An Intimate Discussion with Tamala Baldwin, Star of Curvy Girl’s Rock: The Series

As a writer, I am tasked with articulating the human experience. My characters must resonate with readers by being relatable, honest, and sometimes, outlandish. In 3D, relating to each other can be a bit more precarious.  It is easier to trust the person on the page than the one sitting next to you on the subway. Then, there are people whose radiating presence penetrates the hardened façade of strangers making them feel at ease. Tamala Baldwin is such a light.

Tamala is a renaissance woman for the millennial generation. TV Host, Speaker, Producer, Author, and Businesswoman top the list of her amazing talents. This year, she had added actress to that impressive list. Tamala is staring in the Curvy Girls Rock: The Series, fulfilling a dream which fear had held her back from for many years.

Three years ago, Tamala interviewed me to discuss my debut novel, “Ruth’s Awakening: A Love Story”. Who knew three years later, I would be blessed with the opportunity to return the favor. I

  1. What is your gift? Describe your journey identifying, owning, and sharing that gift?

For the longest time, I believed my gift was that of performing.  Though I absolutely LOVE to perform, I learned that my true gift is so much deeper than that. The reason I believe I was born was to share the gift of human sunshine. Sunshine can change anything, transform anything, re-make anything, and cause anything to become as beautiful as nature intended. In this lifetime, I have been able to experience an enchanting union with the radiance of my own soul and I feel positively free, as if nothing could ever stop me because of this sunshine.  My gift is to share these sunbeams to everyone I meet and one of the ways I feel drawn to do that the most, is through storytelling.  We are so blessed to be alive.  We are so fortunate to have the luxury of time to evolve into greater expressions of ourselves through the experience of life. Capturing the human experience in order to help others tap into deeper awareness of their own sunshine . . .  that is my gift.

Coming to this state of awareness has been extremely difficult.  As someone that is so open to the light, navigating the shadow or darkness was definitely part of my journey.  As a child, God shielded me from internalizing what I saw, but that shifted in my 20’s.  It was as if my Creator opened the gates of heaven and I experienced the harshness of life for the first time. It was as if I left home and wandered in the wilderness.  Of course, in my infancy, I thought this was a punishment, because I TRULY never experienced REAL sadness even though I grew up in the hood and saw a lot of things during the 80’s. Yet, I realize that the wilderness is not a punishment.  It is an invitation to become aware or conscious of your divinity, who you are and the paradise that you come from.

This awareness of GOD being closer than breathing is forever expanding, so even though I have this amazing love buzz in the center of my heart, every day I am being purged and cleansed of fear, guilt, doubt… of anything that gets in the way of experiencing more TRUTH.  For example, it was only after the passing of my mother did I realize there was a part of me that was afraid and was still hiding.  We all hide and it is only until we REALIZE and see it for ourselves can we step from behind it and into the light.

  1. What is fear to you? Describe an instance when you have had to overcome fear.

My fear was that I was not the ideal weight to act. The goal of the media is to tell us what to think and somewhere along the line, I told myself that I was too fat (I am a size 12 and sometimes a 10) to pursue acting.  Yet, after experiencing the loss of my mother, it allowed me to release that.  Losing the person that loves me the most in life freed me from the lie that I was telling myself, which at the root, was that I wasn’t good enough, pretty enough and so forth.

Let me tell you, releasing that untruth has been so freaking liberating! It was like a weight, I didn’t even know I was carrying, was lifted.

Fear is anything that keeps you from experiencing the Truth.  Fear is a weight that can paralyze you from fulfilling your purpose.  Fear is a deceiver and a lie.  Fear is something that keeps you hostage and dims your light.  Fear is that bad friend that holds you back from doing what God has called you to do and will use any means necessary to manipulate you. The only way I know how to handle fear, is to seek refuge with God, my Creator and the Lover of my Soul.  I don’t address fear.  I don’t ask fear to flee.  I ask God. The reason I was able to release the fear about being too big to pursue acting was because I prayed to God day and night for clarity on my purpose.  After losing my mommy, I was so confused about what I was meant to do with my time here.  Should I go back to working a 9 to 5?  Should I stop performing and teach?  I had no idea what to do especially since I am a caregiver for a mentally ill sibling.  Since I knew I was coming from a place of fear, I asked God, who is my Ultimate Protector, Lover and Best Friend. When I say who God is to me, I mean it with all of my heart.  We go together and so when I go to “him” it is one of the most intimate part of my day.  God loves us so much that there is no need to look at the fear.  Casting our gaze upon LOVE is all we need.

  1. What do you want viewers to take away from Curvy Girls Rock: The Series?

Curvy Girls Rock is the second series I booked since I became awake to this fear that had taken up residence in my mind.  The other series I am also working on is, “Asunder”, which can be found on Amazon Prime in 2018. When I booked,  “Curvy Girls Rock: The Series”, all I could do was smile at the synchronicity since this series stars women that are curvy in size. All I could do was smile at God at this opportunity that was a direct reflection of the fear I had just released.  All of us are born with purpose and to add sunshine.  No matter what is happening around us, what has happened to us, where we went to school, or what we look like – we are here and charged with purpose.  “Curvy Girls Rock”, was a wink from God affirming that truth and we must never believe the lies we tell ourselves.  Rather, to trust the greatness, the love, the sunshine that dwells within us.

Being the light may sound a little cliché but every platitude starts as a commonly accepted truth. Humans radiate light and absorb it.  We need it to live, grow, and thrive. Light requires a fuel source. We call that source God.  When we connect with God intimately, his light flows through us. Thank you Tamala for allowing the light of God to shine through you to us.

You can follow Curvy Girls Rock: The series by subscribing to its Youtube channel of following its Facebook page.

What’s Good On Netflix – Middle of Nowhere – A Film by Ava Duvernay

I am a lover of words – spoken or written verse. All forms tell a story. The art of storytelling is our heritage. In times past, that is how history was transferred from generation to generation. The word becomes immortal.

Middle of Nowhere, a film by Ava Duvernay (of Selma fame), tells the story of Ruby who struggles to hold on to the love she has for her husband Derek who has been sentenced to eight years in prison. Ruby drops out of medical school to passionately stand and fight for her man who seems more resigned to his fate.

Duvernay uses well-crafted dialogue and imagery to tell a beautiful story of love and self-discovery from a black woman’s perspective. The added nuance of Ruby struggling to wrap her hair in a scarf, becoming frustrated with the act, and then tossing it to the side in silent acquiescence – is a black woman’s act. Only a black woman who has performed this hair ritual would have added it to this scene. Its addition lends credence to the character and story.

Four Things I Love:

  1. Honesty – The honest portrayal of the affects the incarceration of black men have on the women left behind. Ruby, her sister Rosie and her mother Ruth are all single women struggling to connect with each other while coping with the harsh reality of the absence of men in each’s lives. This film illustrates the truth of how complicated and powerful the force of love is. It can make you willfully blind and selfless. If that same love is turn inward, it can make you brave.
  2. The cinematography – It is the shot of Ruby’s left hand on a bed after a night with her lover that allows Duvernay to show the story and not tell it. There are multiple scenes where the directing and camera fill in the gap when the words are absent.
  3. David Oyelowo – (also of Selma fame) is wonderful to watch. I kept looking for his British accent to slip through, lol. I think it is his gaze. It commands attention. I was left wanting to see what he would say and do next.
  4. Omari Hardwick – (we are not worthy!) is so flipping gorgeous. He has that, ‘hood dude you cannot help but love even though your momma says he is no good,’ steeze on lock. There is a scene in which he almost cries that had me yelling at the screen, “I’ll wait eight years, baby!” ROTFL. Good looks aside, the brother can emote. Some handsome actors just stand there and flex. I give props to the guy for having genuine skillz.

I look forward to sharing with you other stories from African American women. I promise not to reveal too much, after all, I want you to see the films and support our sisters.

Please check out the Sundance Award winning fill Middle of Nowhere now streaming on Netflix.

Are Soul Ties Biblical?

I have read the entire Bible. It took me about 3 years but I did finish. I cannot recall anything mentioning a ‘soul tie’. I will admit, I am no biblical scholar so I am open to correction. I see services, conferences, and books marketing this ‘soul-tie’ idea and how to break it. The tying of the soul tie concept in with Christianity just does not jive with me.

I started researching this idea of soul ties via Google. Some Christian sites laud the idea and some do not. Continuing my investigation, I found something eerily similar in an arena outside of Christianity – metaphysics. The definition of metaphysics is pretty broad. It is the study of existence. Are you still confused? Okay, good.  In this worldview, soul-ties are referred to as ‘energy cords’ or ‘ethereal cords’. The idea behind it all, is that when two individuals “bond” or “unite” (sexually or emotionally) their souls become entangled so that moving on is impossible without first breaking the soul tie.

In terms of Christianity, scripture is used to bolster the concept. Although the term “soul tie” is never mentioned in the bible, one scripture referenced in support of the idea is:

“Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, ‘The two will become one flesh.’” (1 Corinthians 6:16).

The two becoming one flesh is used as evidence of souls become tied together. I understand it to mean that physically two people are bonding but the unity does not involve their souls. I mean, what is a soul exactly? Some define it as the non-physical part of a person. There are many varied definitions depending on the belief system. Let us for for this discussion define the soul as the inner essence of someone. How can your essence be conflated with another’s? If the souls are joined, how does one divide them again?

One of the steps listed to break the soul tie is to write the ex’s name on a sheet of paper, light a candle, and burn the paper. You are reciting out loud a prayer to exorcise this person from your soul. This is problematic for me as a Christian because the practice of lighting candles, reciting chants, and burning names is very similar to a “fire spell”. A fire spell is used to spiritually cleanse yourself, to get rid of feelings and behavior, and even to communicate with the dead. I found this info on sites about witches and the occult.

Just because something is a trend does not mean we can blend it with the bible. Read the bible for yourself. If our souls belong to God, how can they be tied to another?

What say you?

 

Image result for soul tie

On the Other side

The sun comes up,

Your feet must move.

Carmel Indiana Sunrise
Photo Credit: Felicia Malone

Find your dance.

Find your groove.

In standing still,

You become the bones.

The valley is full.

You won’t be alone.

If you cannot walk,

You must crawl.

Don’t give up.

Don’t you stall.

Find your groove,

Find your stride.

Your promise awaits,

On the other side.

© 2017 Felicia Malone

#whyIwrite

I wake up in the morning, pray, and grab my phone. I read a scripture or online devotional and then, I check my notifications. I may be a just a bit addicted to social media. Pray for me.

I am swiping up, in the Twitter app this morning and I see the hashtag #whyIwrite. I suppressed the urge to shoot off a quick 140 characters to hop on the trend. I thought, this will require some introspection.

Writing my debut novel was a lot like giving birth, cliche as it may sound. I felt I had the story that had been building in me for years. I was swollen with characters, plots, and exposition. The stories of the myriad of women and men I have encountered through life provided DNA segments building the unique personality of each character. I had begun the Ruth’s Awakening: A Love Story nearly a decade before. The idea, the dna, all brought together in the love making created a life that built up inside my mind. I just had to bring it forth.

Image result for writing is making love

Everyone always asks, when is part two. The truth is, I have allowed life to distract me from the art of love. Love is action. Love is deliberate. I am learning to write as a discipline. It is my passion. Some days, I am so wiped out, I do not feel the burning in my soul. It is like a marriage that way. I guess. I have never been married. But, I have read that you must choose to love your spouse even when do not feel like it.

My fingers are vessels carrying my thoughts to the keyboard. Words and writing – love in the making. Love making. There I go again.

So, why do I write? I write for love.

Let It Burn

*Cue Usher*

I burned my right index finger Monday night attempting to turn chicken with a short fork. I reached into the oven just a little to deep a YOWZAA! My index finger has a grill mark.

I immediately put a cube of ice on it and the pain subsided but as soon as the thing melted the pain rebounded. I started looking for a quick remedy. I slathered antibiotic ointment on it. That made it worse. I got another cube of ice and the ointment congealed. I was in a bigger mess trying to avoid the pain of my little mistake in judgement. Note to self:  always use a long fork when testing food in the oven. It’s like cooking 101.

Waves

Finally, I just lay in bed. I began to try a mind over matter approach. I thought intensely about another part of my hand. It worked temporarily but I kept reverting to my darn finger. It was not the worse pain I had ever felt but geez did it hurt.  Noting the futility of my efforts to minimize my suffering, I had new thought – just ride it out. I reasoned that the pain could only last a few minutes or maybe even an hour. I knew for certain that it would not last forever.

A funny thing happened. I went to sleep.

The next morning I hardly remembered the burn on my hand. I saw the scar – a reminder not to do something so stupid again – but the pain was gone.

Pain is our body’s response to trauma. The nerves fire off intensely warning you to stop what you are doing. As my skin touched the heated metal coil my hand instantaneously jerked back. My body’s instinct kicked in to protect me.

God has equipped us physically to avoid the damaging things that cause us pain. It will come. Loss, heartache and disappointment are a part of life.  Pain is inevitable. You can lament your fate or evaluate the root cause and learn the lesson. Avoidance only leads to chaos.  Numbing it with substance abuse or other quick fixes leads to worsening of the initial condition. Ride the wave. No matter how high the crest, waves always crash. Pain does not last forever.

Standing in the sun outside of my office. I realized the heat is necessary. I closed my eyes and let the sun sink into my pores. I needed a vitamin D mood boost. The scar on my finger is shiny and brown. I have learned the lesson and the pain is gone.

 

Report from 2015 – Talulazoeapple.com http://www.talulazoeapple.com/apple/2015/06/let-it-burn-let-it-burn-let-it-burn.html

Daddy Gone

I was watching a clip from Iyanla Vanzant on Oprah. The title of this post, “Daddy Gone,” is the healing sentence she prescribed to daughters who grew up fatherless. She suggested saying this sentence and accepting it as true after you have told the true authentic story of your own father. So, here it goes.

I have few memories of my dad and mom married. I remember him eating breakfast in the morning, eggs. I remember him yelling at me to get back into my own bed when I would sneak into theirs. That is it. The same two memories on a loop. I think I was three or four.

I never thought I had daddy issues. I considered myself a pragmatist when it came to my story. I knew who my daddy was. He paid child support faithfully. He came around sporadically. I tried to develop a relationship with him as an adult. It did not continue. He died.

That is my story in a nutshell. I grew up. Completed school. Became gainfully employed. Father’s Day would bring a few what ifs but they would quickly fade. As far as I was concerned, his absence had not affected me in the least. I became a success and all without his input. I had not become a statistic. I was not a teen mother or on drugs. I had made it.

Then I began to date and get into a serious relationship. I noticed some behavior patterns that I did not understand. I would overreact to everything. I was always afraid and even anticipated abandonment. I expected fatherly behavior – to be taken care of, to be made whole. To be paid back for an emotional deficit acquired from age 3 until 39. An impossible task for another human, especially, another flawed one with his own set of issues.

So what’s a girl to do.

  1. Tell the truth. My dad was not in my life in a meaningful way. It has affected my relationship decisions.
  2. Forgive. That story does not define me anymore. It is no longer an excuse for my behavior. I am responsible for my actions.
  3. Let it go. I am still working on it. I can say that I have to let it go again and again whenever it comes to mind. Daddy gone.

What is your daddy story?

http://www.oprah.com/video_embed.html?article_id=44432

A Yes in My Pocket

My mother always says when God is about to bless you, all hell will break loose.

Bruh, she ain’t never lied!

There have been dreams, goals, decisions that you have made based on the belief that it is God’s will. Maybe someone even spoke a word into your life. It seems that as soon as you step out of the boat on faith, the waves start to rock.

Man, that is the story of my life.

“A Yes in My Pocket,” was the title of a sermon I heard several years ago. I still remember it because the message is still so poignant. It goes a little something like this:

There was a ruler named Jairus who asks Jesus to come and heal his dying daughter. Jesus tells him, yes. He agrees to go home with him and heal the girl. Great news, right? Well, on their journey, other people surround him. A woman with an issue of blood touches him. Jesus takes the time to heal her openly after she touches him secretly. During this time, Jairus is still hanging tight when messengers come into the temple to tell Jairus that his daughter is now dead so there is no need to bother Jesus. When Jesus heard them, he says, “Fear not: believe only.” So, Jesus goes into the house and he brings two of his disciples. The people in the house are weeping and carrying on. Jesus tells them not to cry  and that the girl is merely asleep. The people go from crying to laughing.

After kicking the laughing doubters out of the house, Jesus restores the child back to life.

Jairus is one patient guy. His daughter lay dying and everyone else’s problems seems to occupy Jesus’ time. Jairus did not tell the woman with the issue of blood get in line lady. I was here first. Why, because Jesus had already told him, yes.

The task is moving forward with the same confidence and belief when the obstacles arise as when you received your yes. The challenges will show up. Trust me, they are a’coming. If you decide to eat healthy, someone will bring doughnuts to work. If you decide to save for a house, Macy’s will have a door-buster sale.

That is life. Keep moving forward. If you have received your yes, put it in your pocket because it is a sure thing.

 

Hypothyroidism: Incurable or Nah?

I have kept a secret from my Get Fit with Fe crew for all of the years since starting my fitness group. I have hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism, as defined by WebMD:

Hypothyroidism, also called underactive thyroid disease, is a common disorder. With hypothyroidism, your thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone.

Some quick facts:

  1. The most common type of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. It is an auto immune disease in which your body produces antibodies that attack your thyroid gland.
  2. When your body does not get enough thyroid chemical and bodily processes slow. In short, your metabolism is slow. Really, really slow.
  3. There is no known cure.

When I found out I had hypothyroidism, I was really ambivalent. One the one hand, I finally had an answer to the culprit behind my life-long struggle being overweight. No matter how much I exercised or changed my diet, the weight would not come off. At least, not permanently. And it was not just the weight. I had all of the freaking symptoms – extreme fatigue, memory issues, depression – I had it all.

Being diagnosed gave me relief. On the other, I had to manage a disease that had no known cause and no known cure. I did not like the sound of that – no cure? With God, all things are possible. So, I started searching for the possible.

There is a lot of research regarding gluten-sensitivity and hypothyroidism. The student HERE suggests that people with hypothyroidism and gluten-intolerance absorbed more thyroid chemical when following a Gluten-free diet. There may be some stock to this. I did the Daniel Fast with a friend, who is also hypothyroid, and we both lost at least 10 lbs each. The Daniel Fast eliminates all wheat, as well as, dairy, and sugar – other known causes of inflammation.

Self-Diagnosis –

I read about Pulse Test used to determine if somonesuffer from food allergies/sensitivities. The test, developed by Dr. Arthur Coca, postulates that food allergies produces an immune response in people causing their heart rate to go up. This can be measure by taking the pulse before and after consumption of the allergenl. Dr. Coca’s book, The Pulse Test, goes into greater detail, but the gist of the test is:

  1. Grab food that is the suspected allergen and have it ready.
  2. Take your pulse while in a rested state at least 5 minutes after activity.
  3. Place the food on your tongue. Let it stay in your mouth for at least 30 seconds. DO NOT SWALLOW the food.
  4. Take your pulse from anywhere on your body. It may be easier to take it from the wrist. Count the number of beats for 60 seconds.
  5. If your pulse increases greater than 4 beats between tests, the  food is likely producing an allergic response.

I tried the test. I tested for milk and wheat. Milk produced no response but bread did. It is important to note that this test cannot distinguish between food allergies and food sensitivities. I am going to cut out all wheat based products for 1 week and track my results. It is worth a shot.

Any thoughts?