Prince: Why This One Hurts Deeper…

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I had just posted about Chyna passing away and before that, Doris Roberts from “Everybody Loves Raymond” and before Maurice White of “Earth, Wind and Fire” and before that…many others.  This has been a marathon year of celebrity deaths and big time celebrities at that.  Prince’s death is right up there with Michael Jackson’s and Whitney Houston’s for me

But this one hurts a little deeper.  For me, Prince was the epitome of health.  He was the poster child for what pop stars could be and the kind of career they could have if they took care of themselves and didn’t get caught up in tabloid behavior.  Once I learned how MJ died, I was hurt, but I could rationalize it because of his abuse of prescription drugs.  Whitney’s behavior put her on borrowed time. Yet, it is difficult for me to rationalize Prince.  He was supposed to live well into ripe old age because he did all the right things.  Prince was not caught up tabloid drama, guarded his privacy like Fort Knox, never heard of him abusing drugs or alcohol and the older he grew, the more his faith seemed to deepen.

I don’t know if it is a sign of the times, something in the air or water or just life doing what life does, I just know that Prince’s music is a soundtrack to many moments in my life.  His art was a constant and like MJ, I took great comfort in knowing that he would always be working on something to sustain my appetite.

As a teenager, I remember receiving a phone call from my school asking why I wasn’t there on this particular day.  I promptly told them I had the flu, which I’m sure was difficult to believe with “Take Me With You” blasting in the background and me panting heavily from dancing so hard.

He made being different okay.  Like Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson, his lyrics were thought provoking while also making you get up and dance.  The way he manipulated his voice, the piano, guitar, drums and the often times, esoteric things he would say in his music just proved he was only living here, but he was not of this world.

Yes, this one hurts deeper than the rest.  I am tired of a celebrity death constantly being one of the trending topics on my Facebook page.   I know none of us get out of this alive, I just figured Prince was one who had more time.  Rest in love.

 

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Resentment is Exhausting…Seriously…

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I don’t know who first said, “Resentment is like setting yourself on fire waiting for the other person to burn must have had a lifetime,” but I sure would like to give them a big ole’ hug for the warning.

Resentment is truly one of the most exhausting activities I’ve ever participated in and the payoff is worse! I tried to feel angry at someone today who I have resented for a long time.  However, instead of boiling blood, a racing heart, a narrow brow and reenacting the situation that sent me into the funnel of anger in the first place, I just felt…tired.  The thought of trying to muster up the anger only made it more difficult for me to focus what I was working on.

I just secured a contract for my newly formed company, I have a couple of other contracts in the works, I have to finish memorizing lines for the next “One Chick Army” show, I have to pack up my house.  I have so many things to do that this troll of a thought popping up in my head was just bad timing.

Yet, lately, I’ve noticed, it’s always bad timing.  I am really tired of being angry, hating, waiting for karma to right a wrong.  I realized what I wanted more than anything is acceptance of what is and release.  I am no longer interesting in knowing the latest shot that was fired or the latest lie that was told.  Nor am I interested in avoiding going certain places so I don’t run into them.

Many books and songs have been written about the benefits of forgiveness.  Maybe I’ll write one too and include how much energy I have when I don’t focus on Who Done Me Wrong.

The Police vs. Beyoncé and the Black Panther Party

Youtube Beyonce Formation

Beyoncé has seldom taken a public stance about her political positions.  That all changed the day before the Superbowl 50 with the surprise release of “Formation.”  The “black” pride song took the internet by storm and that was only the beginning.  The next day, a very defiant Beyoncé “slayed” in a Black Panther themed half-time show and rocked it along with Coldplay and Bruno Mars, respectively.

For some reason, that I have yet to figure out, many police officers are so vain, they actually believed “Formation” was about them.  So much so, Police Association meetings were held across the country to decide if they would boycott staffing her concerts.  There is unfortunately, many misconceptions about the original Black Panther Party.  Watch the video below as I attempt to clear up at least some of the worst conceptions about the legendary party who helped many people of color find the courage to face hatred.

 

 

 

Willie Lynch: Real Person or Urban Myth?

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Few debates outside of religion and politics get people as flustered as the true origin of Willie Lynch.  The supposed slave master from the West Indies gave a riveting (yet, very short) speech about how to keep “Blacks” enslaved for a minimum of 300 years in 1712.  I remember when I first read the letter, I was enchanted with the information.  This was it!  This was the answer.  Everything I had been taught about civil rights, racism, prejudice, and discrimination had all been validated with this letter.  Why had I not learned about it sooner?  However, even in the euphoria of this new information, questions continued to invade my enlightenment.  Why was Willie Lynch’s speech so short?  That was a long way to travel to have so few words to say.  Where exactly in the West Indies did he come from?  How did he figure this out in a time of great superstition and illiteracy?  Why was the letter so perfect?

After a mentor challenged the validity of the letter, I decided to do some investigation of my own.  Watch the video below and let me know your thoughts.

 

 

The Rat Race – Even if You Win, You’re Still a Rat…

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“How in the hell could a man enjoy being awakened at 6:30am by an alarm clock, leap out of bed, dress, force-feed, shit, piss, brush teeth and hair, and fight traffic to get to a place where essentially you made lots of money for somebody else and were asked to be grateful for the opportunity to do so?” – Charles Bukowski

Wow!  Well, since you put it like that! I have recently made a life changing decision and the driving force behind my decision is I want to have as few regrets as possible.  This video, “The Rat Race” will certainly give you something to think about.  Give it a watch and share your thoughts below!

 

The Day You Raise Your Hand to Me

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I never really considered myself a victim of domestic violence since I was only attacked once.  I learned a while later that once is all that it takes.  And although I was only attacked once, I was threatened several times and that was just as frightening.  I still don’t really consider myself a victim, I don’t like that word.  A lot of women don’t.  Was I victimized? Yes.  Am I a victim?  No.

And this isn’t a fist pumping “I-Shall-Rise” type of proclamation.  I’ve just seen what claiming victim-hood can look like at its worst.  It makes people Life’s bitch.  I’m not interested.

However, it did take me a good while to even admit all of what happened to even my closest family.  The first time I ever wrote about what happened to me on my old blog, I quickly deleted it.  I wasn’t ready.

“I don’t want anyone to think I am trying to destroy lives or bring up old stuff,” I confessed to my sisters. “I just want to tell my story.”

“Then tell your story,” they both said almost in unison.  Did I really want to tell this part of my life that left such a stain?  True, I have healed and moved on, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit to having flashbacks.  The amazing amount of rejection and desperation I felt during that time is still hard to believe.

Sometimes, I wonder if that moment in my life hardened me, made it more difficult for me to love.  Then I look at my boyfriend of close to three years and I remember that I learned how to love again.  Sometimes, I still feel afraid, I still can shut down, I still can project and over-analyze.  But I know that I am loved and I have learned to be patient and forgive myself, which is a constant process.

And weird as it seems, I don’t regret what happened to an extent.  I don’t regret the relationship.  If I have any regrets, it’s the time I wasted trying to save someone from themselves, the time I lost with my own dreams and goals.

I hope my story inspires others to seek help, learn how to protect themselves and more than anything know that love is never ever supposed to hurt.

“An Open Letter to My Body” (and to Fat-Shamers)

Official Cover Photo General

Questions – If fat-shaming and body-shaming really worked, why are so many people, especially women, still struggling to lose weight? If insults and put downs were truly effective, why aren’t they effective?
This is what happened when I briefly stopped seeing myself as a size, weight and label, saw myself as a person and loved my body in the now…

Fat Shamers – I’m Not Skinny and I Like My Body, Now What?

OCA Trailer Cover Photo

I was fooled.  I thought that since body shaming had been brought to the mainstream and awareness was being brought to the negative impact it has on people, especially girls and women, society had “woken up” and the practice was no longer publicly acceptable.  However, when I posted an article about body/fat shaming on a message board, the responses I received were shocking and heartbreaking.  The debates I’ve seen on television justifying why encouraging someone to be repulsed by who they are, repulsed me.

The usual, “fat”, “lazy”, “gross” adjectives are always laced in arguments, all stamped with standard public service announcement of being overweight is just plain “unhealthy.”  Well, so is smoking, excessive drinking, smoking crack, emotionally abusing someone, overworking, binge watching Netflix shows, chronic procrastination, however, I never see these topics debated as passionately as weight.

I’ve never seen a before and after photo of a celebrity who entered rehab with the caption “How They Did It.”  I’ve never read tweets or social media comments in general attacking a star who smokes cigarettes.  Alcoholism is still responsible for more deaths than any of other abusive habit, but I seldom hear public service announcements on the radio urging people to stop drinking so that they can live longer. So, why does body shaming get a pass?

What is shame?  Clinical psychologist Gershen Kaufman wrote “Shame is the most disturbing experience individuals ever have about themselves; no other emotion feels more deeply disturbing because in the moment of shame the self feels wounded from within.”  Of course, there are times that shame is justified.  When a person has acted in a way that has harmed another, shame is an appropriate emotion that lets the person and others know that they are aware and regretful of their behavior.  However, that is shame directed at a behavior, not at the person.

The difference between that and fat shaming is the latter type is directed at who someone is.  It is toxic, paralyzing meant only to do the worst type of harm. And while it can sometimes work to motivate weight loss, it works for the wrong reasons.

For example, much my motivation for wanting to lose weight has come from wanting to not lose out on parts when I go out for auditions.  I am an actress, so weight is a huge issue my industry. One would think that the opportunity to audition for more roles would be motivation enough to help me lose the weight and keep it off.  However, it hasn’t been because I didn’t count for one little caveat – life.

My life is more than acting and film-making.  Currently, I am not doing much of either because I have a job that absorbs most of my time, I have a dog who just had her third surgery and now I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to pay for it.  I am trying to raise money for a slate of digital television series and keep hitting brick walls.  I have family members who have medical conditions who need me. All of these obstacles bring on a lot fatigue and sadness and made it much more inviting to reach for the doughnut instead of the apple.

Although I have successfully lost over 50 pounds and have kept it off for over three years through practicing martial arts and working out, based on the current definition of The Body Shamers, I would still be considered fat.  I am still considered lazy, although I work almost twelve to sixteen hours a day with my job and on my own projects when I leave work. I am still considered gross by some because I’ve got some extra cushion in my mid section.

They don’t see how often I work out or the muscle definition I’ve developed and maintained, they don’t see how quickly I can take someone down in my martial arts class, they don’t even see how passionate I am about my crafts of acting, writing and producing.  All they see is that I don’t look like them.  Let me rephrase that, because many Fat-Shamers are obese and highly imperfect themselves – All they see is that I don’t look like the traditional standards of beauty.  And for that reason, they want to punish me and ultimately want me to hate myself.

This is what inspired me to write “An Open Letter to My Body (The Audacity of Fantasy)”.  It is my story that I believe other people, especially women, will be able to relate to and encourage them to adopt the spirit of Monique, Queen Latifah,  Jill Scott and hashtag queen herself Tess Holliday, in saying, “Eff your beauty standards!”

“An Open Letter to My Body (The Audacity of My Fantasy” premieres Monday, November 23, 2015. Sign up for the “One Chick Army” newsletter to have it emailed to you.

Viola Davis Emmy Win: Why It is So Much Bigger Than Her…

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Watching Viola Davis take home the Emmy for best lead actress in a drama series for “How to Get Away with Murder” was divine intervention.  My Sunday did not start off so well. I received news that my grandfather is in critical condition in the hospital and on top of that, I have been stressed out about money, work and money (did I already write money?).  Today, all I kept thinking was, “How did I get here? This was not the plan.”  However, listening to Davis’ gracious and unapologetic speech was a serious adrenaline rush and a reminder of why I was doing all of this.

Since I first stepped on stage at five years old, there were two things I knew I wanted to do more than anything – write and perform. From competing and winning state championships to performing in regional plays, acting is something I’ve always enjoyed.  However, something happened along the way.  As I got older, I noticed that most of the actresses I was inspired by did not look like me.  As a child, of course, this did not matter.  I thought watching Emma Thompson in “Sense and Sensibility”, Barbara Streisand in “The Way We Were”, Meryl Streep in “Kramer vs. Kramer” or Diane Keaton in “The Godfather II” and saying, “I can do that,” meant that it was a done deal.

Read more Viola Davis Emmy Win: Why It is So Much Bigger Than Her…