Do You Believe In Fairy Tales?

*Repost* Original date April 22, 2018

A fairy tale is defined as a mythical tale featuring magical and fantastic creatures. There are heroic feats accomplished by ordinary humans who somehow found their inner strength after a long quest. Beautiful maidens are brought back to life by the kiss of a true love.  In short, it is a made up tale in a make believe world with invented characters and creatures. They are written for children. As children, we still possess that wide-eyed faith that good wins over evil. We believe in happy endings.

As we age, we stop believing. Kissed too many frogs and they stayed ugly and slimy. Dropped all of our money on a handful of beans and a dream to wake up still broke with no golden goose egg.  Disappointment and bad breaks lead to disillusionment.

I want you to believe again.

This is why I write. Have an eye-wide open faith in love, redemption and the happily ever after. It is hope that keeps us going. I write hope-filled love stories centered around Christian characters with real life issues. It is an un-sanitized look at imperfect people with a hope in a perfect God making mistakes, getting it wrong, and through the drama – finding redemption and a happy ending.  The happy ending may not look like a prince on a horse but something a little unexpected.

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I will keep writing and if, you will keep reading – we will get to our happy ending – together.

You can find a copy of Ruth’s Awakening: A Love Story on Amazon and Kindle.

 

LHHNY’s Cyn Santana and the Afro Latina Identity

 

 

Bird Box Review: Blindfolds, Birds, and Boats. Oh My!

You would have to be living under a rock or in box (bird box, get it?) to have not heard the buzz surrounding the Netflix movie Bird Box starring Sandra Bullock and Trevante Rhodes. It is a thrill ride, I must say. Watch below to see why it is so much more.

 

Enforcing Boundaries

One of the most difficult exercises I have encountered (outside of burpees) has been setting and reinforcing healthy boundaries in my life. I can distinctly recall having a bully of a friend in college. Not the physically violent type of bully but a controlling, will-imposing, guilt-tripping kind of friend. I tried everything, except telling her directly how she was overbearing, to end the relationship. The final straw was an argument that could have been avoided if I had only stood up for myself, erected, and enforced a healthy boundary.

Toxic people poison your life and impact your health by being a constant drain on your energy and mood. They can be tricky to identify. Humans are multifaceted beings. No one is all bad. However, when someone continues to do things that harm you emotionally, socially, and/or financially, you may need to set a boundary.

Controllers: These are people who want to dictate who you can or cannot be friends with. They want to isolate you from others so that their influence is the most dominant one in your life. You can experience this in friendship, marriage, or business.

Angry Birds:  These are people who have a negative disposition on life. They will shoot down any good news with a complaint. They will dull your dreams with why it will never work out. Do yourself a favor and erect a boundary. Start by informing that person of how their behavior makes you feel. Next, state that if the behavior continues, you will limit the time spent with this person. Last, enforce it.

denied

The Needy and the Greedy:  These are people who always have a hand out. They always need to borrow money or your car. They hit you with a sob story and lead you to believe you are their only hope. Point them to Jesus and a financial literacy course.

Establishing boundaries is no easy feat. Relationships develop behavior patterns. You may even positively identify as the ‘strong one’. It is easy to fall back into a familiar role if not careful.

Recently, I had someone call me at 4:30 am. The last time I received a call that early, my godmother had passed. I answered in a panic. The caller was stuck in a town an hour away and asked if I would come and get him. I was so relieved that someone was not actually dead. I put on my ‘captain-save-a-bro’ cape and headed out. As I was driving down winding, isolated back-roads in the dark, I realized how incredibly stupid this was. I was putting myself at risk to save someone who, as I learned later, was in the predicament by being irresponsible.

On the way back, I start asking all of the questions I should have asked earlier on the phone: Don’t you have roadside assistance? How much would an Uber have cost? Granted, this was an extenuating circumstance, so I was not tripping too hard that I had agreed to pick him up. However, I was annoyed by his lack of preparedness. I firmly state that I was not driving back out to this town or any town in the middle of the night. I explained that he needed to have a plan in place in case something like this happened again, a rescue plan did not include me.

The next day, I get a call asking if I will ride out to the same town to help drive his car back. Having already firmly stated that I would not be driving back out to that remote town, I said no. I provided sound alternatives; get a male friend to help, pay someone to assist, or get a tow truck to haul your car back. Of course this person, used to me swooping in to save the day, was annoyed and angrily ended the call.

Enforcing boundaries is necessary to protect your mental and emotional health. You must set the rules of engagement for your relationships. Those who love and respect you will choose to play by the rules. Those who do not will be effectively blocked.

 

 

That Ain’t Baby Phat

That’s fat baby.

It is tough to be honest with yourself. But honey, I have regained a lot of the weight I had previously lost. You are probably wondering, how can you not know that you have gained weight when it is your won body. My response is, keep reading.

I can bust some angles in my selfies and have ya’ll thinking I’m still in my twenties and 50 lbs lighter. However, the video camera is a whole other situation. I rebooted by Youtube channel with a renewed focus on being committed to my dreams. I was editing my video and was so disappointed with my weight, so much so, I almost didn’t post it. But, I need the accountability. This is where I am and I need to do the work to get to where I want to be.

Below is rant/video on my recent visit to O’Charleys restaurant in Glendale, Indianapolis, IN. Let me know what you think.

 

Permission to Put You First Black Girl

Ever hear yourself talking and realize you need to take your own advice?

I was being interviewed by hosts Denise Cole Hill and Wilson Murkinson for Nuu Beats Radio on Saturday. I start saying something like, “you have to give yourself permission to go for what you really want, not for what you think you can get.” I heard the sentences as if they were coming from another person’s mouth. My vocals reverberated off the walls and landed back into my soul.

Was I truly going for what I want in life and not what was easily attainable?

Being raised with lack can cause you to believe any crumb is a blessing. Gratitude for what you have is necessary before you can truly appreciate more. A crumb is insufficient if you are truly hungry. It is a blessing in a sense but is it God’s best? The Bible says it like:

” . . . but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.” Proverbs 27:7b.

When i was unemployed back in 2010, I took the first job offer available. I was immensely grateful to be working; however, I recognized early on that this was not a holding place for me. I started inquiring about and applying for jobs that aligned with what I actually wanted to be doing. I got a new gig 11 months in.

Have you heard the term ‘Struggle Love’? It’s the idea that in a relationship a person has to remain loyal through someone else’s emotional, financial, and relational struggles. Your loyalty is rewarded with marriage after you have sufficiently suffered.

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I saw an Instagram post about a reality star Kimbella  who has been in a relationship with rapper Juelz Santana for nearly ten years. According to the post, Kimbella has endured birthing two children, infidelity, his drug addiction, and finally as he may be doing jail time, he proposes.

Granted, I do not know all of the details of their relationship, it is ‘reality’ TV of course, but on the surface this appears to be textbook ‘struggle love’.

A guy told me that if I don’t want to accept the breakups and makeups of a relationship then I am not really ready for one. I explained that we understand love different. I believe love is the action of sacrificially seeking the best for someone. I demonstrate love by caring for and taking care of the needs of my partner. I want him to be healthier, wealthier, wiser. I will assist in any way required. That’s how my soul is setup. Hurting someone to see how much they can withstand to test their loyalty/love is cruelty.

Putting me first is a challenge. Rejecting what I can get and going for what I truly want takes a level of faith that I am still developing. There is always someone or something demanding the attention/time that I have allotted to self-care or pursuing my calling. There is always a small doubt saying maybe this is as good as it gets. In my prayer time, I can hear the spirit saying ‘don’t settle’. My inner voice is calling out to me to take care of me, to put me first.

I am listening.

 

Cut It Out – My Surgery

Dave Coulier played Joe on the immensely popular sitcom Full House. He would say the  quip, “Cut it out,” while simultaneously doing the hand gestures simulating the act of cutting it out.

I am having a benign tumor removed tomorrow. It is something I noticed 8 or 9 years ago. I had started my weight loss journey and weighed myself every morning after I got out of the shower.  I remember looking in the mirror and noticing something on my back. I strained my neck as much as I could until it was clear that I was not imagining things. There was a big lump on my back.   Every doctor who looked at it said that it was just a common lipoma and I should leave it alone unless it starts to bother me.

My weight loss journey has been a roller coaster ride. An unexpected move, career anxiety, and a breakup caused a serious setback for a recovering emotional eater. I decided to really hit the gym hard and weight lift. I got a workout plan and committed. The more I worked my shoulders, that benign tumor became a literal pain. What the doctors called harmless was impeding my progress. Despite my initial fear of surgery, I made the decision to have it removed.

I was listening to a Pastor Jeffrey A. Johnson on Youtube. He told the story of an eagle who was killed by a fish. The eagle had grabbed the large fish and took flight. A storm came and the eagle began to fall. He could not let the fish go as it had become stuck in his talons. That benign fish, that should have been an easy dinner, was his downfall.

An ex, a behavior, an activity may seem benign at first. A lump that you have grown accustomed to having. This metaphorical lump is hindering your progress. Anything that keeps you from flying is a weight that you must let go. If it seems stuck to you, do like Dave and “cut it out”.

 

Choosing Love and Happiness

Holding on to something you have instead of going for what you really want is a recipe for unhappiness.

Let me say it again!

Holding on to something you don’t really want instead of going for what you truly desire is a recipe for unhappiness.

EMPLOYMENT

People stay in jobs they hate due to a number of reasons. One being tradition. They saw their parents work at a company for 20, 30 years and retire. They stay because it pays the bills. Maybe there are kids, a mortgage, sick family members who need health insurance.

I GET IT, BUT . . .

What is your happiness worth?

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22 NIV.

 The migraines, colds, lethargy could be due to your own unhappiness.

How do you get to career that fulfills you? Take a class to improve your skills, join a professional group to network with professionals, start a side-hustle that you LOVE.

RELATIONSHIPS

There are people dating/married to men/women who cheat, mistreat, deceive, etc. They stay out of convenience, fear of being single,  or something other than true love. Deep down, some believe that they do not deserve any better. Your happiness cannot be gotten from someone else, great relationship or not. However, being with the wrong person can lead to stress, angst, mistrust – all of which contribute to unhappiness.

Let it go

LET IT GOOOOO . . . but have a plan.

That’s right. Plan for your happiness. Imagine it. Create a vision board. Look at it everyday. Locate the dream job. Find out it’s requirements. Work to become qualified. Network with professionals in your industry . .  and BAM! You are doing something you love.

Go to the gym. Get a meal plan, Read books. Become that interesting irresistible person the man/woman of your dreams will be attracted to . . . and BAM!

Happily Ever After!

You can have love and happiness but you have to let go of what you really do not want. Have faith and go after what you really want.

You deserve it.

The Sound

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Carmen watched the chunks of partially digested chicken cordon bleu slather the toilet bowl rim. She had overeaten again. No, she had binged. Step five in a book she had read on managing emotions stated to be brutally honest about one’s behavior. There were the lemon ricotta cookies from Ann’s Bakery store she had eaten. She had needed something to hold her over until dinner. Then, there was the bag of Cheetos she had grabbed at the gas station. At least, she had gotten a diet soda to wash them down. As she knelt scrubbing the splatter from the white tiled floor, Carmen was thankful she lived alone. How could she explain this disgusting habit she had developed after Warren had left?

Everybody leaves, she lamented.

Six years and hundreds of toilet bowl trips later, she still felt dizzy. Warren had sworn to her that he was faithful and that she could trust his words because he had no reason to lie. This circular logic spun round and round in her head like the Coriolis effect of every after-binge flush. She could not swallow the true pain of it all, so she binged. She ate to numb the crushing feeling in her chest. She ate until her stomach hurt and vomiting brought a sense of relief, a purge. She watched the remnants disappear into that white abyss.

Carmen knelt beside her bed and prayed to God. She sat in silent meditation awaiting an answer. She only heard the buzz of her central air blowing from the vented ceiling. She curled under the sheet and plopped her head down on the pillow. She closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep.

She was awakened by the symphonic tonality of a bell. The resonance distinctly resembled the ringing that had roused all of Brook Waters Camp inhabitants every summer. She was 15. Both feet hit the floor. She aligned the sheets, smoothing out the wrinkles with her hand. Two of the corners of her blanket had been neatly tucked before she realized, she was an adult now and in her own home. There was no camp counselor’s walk-through inspection before she could have her morning coffee. It would have been apple juice back then, from concentrate.

Today’s brew, Don Pablo’s medium roast. The hot liquid went down bitter, but it did the job. Saturdays were typically a sleep-in day, but she had a townhouse in Cedar Creek to show and it would take her a good 30-minute drive to get there. Carmen was never late but she need a little help to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Ha, she thought. Old Mrs. Smith loved yelling that to us kids as she was serving up those watery eggs every morning. Camp life.

#

The rising sun glinted off the hood of her silver Lexus. She stood outside drinking the remaining Don Pablo from her thermos while waiting for her client to arrive. She had shown Shelly this same townhome five times. Shelly, her client, was ridiculously indecisive. She wanted to see the property on a weekday, a weekend, at night, and at daybreak. Hopefully, this showing would do the trick.

A man she had seen run in this neighborhood before sprinted down Oak St. He shot her the peace sign as he ran passed her. He must be a triathlete, she thought. He never slowed down to say hi, just two fingers in the air and a smile. Shelly should have been here to see him. A handsome athletic neighbor is a great selling point. She arrived only moments later, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

After mulling over the details of each door frame, she began to inspect the windows. During her endless research, she had found that loosened jambs and casings could contribute to high energy coasts.

“It says here that the windows were replaced three years ago and are under warranty.”

“With the crazy winds we have here, one can never be to cautious about these things.”

Carmen plastered a smile on her face. She examined the neighborhood outside of the window. The smiling jogger was on his returning leg of his run. Visually she followed him until he rounded the corner.

“I think I’ve seen enough.” Shelly had soundlessly crept next to her. “I am sorry I didn’t mean to startle you. What’s out there that’s got your attention?”

“Oh, nothing. Just a great view.”

Shelly peered outside. “You’re so right, Carmen. I’ll take it.”

 

Carmen sat in her favorite booth at her friend Caterina’s cupcake shop swirling the foam on her expresso creating spirals of Phi. The metal clank of the golden demitasse resounded against the white ceramic cup. The noise grew louder. She stopped mid-swirl. She heard the bell again. Her head spun from side to side. No one else seemed to notice. She drank her remaining coffee and got up to pay.

“Caterina, do you hear a bell noise?”

Caterina squinted her eyes as if that would improve her hearing.

“No, I don’t. Do you?”

“No. I mean, I thought I did but it must have been my imagination.”

“Oh, okay. Sometimes, people’s phones can make pretty weird noises.”

“Right. Keep the change.”

“Thanks Carmen. Until next time.”

“Have a good one.”

She did not know why she had lied to Caterina. Indeed, she had heard the bell, twice now. The clock on the dash showed the time to be 12:03 pm. Hmm, she thought.

#

She sliced the tomato to go with her scrambled eggs fried in ghee butter. The meal plan left her macros at 12 percent carbs. Great. She finished her meal. While brushing her teeth, Carmen’s stomach began to turn. A familiar burning crept up her throat. She flipped the toilet seat up just in time to catch her morning breakfast.

Another townhome on Oak St., what are the odds? Leaning on her Lexus, she watched the newly-risen sun glow iridescent across her exposed arms. She sipped her purchased coffee. She heard it again. Softly at first but the ringing grew louder with each ring. She closed her eyes to focus on the sound. It seemed to be coming from the east.

Ding. Ding. Ding.

She closed her eyes. Was this ringing a precursor to some health event, a stroke? Carmen ran a mental health check; no headache, no numbness in her arms or hands, no dizziness, heartrate seemed normal. Nothing in her physical makeup could explain the ringing she was hearing. The sound was external. Yet Shelly had not heard it. After a few minutes, it stopped.

“Carmen Matthews?”

“Yes, that is me. Let’s take a look at your new home.”

#

Acetone soaked cotton balls were being held in place by the foil wrappers on Carmen’s finger tips to remove the gel nail polish. Her foiled wrapped nails prevented successfully clicking the massage chair remote control. Minh politely assisted her. She settled in the leather chair as her feet soaked in the bubbling water.

“Knead and lower back, right.”

“Right.”

Minh adjusted the massage settings. Carmen had gone through many a pedicure debacle before finding Minh at the Lotus Flower Salon. She was bright and funny, always had a story to tell about her dating fiascos, and gave the best massages. She also knew at what time to work silently while Carmen rested her eyes.

“Relax. Why are you so uptight?”

“Sorry, Minh.”

“Relax. You got man problems?” Minh laughed.

“I wish. I have just been having the strangest thing happen to me. Never mind. It’s silly.”

“Tell me. I tell you silly things all the time. Return the favor.”

“I keep hearing a bell. I hear it at different times of the day. It rings for several minutes and then the sound goes away. No one else can hear it. You think I’m crazy?”

“Oh no, Carmen. You are not crazy. You are blessed. When you hear a bell like that, God is trying to get your attention. Something you have prayed hard for awaits you. You must follow the sound of the bell.”

“What? Follow the bell? How?”

“Listen to where the sound comes from. Follow it as far as you can before it stops. You will have the answer to your prayer.”

Carmen let the seed Minh had planted in her mind germinate while the warm water massaged her achy feet.

#

 Peanut butter toast with sliced banana, this had been Marcus’ pre-run breakfast for the past eight years. He sat at his breakfast bar drinking a glass of water. It is always good to hydrate before a run, he thought. He glanced at the empty dining room table that had become a workstation overrun with stacks of paper and his silver Macbook. Work and run. Eat and run. Sleep and run. He spent his life running. His bedroom wall was full of medals – half and full marathons from around the country. They were evidence of his success, yet he still ate alone.

He counted 5 slices of banana on his toast. Five was also the number of years he and Emily had lived together. It had been six months since he had found out she had been having an affair for at least a year. Emily had left her unlocked phone on that very same dining room table. He heard the chime of her ringtone. Annoyed by the noise, he picked it up to turn it off. He and Emily had always respected each other’s privacy, but the chiming did not stop. Someone must really need to get a hold of her, he thought. So, he swiped the screen to open the message.

He had returned the engagement ring she never knew about. That message thwarted his plan of a surprise engagement. Marcus hated thinking about her. He washed his plate and sat it in the dish washer. Outside, the cool crispness of the early morning would soon yield to the muggy heat of the sun. Marcus grabbed his ankle from behind to stretch his quadriceps. Running cleared his head. He put in his earbuds and took off toward the rising sun.

Mile 5 was a turn down Oak St. He was nearly home. He heard a bell ringing. Marcus removed one earbud to see if it was from the music he was listening to. The sound started soft and grew louder. He looked around wondering if a church was near. He had rounded this corner 5 to 6 days a week at the same time and had never heard a bell before. After a few minutes the tone stopped. Marcus returned the earbud and headed home.

#

“Please make a U-turn. At the next opportunity, please make a U-turn.”

“Okay GPS lady,” Carmen yelled at the robotic voice.

She thought she knew a shortcut to the Casper Springs neighborhood where she was showing a ranch-style home to retired couple. The winding roundabouts had her turned around and confused. Ignoring the prompting of her Global Positioning System had made her ten minutes late. Lucky for her, Mr. and Mrs. Wilkerson were 15 minutes late.

After the viewing, Carmen turned on her GPS to find the quickest way home. Once she got to 75, she knew the way home and turned the GPS off. The ding of the bell started again.

Okay, I am not crazy. I hear a dang bell. Minh said to follow it so here goes.

She let down her window and turned the radio off. The sound seemed to be coming from the Shadeland Park area. Carmen drove as close as she could get to the dinging sound in a car. She parked and started to walk the concrete trail. She passed the jungle gym, the water station, and the silver water fountain. Her baby-toe began to ache from navigating the concrete in 6-inch heels. She found a park bench and sat down. At that moment, the ringing ceased.

Carmen looked around. An older man shuffled down the trail. She admired his perseverance. There was a baby cooing in the grass. His father and mother had laid a blanket down and sat watching him discover the feeling of grass blades between his fingers. A rush off baby fever enveloped her like the summer sun. She closed her eyes to keep from crying. She inhaled. The air smelled of cut grass and puppies. The sounds of play and laughter filled her with a carefree happiness she had not felt since childhood.

#

          He knelt to tie his shoe that had become undone during his run. Another day, another run down the same streets making the same turns, ending up back where he had started. Marcus heard the ding of the bell again. He searched around him. No cars on the road and no pedestrians on the street. Maybe someone was playing a joke. He cocked his head to the side to determine the direction the sound was originating. He began to run towards it. He ran up Oak St. passing the cupcake shop and nail salon. He ran until the pavement became the gravel of the Shadeland Park parking lot. Marcus ran along the trail until the ringing stopped. He saw a familiar face sitting on the bench not far from him.

#

A shadow crossed Carmen’s eyelids. She opened her eyes to see the jogger from Oak St.

“Hi. I am sorry to bother you, but I recognized you from my morning runs. I’m Marcus,” he extended his hand.

“Hello. I am Carmen Matthews. I’m a realtor. I show a lot of homes in your area.”

“Do you mind if I sit with you for a moment? I’ve been running a long time.”

“Not at all. I have been resting a bit myself. Walking in heels on this concrete is not a good idea.”

“What brings you here? I mean, in a suit and heels.”

“I don’t know. Just exploring a bit, I guess,” Carmen laughed.

“May I ask, what’s so funny, Carmen?”

“I must look ridiculous,” she added sliding on her pumps.

“You actually look pretty fly. Just uncomfortable.”

“How random,” Carmen interjected. “I have seen you many times running up or down Oak St. and you never introduced yourself. Now to meet you randomly at a park I never visit.

“That is pretty curious. I never visit this park either. But I heard a . . .”

“A what? A bell?”

“Yes, a bell. It brought me here . . . to you.”

 

© 2018 Felicia Malone

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Black Men As Sympathetic Characters

I have seen two movies in less than a week, Sorry To Bother You and Equalizer 2. There will be no recaps as this is not a movie review. Suffice it to say, see both. They are really good.

What struck me most about both films, is the presence of a black male character for whom the audience roots for. In the era of #BlackLivesMatter and the death of young black men scattered throughout social media, it is not characteristic of mainstream media to showcase these men in a sympathetic light. Trayvon Martin at 15 was described as a man and portrayed as a thug. Michael Brown was portrayed in the same manner. It is notable to see young black men on screen, imperfect and yet deserving of empathy and protection. Lakeith

The character Chris Washington in Jordan Peele’s Get Out had audiences cheering for a dark-skinned black male as he fought white oppressors to free himself from a prison they had lured him into. Talk about revolutionary. In, Sorry to Bother You, the main character Cassius Green, fights selling out to “the man” and capitalistic oppression of others. In Equalizer 2, Denzel Washington’s character Robert McCall risks his life to save a young black man entangled with gangs and drugs.

The characterization of these black male characters as human, relatable, and sympathetic is an act of resistance. It is also why representation matters. We need African American creatives of all types making movies, TV shows, books, sculptures, architecture – projecting a vision of ourselves into the future. I am hoping that the works of Ryan Coogler,  Antoine Fuqua, Jordan Peele, Boots Riley, are trailblazing and not just trend.

I am finishing up Parable of the Sower  by Octavia Butler. I read recently that Ava Duvernay is bringing Butler’s Dawn, to screen. I am looking forward to a similar wave of heroic black female characters for audiences to cheer for being brought to life.