I was born and raised in Kingston, NY.  At the tender age of 5 I was sexually molested. When I was 14 I was punched in the face by my very abusive alcoholic father. I watched a young man get beaten to death when I was 15. I had a nervous breakdown at the age of 20. I had 3 children by the time I was 21. My first three children were fathered by a crack head that sold everything in the house except for the ice trays. I left that relationship, and 8 months later he came back and raped me at knife point. I lived in constant fear after that, unable to sleep in the house without first looking under every bed, locking every door, and peeking behind shower curtains to make sure that we were safe.

I started another relationship to get away from the abusiveness of that man, only to be abused again. I felt so lost. I tried to commit suicide because I thought, ‘it’s got to be better than this.’
After nine long years, I finally got out of that second abusive relationship and I said No More. I committed my life to Christ and I started working on myself. I had very low self esteem. With my new faith in Christ, I began to see that I was worthy of love, worthy of a decent life.

I finally took charge of my life. Once I started to realize my value and reclaim my life, I became a better parent. I knew I didn’t want my children to be raised in an abusive home. I was determined that they would live in peace, and not suffer as I had. I wanted my children to be raised with love, strength of character, and confidence. I wanted them to know the love of Christ, and to value themselves and love themselves.

I also prayed and asked God for the precious gift of a loving husband, and he sent him to me. God’s abundant blessings exceeded all I could ever ask. Now I am the proud wife of a man who respects and loves me.

I am also now the author of the book No Body Ever Told Me, which deals with the hurt of those early years, and the healing I found. It also illuminates how to break free of the cycle of abuse. The key is forgiveness. It releases you so you, too, can overcome whatever obstacles stand in your way.

I now live my life singing to the glory of God. I have a new hit Single called “I Know Who I Am.” I had to learn that I am a victor, not a victim. I’m a winner and I’m a champion. I walk in favor and in the release of an open heaven. I was just blessed to sing on Bobby Jones Gospel Show in March of 2011 and it aired on the Word Network. My husband is my manager, and my biggest supporter. We travel the country singing and telling everyone about the goodness of Jesus. I know who I am.

I don’t let negative people stop me. When they try, I work harder. When they laugh, I push more, until they see clearly the evidence, right in front of their face. Even if I fail at helping people to feel the amazing power of Christ’s love, at least I tried. I don’t try to make people happy that are not followers. I make the people that follow happy. When the curious onlookers peek in, they get a life changing experience that speaks to their spirit.

Here are some of the lessons I have learned:

·         Love yourself!
·         Love your body - it’s yours and yours alone, and no matter what size you are, you are blessed by God as a beautiful being.
·         By all means, love and release the gifts that flow in you. Let the world see how God has blessed you and given you gifts. He has blessed everyone with a gift.

I love the Lord and I am so grateful for all the many talents he has entrusted to me. He has truly taken me from a past of darkness and despair, to a present of light and triumph. If he can do that for me, he can do it for you, too.

If you are interested in any of Michelle's products, she can be reached at or To purchase her New CD single, and the album that will be released in June 2011, please go to If you would like to book her as a singer or as a speaker to teens or women’s groups, please contact Jay Williams 518-238-5280.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Body Outlaw

An Interview with Author & Body Activist, Ophira Edut --By Editor, Xina Sy

"I believe in radical self-acceptance... accepting what IS & what ISN'T about your body & self in the moment."

She is one in a set of identical twins, but she seems to have carved out a unique identity for herself as author, speaker, body-activist, astrologist, & creative-free-spirit. Ophira Edut, author of several bestselling books including, Body Outlaws: Rewriting the Rules of Beauty and Body Image, & Adios Barbie: Young Women Write About Body Image and Identity, is a leading expert & radical change agent when it comes to women's issues & challenging mainstream concepts about women & beauty. Speaking around the world & sharing her views with millions of women, Ophira has become widely known as a voice that women can trust & identify with in a real way, as her message is genuinely personal & making an impact on the way women view & define themselves. Here are some of the thoughts she shared with The BBB--->

XS: You have done a lot in the field of body image...what has been the project that has really stood out & meant a lot to you personally?
OE: I love speaking at universities, because the students are so engaged in questioning everything, and open to becoming activists (if they aren't already). Their passion is so inspiring. The website I co-founded,, also has a special place. We started it in 1999, and it's still going strong. My co-editor Pia Guerrero and our new editor Sharon Haywood have been awesome with updating the site and tweeting daily, so we're really able to spread the message in a fun way. What I love is that we're one of the few sites to address body image from a multicultural and multi-identity perspective. We're interested in how body image "intersects" with all the other facets of peoples's lives, be it their race, sexual orientation, economic class, ability, age, and so on. That can sound very serious--and it is--but we also try to inject humor and irreverence into the tone and design. 
XS: Body Outlaws? Why? What did it mean to create that particular project? Was it rebellion against mainstream media?
OE: I came up with the idea when I decided to wear a bikini at size 14/16. I knew I would feel self-conscious, so I decided to do it for a greater cause of changing the world (in that very small way) by example. I realized that I had to walk my talk--I couldn't preach self-acceptance unless I was willing to sit in the hotseat myself. Baring my cellulite and stomach for the first time was scary, but I also felt empowered by the notion that maybe people would see a woman walking proudly in her swimsuit (fake it 'til you make it) and think, "If she can do it, maybe I can, too."

In the old West, outlaws were willing to break society's rules in order to change the culture and set people free. They were sometimes harassed, ridiculed and misunderstood, but they did it for a higher purpose. The average person sees 400-600 ads a day (and that's an older statistic -- it's probably more now). So, the world needs a few brave souls to take that chance. I love Glee for that reason; I feel like it's packed with body outlaws, but done in a very funny and palatable way.
XS: What does loving & accepting your whole self REALLY mean to YOU?
OE: I believe in "radical self-acceptance." In other words, accepting what IS and what ISN'T about your body and self in that moment. For example, when I gain weight and my clothes feel tight, I might try to squeeze into the uncomfortable ones or wear the baggy "schmattes," as my mom calls them. After all, why buy something new if it's not going to fit, right? Wrong. Radical self-acceptance means I get to look and feel great at the high, low and middle size of my range, because all there is is right now. It's about living in the present, settling INTO my skin. Not easy or automatic, but it's do-able. Even if I want to change something about myself, it has to come from a place of loving what is, rather than hating or rejecting it. That way, change stems from a self-affirming place.
Identical Twins, Tali & Ophira Edut
XS:  You are an identical twin? How do you define your OWN self image?
OE: Oh man, my sister and I have been compared our whole lives. It's normal to want to distinguish between twins, but we've both gone through phases where people have actually identified one of us as "the bigger twin." It used to trigger body image stuff a lot more for us, and when we were younger, we'd police each other's diet and exercise habits. What if--gasp--someone thought I had HER flaws?
XS: And, what of your Jewish culture? How does that affect your self image?
OE: To me, being Jewish has always been aligned with women’s empowerment and multiculturalism. As the daughter of an Israeli landscaper (dad) and an American rabbi (mom), I grew up believing that cultures could coexist, and women could be whatever we wanted. 

XS: How Does your work as an astrologist play into identity & self image?
OE:'ve pondered that for years. I think it all comes down to my commitment that people know and accept themselves, "flaws" and all. Understanding your chart and your sign can actually give you tools to work with, information that helps you play to your strengths. I definitely put empowering advice into my horoscopes (please check 'em out at

XS: What tips do you have for women learning to truly love themselves? Some simple steps?

OE: Catch yourself. Catch your mind when it's about to spiral into the depressing, self-hating tunnel to nowhere. All we can do is cultivate that consciousness, learn what sets us off, catch it and affirm our worth before we tumble down that rabbit hole. Is it a TV show? A fashion spread? The way a relative looks disapprovingly at you or comments on your body? We can't necessarily change those outside influences. But we CAN change how we respond to them.
XS: How do you define real beauty for your SELF?
OE: Being of service and knowing that I've made a difference for someone is what makes me feel completely beautiful. Our light comes from what we have to contribute to others, not from getting the perfect face to stare back in the mirror. Make your life meaningful. What are you here for? How can you serve the world? Connect to life, and the feeling of beauty flows from a divine source.

XS: What's in the future for you?
OE: More media projects that empower women. I'm working on an e-book series for my astrology biz, and we plan to create some cool materials for Adios Barbie, too. I just became a mom in October 2010, so I'm inspired by my daughter Cybele even more to create a world where little girls aren't sexualized and taught that their appearance is what's most important about them. 
XS: Side note? What does your name, Ophira, mean?
OE: My name means "goldmine," which I kind of love. In the Bible, it was a goldmine belonging to the wise Queen of Sheba. (Thanks for picking that one out, Israeli Dad!)

Leave a Comment! Become a Follower! Thanks for Reading...

In 1992, Ophira co-founded HUES, a national, multicultural women’s magazine, which was published until 1999. Ophira is also the editor of Body Outlaws (Seal Press, 2000), and its "outlawed" first edition, Adios, Barbie. Her website has been a resource for women since 1998. She has been featured in numerous anthologies and magazines, including Ms., the New York Times, and Entertainment Weekly. Ophira also lectures at colleges and conferences nationwide about body image and the media. For More info on Ophira & her work, visit: Ophira Dot Com and on twitter @adiosbarbie.