Learning to let go and being grateful in the process

Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

It’s a new year and that usually mean time for change. And that usually means physical changes and organizing your spaces but I want to talk a little bit about the mental changes for yourself. In this piece I want to talk about mental growth and processing learning how to accept negative outcomes in your life. Sounds like a lot and it is but the process isn’t as hard as the fear of dealing with the subject that you may be dealing with. This was going to be 2 separate articles but the writer of the second piece thought it would be good to combine and I have to agree because they go hand in hand with each other. So We would love your feedback and your thoughts to being grateful and how do you personally move pass learning how to mentally grow from a negative outcome.


Learning to accept the negative By: Deidre Gibbs

Negative outcomes I think you start to deal with as a child and you grow up dealing with them but exactly how you are taught to handle them is up for questioning. Not saying there’s only one way to learn because there isn’t. I think life teaches you even when your not ready to learn. I’ve seen over the years of my life people struggling to accept the growth of others and not understanding their own, so they look at their growth as a negative aspect when its far from it. I’m going to give 2 personal situations to try to help bridge this gap of understanding that personal growth is in away a positive outcome of a situation.

Situation #1

Family is very important to me yet for me it’s my biggest challenge I deal with in my life and that says a lot with everything that I’ve dealt with in my life so far. Growing up being the youngest of 7 kids, it was always a fight to not just be heard but to be taken seriously with anything. Add in huge age gaps between siblings there was a lot of trying to figure out different personalities between all of us. People are living their lives but the interaction sometimes felt like a meet and greet because you don’t know each other.

And I personally put myself out there because I was craving a connection with my family because even though I was the 7th child I felt like an only child most of my childhood. My situation was I was taking care of an elderly parent so I was like the chosen one because I was our parents security blanket and I felt like because since I was still living at home it was a easy decision for everyone.

My siblings would help take care of things like dealing with money and everything they could while I was the hands on with her care. I like to say I’m close to my family now but back then I can’t say that because I felt left behind. Because I felt that the age gaps between us was a big part of it, it felt like as the rest of my family grew up and I was excluded in that process because I was taking care of our parent and when I was included it felt like I like was that something they had to do instead of wanting to do if that makes sense. I also kept in mind that we all grew up differently. So one sibling would gravitate to another because they were what I felt like grew up together more than with other siblings.

There were 2 sisters that I grew up with that I thought we were really close but as life does what it does best it showed me that wasn’t really the case. As I grew up I started to realize that one relation was becoming one sided. Meaning I was putting in the effort but it wasn’t being returned and I couldn’t figure out why. Somewhere along our lives I over stepped a boundary and to this day I’m still paying for it. I guess me wanting to be close to my family I intruded into her family that made her uncomfortable because her actions speaks louder than her words that we’re good but the actions don’t match and like I said we don’t really know each other because everyone is growing up without each other really being involved in each others lives. So to say we’re close is something I can’t say anymore for me. Here are examples of why I feel that way.

We don’t text each other. I stopped at about 6 months ago and to this day no communication. If I text it would be very short.

If I had any event there was always a no show. It could be a simple dinner to a holiday or birthday. Our birthdays are in the same month and for me its rare to celebrate it but one time I did and found out she was doing the same thing. I invited her to mine but it wasn’t reciprocated.

Being adults. As we grow up I never thought I would be involved in every aspect of each others lives but I also did’t expect to be shut out either. We use to be so close where we would write letters to each other living in the same house, sliding them under our doors to connect with each other. but now to not being thought of was a gut punch honestly. What I mean by that is from being close to each other but now to no text that you found someone to realizing your in love…to wanting to marry them and proposing and during those life altering moments I wasn’t on that list of who they wanted to share those moments with.

I found out on the internet by a video someone shared. Not tagged it just showed because my sister was tagged in it. I can’t put into words how I felt at that moment and I won’t try because that was my wake up call to where I new where I stand in her life. In the end I want everyone to be happy even if I’m nowhere in the picture. I had to accept that just because I wanted us to be closer doesn’t mean it was going to happen. It’s life and somethings are not meant to be how you wanted it and that’s OK. That relationship is different from what you wanted but its a relationship that you have. I learned it’s alright to just be an aspect of her life and not a part of it because i will always be her sister no matter what.

Situation #2

When you deal with your health you want to be able to trust what doctors tell you. When I was younger I can say I didn’t get the cream of the crop with doctors. Because as I’m approaching the 50 year mark I’m finding out so much that wasn’t true when it comes to my health. I spent my childhood trying to figure out what was wrong with me and I was fortunate that my mother was a nurse to know I wasn’t making things up. Instead of saying they just didn’t know what was wrong they would either say I was making things up or just do nothing. I had a dislocated knee and was told i pulled a muscle and had a sprain. um mm I stood up and my leg didn’t connect to my knee in a public place so embarrassment was definitely in the air as I hit the floor. I can give plenty more examples but I think you get the idea. So as my life continued I found doctors that for one listen to you and put in effort to help you. The biggest thing I found relief in was that if they didn’t know what was going on they said it instead of trying to make you think it’s just in your head. Now having the right people in my life helping me through this chapter in my life has me looking back at the ones who didn’t and I can say I’m not mad at them anymore.

I learned if it wasn’t for their actions i wouldn’t have made the connections to the doctors that i’m involved with now. True it sucked to go through everything I did but I can’t say I’m not happy that I now know what I was going through. It wasn’t just in my head or just being a troublesome as a kid. I can go on with life feeling grateful knowing where I stand with different situations. They might not be situations I wanted but I accept them as they are and not what I want them to be. I can honestly say that its a good feeling to have and I wish for others to have that feeling as well. It’s a different outlook on a negative situation. I know some will take time to be figured out but its not impossible and I would recogmend that everyone try to find the good in the bad.

By: Deidre Gibbs

Grateful List! BY: Roshanda Johnson

Hello HPS Readers! My amazing friend, Deidre asked me to share a little with you about my daily grateful list in hopes that you all can start yours as well!  

I mean what better way to create some positive energy for 2022 and keep a good perspective! A grateful list is just that: A daily list of things you are grateful for! Several people have said to me how the grateful list has inspired them to be more grateful.  I began the grateful list as a way to help me keep my vow to God to not complain. I started posted them on Facebook and never knew that they would affect so many lives and bring so much joy to others.

I hope that you’ll start making them too!  You can write anything big or small on your list! You don’t have to start with ten; you can start with as many as you want! As your list grows each day, may you become ever mindful of the many blessings that God showers on us daily. May you never take one moment, one breath, one flutter of a bird’s wings or bite of food for granted. May you always remember that grateful blossoms are all around us waiting to be gathered.

Let’s get started!

Here’s one of my grateful list from the day of my nephew’s funeral!  As you can see, it’s a mixture of things.  Not everything you’re grateful for has to be something happy or easy.  You can be grateful for trials and hard times as well because they help you grow.  Peruse it, and try your own!

Grateful List: 

1.  The services for my nephew, Kevin Young, were really beautiful yesterday.  I’m glad my family isn’t the shouting, fainting, fighting kind.  

2.  Kaneisha spoke so well.  She makes me so proud.

3.  Kimberly you make me proud.  You are so silly in even the worst circumstances.

4.  Thank you, Lord, for the time you allowed us to have Kevin and for all the growing up we did together.  He made me the Danger Mouse that I am today.

5.  I am so thankful that I didn’t say what I was going to say to someone yesterday.  It would have been ugly.  God once again turned backhands into praying hands.

6.  All the family and friends that have held me down over the past days, weeks, and months.  

7.  God just keeps on revealing to me all the fake people.  Real eyes realize real lies.

8.  The transparency and testimony of Sarah-Ashley.

9.  The way Umeme adds “Looking for movers?” to his posts.  I love a good tagline.  Lol

10.  Cucumber Water.  Hmmmmm #smallBlessings

#smallgirl #bigGOD

Your turn:

  1. _______________________________________________________
  2. _______________________________________________________
  3. _______________________________________________________

Here’s another one!  A different feel, but still grateful!

1.  Go ‘head, Lady!  I’m feeling myself for this introduction.  Last week, I was on the struggle bus with all this homework, but this week…I’m killin’ it!

2.  Floyd and I had the most amazing time at Peter Pan 360, and he bought me breakfast this morning!

3.  Yadira is always pleasant to look at, but good grief that new haircut is the shiz!  I see you, baybay!

4.  I had such an amazing conversation with God this morning.

5.  The listening ears of my mom and sister.

6.  My family doesn’t complain when I spread everything I own all over the kitchen table.  Not to mention they are so quiet when I am doing my HW.  They respect my grind, and I am beyond grateful for the kind of support that is anchored by actions and not just words.

7.  James Trotter’s kind message.  Thank you, friend.  I love the way you spell my name:-)

8.  I see a lot less wilderness this week.

9.  I am rediscovering the Power of Me.

10. Things at my congregation are truly coming together.  We are headed in an awesome direction.

Even if you are feeling small today, God is a BIG God!  How has He blessed you?

Your turn:

  1. _______________________________________________________
  2. _______________________________________________________
  3. _______________________________________________________

I hope you’ll give it a try and that your list will grow more and more as the year goes on! I’ll leave you with this quote:

“Everything we do should be a result of our gratitude for what God has done for us.”– Lauryn Hill

Reign Naope

Making high end products reachable to everyone.

 What got you into doing what you’re doing?

Reign: In 2018 I lost one of my twin sons during birth and almost died. I had been working in the medical field for over 18 years. Once I saw how brutally painful and insincere that the medical field could be, and so careless and ruthless I lost my passion and decided I no longer wanted to work in that field. I’ve always had a love for fashion, styling and apparel and decided to put my passion to use monetarily.

What do people get from buying from you rather than from a store besides security from covid?

Reign: People get extremely low affordable prices. High quality on a Bougie budget.

How does anyone get in touch with you to purchase a product?

Reign: My business platform is on Instagram as well as a private Facebook shopping group. Both platforms have the same name of my business: XCLUSIVE FINDS & THINGS LLC.

What do you love about what you do?

Reign: Making people feel good. My goal is helping shoppers who feel they can’t have it because they hardly ever do for themselves without feeling guilty or just can’t afford high ticketed items. So their shopping great quality at low prices. I love making people feel like a million dollars without having to pay that high price tag.

Do you just sell in the LA area?

Reign: I sell worldwide. I ship six days a week. As well as deliver locally in the Los Angeles area.

What are the pro’s and con’s of being an independent seller?

Reign: Sometimes I meet some very abrasive customers. They don’t care what time they contact you when they’re on the hunt for an item. Also I find that people at times have no sense of good manners. And many have this expectancy in wanting something for free or beyond a great deal. They want more and more. Then there’s the customers who are so grateful. They are so happy to find exclusive quality at a great price and very fast shipping. I love getting messages on what they’ve received and how satisfied they are with their purchase. I love when my customers feel good and want to shop again.

Where do you see you and your family 5 years from now?

Reign: Five years from now I see myself as a home owner and having a small, profitable storefront boutique in at least three locations.

What advice would you give other women who want to explore bringing in income this way?

Reign: I would advise women who are interested in this line of work to do their research. Thoroughly. Every good deal isn’t a great deal. Never be too trusting. If it sounds too good it usually is. Really study vendors and their products. And try to venture out of your comfort zone but always trust your instincts.

What’s the craziest thing that you have sold?

Reign: I’ve yet to sell anything crazy or outta the box. Now that you’ve presented that question to me I want to find some unorthodox things to add to the XCLUSIVE brand.

Open Mic!!!
   The stage is yours…..

Reign: I was always told if you love what you do it’ll never feel like a job. I can honestly say I love staying up
10-18 hours most days doing research on new vendors for new merchandise. I love watching these reality shows to see what’s the latest fashion the rich and famous are wearing so I can get those very same items for a low price to the hardworking mother who wants that $4,000 bag but only has $150 to spend on herself. I find great satisfaction in knowing that all my customers can walk down the street next to a Paris Hilton or Jennifer Lopez and have on the same outfit or shoes or bag and you’d never know that they didn’t spend tens of thousands for that same look. I love knowing that you can be an ordinary Joe, but look like an extraordinary super star. That’s why I love what I do.

Thank you for interviewing me love. I hope you too get that XCLUSIVE shopping experience soon!!

Princess Naope

Ebony Stewart

Miss. Stewart gives us insight into her journey as a writer and poet in a changing world.

What do you remember about your first time doing a live taping?

Ebony: remember being super nervous and wishing I would’ve worn a different outfit, especially some different shoes. I remember not liking my voice then and not sure if I sounded like myself. I think my hair was permed at that time too… (haha) I was so young! Wow. What a cutie trying to hold back all her power for the sake of not intimidating others. Whew!

What inspires you to write?

Ebony: Life. Experiences. Survival. I write as if the world I want is on it’s way back to me.

As the world goes through another round of changes,  how do you think the African American culture will evolve with the changes if any?

Ebony: African-American people are the most resilient people in this country. We adapt, adjust, and move forward at all costs. We are not strangers to evolving. 

Is there a topic that you won’t touch?

I won’t write from the perspective of as a persona for a mother who lost her child to police violence and murder. 

Tell us more about your books and what made you decide to write them?

Ebony: Home.Girl.Hood.(book description): Rings on every finger. Hood and educated AF. You’ve met her. Wearing all her feelings and responding with a side-eye or a tongue-pop. You’ve seen her. At the grocery store. In restaurants. On the subway. At the bus stop. In a car you pulled up next to blaring whatever matches her mood. Hair in some natural or protective style for the Gods. Ebony Stewart. An around the way girl. One part human, all parts womxn. You know these poems because they be familiar. They be your grandmama, mama, auntie, and sis stories. BloodFresh (book description): BloodFresh is a creative collection of honest poems and short stories that take risks in pulling itself out of disappointment, loss, and trauma only to operate in triumph by way of survival. This body of work speaks to the inner child, the everyday person, and future happy self told through Ebony Stewart also known as the Gully Princess. I wrote these bodies of works (and others) as artifacts and something to leave behind as a heart-source to my heart and mind. I don’t have a grand reason other than wanting to be found when I’m gone. 

What do you think are the hardest challenges there is for being a woman being successful in a field that’s normally spotlights males?

Ebony: There are a lot of challenges being a woman, especially a Black woman in a predominantly male industry. Women are the biggest supporters and consumers of art and so we often praise and support men over ourselves. I see this changing, but it’s still very much an issue. Women artists can be invisible or go without mention in the poetry industry. When people mention their favorite or top 5 anything, they usually mention a man’s name first or only 1 woman is mentioned in a sea of men. There’s also the challenge of what I think women are expected to write about, especially Black women. 

How long have you been performing on stage?
Ebony: I’ve been performing poetry on stage since 2006.

What is your favorite piece that you get excited to do?

Ebony: Hmmm… the word “excited” does a thing to the psyche doesn’t it? I don’t know if I have a favorite piece, I’m proud of all my work. There are poems that I don’t necessarily have the energy or mental capacity to do on a whim, like “Happy Father’s Day” or  “Compassion Fatigue”… those are tough, emotionally. I have poems that I want to supersede me when I’m gone, like, “Mental Health Barz” or “Happy Mother’s Day” or “Box”. 

Where would you’re dream location be to preform and who would you want to be In the audience?

Ebony: My dream location? That’s a great question that I’m not sure I’ve thought so much about until now. I would like to perform at a major conference for Planned Parenthood or the Mental Wealth Expo. I’d love to perform at a Grammy’s or BET Award show. I would want my mom, my life partner, and close friends in the audience to share that moment with me and to be proud of me as well.

What other talents do you love to showcase?

Ebony: I have a lot of skills that I don’t generally showcase unless it is the right setting. I love to dance and cook. I love to love folks well. I love to tell stories and make folks laugh. I’d say these are talents, but they’re more of a skill to me.

What advice would you give females who want to go on stage but don’t think they would be heard?

Ebony: Go on stage and be heard anyway. People can’t unhear what they’ve heard. Your poem, your story, your voice deserves to be heard, your presence deserves to be felt, and your courage deserves to be seen.

 What do you think makes you stand out from others?

Ebony: I think my voice is unique and how I perform deliberately with my body is honest. I do me extremely well. Someone told me that my work is under-rated, and I’m not sure I even knew there was a rating or measurement to compare my work to and by who’s definition. Meh. I don’t know that I’m always concerned with “standing out” as much as I’m concerned with making sure my work is genuinely felt and that I continue to write like and sound like me. I believe I’ve made a name for myself in the poetry industry not just through my poetry, but with my person & kinship to others. I just stand up though (haha) I’ll let other folks determine the ways in which I stand-out

 OPEN MIC!!!!The stage is yours…..enjoy!

Please Google me and follow me on social media. Please also support, buy, and share BloodFresh & Home.Girl.Hood. Thank you so much.
Ebony Stewart


Jonathan Samuel Eddie

Inspirational, Poetic but most of all talented.

How did you get into slam poetry?

Jonathan: I first got into slam poetry as a senior at Georgia Southern University. Not knowing what this was, I entered a slam and qualified to represent the institution at the 2004 College Union Poetry Slam Invitational. If you asked me then, I definitely would not have seen those poems blooming into a career for me. But words have been making ways… 

You have a very strong presence when you’re performing. What methods do you use when you practice a poem for the mic?

Jonathan: I have been a performance artist for nearly 15 years now. It’s been a trial and error thing, but I’ve developed some methods that work for me in practicing a poem. The poem starts in my bones and manifests itself through my body. The poem lets me know when it’s ready to be told. My practice is a great deal of repetition and distraction drills. I write comedic poems. I have to be present to tell the story, or lines will be dropped and punchlines will be missed. 

Besides poetry, what other skills do you like to showcase?

Jonathan: I am a spoken word comedian. My humor showcases itself throughout my work,whether I want it to or not. I would very much like to do more stand up comedy in the near future. I’m also a playwright and actor. I’m blessed to be able to do a lot of different things to not only express myself, but also to build my community. I am the founder and executive director of the Fountain City Slam, Inc. This is a youth literary arts organization that I started 10 years ago to offer young people in my community a creative platform, unlike any they’ve experienced before; spoken word. 

What was it like for you when you wrote your first chapbook?

Jonathan: Writing my first chapbook was a stressful and therapeutic experience. I had so many poems that I wanted to include. I didn’t necessarily have a theme, rhyme, or reason, aside from the fact that I needed to get my work in book form finally. I was preparing to go on tour. If books are going to sell, it’s going to be on tour. It was healing as I went through poems. I had a poet friend of mine, whom I very much admire, help me edit the poems. 

What’s one question you wish people would ask you and what would your answer be?

Jonathan: What is your favorite Toni Braxton song? And my answer would be: “Another Sad Love Song”. 

What’s one of your funniest moments on the mic?

Jonathan: One of my funniest on the mic would have to be early on in this journey at Georgia Southern. My slam team attempted to craft/perform a group piece, with very little experience/background on how to do one. Needless to say, the poem was met with crickets. If tomatoes would have been available, we could have had marinara sauce that night. That poem was not it. LOL. 

How do you think you make an impact on your community and how can others help you with your goals?

Jonathan: I would like to think I make an impact on my community through my work with local young artists. I’ve been a teaching artist for 15 years. I have been running this nonprofit for 10 years. I’ve had a front row seat to some remarkable work at the hands of young people. Each year I witness young and old people alike discover the power of their voices. It’s a symbiotic and beautiful experience. It’s never too late to make room to tell your story. Someone will be better for it. That someone will be you. Others can help me reach my goals by volunteering and most importantly donating to this worthy cause. All of our programming is free and open to the public. We are empowering young people to pick up pens and paper instead of resorting to gun violence or negative behaviors. 

Who do you like to see perform on stage?

Jonathan: Musically, I enjoy Emily King, Anthony David, Meshell Ndegeocello & many more. Poetry wise, I know a million poets. Just a few of the ones that I enjoy watching perform/write are Jasmine Mans, Shacondria “Icon” Sibley, Zack Linly,  Jozer Guerero, and Danez Smith

Where’s your dream location to be on the mic and why?

Jonathan: The Jazz Cafe in London would be my dream mic and location. I would kill so many birds with that one stone, as I would proceed to stick around for all of the subsequent neo-soul concerts to follow. They would not be able to get rid of me. 

What helps you prepare for a performance?

Jonathan: Music. 

What’s one topic that you won’t touch and why?

Jonathan: I am not sure at this point. I’m always evolving and opening. I wouldn’t say that there is a topic I wouldn’t address in some fashion in my work. I never know with my crazy self. 

What advice would you give a virgin to the mic to help get past stage fright?

Jonathan: Run the poem. Run it in the shower. Run it in the mirror. Run it on the drive to work. Run it on the jog. The best way to get over stage fright is to practice, whatever practice looks like for your lifestyle. It may be mere minutes a day, but take out time to remind yourself of the urgency of your story. You must tell it. Someone must hear it. And then do it all over again. 

Do you think there’s a double standard with women in the poetry scene like there is in the workplace?

Jonathan: Yes. If the poems could protect women, they would. I’m sure. This scene is no different than any other scene. Sadly.  

What is your favorite poem to perform right now?

Jonathan: The Tao of Annie, one of my older slam poems, remains my favorite poem to perform. 

What would you like to see changed in the next 5 years for yourself and the world?

Jonathan: I want to keep doing the culture work and community building that I am doing via my art. I want to continue to see how those seeds will grow and the energizing fruit that they will bear for communities. 

How was it for you when you did your first filmed performance?

Jonathan: It was weird because I’m very much a live theatre type of guy. I wasn’t accustomed to having to do multiple takes.

If you could do a duet with any artist, who would it be and what would it be about?

Jonathan: I would love to do a duet with Donny Hathaway. The piece would deal with mental health in the black community. One can dream. 

What do you want people to remember about you when they hear your name?

Jonathan: I want people to remember that he walked his talk. I want people to remember that there is more than one way to tell a story. I want people to remember my works, as well as my words.

Letting Toxic People go!!!

Photo by Yan Krukov on Pexels.com

Let’s get real, toxic people are everywhere and sometimes you can be that person. But let’s focus on them okay. It can be hard to spot someone being toxic in your life and when you do realize it normally it’s at a time when you need a true friend. The challenge I think most people have is when to let them go.

Because you have become accustomed to their existence. So the idea of them not being there, you feel the loss of a friend before the friendship has officially ended and many try to avoid it so they keep their distance but kept the vision of the friend that they thought they had instead of seeing them as who they are. Now I like to think everyone has gone through this in some time in their lives because it is a common aspect of life.

I will use some recent experiences as a guide. Just play along or read along with me. Now the fact that both of these examples are men doesn’t mean that they are toxic, just the two that I will talk about were toxic for me. I’m not going to put people on blast, just the behavior.

The Brother from another mother– This type plays the big brother figure. The type you can count on when you’re going through the unthinkable but still has your back….so you think. This type feeds off insecurity acting like they are there for you. That they have your back while they sharpened that knife as they figure away to take advantage of your situation. The type of guy that uses your lack of knowledge in an unethical way thinking they are “getting over” while they are pretending that they are there for you.

I trusted words without getting a background check on their character. See before I go into the blame game I’m not ashamed to say it’s not all their fault. I chose not to confirm what he was showing me. There were times my eyebrows changed shapes but I looked past them and decided to go by the words and not the action. Because I wanted to believe the words. I wanted to believe that the guy who was playing the part of my big brother was actually being better than the original but actually he was worse. I can say I only have one regret with that situation. There was something I never got to tell him about someone extremely close to me that he didn’t know gave him something. A contribution as a way to say thank you to him. Part of her dying wish you could say.

She wanted me to tell him Thank You. She was in a way passing the torch. He was part of a small group of people who took her main fears away before she died. She used her sliding board as a way to say thank you for taking her baby from one chapter in life to the next. I’m grateful that she didn’t live to see that we were both wrong. Wrong on our version of what we thought was there but I wished she saw how I handled myself with the realization and handling what was there.

The shy friend-I think we all have had that shy guy that was close to you because being their true self around a lot of people kept them quiet but if there’s just one person in the room they can be themselves openly. It’s just your word against theirs and if they never act the way around others like they do with you then how can people believe what you say about them?

Confusing I know. This type likes to sample what they wish they could say or do to others on you but play it off as normal. You accept it as just their personality. But once again signs begin to show and you have to decide how this relationship evolves. Because this toxic type is a special breed. To give an example of this type let me break it down for you.

  1. This type will watch religious videos and not just any, but the ones where they are extremely vocal getting into peoples face and personal space for their own agenda but saying that’s the lords way but really they are just admiring the guts the people have for getting into peoples space.

2. When you try to have a conversation or debate but don’t listen to you instead turn your points of views against you. don’t hear you because honestly they don’t care until they see that you can drop them and only then do they pull back. Reality is a verbal blanket. They are using you like a punching bag for the emotions he can’t express to others and you ignore it because it’s part of their shyness.

3. When they get you to confide your secrets and parts of your past not because they truly care but because they got off on the fact that they got you to open up and for them that was a victory.

Not just because you open up, but to have in their mind information to throw back at you. Like telling a rape survivor that when they tell them that their actions were bringing back those emotions that was just you looking for sympathy. But doesn’t have the guts to give a woman a compliment. Reveling a life altering moment in their life and instead of at least saying I’m sorry, instead takes those words and actions that hurt you against you as if it was a type of control over you.

The one thing that I love about technology is that it created a little system called the phone BLOCK!!! Also video chat as that person saw me block them, because they saw that the power they were hoping they had over me finally saw who they were really dealing with. A STRONG survivor from different levels of hate refusing to put up with different levels of disrespect and if they were a true friend they would respect your boundaries from the START.

My goal from these stories is simple. Toxic people only get away with anything because we let them until we can’t anymore. Until we can’t let them absorb anymore of our spirit and whatever they envy from that person. It could be your courage, passion, stride, your faith or whatever you love. When we let our guards down sometimes that’s an opening for the wrong people BUT if you have enough of the right people in your life the impact of the wrong isn’t as great as they thought they would be.

Knowing your worth and owning it, I would say is your armor from toxic people. It might not keep them completely away but the damage isn’t severe. You will eventually see the traits that don’t match up to a true friend that’s right for you. Because you can be that toxic person for someone else. Pay attention to others’behaviors and also your own. Do this and you might not have stories like these to tell but you will also gain the knowledge of true friends. I found out about mine because one wants to push one of those stories into traffic hahaha. Can’t say you can’t love someone who cares that much about you. It’s good to know that there are others that care about you besides you.


Meet the amazing cast from….

Independent films are everywhere these days due to obvious reasons but I have to say that this one stands out in more ways than one. Sit back and get to know each of these characters and the artists that play them in an Independent film called Fair Play. Oh, and when you finish reading this check out the film on Tubi, Roku, amazon, Sling, Youtube. Also you will be able to purchase the DVD and stream it on video on demand just in time for the holidays! Just know you won’t be disappointed, more like extremely impressed.

First up……Mark Forman

How would you describe Fair Play and the character you portray?

Mark: Fair Play is a realistic film. I’ve seen a similar situation a time or two. My character (Todd) is a stand up guy with a past. I can relate to him.

What makes this Black film stand out from other independent films?

Mark: This film is a melting pot! It takes you on a ride. It’s funny, thrilling, and put you in deep thought.

 How would you like to see the film play out if there was a sequel to it?

Mark: I would absolutely love to see Malcolm get on the right track.

What do you think is the most challenging aspect of being a part of an independent film?

Mark: I think that the most challenging side would be marketing, budgets, and permits. Sometimes they can be roadblocks.

What do you think the type of image you give off playing your character Todd?

Mark: I believe that I give off a positive image. I feel like I’m a good friend and a good husband as well.

Open Mic: I’m a music artist as well as an actor. My stage name is K.O.C GO. I have an album out called “Know Pain Know Gain”. Be sure to check it out. Thanks!!!

Next is…….Brandy Specks

What impressed you about your character Sasha?

Brandy: I was impressed by the fact that she didn’t let anyone control her or tell her what to do. She had her own mind and always had a game plan for whatever situation arised. She made sure she was clear about what she wanted, especially when it came to the men that she was dating.

What were the challenges playing this character?

Brandy: Having kind of a carefree, worry free demeanor. Also having a feeling with being comfortable with juggling multiple men at one time. Lol. 

How relatable do you think Sasha is?

Brandy: Sasha is very relatable, in a sense that there are MANY women (and men) in today’s world who think and act like she does. They rely on other people, especially people of the opposite sex, to cater to and take care of them. They show no responsibility for their own actions. They use people over and over again. They don’t realize the pain and betrayal they cause when playing with someone’s feelings and emotions. Ultimately, it can turn out really bad in the end for either or both parties. We see it a lot on the news in real-life situations in crimes of passion, murder suicides, and many more horrific incidents. 

How do you think she brings the comedy/drama to the film?

Brandy: Sasha is FULL of drama! She always has a way of having trouble find her. She’s so problematic and confrontational. Not to mention, she’s the side chick to a very married ‘Jay’. And just when you think it’s smooth sailing, in comes another incident with Sasha. One way or another, Sasha has to either avoid a physical altercation or a verbal disagreement. 

If there was a sequel to the film, how would you want Sasha to be in it?

Brandy: I would definitely want Sasha to have done a complete 180 in her life and also with her outlook on things. She would need to know what it means to have bad karma come knocking at your door. I would like for Sasha to have learned from her mistakes and to treat people better. 

What are some hidden talents that no one knows you have until now?

Brandy: I can kind of juggle. Lol. I’m also really good at almost perfectly and randomly, guessing other people’s ages. 

Open Mic!!!

Brandy: Thank you for having me! Fair Play is currently available on DVD, and will soon be available on multiple streaming platforms! You can also find some of my past projects currently on Prime Video, Tubi, Vudu, Fandango Now and a few other VOD platforms. I am on social media as ‘Brandy Specks’ and ‘B Specks’ on Facebook. I am on IG as ‘@thats_specks’. 

Next up is……Sonya Gooden

In one word how would you describe your character Nina?

Sonya: No-nonsense

What is a misconception you think your character had in the film that you would want to clear?

Sonya: I would say the misconception is that she is controlling 

Why was it so fun to play this character?

Sonya: It was fun to be unapologetically raw. 

What do you think Nina could bring to the film if a sequel was to happen?

Sonya: She would bring the fire and balance advice from the prospective of a married woman and dealing with relationships. 

If Nina had a playlist for her character, who would be on it?

Sonya: Monica, Jodeci, Mint Condition and Jasmine Sullivan oh for sure Jill Scott

What’s Nina’s best quality?

Sonya: Her Honesty. 

Next in line is……Ashlie Young

Describe 5 qualities of Tia good and bad?

Ashlie: Tia is a bit messy, inquisitive, and lays it all out. She’s
forward but can be kind. If she doesn’t like you, she has no problem expressing it. I don’t know if they
are all good or bad qualities, per se, but the mess she exposes wasn’t her most shining moment.

How relatable do you think your character’s situations in the film are?

Ashlie: I believe Tia’s situation in telling her coworker, Brandi, about her husband cheating on her is relatable. A
lot of people have had to face that type of situation of finding out someone’s husband is cheating on
them and battling between whether to tell them or not. I believe people toggle between how close they
are to that person, if they would get mad at you for telling them, if they would even believe you, or
perhaps, they may already know. All-in- all, I think it’s a pretty relatable situation. There’s only 2 choices,
you either tell them or you don’t, but you have to bare the consequences of either decision.

What’s your favorite scene?

Ashlie: The scene when the customer (Patience Norman) yells out, “Beat her ass,” whenever Sasha and Brandi
were having their exchange after Brandi finds out her husband’s been cheating with Sasha. It’s like this
really serious and dramatic scene and out of nowhere you just hear, “beat her ass.” It always tickled me.

Where was your favorite location to shoot?

Ashlie: In the beauty shop because that is where the exposure happens. We had a pretty good time and many
laughs while on set at the beauty shop.

What’s one talent you have that no one expected you to bring to the film?

Ashlie: My attitude and how I can “go off.” I’m normally bubbly and goofy, so I think the way I was able to
switch my attitude, especially on Sasha, was an interesting stretch for me. (chuckles) I wanted to be
intentional about my attitude.

What in your opinion makes this film great?

Ashlie: The entire production! The whole cast really dove into their characters. It was quite an experience
seeing how everyone developed their character and how it all came together on screen.
I love how Contrina envisioned each character and their personalities in the roles. Rhonda’s organization
on set and creative eye. IDO Media’s visual concepts and bringing us to life on the screen.
I can’t thank Jalaworld Productions enough for this amazing opportunity to work with such an amazing
cast and production crew. This film was dramatically fun but humbling. It makes you want to become
more discerning about situations, take heed to red flags, take a look in the mirror, and check your

Open Mic!!!
Follow me on FB: Ashlie M. Young /Insta: @neo2rize for upcoming shows and performances.

Next is………Reyna Deese

Describe Brandi?

Reyna: Brandi is a young, well-educated business professional who will do anything for her family. She came from a single parent home so  she values hard work and is determined to live a life better than she experienced. She is a loving, committed wife to her husband Jay and dedicated to building a beautiful family. However, she has allowed her love to blind her from the true nightmare she is living. 

How would you compare yourself to your character?

Reyna: Brandi and I are both strong-minded, outspoken women unafraid to voice our opinions (or throw hands if necessary lol). We are very protective and caring for those we love. Loyalty and trust runs deep in our hearts. We love hard. We are fighters. However, we find ourselves sometimes fighting for the wrong things or reasons. We believe in seeing and fighting for the good in others despite the ups and downs we may face. We tend to fight to mend and save relationships instead of burning bridges. This is something we both need to work on. Where I think we differ though, is the amount of BS we are willing to take from someone. In reality, I wouldn’t have let the situation Brandi and her husband were in reach the level to where my life and my child’s life are in imminent danger. I would’ve been left and never looked back after the first time. 

What would Brandi say to a friend going through a breakup?

Reyna: Brandi would say, “Don’t be like me. Do not be afraid to leave a relationship that no longer serves you, especially if it will cost you your life. You are not responsible for anyone’s happiness or peace but your own. Love yourself first with all of your being, and never let anyone make you believe you are unworthy to be loved. You are God’s creation, made from love, and you deserve nothing less.”  

How does it feel to represent Houston in an Independent film?

Reyna: IT FEELS AMAZING AF! (can I say that; you can delete the af lol) Houston has soooo much to offer the film industry. We are just marinating with a lot of talent, waiting to be served as a full course meal to the world! It was an honor to work with such a talented, supportive, fun-loving, professional cast and crew. First, Contrina wrote a great, well-rounded script that gives the audience everything from drama, romance, comedy to suspense. Then she put together an all-star cast that was a joy to be around every time on set. I truly enjoyed doing what I love and am called to do with other like-minded people. Houston will be making its mark in the film industry much sooner than later for sure!  

How would you want Brandi to be played out in a sequel?

Reyna: I would love to see Brandi fully embracing motherhood with no regrets, no reservations about the decisions she made in the past. She would be thriving in her career and maybe even starting to explore dating again with someone who truly values her. Overall, seeing a healed Brandi walking in her power as a queen and overcomes. 

Open Mic!!!
I’m BLESSED! Your girl is booked and busy!! I just finished my first lead role in the suspense feature film “Induced”(Johnnard Harper). I am currently filming another feature, “The Micro ” (Brian Burns), which is centered around police reform.  A new series called “HouWood” (Cayn King) is in production in which I play the role of Selena.

I just got off an exciting high on stage performing with Vincent Victoria Presents “Starring Cherry Cola Pitts” and “The Storm is Here,” but will quickly return to the stage for his play “The Last Night of Jospehine Baker.” I am scheduled to join The Ensemble Theater’s 2022 season.  I will also be joining the amazing cast of the new tv drama series “The Szn” written/directed by Malcolm Carter in early January.

You can see me in action in several other film projects by downloading SGA TV Network. Their fall television season includes seeing your girl in “Sincerely Judy” (Shacolby Shentell), “Black” (Jeremy Becton, Qasim Barnes) and “Molly’s Diary” and “America” (Dakarai Akil). Also, I have just finished several commercials as well. You may see me in a furniture commercial for 3 Room Packages airing right now on television! Check me out and follow me at @reynajanelle_

Reyna Deese

The next Artist is…..Yolan Young

Describe Jay?

Yolan: Jay is a complicated man more so misunderstood. He knows what he wants and goes out to get it. Sometimes he may go to far. lol

How was it adding a comedic element to your roster of talent?

Yolan: lol now that is funny…I never tried to play him funny it just came out that way lol.Seeing it on screen and watching as the crowd cracked up laughing at the way I played Jay, kinda gave me the courage to jump into the comedic realm.

Would you say Jay was misunderstood or just a stalker?

Yolan: Definitely misunderstood lol

This film was a family affair for you, how do you think it worked in your favor versus working against you at times?

Yolan: I never could see it ever working against me. This will be my second film with my wife, being able to bounce ideas off each other, reading scripts together, and working together makes me less nervous even if we are not in the same scene. I love it.

How do you want to see Jay come back if a sequel was made?

Yolan: I would like for the world to see his origin story. Why Jay is Jay. Even if it might be from a prison cell. lol

you can find The Unknown Child Named Yolan on my website
http://www.yolanyoung.com or they can contact me on any of my
social media pages: Facebook @Yolan Young, Yolan Apoets

Poet fan page, or IG @apoetspoet. There, you will be able to
purchase an autographed copy of the book.

Poet fan page, or IG @apoetspoet. There, you will be able to
purchase an autographed copy of the book.

Next is….. Tabitha Lee

How would you describe Freedom?

Tabitha:  I would describe Freedom as caring, loyal and determined.

What was the moment like for you when you realized how your character was going to be played out in the film? 

Tabitha: I felt like:  Here is an opportunity to show a perspective that ranges from Love to family and self worth. Women tend to wear so many hats and we juggle so many things and at times forget to really pay attention to those issues that are going on with us Personally

There’s plenty of comedic humor throughout the film, what’s your favorite moment?

Tabitha:  LOL!! My favorite moment, was when I marched my angry behind up to “Malcolm’s” job and I  broke up with him. I enjoy being able to play the physicality of a scene within an emotion… The ladies in the scene were hilarious as well.

How do you think you did portraying Freedom that helped others display the character’s behavior? 

Tabitha: I think I did a good job with the relationship chemistry between my sister and I, which was different between my friend and of course my relation with “Malcolm”.  I think it was easy for all us to become those characters and make it look natural.

If there’s a sequel to the film, where would you want to see in Freedom’s future?  

Tabitha: A Co worker who recently saw the film just asked me that same question… She was hoping to see Freedom “ride off into the sunset” with some great guy!  But yes, I would love for Freedom to finally meet someone who truly loves her but also see how she deals with the death of her sister.

What is one question you wish people would ask you and what would be your answer? 

Tabitha: Could you play a “deranged” role that would entail you killing someone?   LOL!  Crazy I know but, I’ve always played the “safe” roles, the funny roles, the sassy friend…etc.. It would be a welcomed challenge for me to play something TRULY out of my character… 

Open Mic!!!!

I’ll be filming my next film next weekend with Jonathan Milton-Six FigureFilmmaker and I am definitely looking forward to many more opportunities to showcase this range of talent!

Ms. Lee

Next up is………Michael Fontenot

How would you describe Malcom?

Michael: Malcolm is a man that wants to be in a committed relationship but can’t do what it takes to sustain his woman. He aims to do the right things in the relationship yet his lust overpowers him every time.

What do you think Malcolm’s downside is versus his positive aspects?

Michael: Malcolm’s downside is his unfaithfulness! He’s given multiple chances from his woman to get it right but he keeps messing it up. His positive traits are he genuinely loved Freedom he just didn’t know how to appreciate a woman of her caliber! He was also a great friend.

What do you want people to get from this Film?

Michael: I want people to know that if you don’t cherish what you have at home you can lose it!

What was the best memory you have of working with your cast mates?

Michael: Working on set didn’t feel like work. It felt like a big family! I enjoyed creating the film with the whole cast. We all had time same vision in mind and that was to make this film a success. Everybody came ready to work!

Watching the premiere of the film left you with what type of emotions knowing it was a success?

Michael: The way the audience took in every scene made me feel like what we created was greatness. I left out of that theater with a smile on my face ready to create another film!

Next is artist…….Regina Cooper

What was it about your character Nicole that stood out to you in the film?

Regina: Nicole is funny, feisty and says exactly what is on her mind. She is a lot like me, especially when it comes to telling it like it is!

What do you think was the familiarity that people could connect to with your character?

Regina: Nicole and I both have the same witty personality. I am an educator, and you definitely have to have a sense of humor working with middle schoolers! Most of my friends and a few of my family members said that I pretty much played myself in this film. When I originally read the script, I envisioned Nicole to be a few years younger than myself, but despite what I thought the age difference might be, I think I did the character justice.

What were the funniest moments of the film to you?

Regina: I think the funniest moments in the film was the banter between Nicole and Sasha. A lot of our lines were made up on the fly, and much of our ad libs made it into the final cut. It was pretty fun to watch how they interact. Poor Freedom just had to deal with it. 

What did you take from your private life to help prepare you for your character?

Regina: I am the oldest of many siblings, so I had a lot of practice telling people what they should and should not do. Nicole is like the big sister who has already experienced life. She only wants the best for the people around her, and she isn’t afraid to let them know when they are messing up. She doles out a handful of tough love, but she definitely knows when to soften her tone.

What do you want people to take from this film?

Regina: I want people to understand that their actions have consequences, sometimes to the point of physical harm. You don’t play with peoples emotions, and you don’t play with the lives of folks either. Especially considering the percentage of people out here with undiagnosed mental health issues!

If there was a sequel to the movie, how do you want everyone to see Nicole now?

Regina: Nicole should have given King a chance! In the sequel, Nicole and King get together on some Stella gets her groove back type shit! She deserves it, don’t you think?

Open Mic!!!
Honestly, I think this is probably my best work as an actress.  I‘m so grateful to Contrina for writing such an awesome film and having faith in me to bring this character to life. As a little girl, I often dreamed of being in movies, or on TV, or singing on somebody’s stage. I can now say that I’ve done all three! I’m an educator of middle-schoolers and teachers, a wife, mother, published author, actress, singer, and soon-to-be candidate for principalship here in Texas. Right now, I feel unstoppable, I cannot wait to see where God takes me next on this journey!

Thank you!

Next artist is…….Corrigan Coleman

Describe the character King?

Corrigan: I would describe King as a flirt,  smooth, calm, collective, responsible. He can switch it on and off. Can be over protective of the ones he care about.

What did you learn about yourself playing this character?

 Corrigan: By playing this role I learn King is like my real life. I’m a huge flirting and carry myself well and actually have a best friend that’s a woman

Describe your first blooper playing King?

Corrigan: My first blooper, lol is when Sasha stood up and well if you seen the movie you’ll know lol

Where was your favorite location to film?

Corrigan: My favorite location was at the daiquiri shop. There was a lot of dope art work there.

How would you want King to be seen if a sequel was made?

 Corrigan: If King was to do a part two I would like King to be more flirty and a deeper dive into his life 

And finally artist…….

How would you describe your character?

Nikki: Exactly who I am. Phoenix and Nikki are just a like.

When did you know that this film was going to stand out from others?

Nikki: From the read thru and meeting the cast.

Who do you think from the cast could play more than one role in the film?

Nikki: I don’t know.

What would your character be listening to?

Nikki: Trap music and Neo Soul

If the film had a sequel how would you want your character to be?

Nikki: Sasha lol

If you want to know more about the film, again check out the film on Tubi, Roku, amazon, Sling, Youtube. Also you will be able to purchase the DVD and stream it on video on demand just in time for the holidays!

You won’t be disappointed!!!!

Wandering Ambivert

Blogger, photographer and creator are just a few titles Ambrivert holds and tells why

What motivates you?

Ambrivert: Gratitude. I’m grateful for every tiny thing and that keeps me smiling. I’m grateful for the life I
have and I don’t take it for granted. That’s what enables me to jump out of bed in the
morning and attack the day.

What is your thought process when deciding your next piece?

Ambrivert: When it comes to articles, it’s all about the process. I usually begin with the title which comes
to me through inspiration. Either I see or read something or it’s just a random thought. The
rest of the article takes shape through discovery. I begin with an idea and it evolves with a
little bit of time and effort. I try to live by, “write without fear, edit without mercy.” I usually
have a rough idea of what I want it to look like, but in the end, I always surprise myself.

What advice would you give someone who is interested in art but doesn’t know if they
have what it takes to do it professionally?

Ambrivert: Have more confidence in yourself and your craft, but balance that with always staying
humble and a student of your craft.

What’s your favorite type of art?

Ambrivert: I don’t have a favorite type of art. For me, art is anything that’s done for its own sake.
You’re doing it because you want to and you enjoy it. Art varies from a painting on a wall that
evokes emotion to a handcrafted item made out of wood, or music, or even the iPhone
you’re using every day, or a figure skating gliding over the ice. I consider anything that
inspired me as art.

How do the elements of changes in the world affect your craft if any?

Ambrivert: Good question. I try to adapt to the world and my surroundings the best I can. While also
trying to leave my mark upon it by changing it in return.

What are 3 unknown talents you would like to share?

Ambrivert: I can ice skate, play guitar and fight(I’ve been doing MMA for 8 years).

Where would be your DREAM location for your work to be showcased?

Ambrivert: At the moment. Anywhere and everywhere. I enjoy it more to see my photos used by
everyday bloggers compared to seeing them in a magazine or art museum.

Who or what first got you to channel your creativity to paper?

Ambrivert: I discovered WordPress in mid-2016 and thought why not give blogging a try. I then
proceeded to write a few photography tutorials. Between then and now I’ve had back and
forth with being active on my site. But about a year ago I discovered I am so fulfilled by
inspiring other artists through writing articles and sharing my photos.

Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

Ambrivert: Still engaging with my community, probably from New Zealand.

What’s your favorite piece that you created so far?

This is my favorite photo

My favourite article, so far, is “10 Photography Tips
[https://wandering-ambivert.com/2020/06/17/10-phone-photography-tips/]”, as it has helped
so many people improve their photography.

What’s it like being around wildlife?

Ambrivert: An absolutely indescribable feeling. Especially having the opportunity to get close to them,
as was my experience with rhino tracking in the Omboroko Mountains in Namibia.

Where is your favorite place to capture photos of animals in their natural surroundings?

Ambrivert: Namibia.

What has been the scariest aspect of your work that would surprise people?

Ambrivert: The unknown. Mishaps are always happening. Or there’s a lion or hyena outside licking the
dew off of the tent. Although I always embrace the unexpected as it’s part of the journey and

What has been the hardest animals to get on film?

Ambrivert: Wild horses. They are by far one of my favorite animals. They are so beautiful and
majestic. I’ve been lucky enough to capture them in 2019. They were grazing right next to
the road. Usually, they are far away in the open plains.

Open mic:
Have confidence in your creative abilities. Keep it simple. Don’t overwork it. Don’t be
overambitious. Stay humble. Stay a student of your craft. Always do the best you can at that
point in time, no more. Tomorrow is another day.
I will be doing a Q&A on my site soon where you can ask me anything about blogging,
photography or creativity.

Wandering Ambrivert

Holiday Spirit

Photo by Adrienne Andersen on Pexels.com

Is it just me but when October ends December begins?

There’s no real celebration for Thanksgiving until its time to sit down to eat. The day to be thankful is somewhat forgotten. I know in different cultures it’s celebrated but its more like in private not public.

Don’t get me wrong we still have the parade and the football game but ummmmmm that seems to be about it. As life keeps changing it seems so has traditions. You could say the evolution of holidays is happening and its interesting to see from the sidelines. We watch the next generation as they create their own traditions hoping there will be a mix of the old with the new.

Sometimes it goes smoothly but unfortunately when it doesn’t we sometimes rush with judgement that honestly isn’t needed. A cycle that I believe needs to stop. Take Thanksgiving for example. How fast can you name what your thankful for?

Everyone is thankful their alive and somewhat healthy but what else? For me I can say I’m thankful for the opportunity to grow my mindset. Life is constantly changing and having a mindset that can follow along to not just agree with but understand it to fully understand why you don’t agree or agree is a blessing. and blessings should never be overlooked.

For me personally Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. More than Christmas. In my eyes they go hand in hand. You celebrate what your happy for then you celebrate who made it possible. Anyone can tell you that if I care about you I celebrate you throughout the year. I over kill it but you get the idea. I’m thankful for every breath that I take and I cherish those that help make every breath joyful.

I show this by cooking a MASSIVE amount but with a reason. Food feeds the soul so why wouldn’t I feed the souls that nourished my life? I can say this year had a lot of crappy moments and life changing at that. But it also had some amazing moments and those for once out weighed the bad ones. So that’s a celebration to me.

I know there will be a time where I won’t be able to do my tradition but I will be able to have those memories of when I did and that’s a gift in itself.

As you can see there is a reason for Thanksgiving so let’s not rush through it for a sale, decorations and a chance for a day off. Remember that its a day to tell people you might not remembered saying you loved or respected them. I think Thanksgiving is before Christmas because he’s giving you the chance to show love to others besides him. We celebrate love and other aspects of history why not each other besides birthdays?

So as I say this I want to wish everyone a much needed and deserved Happy Thanksgiving! We made it through a year of major changes and with those changes we learned how to survive and grow, love and cherish what we love. And that is definitely something to be thankful for.

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