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An Intimate Discussion with Tamala Baldwin 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.

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.

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

Walking On Water

I am up at 10:37 PM when I should be asleep, thinking. I was thinking about how disappointment comes in waves. They are big, boisterous and all encompassing. Imagine being a voyager in the middle of your nautical journey when a big wind blows in a tempest. What do you do?  Do you tuck tail & sail and go back in the direction you came? Or do you forge ahead knowing that behind those rain clouds, as big and ugly as they may be, is a sun. It was shining before the storm, it was shining during the storm, and it will shine after the clouds have rolled away.

I feel like Peter. I was so Peter for the longest time in my walk with Christ. I was so sure my faith was so rock solid, I could confidently say, “Sure, Jesus. I’ll come walk on that water with you.” Then the the waves came. And they kept coming. I took my eyes off the Son. All I could see were dark clouds. I felt the wind knocking me off my mark. I tried in my own strength to walk but the water rushed to me knees. I kept thinking, “Why would the Lord call me out of the comfort of my boat only to watch me fail?” It was then revealed that I took my eyes off of the Lord and tried to walk in my own strength.

“Jesus! Save me!”

It is the only strength I have left – to call out to the master. I wanted to be strong. I wanted to succeed. I wanted to walk on water. My mistake – I started to rely on me.

Jesus reached out his hand and helped me up. Wobbly and shaken, I am learning to stand. I know that without Him, I will fall. I just need to sharpen my focus. No matter the opposing forces, they are only distractions. Stay the course. Jesus is the author and the finisher of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2). He set you out on the path of righteousness, he will see that you make it safely to the other side.

 

Edge of the Frame – Mr. Bear

I had been sitting on a Walgreen’s shelf for a few weeks when a young, caramel-faced woman stared into my eyes. She picked me up and squeezed my side. Sandwiched between her arm and her side, I was taken to the register and purchased. I was elated to be chosen and soon I would have a home. We drove quietly to my new abode. A love song by someone I am unfamiliar with, played on the car’s radio.

The caramel-faced woman’s name is Michelle. She took me out of the plastic bag and sat me on a faux suede sofa. It was brown and soft like me. Out of nowhere and huge black dog charged into the room. Our eyes lock. Certain that I am staring death in the face, I say a prayer to the stuffed-bear gods. Quick as a blink, Michelle grabs me holding me over her head. With her free hand, she grabs the dog’s collar and leads him into the basement. I am safe.

I feel like the luckiest bear stuffed. I have a new home and a mom who just saved me from the brink of death. I watch mom write and seal a card and stuff it in a glittery bag. She places me in there, too. I soon fall asleep.

I awoke to voices – Michelle’s and a man’s. I strained to see but it is dark inside the bag. Michelle’s hand retrieved the card. I heard the man say, “Aw.” I heard kisses.

“Wait, I didn’t give you your gift,” Michelle chimed.

“I told you that men don’t get Valentine’s gifts.”

“I couldn’t help myself. He is just too cute. Just like you.”

She pulled me from the darkness.

“Bwahaha!”  the man laughs. “What is this?”

“A bear silly.”

“I’m a grown ass man,” he managed between laughs.

“You don’t like it?” Mariah asked disappointment echoing in her voice.

“Nah, It’s okay. I’m giving it to Mariah though.”

When the rough play of the day was done, I could always look forward to being placed in her arms and tucked under the covers. We would sleep soundly until morning.

Christmas came and everything changed.

I have been in this chair watching Mariah hug a plastic doll. She is not soft and furry like me. When I sat on the shelf at Walgreen’s waiting to be purchased, I had not known what it was like to be hugged and loved. I am waiting again, this time with a broken heart.

 

 

 Edge of the Frame

Trusting God

These are two very loaded words – trust and God.

The ‘trust exercise’ is used as a team building mechanism. It involves two people. One must turn his back to the other, cross his arms, close his eyes, and fall backwards trusting the other individual will catch him.

Not I, said the cat!

My inclination is to buckle my knees and brace myself to catch myself. As crazy as that sounds, I am always trying to catch myself. Then, someone comes along preaching about trust and God. Now I am supposed to close my eyes and trust that a being I cannot see will catch me.

Easier said than done.

Today, I left my purse at a Panda Express. All on the ride home, I was singing in my heart, Jesus never fails, and other songs about trusting God. I get to my house and I cannot find my purse. Now chile, everything is in my purse – wallet, cell phone, lip chap – everything! I did not panic. God had put  a song in my heart.

trust

I called the Panda Express and the young lady had my purse! She said she would hold on to it until my friend could pick it up for me.

God knows me. He knows my inclinations and tendencies to panic first and think rational later. He sent me a song to prepare me for what was ahead.

I know there are greater challenges to face. To get to where I am headed, I will have some lost purses along the way. I am learning from lessons great and small that not only will God catch me as I am falling but he will give me the peace that trusting him along the way gives.

This lesson was better than the fortune in the cookie.

 

How Saturday Cleaning Blessed My Soul

There is a dog in my space. He knows no boundaries – only-dog syndrome. Subsequently, there is dog hair found everywhere. To combat this fluster of fur, I vacuum. I have a really good vacuum. It even has the word, “Powerful” in its name.

vacuum

Today the fur was winning. I could not understand. I had this ‘powerful’ instrument designed to clean and remove dirt, fur, and anything that should not be in my carpet, yet the nuisance remained. I saw a piece of trash, big and white, juxtaposed with the brown carpet fibers. Going through the usual motions, ran the vacuum over it. It remained – stubborn. I wanted it gone. I tried again. It rolled across the carpet fibers in defiance. How is it that this powerful vacuum was not removing the trash I wanted out of my life?

I unplugged the device and started examining the hose. Nothing there. I turned on the light and peered into the hole the hose was joined to. There was a clog of dog hair and dirt. I tried to remove it with my hand and could only scratch the surface. I got a screw driver and began to dig out the clog bit by bit. I realized the problem was much deeper than the hole. The clog was all the way to the upper canister. I took the vacuum outside and pulled, dug, and shook that dirt/fur/dust clog until all was clear. I then put the pieces back together.

Isaiah 59:1-2 says,

1. Behold, the Lord‘s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: 2. But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. 

You can go to church (or not), read your bible, and be a generally good person and lack the power to remove the trash the enemy drops in your life. Is there contention, strife, trouble on the job, your health, your kids and family? Could it be that their is some trash of your own blocking your power source?

Let me tell you – prayer is powerful. I have been on this prayer kick ever since being introduced to the book, “Fervent,” by Priscilla Shirer. You can, through the power of prayer, influence your environment.To get this, you must believe the premise that there are two worlds – the natural and the spiritual. There is a constant battle of good versus evil. As a believer, your life is meant to be vibrant and abundant bringing glory to God our father. The sinner sees your life and wants that joy, inner-peace, and abundance that your life reflects. The enemy’s job is to make your life unproductive and dull; a life that is riddled with failures and sins. A sinner sees your life and thinks, what’s so different between him/her and me?

Satan is after our witness. He has lost your soul to Christ.In comes the lure of sin. It stuffs you with debris. It keeps you powerless. Like that big, ‘powerful’ vacuum unable to suck up flimsy dog hair, sin separates you from fully realizing the power of God. So, review your life. Is there a clog somewhere? Is someone, something, or some behavior keeping you from walking fully into what God has for you. If you are not sure, start with prayer. Like that plug of fur and dirt deep into the canister of my vacuum, God will reveal it. Then get rid of it. You may have to pull it out bit by bit but the result is power to transform your life.

Happy Black Girl – Tamika Catchings and Las Vegas

I ran across a page on the internet once entitled, Angry Black Woman, or something like that. The author discussed a range of issues – race, politics, gender, etc. I just could not get passed the name. I believe that words have power to shape your future and even influence your current mood. I did not want to be angry.  My name is Felicia. It is derived from the Latin word for happy. Every time someone says my name, they are literally calling forth happiness. I like to spread happiness to others but, lately, I have been having some challenges in this area.

I was at a networking event in Indy where Tameka Catchings, of WNBA fame, was keynote speaker. She discussed overcoming a hearing impairment and other obstacles to become a WNBA Champion and a gold- star Olympic medalist. She also heads a charitable organization, Catch the Stars Foundations, which hosts an annual basketball camp for kids, fitness clinic, and literacy programs.

What stood out to me the most was her humble demeanor. I have been to a number of networking events. The wealthy people on stage really want you to know that they are ‘special’ lol. Catchings came across very personable and relatable. She seemed so . . . happy. Like, really happy to be there and to share her experiences and gifts with us. It just got me to thinking about how to be just that – happy.

I have just returned from Las Vegas this past Saturday. I was with my sister celebrating her birthday/wedding anniversary. When she brought up the idea of the trip, I was really gong-ho about it. Then some drama happened. I had to figure out another living arrangement relatively quickly. Should I buy or rent? How much can I afford? How soon do I have to move out? Stress on worry on stress. I even considered cancelling the trip.

The thing is I really needed a vacation. I had planned a trip to Vegas earlier in the year that fell through. I was stressed from work, my living situation, my health. Life was coming at me from a lot of angles. I was meditating and God let me know to let go. Let go of the worry, the stress about finding a place to live and go on the trip. I decided that I would not allow outside forces to rob me of my plans or my peace. I made the choice to go to Las Vegas.  It did not matter that I was the only single girl in the group, or I could not get my eyebrows arched because time got the best of me. I was in a place I had never been before having a new experience with people I love and who love me; and I was happy doing it.

Happiness is a choice.

The decision about where I should live was settled in one day. I went to a view an apartment community and was bummed that the unit was not up to par. I pulled over into a gas station and had a talk with my daddy God. I asked that He show me where I should live because I had been looking at homes and apartments for the past couple months to no avail. I looked online in the area where I was and found a great place. I called them and immediately went for a viewing. I loved the location, the apartment, the staff who assisted me, and the price. Even the online reviews were good.

Back in undergrad, I read a book called the Secret to Happiness by Alice Walker. She summed up that the secret to happiness is resistance. I beg to differ. The secret to happiness is trusting in the one who made you. Knowing that his plans for you are good. If you are in need of direction, you can stop at a figurative gas station and ask for help.

I am so excited about my future. I am excited about new adventures. I am asking and trusting God’s direction for me. I am learning how to be happy.