Pink & Purple Survivors Issue Vol 2

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With empowering content provided by Bright Pink and The Still Standing Alliance.



EDITING Grab a copy of our Pink & Purple Issue at the following locations: Dvine Systems GA Licensed Professional Counselors 40 Macon St Ste D McDonough, Georgia 30253 Ph: (678) 212-5146

The Glam Store Beauty Bar & Boutique 9542 Brookline Ave Ste D Baton Rouge, LA 70809 Ph: (225) 681-3123

I do ’t share y o story here, ut I commend all the brave ladies who escaped abuse and/or battled cancer and did share their stories with me to include here. My prayer is that women and men pick up this issue and be enlightened, or that it at least sparks deep conversation.

Greetings All, I hope everyone is well. We decided to go with our Pink and Purple Survivors theme at the last minute, but I am so glad that we did. For one, I learned new things and was inspired by some awesome stories, but I also recently had my own breakthrough, accepting the fact I had partaken in intimate part er a use i a situatio ship . While I knew it was abuse, I had not looked at it fully for what it was due to the circumstances at the time.

O e thi g I’ e realized is e a share this information and our stories in books and online all we want, but until we are face to face with our readers/ listeners and providing the human element, allowing them to see we are more than our stories, other people o ’t grasp it. This is hy I tried to preserve as much of my features’ hara ter a d perso ality as possible. Again, I hope you all enjoy and thank you for all your continued support. As always, peace and blessings. From

Fancy w/ Love

COVER STORY: Niya Brown-Matthews: What Other Tasks Does God Have For Me?


EMPOWERMENT: Am I Being Abused?



Assess Your Risk


Natural Self Care for Anxiety & Depression


Role Reversal


Walking Through



Favored, Fearless & Fulfilling My Purpose!



How to Help a Friend Who Is Being Abused


Benefit Over BS Pain + Purpose= Profit, More Than Just a Story



GWO Is Everything Women Love

Wednesday Wonder Woman:Nailah Datcher



Leave and Go Where?

Wednesday Wonder Woman: Altovise Pelzer



Charlamagne Tha God Shares Literary Truths

Author Spotlight: Lisa Guice


Author Spotlight: Shonta L. Thomas


Wednesday Wonder Woman: Darlene Reese


Wednesday Wonder Woman: Jen Coppin Wednesday Wonder Woman: Iesha Bryant

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On the Grind Event Roundup


Healing One City at a Time


o matter what path you choose to take in life, there will always be obstacles. One of those obstacles is people. As sad as it is to sa , it s true. Some people will support you, some will pretend to support you, and others just flat out won't. That's absolutely ok. Really, it is. No matter what road you take, if you're good at it, you will get all the sa e uestio s. Ho did ou..? Ca I...? Of course, if you're naturally a good person, you will want to help everyone that crosses your path with a few questions. However, after the 10th person asks for help and doesn't take your ad i e, it s do ight e hausti g. So we've figured out a way to weed out the doers from the nosey people who only want to ride the bandwagon.

I've found if you ask yourself this simple question, you can pick through those people a lot faster. Is what they are bringing to you beneficial to your life and theirs, or is it simply bs? Not only can you apply this question to the revolving door of people that you are sure to cross paths with, you can actually apply this to different aspects of your life. I challenge you to ask yourself this for the next 30 days on any big decisions you may encounter.

Of course, charging them for your advice, knowledge, or resources is definitely a way to find out those that have goals and those that want you to GIVE them goals.Of course, charging them for your advice, knowledge, or resources is definitely a way to find out those that have goals and those that want you to GIVE them goals.


I guarantee that it will change your perspective on a lot of things. Peace. Love. And Happiness... he BS...

Bunnie Thebunniehole_mediagroup The Bunnie Hole


ailah Datcher is the owner or Royalty Escapes Travel Agency. She started Royalty Escapes Travel Agency on April 6, 2015, in honor of her late mother who loved traveling and dedicated herself to helping everyone explore the world. Travel

has been a passion of hers, and helping family and friends plan trips seemed to come natural to her. So she decided to invest in herself and her family, and that's how Royalty Escapes was born. Nailah wanted to not only help people, but also create a legacy and a family owned business that her son and grandkids could have forever. Her business partner and soon to be husband, Daryl, also works as an agent and handles much of the behind the scene sales, as well as serves as the o pa s main spokesperson/host at all of their e e ts. Nailah s son, Kweku Jr., is the accountant for the business and also assists with marketing ideas, as those were his fields of studies in undergrad and grad programs. Currently they have expanded to having three staff


members and will be hiring a few more agents this year but plan to remain a family oriented business; meaning whomever they hire will be just like family, which is important to this Wonder Woman. Royalty Escapes has a strong focus on customer service and follow through, along with finding top notch getaways at the best prices, and their clients appreciate them for that. They are very loyal. The business tells everyone that travel is affordable, if you plan for it. If you want it, we can make it happe . Royalty Escapes is not a multi-level marketing company nor are they a part of one. We are just a travel agency that books awesome memorable vacations for folks, says Nailah. Learn more about her and her brand below.

Fancy: How would you describe your swagher? What makes Nailah, Nailah?

Nailah: That s a good

uestio . I guess I would say that I like to e a e the fa t that I a u i ue person. I create my own lane when it comes to life and how I handle it. I gi e hate e I ested i a d have a passion for, my all. Even do to a e… Nailah ea s su essful . “o I desti ed fo it. The reality is I just try to be a better person than I was the day before, and I have a love for helpi g people. I elie e e e blessed to be a blessing to others, so I try to live by that principle.

Fancy: Obviously you and your mother were close. What was she like? Amazing would be an understatement. She was the most selfless, kindest, honest and loving pe so I e e e e ou te ed. “he is the reason why I am the mother and woman that I am. She was my best friend. She supported and pushed me to be the best me I could be. Her famous saying was ea h ou fullest pote tial. “he d sa that to us ea h o i g, and because of that, we all applied that principal to our day to day lives. “o your late other’s love of travel inspired you to start your company Royalty Escapes Travel Agency, but can you describe how the decision came about?


Nailah: I was actually looking to make some money on the side.

Meanwhile friends and family were asking me to help them plan their a atio s, so I figu ed, h ot get paid fo it? I a ted something different though. I wanted something legit, that I could build as my legacy, and have for my son and future grandkids for years and years down the line. I wanted to be the next major travel agency in the DMV and expand across the states. Something that I could build that no one could take from us.

sa e alues. He s that oi e he ou do t hea i e lol . I et hi when he was doing promotions at a club, so he naturally has been that person that promotes for the business. His personality allows him to be great at that. Everyone has thei o o t i utio to U“ being successful.

Fancy: What did you do prior to starting your travel agency?

Nialah: What makes us unique is that we actually travel. You would t elie e the a ou t of age ts out the e that do t.

Nailah: I actually still work full time outside of my agency. Not e ause I ha e to, ut e ause it s easy for me to do (lol). I like o e ; so if I a do oth, that s hat I goi g to do. It s a igge picture with me. Secure everything now, so we can be secure later in life.

Fancy: So you incorporated your son and fiancé into the business, making it a family business. How is that working for you all? Nailah: Perfectly. I believe that if we want to be successful then we need to have all hands on deck to i est i U“ . I elie e that if son went to college to get not only his Ba helo s ut Maste s i Finance and studied abroad learning international marketing, it would be utterly ridiculous to hire someone outside to oversee what would also be his future. Invest in your kids, so they can invest in, not only themselves, but also their family business. My fiancé is my partner in everything and has the 3

Fancy: What do you think makes your agency unique or what do you think it takes to run a successful travel agency?

We are travel agents who travel, and we do it so that we can give our clients accurate travel options, based on what we have actually see ou sel es. We do t Google places and blindly send people there based on pictures. Also, people want different- different a atio s, diffe e t e pe ie es… Different is the thing over here, and clients know it. I think the keys to having a successful agency are ho est , liste i g to ou lie ts needs, and accounta ilit . It s those three things that are so often forgotten but always desired and appreciated. We are honest and t a spa e t. All of ou es apes a e usto ized to fit the lie ts needs, and we are there with you f o sta t to fi ish. We do t pass the buck if something goes wrong; we fix it, and our clients appreciate that about us. Customer satisfaction is priority, because we want all of our clients to have a great experience, not just a great t ip. It s a sta t to fi ish p oje t with us.

Fancy: I also see you offer cosmetic surgery travel. What does that entail?

Nailah: We have a selected supplier to collaborate and offer top of the line cosmetic surgery options abroad. The prices are a fraction of what they usually charge in the states. We handle the travel accommodations, and they ha dle the su gi al aspe t of it. It s a great partnership, especially with the increase today of so many people traveling abroad for cosmetic surgery. The doctors are top notch, and the options available are vast. It s so ethi g for everyone.

Fancy: Soon it will be fall and winter. Do you have any spots or locations that you would recommend for these seasons? Nailah: We are big on islands over here. Aruba is one of my favorites with so much to do (plus it rarely gets hit ith hu i a es…I thi k the last one was in 2007) All-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico are a big hitter with my clients as well, you get more bang for your buck and can retreat from the cold to someplace warm. These are our major travel destinations during fall and winter. Fancy: Do you have any upcoming events or projects that you care to share?

Nailah: We do. Next year we have the following: ▪ ▪

Mothe s Da g oup uise leaving out of Baltimore. The Link Up 2.0- Cuba Edition, which is our major group event coming up e t Jul he e e ll e heading to Cuba on a cruise.

We will also be adopting families for the holidays, as we have done every year since being in business. We are big on giving back, and we have done a give back activity on every group trip we have hosted as well. For the past two years, it was Jamaica.

Connect with Nailah below. RoyaltyEscapesTravelAgency/ RoyaltyEscapesTravelAgency_/ RoyaltyEscapes


What Is Domestic Violence? Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior or coercive control in any relationship that is used by one person to gain or maintain power and control over another. Domestic violence and emotional abuse are behaviors used by one person in a relationship to control the other. Domestic violence does not look the same in every relationship. But one thing most abusive relationships have in common is that the abusive partner does many things to gain power and control over their partners.

Examples of abuse include: ▪ ▪ ▪

Name-calling or putdown Keeping a partner from contacting their family or friends Withholding money

Stopping a partner from getting or keeping a job ▪ Actual or threatened physical harm ▪ Sexual assault ▪ Stalking ▪ Intimidation Violence can be criminal and includes physical assault (hitting, pushing, shoving, etc.), sexual abuse (unwanted or forced sexual activity), and stalking. Although emotional, psychological, and financial abuse are not criminal behaviors, they are forms of abuse and can lead to criminal violence. The violence takes many forms and can happen all the time or once in a while. An important step to help yourself or someone you know in preventing or stopping violence is recognizing the warning signs

ANYONE CAN BE A VICTIM! Victims can be of any age, sex, race, culture, religion, education, employment or marital status. Although both men and women can be abused, most victims are women. Children in homes where there is domestic violence are more likely to be abused and/or neglected. Most children in these homes know about the violence. Even if a child is not


physically harmed, they may have emotional and behavior problems.

If you are being abused, REMEMBER... You are not alone. It is not your fault. Help is available.

DO YOU THINK YOU ARE BEING ABUSED? Look over the following questions. Think about how you are being treated and how you treat your partner. Remember, when one person scares, hurts, or continually puts down the other person, it is abuse.

Does your part er‌ Embarrass or make fun of you in front of your friends or family? Put down your accomplishments or goals? Make you feel like you are unable to make decisions? Use intimidation or threats to gain compliance? Tell you that you are nothing without them? Treat you roughly-grab, push, pinch, shove or hit you? Threaten or abuse your pets? Call you several times a night or show up to make sure you are where you said you would be? Use drugs or alcohol as an excuse for saying hurtful things or abusing you? Blame you for how they feel or act? Pressure you sexually for things you aren't ready for? Make you feel like there "is no way out'' of the relationship? Prevent you from doing things you want-like spending time with your friends or family? Try to keep you from leaving after a fight, or leave you somewhere after a fight to "teach you a lesson?"

Do You...

Sometimes feel scared of how your partner will act? Constantly make excuses to other people for your partner's behavior? Believe that you can help your partner change if only you changed something about yourself? Try not to do anything that would cause conflict or make your partner angry? Feel like no matter what you do, your partner is never happy with you? Always do what your partner wants you to do instead of what you want? Stay with your partner because you are afraid of what your partner would do if you broke up?

If any of these situations are happening in your relationship, talk to someone you trust or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (available 24/7/365):

1-800-799-7233 (SAFE). Without help, the abuse will continue.




Altovise Pelzer is a best-selling author, professional speaker, podcaster, VIP Live Streamer, life coach and founder of the online Your Voice and Reactivate Me Communities. At her core, she is a mom of four, and she has been known to break out into impromptu dance parties or karaoke moments with her three girls or watch movies with her son. Ho eless ess a d olestatio g eatl affe ted Alto ise s de isio to oti ate women and youth to find their unique voice. She takes women from abuse to applause by equipping them to Define, Accept, and Use their Unique Voice as a speaker or author. After abuse, women go through numerous self harming actions that start with a seed of low self esteem. Through e-courses, live events, books, and social media, Altovise wants to touch and transform the lives of women globally one woman at a time. Learn more about the Philadelphia transplant and Wednesday Wonder Woman below.

Fancy: How would you describe your swagher? What makes Altovise, Altovise?

Altovise: What makes me, me? I would have to say that it is a mesh of the good, bad, and ugly things that I have endured in my life. Most would have given up, but I made a commitment to myself to use it as fuel. That pretty much sums up the unicorn that many have come to know and love. That being said, I love empowering other women to have that same feeling in their own life. Oh, don't believe me? I am that mom that will have random conversations with my teens in different languages when they have a snow day. I'm the one

that says "let's go jump in puddles", and my nieces, nephews, and children will follow suit. I've lived enough of my life to appease the spectators. Now it's about me and the legacy I will leave behind.

Fancy: What inspired you to start coaching?

Altovise: It started with a conversation, a very awkward conversation where I told my oldest daughter that I had been molested as a child. Why was it so awkward? I had never told a soul, even after finding out that my girls were molested. Yup, two females crying ..........typical scene right? Yet this sparked something beyond what I could ever imagine. Later when I asked


my daughter what her most proud moment of me was, her response floored me. She said she was proud of me telling her that I had been molested as well. Now she felt that she was not alone. Wow, right? So if telling my story could empower her in that way, what would it do for other women? Here is the thing though, I'm an introvert. So, speaking on stages during live events, being in huge crowds, and showing up in places of unknown people did not thrill me at all, lol! So it was definitely not a moment when I was ready to leap, but as soon as I did, I saw that the conversation between me and my daughter was a starting line to something greater.

Fancy: I love your tagline

Taki g Wo e fro A use to Applause , ut hat does that consist of?

Altovise: Women that have gone through abuse often find themselves people pleasing and not having high self-esteem. A number of them have a story that they want to share, a business they want to start or even just a move they want to make, but they need assistance with their mindset, mission, and money. There is a different mindset that women who have gone through abuse must overcome on their way to success. Learning to be your own cheerleader is a part of that, because they trust very few people. Through classes, e-courses, books, live events and mastermind groups, I am able to help them hone in on a niche idea, strategy, and give support as they launch. Some write books, others become speakers, but they each walk in their own place of applause. That is also why I keep my classes small, so each person gets access to exactly what they need for success.

Fancy: Please share a little about online communities Your Voice & Reactivate Me.

Altovise: The #yourvoice Community is a free Facebook group where people have the opportunity to share what they do, network, and find out some

new things for their business. Men and women from across the globe come together to have discussions. The #Reactivateme Community is a virtual membership for entrepreneurs to network and grow. We meet every Saturday morning with a tip or resource for your business, live Q & A, and the opportunity to just share what is going on in their business. Two years and counting, this platform has given entrepreneurs on varying levels the space to say "I am confused as heck!" Lol! Let's be honest, with all the bad publicity attached to coaching, having a safe place to just talk it out feels great. We don't always need a "new class" or a "new webinar" to be successful. Often times we have collected tons of information (your laptop would most likely curse you out if you add one more tip sheet or webinar) that we have not implemented in our business. Information overload is very real, and with the odds stacked against the world of entrepreneurship.....heck, we need a locker room to talk about what is happening on the field.

Fancy: What topics do you typically speak on? Altovise: I speak on women's empowerment, abuse, entrepreneurship, and book writing. I've done speeches and interviews talking about my own personal journey, as well as my journey in business. Hey, let's call 10

a spade a spade.......most people want to know how a single mother can start a business, sustain a business, and expand a business without getting a hug me jacket each week. It is definitely not an easy task, and many have tried and been unsuccessful. That is one of the reasons I remain transparent about what I do, right or wrong. No Airbnb rentals here baby! I have enough on my plate with musicals, concerts, school events, parent meetings.......and that is just the schedule for my teens. Add in the speaking events, books, classes, and squeezing in some time to be a beautiful woman, and you can see how content is never lacking. Being able to pull topics from my life also allows me to encourage myself. I can honestly say that there have been many times where I came out the fire not even smelling like smoke.

Fancy: What are some tips that you would give women struggling with low self esteem?

Altovise: The thing with low self-esteem is that there are many more dealing with it than you know. Many hide behind whatever mask they feel comfortable in, which is why I would say that the first step would be being honest about where the low self-esteem is coming from. We can mask it however we like, but choosing to push forward means I have to deal with it head-on. That would include having some difficult

conversations with yourself and your circle. Not always the easiest thing to do, but by doing so you open yourself up to a world of opportunities.

Year of Yes - Shonda Rhimes You are a Badass - Jen Sincero The 5 Second Rule - Mel Robbins Jump - Steve Harvey The Big Leap - Gay Hendricks

Fancy: Are there any books


Community to 10 women who are ready to move from the idea phase in your business. We meet once a month virtually to create a monthly action plan and strategy to build your business. You also get access to a weekly accountability call along with other bonuses to aid in your success.

that you would recommend for such?

Do you have any upcoming events or projects that you care to share?

Altovise: I am a bookaholic so I will restrain myself and only suggest five! Lol!

Altovise: I'm glad you asked. I'm currently opening the doors of my Get Amplified Mastermind

Ideas have a short shelf life; act on them before the expiration date.

-John C. Maxwell

I almost didn't launch this mastermind. I know crazy, right? Well, I had the idea a whole year before I actually launched it. What stopped me? Like, most of you, I got in my own way. I questioned the validity of my dreams and goals because of the ideas like:

Am I good enough? Do I have enough information? What I had to understand was that there was someone who needed me just like there is someone who needs you. The wisdom and experience you have is like no one else's and can change someone's legacy. You have a superpower that is needed.

It's an overcrowded market. No one is going to listen to me.

Follow and connect with Altovise below.

@findyourvoicenow |






and Be Great Now Maven but prides herself on her ability to help others breakthrough what has held them back from reaching their highest potential and purpose. In 2015, she launched Lisa Guice Global-Vision, LLC a transformational coaching company that focuses on bold success through self-realization which connects personal elevation and business achievement. Lisa has received awards as an outstanding leader of women which led to her becoming the program coordinator of the mentoring p og a at o e of A izo a s top o e s fou datio s. She has been featured in several national publications to include the Huffi gto Post a d Fo es . He dynamic work landed her an invite to become a business coach for the prestigious Forbes Coaches Council. Lisa Gui e is A e i a s u e o e “elf ‘elatio ship E pe t™, speaker and G eat ess “t ategist ho pa t e s ith CEO s, e t ep e eu s a d those looking for personal and professional next-level breakthroughs. After uncovering the true power that self- elief has o a i di idual s success outcome, Lisa embarked on a journey to live out her true passion of uplifting others and teaching them how to solidify a positive relationship with the most valuable person there is, YOU. Understanding that how we feel about ourselves will continue to be the basis of what we attract to us, feel we deserve and propel or stunt our success, she developed empowering workshops and business programs teaching women how to walk into, leverage and monetize their greatness power. Lisa studied business, earned certifications in human management, seminars and presentations. She has become an Empowerment Specialist


Lisa is committed to helping those with the desire to be bold and live their greatness out loud. She provides training and a road map for the willing by guiding, empowering and elevating them to their God given purpose. Lisa s pe so al a t a is Walki g i your greatness is your obligation, not your option™. Lea o e about our author spotlight below.

Fancy: How would you describe your swagher? What makes Lisa, Lisa?

Lisa: I would describe my swagher as purposed and powered. I am very clear on what my purpose is, and I am totally tapped into my personal power. What makes Lisa, Lisa, is my undeniable ability to pull the positive out of any situation and leverage the lesson to propel my pu pose. I e heard and seen enough to know that success does t just sho up o ou doo step. You are going to have to cheer for it, fight for it, and most of all work for it.

Fancy: How did you discover the connection between self belief and success?

Lisa: I discovered the connection between self-belief and success when I realized that my own lack of success was wholeheartedly due to my lack of belief in myself and my capabilities. The more I centered on my personal development, the more I began to understand that the lack of self-belief is a form of hiding, and when you are hiding, su ess a d o e a t possi l find you. Once I made the shift of investing in what was needed for self-belief to occur, I saw an immediate elevation in my life and my overall success.

Fancy: So tell us a little about Lisa Guice Global-Vision, LLC and what inspired it?

Lisa: Lisa Guice Global-Vision, LLC is a transformational company that focuses on creating a synergized

ele atio et ee o e s personal and business success. It was inspired by the revelation that there was a deep-rooted reason women were not showing up and walking in their greatness. The mission at Lisa Guice Global-Vision, LLC is that women show up boldly in the world ready to live out their dreams and create a legacy that they can live out loud.

Fancy: Having read that in your youth your ho e life as ’t the est, I’ urious to k o ho you may have handled any negativity surrounding your decision to study transpersonal psychology. Lisa: My way of dealing with all negativity is through prayer and keeping my focus on the end goal.

Fancy: Outside of believing in yourself, what else do you think has made your coaching business successful? Lisa: My coaching business has been able to flourish, because each and every program created is geared towards building and ide tif i g a i di idual s i e power and teaching them how to leverage it for their profit. Fancy: How would you describe your ideal client?

Lisa: My ideal clients are women who still believe there is a part of thei pu pose that the ha e t full tapped into- women who know and desire more and who are willing to release whatever is holding them back so that they can go after it.


Fancy: Now you also have your ook, You’re Just a Quote A ay Fro Your Great ess . While I’d like to know more about the book, I’d also like to k o ore a out the title as well.

Lisa: My book was written by my othe s edside as she fought breast cancer. As you can imagine, that had a profound effect on me. I am always looking for the lesson in every situation, and in this fight I learned what I deem as my most valuable lesson to date. Time is a commodity, and we should no longer allow obstacles to stand in the way of our purpose and dreams. The ook s title as i thed f o that revelation. In the book, quotes are used to shift your thinking and fuel your action. However, by the end of the book the word quote is used as an uncovered tool to reveal where you were, where you are, and where you are going, thus propelling you into your greatness.


I love your mantra "Walking in your greatness is your o ligatio , ot your optio ™ . Where did it come from, and why is it so important to you?

Lisa: My mantra came to me as a download from God as I entered the chemotherapy ward with my mother. I saw every person in there fighting for another day to pursue their dreams. In that moment, I knew that I, like many, had taken my gifts and talents for granted and played small in the world. I was faced with the reality that we all make the decision of walking in our greatness or not. So after what I was witnessing, it was no longer my option, I was now obligated to walk

i g eat ess. Walki g i ou greatness is your obligation, not ou optio .


What books are you currently reading?

Lisa: I am

u e tl eadi g Take Hold of You D ea s. I ead this book once a quarter as a reminder of my power and destiny.


What’s o e fu about you?

fa t

Lisa: One fun fact about me is that I am a secret comedian. Jokes just tend to roll of my tongue.


Do you have any upcoming events or projects that you care to share?

Lisa: I ha e up o i g “he s a EMPI‘E™ e e t o O to e 13th. This event is geared to teach women how to LEAP, LAUNCH and create a LEGACY. I am so passionate about this event, because it shows

women how to build their empire from the inside out. It is my desire to tour different cities with this event, so if any business women in other cities would like to olla o ate let s hat. M e t p oje t is ook Do t Just LEAP, Girl LAUNCH a d LEAP to Your Next-Le el o k ook. Both projects have me on fire, because they are going to provide the one component that most say they are issi g hi h is the Ho To .

Connect with Lisa below.





omestic violence defined, is abuse by one person against another in a domestic setting, such as marriage or being a partner in a intimate relationship. Normally the victim in this type of situation is of the female gender. With that being said, it's also important to note domestic violence doesn't discriminate. People from any gender, age, race, religion, or sexual orientation can be a victim. Violent acts occur when the abuser feels a sense of entitlement, and they use domestic violence as a tool to assume control of the relationship. This is where the physical abuse starts to gradually take place. If the victim shows resistance to what the abuser wants to implement in reference to having control over the relationship, then more physical abuse may take place. The degradation used can be violent acts such as slapping, punching, kicking, and choking. When a victim is overwhelmed, and overpowered on a consistent basis, the feeling of fear and being intimidated sets in. At this point, the abuser has cemented the role of power of attorney. When an abuser slides into the self proclaimed position, they assume the authoritative stance of controlling what transpires in the relationship.

They execute this by making decisions on behalf of their spouse or relationship partner. For example dictating who your partner sees and talks to, monitoring when your partner can leave the house, and where they can go, are examples of the abuser claiming the power of attorney role. Intimidation is a key ingredient an abuser inserts to gain power and control of the relationship. The abuser will do whatever it takes to make their partner afraid of them. The abuser will use hard stares, hitting walls, destroying the victim's property, and displaying weapons. Threats are also a valid component of the intimidation factor. If an abuser slaps a victim on more than one occasion, during the next confrontation, the victim may immediately cooperate due to the threat of possibly being slapped again. The goal of an abuser is to have complete power and control of their spouse or partner. Emotional abuse is another key ingredient the abuser sprinkles on the relationship. The strategy for an abuser when it comes to emotional abuse is the fact of creating self doubt within the victim. If the abuser can 19

successfully create a lack of confidence, discouragement, and a sense of hopelessness, they have a better chance of obtaining the domineering role. Calling the victim names, putting them down, playing mind games, and humiliation, are tactics used when implementing emotional abuse. As it was previously stated, domestic violence doesn't discriminate, even if you're of the male gender. On average, men account for 25 percent of domestic abuse victims. It is a less-told story due to the fact the male is the victim. When the subject of domestic violence comes up, the immediate response would be a woman is the victim. The statistics on the subject support the reason why a person would automatically assume a woman is the victim. Male victims are no different than female victims. They deal with things such as fear, lack of confidence, and anxiety. Women abusers are very capable of using physical abuse against their male victims. Normally they deliver pain with the assistance of a weapon, such as a broomstick or

some type of domestic item lying around the house. They also use the tactic of attacking the man while he's sleeping or in a state of relaxation. Men are in a compromising position when they are the victims of domestic abuse. While being victimized, the natural thought would be for the man to fight back. After all, he is a man. The only problem with that is, if you fight back and the police are called to the scene, the female traditionally receives the benefit of the doubt. If a man is being assaulted by a woman, and he calls the police, he is often ridiculed. To some, a man calling the police on a woman makes him less of a man in their eyes. It also may seem amusing to some people that a man would need to call the police on a woman. A popular way a woman implement the power and control factor is from the economic standpoint. If the woman makes more money than the man, she can use it against him as a form of control and humiliation. She can

also achieve this goal by using verbal abuse and threats. The threat of making false allegations to get you fired from your job, or the threat of her preventing you from seeing your kids are affecting ways for woman abusers to achieve their goals. It may look a little different, but women abusers are very capable of gaining power and control in a relationship. They are also capable of utilizing all the elements of abuse.

attended Purdue University. While working as a Sports Recruiter, Vince D W ite ote a how to guide that explain the recruiting process in reference to obtain an athletic scholarship. Developing a passion for writing, Vince D W ite t a sitio ed to urban fiction.

Domestic abuse in general is a serious topic. Male victims are a subject that isn't mentioned on a consistent basis. Many men don't report being a victim of domestic violence because they feel embarrassed. For the male victims who decide to report the abuse, they are placed in a delicate situation, due to the fact men who report domestic violence may face social stigma. About Urban Fiction Author Vince D W ite : Vince D W ite as o a d aised in New Orleans, Louisiana. He






iya Brown- Matthews is a certified life coach, bestselling author, the radio hostess of “oulfood “essio s ith Niya , a d t o-time breast cancer survivor. We first featured Niya in our Pink & Purple Survivors issue Volume I three years ago. Her campaign to show that she was fighting back against cancer, Too Fabulous For Cancer, was depicted by photos of her in pink boxing gloves, which I thought was cute and eye catching, but later when we reached out to her and her

husband, retired Super Bowl champion Eric Matthews, I was genuinely touched by her spirit.

Fancy: How would you describe

know, and practice all the different components found in order to be authe ti . “o that s fo of swag.

your swagher? What makes Niya, Niya?

Niya: It would be my authenticity and my love to change the world one woman at a time. I just say that because, you know, women empowerment is the core of which I am, and to do that, you must be authentic. You have to love, you

As the country girl still fairly new to Atla ta, I ad i ed Ni a s beauty and authenticity. I was not quite sure what someone who had beat cancer twice was supposed to look like, but upon meeting her and Eric at our Kings & Queen Niya Black Love forum, which they participated in, Niya looked like a classy boss, the type of woman who is nice and polite to everyone

Fancy: Now we are going to discuss your breast cancer story, but I wanted to get a sense of who you were and what you did before your past diagnosis. So before you embarked on your current


but also direct and to the point. Her swagher commanded respect, but she was also friendly and inviting. I recall admiring their marriage as she playfully scolded Eric when she realized he was eating too many cookies, and they were supposed to be on a certain diet. Yet, so much has transpired since then as she has added on several other hats. Therefore we wanted to go back and revisit her sto , hile also seei g hat s e with the Boss Lady.

ventures, you were in corporate America, correct?

Niya: I am retired real estate. I did that for almost 29 years, and I had a Section 8 firm. That firm was like a one- stop shop for investors, who would buy properties and needed somebody to help them manage, needed somebody to do the rehab, or needed to place a tenant. Because I worked for HUD for 10


years, I had the background and the relationships, so I decided to start a firm. I had the staff, maintenance, leasing agents, and a call center, and I am proud to say that was very successful until I decided that was not my passion anymore, and so I decided to move on.

Fancy: Would you say your

work. I pushed through the whole cancer while working until I ould t o k a o e, hi h ga e the so e t pe of, o , if she a do that so a I thoughts.

streamline what I am saying. Now you have it in paper form or book form to help you navigate through the challenges or whatever you are looking for.

Fancy: If you had to choose

Fancy: So now totally shifting to

between life coaching, being an author, and being a radio hostess, which do you like the most?

Niya: The first time I was super

previous experience and skills contribute to any of the things you are doing today, or that they prepared you in any way for what you now do, or would you even say that your breast cancer battle prepared you any? ould sa es to the eal estate, because when you are dealing with low-income families, a lot of times I was put in front of a lot of young women and mothers who wanted a way out but needed the encouraging words to help them. They needed somebody to help them or give them a resource to be a better version of themselves. And a lot of the times when you are low-income, you are surrounded day to day with the same old rigmarole, and when they would come into my contact, I would find myself coaching them, not realizing I would one day be a life coach. I saw myself inspiring them to be greater, and it worked hand in hand. With the breast cancer that worked too, because that was just an obstacle. When you are dealing with women who have other obstacles like divorce, or the death of a parent, or the loss of a loved one, or losing a job, those are obstacles. So I was even able to help them cope with that, because they saw me able to still

gears, let’s talk a out your reast cancer experiences

Niya: I

Niya: Life coach is probably– if I can be honest, I think I was a life coach before I knew I was a life oa h. That s a title, ight? That s a title that they give you. You have to get the credentials in order to be a le to do that, ut I e also sa people come to me for advice, ways to strategize, and ways to empower. It was a natural niche. They felt comfortable around me. I always gained their trust, so they would always just tell me all their business, not that I ask for it, but they felt comfortable enough to do that. So naturally, I would first say life coaching, and then author would be second, only because my self-help books- they kind of help 25

young. I had just moved to Atlanta with my two-year old daughter, and I was at the top of my game, or so I thought. Eight or nine months earlier, I had just lost my father to Lupus. So coming to Atlanta was kind of like a break away from my dad, a d I as a dadd s gi l. “o I ould t u de sta d h God would give me such a challenge, knowing my heart was broken, and I was still grieving over losing my dad. I e e e it ei g u … just it ei g o e of those thi gs… I did t k o a o e ith east a e . It did t u i fa il at that time, so I felt alone. I was mad, isolated, hurt, and depressed. I probably experienced every emotion.

Even when I went to hospital, it looked like I as o the set of The Golde Gi ls , e ause o od i that waiting room looked like me. That was super tough for me, and I have a church background/foundation, but I was even upset- and I am being honest and very candid, but I was even upset wondering why God would gi e e su h a task. I e hea d the li hé God gi es his st o gest soldie s the ha dest tasks , ut I did t u de sta d. “o I as still trying to figure out why me, because I had did my best. I had given to the world. I paid my tithes. I do community services. You know, why me? And then he said, Wh ot ou? It s goi g to e bigger than what you naturally see with your eyes right now, but you ill get it late . A d that is ho e and my God talk. That is what he said in my spirit. So the second time it came around, I had a husband by then, and my faith was stronger. But what came out of that second journey was my book, and it pushed me into where I am currently in my life.

Fancy: I know you are a faithbased woman, so how did you overcome that anger, because I know we all have been hit with

something that we were not expecting or something that causes us to battle with our faith. How did you overcome that?

Niya: Oh absolutely! It goes to show or reflect how deep you are in your faith. We all go through challenges, day in and day out, but I knew within the pit of my belly that I would get over it and persevere. But I was in my emotions at this point, right? And of course that is natural- I i atu al hu a e otio s of God h e? , a d hat He e ealed to me- that dealt ith p a i g, that s ith fasti g, that s ith goi g to hu h, that s ith ha i g support of my fellow church members and my mom and sisters. They just had to keep reminding e that God has ot fo gotte a out ou . “o it is e i pe ati e to have people in your ear gauge, (who are) still giving you the word, still giving you the scriptures and giving you the prayers needed to push through. The second time, not so u h, I did t eed that as much, because again he had already planted that thing, and that is why I was able to acknowledge why I was going through what I was going through, but my faith did t ai e the second time around. I was ready to knock this thing out, and what that did was I ended encouraging those around me and their faith, because they saw my strength.


Fancy: “o you

ere ’t arried the first time you were diagnosed. Correct?

Niya: I as t. It as just daughter and me. I had just moved to ATL, a d I did t k o a od with it (breast cancer . I did t ha e a husband, so I felt alone. Moving to a city, where you know no one- I ea , I did t ha e a o e; it as just me and my kid, so moving here was already a walk by faith and not by sight sort of thing. I just heard that Atlanta was the place to be. And that was in stage two, after that, that was when my family started to come out about having cancer, and I have buried 13 family members since my first diagnosiseven my sister had breast cancer. Fancy: Wait; just to make certain I understand you correctly, you were not aware of anyone else in your family having breast cancer until you were diagnosed?

Niya: Well what happened was a lot of my family members are older, and you know how some older people are. So they had it, a d the did t go to the do to , a d the did t k o hat it as until it was stage 3 and stage 4. Plus the way we grew up in my family, it was always mom, dad, a d the gi ls. The Hu ta les is what people used to call us. We were very private. We handled our matters privately with in our household. Even when someone as si k i fa il , e did t discuss the issue. So when I came out with it, my family members sta ted sa i g, ell ou k o your u le so a d so has it , o ou

k o ou au t so a d so has it , and things like that. So what happened was everybody started coming out, reaching out and sa i g, ell Ni a ou k o … , a d I as like eall ? Ou fa il is ki d of weird like that, but by that time it was too late. So I literally buried fa il e e s. No it s diffe e t fo s of a e ; I breast cancer. My uncle had colon cancer, pancreatic cancer. It was all types of cancer, and my grandmother had three sets of twins. They are all dead except of two, and it was some form of cancer. So that gene runs in our family, you know. If I get it again, it is what it is, but I am much stronger to deal with it now, probably more than ever.

Fancy: So what course of treatments did you seek?

Niya: It was radiation and chemotherapy my first round. Then the second round, it was radiation, and my sister-she had it as well. She had it at 31, and we all did the gene test, and clearly we all carried the gene for it. Therefore in my case, it went from my left breast to my right breast, and I ended up getting a lumpectomy the first time and a mastectomy the second ti e. I ha e a e set. I g eat! I love them, and my husband loves them. So it is what it is. When I was diagnosed the second ti e, I did t e e tell hi I had it. I did t e e tell daughte I had it. I went to the doctor for my regular checkup-you know I do it quarterly. I went there, and they told me what happened, what they saw. I was like you have got to be

kidding me. I held on to that thing for about 60 days. I went to a treatment. I came back to my office. I passed out, and my staff ould t figu e out hat as o g with me, and then I had to tell my husband that in return. And the reason why I did that- I e do e interviews about this- ut it as t that I was trying to hide it, but I k o ho st o g I a . A d that s ot to sa hus a d as t (strong), but sometimes when you tell your loved ones something that se ious, the a t al a s ha dle it. Then their emotional mindset will kind of take me to a different place; because they are gonna treat me different. They are going to be in their emotions around me, and I needed nothing but strength around me the second time around. He was clearly upset at the fa t that I did t sha e it he I first got the news, but I told him why, and he understood, but clearly he was still upset, and clearly he cried, and I cried. But then what he decided to do was activate his faith even more than I eeded. I did t eed a eak links around me to remind me of what I was going through at that time.

Fancy: You just said a mouthful

right there. Ma y people do ’t think about what the after affects will be once they share something like that ith so eo e. “o I do ’t thi k I’ e e er heard a yo e say that is how they responded to the situation initially, but with your reasoning behind it, it makes a lot of sense. I think that it may also- I do ’t a t to say i spire others to take that route, but at least they will be more aware. 27

Niya: Right, because you want them to be strong for you, but sometimes- a d ou k o this… People have always identified me as boss lady. From a little girl until o , I e ee that, a d hat that title means is they expect to you to be strong at all cost. To me, not being that was showing a sign of weakness. So I pushed and persevered through a lot of challenges, not just cancer. My husband looked at me as well; because he said that was one of the attributes he noticed when he met me, he said I was so strong. So that sticks with you. It sticks with you in a good way and sometimes in a bad way, because great responsibility comes with that, and do t ou da e e e sho eak ess. The a t ha dle it, because the e e e see ou i that light of being weak. There are p os a d o s, a d I do t k o any other way to be but that, or at least ot at that ti e, I did t. “o I kind of held on to that, because that is what they expected out of me, just to be strong. Fancy: So what tips or advice would you share with spouses and other family members to better support their loved ones who may be battling cancer?

Niya: To be their-whatever that person is fighting is going through, whatever they ask of you to do, to abide by that. If a person says, e e da I do t a t to e reminded of what I am dealing ith , the do t do that. If the sa , I a t to sit i the oo to ight o i the oo all da , let them do that. Let them have

that o e t. I ot sa i g let them stay there, but just respect what they are going through. Because when your body has chemical drugs in it, and you are going through foreign types of fo eig p a ti es, it s a lot that ou take on your mental and psyche and all of that. A person a t tell so eo e that s going through that, how to act and how to be. Just respect where they are, their space, and if they need something they will tell you, but just in all essence whatever they ask of you, just do and be just that a d do t dare try to do and be your own way, because again you do t k o hat the a e goi g through mentally.

Fancy: I think that is great advice, because it aligns with what you e tio ed efore; e do ’t always know how people will handle things, and sometimes people can turn the situation around and make it about them without even being aware, thus bringing the individual down mentally or emotionally.

Niya: Yes, I see that! People want to talk about it all the time. Nobody wants to hear that. Now I can only attest to my situation, being in support groups now and mentoring others; nobody wants to be reminded. You see it in the mirror; your body is going through the changes, the last thing you want to do is hear about it day in and day out. All I can say is we just want to be as normal as possible.

Fancy: Do you ever have a moment when you want to say you are more than your previous diagnosis?

Niya: Yes, because it puts you

a k i a da k pla e. That s h I e e took pi tu es. That s h I never publicly even discussed it for years. It just took me back to the dark place where I once was. This is a person who- I oss lad ! I as at the top of my game; I was shaking and moving, making power moves and then wham – I hit ith so ethi g like this. I reminded in the mirror. What I did was, I flipped the script. I went to

treatment- this was before they even called them units, because they called them wigs back, but I wore wigs, eyelashes, and stuff back then, and I did that for the entire treatment. I went into the cancer center looking good, because if you look, you feel good e tall . That s ho I as. That s ho I a ied self. That s hat helped e, e ause I did t a t to be reminded of what I was going through. No I a o l sa this; I do t eat it in the ground and dwell on what I e ee th ough. I look at hat I do have and why I am still here. I ask What othe tasks does God ha e fo e? , a d I fo us o that. You a at h Ni a s adio sho Soulfood Sessions with Niya on Hot Noize Radio every Sunday at 12 pm est. The next Soulfood Session with Niya Retreat is scheduled for February 8-10th 2019.

Also feel free to connect with her below. Personal: @niyabrownmatthews | Business: @soulfoodsessionswithniya



degree in forensic psychology, a second in community counseling, a d a a helo s deg ee in criminal justice. Shonta has a background in logistics, security, investigation, mental and behavioral health, crisis intervention, training, mentorship and sexual assault advocacy.


honta L. Thomas was born and raised in Jacksonville, FL, and currently resides in the Atlanta metro area with her two children (1 and 17- years old). Shonta is a National Certified Counselor (NCC), Licensed Associate Professional Counselor (LAPC), author, poet, 10 year navy veteran, disabled veteran, breast cancer survivor and sexual assault survivor. Shonta is currently a doctoral candidate, pursuing her Doctoral Degree in Counseling Ps holog , holds a aste s

Shonta has been writing for years and absolutely enjoys creatively formatting words into stories, whether long or sho t. “ho ta s fi st ook titled Matters of the Mind: Life Edition is a compilation poetry book with poems that are focused on various, real life situations. Matters of the Mind: Life Edition was published in July 2018 and is available through Amazon and Barnes and Nobles. Shonta will release her 2nd published book titled The Strength to Leave: Identifying, Accepting and Walking Away from Red Flag Behaviors and Situations in your Relationship which is a self-help book for women. Shonta is very passionate about the awareness and prevention of domestic violence and seeks to help and inspire women to leave unhealthy relationships. While domestic violence is not limited to women, 30

Shonta hopes to encourage anyone that is in an unhealthy, volatile relationship to leave. Shonta will be releasing several other books, including a second poetry book titled Matters of the Mind: Love Edition and four childre s ooks i the near future. Shonta is very passionate about our youth and their overall physical and mental health. “ho ta s passio is hat motivated her to start her nonprofit organization, Hustle and Grow Youth Development Center, which focuses on childhood obesity and mental health and promotes positive and healthy mental and physical fitness and awareness. Shonta believes that the future of our children starts now and with instruction, guidance, examples, and understanding, they can learn healthy dietary patterns that they can carry with them into adulthood in an attempt to prevent adult obesity.

: How would you describe your swagher? What makes Shonta, Shonta?

: What makes Shonta, “ho ta…..that is a great question. My personality, my drive, my dedication, motivation, my nonstop mind, my thoughts, determination, outspoken and upfront demeanor, my desire to learn and work to get all that I want. My ability and desire to help others because I love seeing other people win. My understanding of how patience is all a part of the process, and how my ability to follow the lead of those before me has prepared me to be an amazing leader. My realness, openness and just knowing that nothing is perfect nor is there ever a perfect time to do what you want. I like to step out and take chances, and I understand that I o t al a s i e e thi g, ut I do k o that the e is t a thi g that I i apa le of winning or getting if I give my all to obtain it. Not even the sky is the limit, and we are our own distractions. So I no longer stand in my own way, and instead I am pa i g the a fo othe s…… : First, I must ask, how do you find the time to wear so many hats? : Ho estl , I do t e e know, lol. I just find a way to make time for all the things that I really and truly want to accomplish, and then I do what is needed to get it done. : What sparked your interest in counseling?

: What sparked my interest in counseling honestly is that I always found myself listening and talking to others about things they were going through, and I made it a point to ensure that there was some sort of resolution to what they were dealing with within a certain timeframe. Along ith that, I a talke , so I found myself literally up at 1, 2 am listening and talking to friends on FB IM (Facebook Instant Messge) about their problems. So in that moment, I decided maybe this is something that I need to be doing professionally, because I was actually good at it.

: What inspired your first book Matters of the Mind: Life Edition? : The inspiration behind my first book was really me wanting to accomplish something that I e ee a ti g to do fo years. However, somewhere along the way of wanting to complete this book I got sidetracked and just stopped writing. But last year around this time, I started writing again and decided that I was going to make it happen, and I did. I connected with a young lady that is just amazing at what she does and she made my dream come true. So, I compiled specific poems that I had written and decided that since they focused on situations that people experience in their day to day life, that it would be awesome to put it all on paper. But along with wanting to write this book, I wanted the readers that could relate to my poems to be able to process them and reflect, and also just to be able to communicate their thoughts when they read it. 31

Even if they have not experienced anything presented in the book, they are still able to process their thoughts on it.

: When do you anticipate releasing your second book, The Strength to Leave: Identifying, Accepting and Walking Away from Red Flag Behaviors and Situations in your Relationship, and was it inspired by your own domestic violence experience? : I plan to release my next book before the end of the year. This book was actually inspired by my relationship with so s fathe . That elatio ship involved a lot of verbal abuse, threats, harassment, cyberbullying, and a controlling/possessive environment which resulted in me obtaining a protective order. Along with that, I hear too often about women who are losing their lives by men that they are or were in intimate relationships with. A lot of these women have reached out to the court system and have taken steps to leave but still end up being i ju ed o killed. It s just eall sad, and I believe that sometimes we stay too long even after seeing that first red flag. So, I felt that it was really important to do something that can help other women who may find themselves in these situations. : If you do ’t i d sharing, how did you escape your relationship? : My relationship with so s fathe as a atte of breaking up and getting a protective order in place in order for him to leave me alone. And

even then, I would still receive calls from random numbers and get reports of him reaching out to my Facebook friends in an attempt to slander my name and just try to embarrass and shame me. The great thing in my situation is that we live in different states, so that eliminated some things once I was able to get the legal system involved. Looking back, I have to say that the break up appeared to e utual ut the that s he he got worse.

: You have also beat breast cancer; do you mind telling us more about that?

: Of course. I had this lump in my right breast for years. I continued doing my regular checkups, and in 2007 when I was stationed in Manama, Bahrain, I had a biopsy done that came back normal. In 2013, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer which prompted me to get my lump checked out again, and in October 2014, I had it removed. That lump had cancerous cells, and to prevent it from spreading or getting worse, I just decided to have it e o ed so that I ould t have any issues with it going forward. I was diagnosed with DCIS and the Atlanta VA performed my surgery which went very well. : What course of treatments did you seek and why?

: A month after my surgery I was scheduled to start radiation treatments which consisted of me driving to Decatur, Ga from Fairburn, Ga, MondayFriday at 6am for a 1hr treatment. This lasted from November 2014-

February 2015. That was a lot of radiation! At fi st I as like ok, it s not too bad , ut a out a o th after starting, I started experiencing the physical changes that progressively got worse. My skin burned fairly quickly and pretty bad. It was to the point where my skin was somewhat blistered and eventually came off. Those physical changes took a toll on me mentally, and I wanted to stop my treatments altogether. Seeing my body change was so ethi g that I did t eall prepare myself for. So when it happe ed‌ as de astati g. I was tired a lot from radiation. This was a time that took a lot out of me, because while doing this I was also in school and working doing in home counseling. But once I completed radiation, I started hormone treatment for a little while, as they say, to prevent the a e f o o i g a k. I did t like the medication or how it made me feel. So I basically made some lifestyle changes, and I am here doing great.

: Ma y sur i ors I’ e interviewed confessed that they gained clarity or more purpose in a sense, after surviving intimate partner abuse or beating breast cancer, would you agree or disagree and why?

: I have to agree. I know that I have a purpose, and I know that I have a story that is relatable to so many other people. So, I make it a point in my life to do everything that I want to do, live life in its entirety and just enjoy self ith o hat ifs . I t ul believe that we all have a purpose and once you find what that 32

purpose is, life just seems so much clearer, and it flows so much smoother.

: Do you have any upcoming events or other projects that you care to share? : I am one of the female authors who will be speaking and mentoring with young girls ages 711 as a part of the Space 2 Launch Book Club through the Young Dream Chasers Girls Club located in Jacksonville, Fl which is my hometown. I will be releasing my next book The Strength to Leave before the year ends, I am a part of an anthology that will be released in January 2019 where I am sharing my breast cancer story, and I will e eleasi g a fe hild e s ooks in 2019 as well. I am in the process of starting my non-profit organization, but I will definitely keep you up to date on that and all other events and projects.

Connect with Shonta below.





The hardest thing in life is to know which bridge to cross and which to burn. ~Author Unknown


hysical, verbal, and emotional abuse occur in countless ways; however, all have longstanding effects. The e s o a a ou d it. As ou are aware, abuse in a nutshell is anything that harms you whether it s ph si al, e al o e otional. As it is a misuse of power that one holds and in turn, use that same power to harm or control another person. Oftentimes, victims in emotionally abusive relationships, situationships, and /or households, do t e og ize o u de sta d the are being abused, because violence is t p ese t. O e ause the e not being yelled at, put-down, called names or belittled. It is indeed a true fact that, manipulation, constantly correcting a person, putting down their ideas, as well as prolonged silent treatments are all forms of abuse.


At the end of the day, someone does t ha e to o siste tl behave aggressively for it to constitute as abuse. U fo tu atel , so e of us do t realize we are victims of either until it is too late. Why? I am glad you asked. Be ause e e convinced ourselves and others i to elie i g the e uses e e told ourselves and the pe ople a ou d us. Let s ot fo get those fa ous li es: It’s or al. That’s just ho so a d so a ts. He/“he did ’t ea a ythi g y it. Code phrase for D. E. N. I. A. L. T a slatio : DON T EVEN KNOW I AM LYING. The same misconception is perceived with verbal abuse. Due to the fact that e al a use is t lea ut as othe forms of abuse, it is easily overlooked and hard to identify. Growing up we were all raised on the well-known expression/folkph ase: sticks and stones may break my bones, but words could never hurt me, ell that as probably the most damaging statement we could have allowed ourselves to believe. Words are the ghost that haunt our minds and hearts forever. The bible said it plain and simple: Life and death is in the power of the tongue. As a survivor of sexual (molestation), verbal, and emotional abuse, I can relate to the daily battles one engages in on a day to day basis. The struggle of walking through your everyday life without breaking, trying to convince myself that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, that I am worth more than just being on my back. Being called la k a d ugl a d told I ould t be worth anything unless it was on my back, terrorized me for the

majority of my life. I actually told myself the only thing that I can or did good was make five beautiful children. Why? Because every time I made a mistake or failed at something, the words along with being molested reopened wounds I did t ealize I had. I as i de ial and accepted what was done to me and walked around with all of that baggage. I never dealt with any of it so guess what? It dealt with me, and it spilled over into my everyday life causing me to battle dep essio . I d o e out of the of the house looking fearless on the outside but was in fact dying slowly o the i side. It as t u til I contemplated suicide, that I realized I had a problem and needed to consider seeking help. So many things happen in our lives that we blame ourselves. We accept what society and our abusers serve to us, and it destroys our self-esteem and breaks us down mentally. By the grace of God, I know and have found a way of escape, and you can too. I k o , e e been brainwashed into living by yet another e p essio , whatever goes on in this house stays in this house. M question is, EVEN IF IT KILLS YOU? I do t ha e a si ple solutio o remedy. All I know and have is what has worked for me. God, therapy and writing. Most importantly, myself, my children and the love of my life. Now, I live o e of a of the uote s that I refer to for daily self-affirmations, Freedom is what you do with hat’s ee do e to you, Jea Paul Sartre. Remember it takes 21 days of repetitive confession to change YOUR inner narrative. You can 35

change your story within 21 days of positive confession. Change what they said and live by what you say and what God said. YOU are victorious. YOU are fearfully and wonderfully made. YOU are not a failu e. YOU a get a k up. It s not over. The best is yet to come o atte hat ou e ee through. There is a way of escape. I k o it s easie said tha do e, ut ho ould ou k o if ou e not doing anything to see change. Take it one day at a time, after all, you owe it to yourself. If ou e u su e of the sig s o a e worried you are being abused, he e s a sa ple of da agi g behaviors: (this includes family and friends):

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Your deepest secrets are used against you. You are isolated from others. The do t a ept a responsibility for their actions. You st uggle to k o eal a d hat is t.

hat s

You feel bad for having friends, even of the same sex. They are unpredictable to keep you on your toes. The do t espe t you. They talk about you behind your back to get sympathy from others. They have entitlement issues. They feel sorry for themselves. They are emotionally distant.

E otio al s a s o t go a a o thei o , so it s i po ta t to seek help. Love yourself enough to turn things around and get help. First things first, I've learned that it's

absolutely imperative to address whatever negative thoughts we may have. We must address our experiences in order to properly grow from them. Ways to get back to your most valuable player - - YOU:

1. 2. 3.


5. 6. 7. 8.

Stop living in denial. DON T EVEN KNOW I AM LYING) FORGIVE YOURSELF. Talk to family and friends. Keeping it a secret allows your abuser to stay in control. List out the behaviors that you would never tolerate again. Write it! Read it! Live by it! Seek counseling. Be patient with yourself and set new goals and aspirations. Daily self-affirmations. Listen to yourself.

Author. Single Mom.

You may feel weak, but within is the strength to leave. Within you is the strength to overcome and achieve that which you deserve. ~Author Unknown

Entrepreneur. Blogger

These are all titles that describe the talented Latoya Chandler. Nestled in the Big Apple (New York), this single mom turned entrepreneur has grand aspirations and creative attributes within the literary world. Her passion for perfecting characters into fictional art contributes to her coaching/mentoring others to embrace and express their similar experiences. PLACE YOUR CASE MANAGER PRE-ORDER!



Many times we overlook what we have planted inside of us that we can offer to those around us. We might reflect and see the progress we have made and the a o plish e ts, ut e do t often share our struggles or the steps we took to face and overcome certain things. At least this was my case and what prompted me to write my first book #GoalGetter: Strategies for O er o i g Life’s Challe ges. Often times we might go through challenges and hardships and feel as if we are all alo e. It s ot u til you actually talk or even listen to others, that you can hear and see that you are not alone. Someone else went through or will go through whatever it is that you are dealing with or have dealt with. There is nothing new under the sun. For me, this was the oppo tu it to sha e sto hoping that it would motivate, empower and inspire others to help ha ge thei life s a ati e. I titled the book #GoalGetter, e ause i spite of life s situatio and circumstance, my past was not going to dictate or determine my future. It is infused with principles such as setting SMART goals and the importance of self-reflection and positive affirmations. It was intentional for me to give the reader a snapshot of my upbringing as I was labeled as a at isk kid. As I entered adulthood, I realized

as at isk . I was at-risk for success. And so it did not just end there. What happens when you make a change and you set goals for yourself? Along the way, you might get sidetracked with doubt and fear. This is what prompted my second book: Goodbye Fear, Hello Destiny! Although I was making changes, setting and achieving my goals, I was dealing with doubt and fear. Fear and doubt keeps us complacent and not moving forward. Fear breeds procrastination. Fear might always be around, but how do we deal with fear? Do we fall back? Do we play things s all ? Do e allow it to overtake us? Absolutely not! When you start living on the othe side of fea , it s like a hole e o ld e ists. It s ot to sa that ou o t do a thi g ithout that emotion. You might still feel and experience the fear, but you do t allo it to o t ol ou. You still do things even if it means you do it afraid. This was a reminder for me and my readers to wave goodbye to fear and scream hello destiny. In the book, I share candid tips and strategies which speak to our i dset . We a do a thi g e BELIEVE we can do. Our thoughts have power, so we must change our thoughts in order to change 38

our words, which then change our actions. It is being intentional with what we want and being so fo used that e do t allow anything or anyone to stop us from getting it. We throw perfection out the window as we strive for progress. We face our fears, and we make things happen! You never know who is counting on you and watching you. Favored, Fearless and Fulfilling My Purpose! To purchase a copy of the book, a t-shirt and/or journal, please visit Author contact info:

Tamara Mitchell-Davis @GoalGetter860

Knowing what to say to a victim of domestic violence can make all the difference in the world. Here are some ways to help a friend who is being abused:

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Set up a time to talk. Try to make sure you have privacy and won't be distracted or interrupted.

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Let your friend know you're concerned about her safety. Be honest. Tell her about times when you were worried about her. Help her see that what she's going through is not right. Let her know you want to help. Be supportive. Listen to your friend. Keep in mind that it may be very hard for her to talk about the abuse. Tell her that she is not alone, and that people want to help. Offer specific help. You might say you are willing to just listen, to help her with childcare, or to provide

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transportation, for example. Don't place shame, blame, or guilt on your friend. Don't say, "You just need to leave." Instead, say something like, "I get scared thinking about what might happen to you." Tell her you understand that her situation is very difficult. Help her make a safety plan. Safety planning includes picking a place to go and packing important item Encourage your friend to talk to someone who can help. Offer to help her find a local domestic violence agency. Offer to go with her to the agency, the police, or court. If your friend decides to stay, continue to be supportive. Your friend may decide to stay in the relationship, or she may leave and then go back many times. It may be hard for you to understand, but people stay in abusive relationships for many reasons. Be supportive, no matter what your friend decides to do. Encourage your friend to do things outside of the relationship. It's important for her to see friends and family. If your friend decides to leave, continue to offer support. Even though the relationship was abusive, she 39

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may feel sad and lonely once it is over. She also may need help getting services from agencies or community groups. Keep in mind that you can't "rescue" your friend. She has to be the one to decide it's time to get help. Support her no matter what her decision. Let your friend know that you will always be there no matter what!

For more information on how to help a domestic violence victim or to schedule a domestic violence training for your group, church or organization: -Tamiko Lowry Pugh, Founder/ President of The Still Standing Alliance

The Still Standing Alliance is a nonprofit organization focused on domestic violence advocacy, awareness, and prevention strategies.

Wednesday D Wonder Woman: Darlene Reese

arlene Reese is the owner of Ambassador Mo tgage i Bato ‘ouge, LA. The o pa s otto is We a e aki g d ea s o e t ue a d helpi g ou o ue e te ito ! I , Ambassador Mortgage received the Louisiana Business Award for Residential Acceptance Corporation. Get oz ith Da le e elo .

: How would you describe your swagher?

What makes Darlene, Darlene?

: Darlene is a go-getter. Darlene perseveres and beats the odds. You can tell me I can't, and I will prove you wrong. My love for my family, my community, and for my passion is unmatched. : How did you get your start in the mortgage


: I started working as a loan originator at a local company in 2004. That soon became just a stepping stone for me; I quickly realized I wanted more. : What was it about the mortgage side of things that interested you? : Being able to help people achieve their dreams of owning their own home - no matter their background or status, is a big deal for me.

: How long have you been in business, and what do you attribute to your success? : I've been in business since 2004, and my hunger for knowledge is one of the many things I attribute to my success. I enjoy being able to inform and educate people on things they can improve on to better enable and equip them to be successful homeowners. : What's the best business advice you've received? : Always provide excellent customer service. A happy customer is a returning customer!


: What are some ways Ambassador Mortgage gives back to the Baton Rouge community?

: As a successful African American female business owner, I look to employ people in Baton Rouge and give them the tools they need to not only to be able to help others, but also empower them to obtain the knowledge to progress in this growing industry and obtain stability for them. I have always believed that education and knowledge is the best and most effective way to help those around you. It’s priceless. : Have you been able to find a work/home balance, or do you seek harmony instead between the two? : My home is my sanctuary of peace. My husband Milton Reese, of 20 plus years. is my rock, and the family we have created together is my solitude. Balance has not been a challenge; I am incredibly blessed in knowing how to prioritize in order of importance, when it comes to work and home.

: Do you have any upcoming events or projects that you care to share? : No upcoming events to share but : Can you share three tips or nuggets for those who are currently seeking home ownership?

stay tuned.

: Always pay your debts on time. Too often we think "as long as the bill is paid, it's fine." However, when it comes to trying to gain financing to own a home, all your bill payment history is heavily reviewed under a microscope.

Connect with Darlene below.

Monitor credit card usage! Don't use them unless absolutely necessary. Open a savings account and contribute to it often! Also, spend money from your checking account wisely! No NSF fees! If you don't have it to spend, then don't. 41


as our physical state of being. What makes Tekeya, Tekeya – my drive, my self-motivation, and my awesome smile. My swagher is knowing my purpose in life, and living my best life.

: So Not Just Getaway is your travel business, but the Girls Wine Out event falls under its umbrella?

: Yes, Not Just a


ith two months left in this busy year, the Fifth Annual Girls Wine Out experience is one we all need to add ou ale da s. This ea s event will take place on Lake Lanier, at a private lakeside mansion and features a glamping (glamorous camping experience) theme. We were happy to discuss all the details of the event with its organizer Tekeya Priester, the CEO of Not Just a Getaway. Dive in and get the details and inspiration ehi d this up o i g gi ls weekend below.

: How would you describe your swagher? What makes Tekeya, Tekeya? : Laughs. Well, I empower women to live their best lives. I know it is a challenge for a lot of women, because we give so much of ourselves including myself. I encourage women to step back and take time out for themselveseven if it is just for a minute, just to get back to themselves. We must start thinking about our self-care and our mental well-being, as well 43

Getaway is the company. The event actually started before the company, which is kind of backwards, but Girls Wine Out started out basically as a get together with friends to just getaway. I actually had just given birth and was going through the struggle of trying to juggle everything, and my friend was like, let s go a d do so ethi g. I as so i spi ed Op ah s The Life You Want Tour and wanted to bring something together to keep that o e tu goi g, a d that s ho the event started. Then the company Not Just a Getaway came about after, because I felt like it was powered by the event, so I wanted to do something where travel was involved. I wanted to host getaways that will balance women, but that also allow them to fulfill their bucket list ideas and dreams that they wanted to do.

: So would you say that you’ve take a ythi g fro your previous work experience and implemented it into your business?

: I do t k o if ou

: It’s fu y, e ause it’s actually like you found something that works first and then incorporated it into a business, so it’s ot ad at all.

: Exactly, exactly! During the event we noticed how therapeutic it was for us to escape. So the event was just like gathering a bunch of a friends and having something like a retreat, but then we noticed how the event actually brought on more positive energy. We needed to take a break! “o eti es people a t affo d to go on bucket list adventures, but we need to take a break for a second to get away from the hustle and refresh ourselves. So that is how we came about Not Just a Geta a , a d it s do e p ett good. A lot of women gravitate to a d getti g a a , so it s ee doing pretty well.

: I graduated from Cle so i IT, so I e ee doi g IT all my life. My last job was actually in healthcare, and I built medical ha ti g s ste s fo hospitals. I e worked at every hospital system in Atlanta as a consultant with the pharmacy department, helping them build their charting system. So that was my 9-5. I like it, and I do well with it, but it as t passion. Laughs. Being in the healthcare industry, I see so many cases and notice how we as people handle the stress of life and stuff like that. I wanted to pull out some of that health awareness and put it into what we do with Girls Wine Out.

: What did you do prior to Not Just a Getaway?


know, because some of the things that go on in the hospitals we tend to keep inside (the hospital), but working with Grady who had their own mental health area; unfortunately I personally saw upclose how people deal with mental health. I saw so many multi-cultural and African- American patients being impacted with various issues and the amounts of medication that were being dispensed. Most cases were of women. So I wanted to figure out how we could help o e so that the do t ha e to be a statistic. I have also been touched with a fear of cancer, and several family members, including my mom, have battled cancer. So that also impacted me and compelled me to research what they can do to better themselves their mental health, their wellness, their self-care. I just wanted to incorporate the knowledge and skills that I e lea ed at 9-5. Be ause I e worked directly with the people who are helping the patients, I wanted to come up with a creative way to help while doing

something I love. Of course, travel is a pa t of that. “o that s h e incorporate the self-care balance and why we stress that. We could be a travel company like any other travel company. There are other travel companies that cater directly to women, but I wanted to touch on the fact that women need to do better with our health. Whethe it s just lea i g o and encouraging each other. We need to do better with our selfcare and our awareness of things that we take for granted, because we are so busy giving ourselves to others.

: This year you all are doing something different and giving back to those battling cancer, correct? : I started doing it last year, and we had a positive response from it. But at the time, I did t ha e e ough fu di g to do anything major, so I wanted to do something creative. What I did last year was allowed women with stage 4 cancer to come and enjoy the event for free. They also were recipients of full makeovers. They were able to get their makeup and hai do e o pli e ta . The e s one picture that still lights me up when you see her face light up after her makeover is done! That made me want to push it a little bit more. I have a friend who has stage 4 ovarian cancer and colon cancer. “he s ea s old, a d hat touched me the most was back in April, Not Just a Getaway had a trip to Thailand, and she wanted to go

so bad. So I said, Well go. You o k, go! E jo ou self! A d she said, Whe I a i su ge , o I a going through chemo, and I am not working, so many people give me money to help me out. I just feel ad if I go o a atio . And I told her she should never feel ad. You are fighting for your life. You eed a a atio ight o . That is what really encouraged me to i g that i , e ause I did t realize so many women felt guilty behind stuff like that. They felt guilty about taking a break, just a vacation. So I wanted to do something. This year I am trying to raise money to at least sponsor one girl to be able to getaway on the next trip. So if it works, then I want to make it even bigger.

: Wait, to make certain I understand you correctly, in the end, she did go or she did ’t go o the trip?

ut I did t aise all of it, a d I also helped her out with getting there as well. So she was able to go, and she posted pictures of how she was living her best life there. Her daughter called crying; she knew how major it was for her mama to be able to get away, and that really tou hed e. The e s eall othi g out there for women who are going through cancer or other major illnesses. I want to branch out and be able to include those who are battling sickle cell and other illnesses like that. There are no charities or organizations that help women get away. You have the breast cancer awareness and thi gs that s helpi g ith treatment but nothing is actually helpi g ith hat s goi g o i the moment.

: So what can we expect at Girls Wine Out Glamping? : We have everything

: She did go. I did raise some money to help with her trip, 45

that women love in one weekend, so anything that your heart loves to do. If that s shoppi g, e a e goi g

to ha e fashio . We re going to have an amazing chef cooking fresh gourmet meals daily. I am giving it a the e of gla pi g , hi h is different for me but it looked like so u h fu . Gla pi g is a glamorous camping experience. I also noticed that there are not too many African- American women that camp, so I wanted to try something different, think outside of the box. We are going to be glamping inside. So we will be throwing that theme around over the weekend with some activities that are camp –like, for example the fire pit/fireside conversations. We e a tuall goi g to ha e a competition to see who can glam out thei te t the fastest. We e goi g to ha e a i s a d pedi s. We e goi g to ha e a deto session with Jutox, which is a juice bar and wellness center

downtown. The e goi g to e coming with all of their equipment a d all of thei deto stuff. We e going to have foot massages, dancing, fitness. On the wheel of ala e, I tou hi g asis o all the things that make women or at least help women to be balanced in their lives Comedienne Kiana Dancie will be the e doi g a o ed sho . We e going to have our first ever awards show where we are going to be honoring major influencers who empower women either in health, beauty, business, relationships, or self care. Mikki Taylor, the editor in large for ESSENCE Magazine, Ericka Pittman, Brand Architect/CMO of AQUAhydrate, Niya Brown Matthews, creator of SoulFood Sessions are some of our honorees. I am waiting to confirm


two other additional honorees. We e also goi g to have different speakers coming through like T. Renee Smith; Ashley Fox, financial education analyst and Forbes writer out of New York; and cohost and life coach on VH1’s Bye Felicia! De o ah Ha ks. “he s going to be doing a vision board o kshop. We e going to have akeup lesso s To . “he s a makeup artist for MAC, and you of ou se. “o e e goi g to ha e a bunch of stuff women love going o . It s goi g to e a fu -filled weekend. Grab your tickets for the Girls Wine Out Glamping Retreat

https://www.notjustagetaway. com/gwo and use code: fancygwo2018 for an EXCLUSIVE discount.

Jen Coppin is from the United Kingdom. She was born in Reading Berkshire, England to Caribbean natives from the island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. She has lived most of her life in New York where she attended the City University system of New York, at York College, and she has attended Columbia University and other private institutions of education. She believes that learning is an ongoing process throughout life and is vital to the evolution of human existence. She has earned academic honors including an academic membership to the International Psychology Honor Society, and multiple academic designations which include Cum Laude, Mag a, a d the Dea s list. “he holds a Ba helo s Deg ee in general psychology, an MBA degree in business administration with a course of study that includes corporate finance, and accounting. She also has a double major in Human Resource Management,

and certification in Non- Profit Grant writing. Jen is the first of her five siblings to graduate from college, and she describes herself as a businesswoman who is very driven. She believes that people can continuously improve themselves to be better for the greater good of humanity. Jen currently lives in Columbus, Ohio, and she is the President/ CEO of Kora Beauty Inc. which is a skincare line that she developed to help women feel more confident in the natural appearance of their skin. Jen understands that some women may lack the confidence in the natural appearance of their skin due to discolorations, age spots, and premature aging. Therefore, she developed the Kora Beauty skincare line to address those issues for women, so that they can use makeup to accentuate their beauty, instead of using makeup to cover up skin issues. Her company 47

Kora Beauty also provides opportunities for women to earn an income and earn opportunities for higher education by providing scholarships to her beauty consultants.

Fancy: How would you describe your Swagher? What makes Jen, Jen?

Jen: My swagher is selfmotivation, self-determination, perseverance, positivity, immense faith, love, and a dash of humor. I do not accept predetermined constructs which are sometimes used to marginalize people. I believe that I can do whatever I put my mind, efforts, and actions towards, be it a dream, a goal, or a simple task. My swagher is knowing that I can do all things through Christ and knowing that I define who I am based on what God says.

consumer, I was just tired of not getting the results that I desired to see in my skin. Therefore, I started making whipped body butters at home from all-natural ingredients. After using the products that I created at home, I saw significant changes in the texture and softness of my skin. I shared my products with family and friends who were always so thankful and always wanted more. This inspired me to take my innovations to a larger scale to include facial products and begin a commercial website to help others who desire to have flawless skin with products that are affordable and give results.


Fancy: Your degrees are in psychology and business how did you end up working in the beauty industry?

Jen: Yes, I ha e a a helo s degree in psychology with academic honors, and I have a double concentration MBA degree in business. Business is for the most part about people, and ps holog is the stud of people s behavior. Therefore, for me, these two indispensable disciplines go hand in hand. After years of working in corporate and other positions, I began my own business in the beauty industry, because it is second nature to me. As a teenager, family members always wanted me to style their hair, and it as t e ause the did t ha e money; it was simply because they saw my skill, love, and passion.

Therefore, instead of going to a hairdresser, they requested me to come to their homes or they came to my home to do their hair, makeup, or nails. I never charged anyone anything. It was simply for the love of it. As I became an adult, people ith ho I acquainted also inquired about my skin, my makeup, and my hair. They are always shocked to know that I continue to do all these things for myself. I later completed studies in skincare and started my own skincare line.

Fancy: What inspired Kora Beauty?

Jen: Kora Beauty is the name of my skincare line, and it basically derived from my personal need to solve my own skincare problems. I e used a p odu ts, a d as a 48

When one says eauty , ost te d to thi k of makeup, but I like how you believe in treating, and caring for our skin, instead of covering our problems with makeup. Is there a reason why you prefer to go to the root of the problem?

Jen: Yes, it is always a good idea to go to the root of a problem, even with skincare. For example, the foundation that we use in our makeup essentially provides our skin with a little color, perhaps a little cover up, and sunscreen. However, if the texture of our skin is t s ooth, the u de l i g ski issues such as acne at times are still visible under the makeup. Sometimes, the very same products that we use to cover up skin issues, do not really improve our underlying problem. Instead, some of these products can make the issue worse. For example, if someone who has acne uses a lot of foundation to cover up, this person can end up clogging their

pores, irritating their skin and exacerbating their underlying acne issues. Therefore, it is best to treat the root of the problem to improve the ski s o ditio a d o e all appearance long term.

Fancy: Being that your parents are from the Caribbean, I’m curious to know if you implement any island skincare secrets to your ingredients?

Fancy: Do you have Kora Beauty Consultants nationwide, or are they required to be in Ohio?

Jen: Yes, Kora Beauty Independent Consultants are nationwide. Anyone who resides within the USA who is interested in becoming an independent consultant can participate in our program and earn top commissions on a weekly basis.

Jen: Yes! As the founder of Kora Beauty Skincare, I am very conscious about the ingredients that we use in our skincare products. In the Caribbean, the most common skincare secret is the use of natural products such as coconut, aloe, Shea butter, cocoa butter, etc. I remember seeing native people making their own homemade coconut oils to put on their skin. The use of aloe for skincare issues is also another skincare secret from the Caribbean. These fond memories have inspired how I select ingredients such as the Kora Beauty Healthy Glow Serum, which is made with aloe and other natural ingredients to remove skin discoloration.

Fancy: What are some of your top selling products? Jen: Our top selling product is the Kora Beauty Healthy Glow Antiaging Antioxidant System. This product is a favorite, because it is multidimensional and addresses many skincare problems including, acne, discoloration, and it prevents signs of premature aging. Everyone wants smooth and younger looking skin.

Fancy: I love how you believe in uplifting and empowering others. Do you have any personal experience where you had to stand on the shoulders of others?

Jen: Absolutely, I am very fortunate to have loving and caring family members who have taken it upon themselves to stand up for me at times. As a teenager, my othe did t a t e to go to high school. She wanted me to work with her in the factory instead. While other teens attended high school, I worked in the factory with my mother. We e e t e t e el poo . My mom just did t elie e i education. Thankfully, my aunt stepped i a d said, No that is ot ight! A ti g out of lo e a d concern, my aunt enrolled me into high school. That was a pinnacle moment in my life. It changed the turn of events in my life forever. In that moment, when my aunt, who was an educator, advocated for me to get an education which was denied to us as a people, she allowed me to stand not only on her shoulders, but also on the shoulders of every slave that 49

fought for our right to read and write. It indeed truly takes a village!

Fancy: Wow! Do you have any events and projects that you care to share? Jen: I am currently working on my first book that should be out in stores before December 2018. Jen believes that the world is made better, when we help others to rise. In addition to launching the Kora Beauty skincare line, she is currently working on her first selfhelp book which is designed to help teens through adulthood. She believes that it is necessary to nurture and provide guidance to help teenagers and young adults, especially through the challenging times in their lives Whe Je is t busy working, she enjoys her time with her son, and enjoys being creative with cooking recipes, baking, knitting scarves and hats for her son, sewing and making window valances, DIY household projects, reading and traveling to other countries. Connect with Jen and Kora Beauty below.

Kora Beauty website: Kora_beautyonline Jen Coppin / @Korabeautyonline


We had such a great time at Heal the City-Boot Edition in Baton Rouge, LA August 11, 2018. There is healing in using our voice to share our stories, both for the storyteller and the audience.

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Elissa Ann Boudreaux was finally mentally and emotionally freed when her abuser unexpectedly transitioned.

James Abram's trials and tribulations did not prevent him from taking the high road.

Latangela Rogers learned that once she forgave her mother, she was able to move forward and help others in life.


Our EIC, Fancy, described what it's like to live with anxiety and depression. Pastor Tony Knight shared the secret to a successful marriage. Model Patrice P, Kelton Nspire Harper, and Darrein Robinson shared empowering poetry. Sons of Funk Nirvana entertained us with some of the old Sons of Funk tunes and new songs as well.

We al a s ha e a g eat ti e he e atte d Lo e Le Me u s e e ts, a d the Red Rose Divas Ball (9/2/18) was not an exception. Comedienne Porsha Renee kept us laughing as guest participated in a silent auction and ate dinner. Funds raised were contributed to the three (College Textbooks, Nursing, and E po e e t s hola ships Lo e Le Me u s fou de established this year.

Scholarship recipients were: ▪ Eriqa Geter-Dinner with Divas Women ▪

Empowerment Scholarship Jasmine Anderson-College Book Scholarship

The Dear Diary seg e t allo ed di as to share their stories and interpretations of how a rose is still a rose. Speakers included: ▪ Jerbrina Johnson, Esquire ▪ Karlyn LeBlanc, LMSW, Founder of Love Le Menu Dinner with Divas

The Red Rose Diva Diary Series Speakers included ▪ Ursula Grigsby, M.Ed., National Director of Dinner ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪

with Divas Karlyn King, B.S., Brand Ambassador of Dinner with Divas, Owner of Joy Jewels, and Hair by Karlyn Kimberly Robinson, B.S., National Spokesperson Tanika Morrison, BSN and owner of Chimes Boutique Francheska Fa Felde , Fou de a d EIC of SwagHer Magazine

Dinner with Divas members were also recognized for their hard work and commitment in the organization and Ursula Grigsby was crowned as the 2018 Queen. 52

The second stop on the Heal the City tour was set more beautifully than the first at the Rhema Church in Brunswick, GA. Speakers included:

▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪

Dr. Cassandra Parks (Mental Toughness, Mental Strength) James Abram (My Road to Redemption) Pastor Paula Burt (My Pit Became My Palace) Jennifer Harris (Mental Health from a Pro Perspective) ‘aga Flo e s Ge e atio al Cu ses poe Francheska Felder (Ending Generational Curses) Angel Hicks Tatum (You Only Get Better) Shonda Hollis (Are You Going to Fail or Finish) Donna Janel (From Grief to Greatness) Regina Renae Bu h C poem)

Wa io P i ess It's Ok

Judith Riccio of Faithful Love Human Trafficking Advocate Treatment Centers of Brunswick

Closing out the event was a business pitch competition, and Heal the City President & CEO, Laurinda Andujar, hosted a i i ook sig i g fo he e ook, “he Bli ked: The Book of Me . Get ready for Heal the City Lauderhill January 26, 2019.



Laurinda Andujar is the president and CEO of Heal the City, Inc, a touring event filled with community leaders and dynamic speakers prepared to inspire hope and initiate change. Topics include mental health, rape, molestation, domestic abuse, sexual health and well-being, leadership, t au a, a d spi itual health. The e e t s goal is to provide sustainable, valuable resources to heal attendees and their families, individuals, and cities, in a safe and non-judgmental environment pushing individuals to first be self leaders. She is also the CEO of SheBlinked, LLC, which is a public speaking company that helps organizations and individuals in the area of personal and professional growth, by bridging the human/business connection. The above would be my professional way of introducing Laurinda, but having worked with Laurinda or Lala as most of the Heal the Cit tea alls he , I d like to personally describe her as one of the most i spi atio al, thoughtless, patie t, alk it like I talk it people I k o . Though SwagHer Magazine had the privilege of marketing her HTC event last year, I gained more clarity of both Lala and her platform once I began speaking at the events this year, shortly after this interview. With each e e t I e atte ded I e at hed Lau i da work tirelessly to sew into others as her vision grows. Witnessing this while also understanding her inspiration behind it all, has been motivating for me, and from the dedication I see within her immediate team, I am sure her actions are just as impactful to others. Having said those things, I would say you all can be the judge of Lala yourself, but Heal the City is a safe

space, so just be motivated by her story below.

Now with Heal the City, this is what the third year?

Fancy: How would you describe your swagher? What makes Laurinda, Laurinda?

Laurinda: Yes, this is the third year and I am excited about it.

Laurinda: I think what makes me, me is that I am ok with showing people my flaws. I ok ith sho i g the eal. I ok ith ei g t ue authentic self, because everyone is trying to wear asks these da s a d that s not what people need. People need people that are real, that are authentic, not afraid to show people or be who they are at all times.

Fancy: That’s ery true, especially in this day and age. I do ’t thi k it’s so ethi g that a lot of people are addressing. 55

Fancy: Ok, and we discussed the event last year, but I am trying to get a better understanding of how the event would flow. Before it seemed more about inspiration, but this year I am seeing more about leadership, plus I see there is a panel. So what direction will the event go in this year?

Laurinda: There was a panel last year as well as speakers on specific topics and leadership, but leadership was kind of hidden in the background. Leadership has always been

there, but let me tell you this. I have two platforms. One is geared toward leadership, and the other is geared toward personal leadership. The reason for that is, because before we can get to the point where we excel professionally, we have to deal with that stuff on our personal leadership level. Those thi gs that e do t talk a out, the things we push down, because eventually, they all will bubble up in our professional leadership style.

Fancy: I definitely agree with you there. Now are both of those housed Under Heal the City?

Laurinda: No, actually the professional platform is housed under She Blinked, LLC and that is geared towards business professionals. Then the personal development and personal leadership is housed under Heal the City, and I separated them for two reasons. The philanthropy is me giving back with Heal the City. It just deals with all that personal stuff that is shunned away to talk about on professional platforms.

Fancy: Gotcha. So what can

life, I ot goi g to k o ho to communicate, and that is actually going to impact my business. Because no matter what kind of usi ess ou e i , ou e i the usi ess of people. Whethe it s i a keti g, hethe it s i advertising, PR, whether you are selling a product, you have to be able to connect with people to build your brand. John Maxwell said people buy into the leader before they buy into the leap/ isio . If ou do t ha e personal or thought leadership, you will not have professional leadership. So those are the things we are going to tackle at Heal the Cit . We e goi g to get ou out of your own way so that you can either grow your business, grow your brand- so that you can understand what true leadership is. The e a e so a la els. I a lead in business if look a certain way o if I a a e tai eight. If you look at executives present, it eall does t eall look at the character of the person and their ability to communicate. So if I can get pass all of the other junk, I can get out of my own way to lead someone professionally.

expect with the event coming up?

Laurinda: With the Heal the City event platform we take people from the victim mentality to the i to ious e talit . “o it s gea ed toward people who have suffered domestic violence, rape, suicide, mental health issues, addiction, relationship issues, and leadership issues. Because one thing I can tell you is people lead how they live. So if I li i g oke , I goi g to lead oke . If I do t k o ho to communicate in my personal life, when it comes to my professional 56

Fancy: Oh yes, I love that. You said a outhful there; I do ’t think we see too many leadership events within the Black community. We may see a few but they definitely are not marketed the way you are doing yours. So everyone wants to say that they are inspiring or empowering, but leaders are so important, and I do ’t thi k that e- you know, I think people want to go more so with being a boss, instead of taking the time to actually learn how to lead so that they can really be a boss. So I think that’s really great! Now with the topics you all plan to cover, rape, molestation, sui ide i y i d I’ o deri g will you all also be preparing individuals to be able to lead, like even if they are not necessarily business owners but to be able to tell their stories to benefit them? Laurinda: There are people who teach you how to monetize your pain. They help to move you away from people feeling sorry for you to people investing in you. My thing is the reason why I chose those platforms- a d I do t k o if the readers know my story, but I actually was molested by my birth fathe . I e t ied to o it sui ide multiple times and ended up in a mental institution for three weeks in St. Petersburg, FL. I had an ex that tried to kill me, set my house on fire, wrote me poems in blood, and wrecked my car several times. I lost my job; I lost a child. I was Trisomy 18. It happens to 1 % of the babies in the world, and I thought I was losing my mind again at that point. I carried that child for nine months. I never dealt with a drug addiction, but I dealt with a sexual addiction, and I never really

got into porn, but I dealt with a sexual addiction of wanting different people in my life to soothe whatever was ailing me or to have that closeness. I had relationship issues as well stemming from my dad. So from a personal perspective, I am led to people that have overcome those types of things. Because first of all we have to show empathy, we have to be our true authentic selves, because that is what heals people. The word sa s, people are overcome by the healing of thei testi o ies. “o e ha e people that walked through those situations and some who are still walking through in different phases that want to help the community with their personal leadership, to show them they too have gone through all these things. My situation may be broken, but my purpose is not broken and I can lead no matter where I am at in that spectrum as long as I am moving forward. If that makes se se…

Fancy: Yes, so for you personally, how did you overcome those things? What type of self work did you to do overcome?

Laurinda: Truth be told, sitting in the hospital three weeks with people who were really struggling with mental illness, when I was just down on my luck.. I let some situations that happened to me consume me. But once I sat there for those three weeks, and I saw people that were really struggling with things, and I saw what was coming out of that side- that gave me the strength to push through to start doing these things And the more I stopped sweeping stuff

under the rug and dealt with the emotions of whatever happened; being around the people that did those things to me; having conversations with them; forgiving them, but most importantly forgiving myself…the o e I stopped associating the blame that comes with that to myself and something that I did, and the more I realized some things I was going through in life were not about me, but for the person that is going to o e to e that sa s ou k o Laurinda, I want to share my story. Ca ou p o ide a platfo ? , o asks Lau i da, ell, ho did ou do it? a d the I alk the th ough. O he I sitti g i a professional setting, having a oneon- one conversation- a development conversation with someone, and then I veer way off left field, and we start talking about the personal things that helps them e p ofessio al, that s ho I started dealing with that. Plus, personally, every time I started having a pity party, God would send me someone that had a problem that I had already faced, that I could walk them through and talk them through. That was part of my healing process, as well. The more those issues stayed in front of me, the more I could get those issues behind me.

Fancy: I love your perspective. I also believe many of our life experiences are not for us, but to inspire our others. Now I also wanted to talk to you about your weight loss surgery. Are you comfortable discussing that?

Laurinda: I actually had the gastric sleeve in Tijuana Mexico. On December 4, 2017, I flew out to 57

Mexico and I had the sleeve gast e to su ge . That s he e they remove three quarters of your stomach. I did it, because God spoke to me one day, and he said – now my platform is called Heal the City, and I need you to think about that. If we are going to talk about healing –mind, body, and restoration, and healing, how am I getting up on stage, being overweight, high blood pressure, anemia, asthma- all of these things, and I am trying to sell my vision of heali g to people. That just does t add up! So with that being said, it went a little bit deeper than that. So if I can get out there and care fo his people, ut I ot taki g care of myself, am I truly healed? So it had to be a total mind, body, and soul healing and restoration. I remember I was working for WalMa t… I got laid off f o jo of almost 27 years, January 25th, and I was I was driving to Maples, FL from St. Petersburg, Fl, and I just did t feel ight, ut I do t like going to the doctor. I do t like taking meds. It was just something that I did t do, ight? I take a e of e e od else, ut I as t taki g care of myself. I just felt weird that day, so I called my insurance company, and they gave me the nurse hotline. I spoke to the nurse, and after I told him what my s pto s e e, he as like, I need you to go to the nearest hospital . I thought that e just calling them, they would say, you k o , it s all i ou head. Just take a aspi i . But he as like, I need you to go to the nearest hospital. I as like, I ill just go he I get the e . He said, No, I eed ou to go o , so he pulled up three or four hospitals. Actually, it was three hospitals that were

nearest to Maples, and he sent me to one. I went in there, and my blood pressure was 214/173. I was i st oke ode, a d I did t e e k o it. That s h the all it the sile t kille . “o at that o e t, I said that I gotta change, and I kept hea i g M les Mo oe sa i g, the richest place on the earth is the graveya d. People die ith so much in them. I mean you can have the cure for aids, the cure for cancer- all these patents in the graveyard, because people did not believe in themselves or care enough about their vision, their baby, enough to bring it into fruitio . “o I said I ot goi g to die with all this stuff inside of me! I need to be whole myself, and people e e telli g e, No, ou should t go the e. You eed to do it atu all a d I as like I gotta block out everybody else. If I leave it up to man, me doing it naturally, I could be dead tomorrow, and I a ot goi g to do that. I ot going to be selfish to my kids. Then everything came to me with Heal the City.

she started telling me about her surgery, and it was like – I believe in divine connections. The doctor and I talked for eight months, and he sent me everything that I needed to know about the surgery. He sent me a meal plan and told me everything before I sent him one dime, and so it was $4,500 for me to go over there and have the surgery, and it was all inclusive. The only thing I had to pay for was my airfare. He turned out to be phenomenal doctor. His bedside manner was amazing. He personally, personally called my mom when I came to, to let her know I was ok when I woke up as he checked me out of the hospital on Wednesday. I went in Sunday night. They picked me up from the airport, did the surgery, picked me up from the hospital, took me to the hotel, and then the doctor came to the hotel everyday and changed my dressings.

I tried to commit suicide multiple times, right? If I tried to commit suicide, and God did t take e out, I ot goi g to take self out from not taking care of myself a d ot lo i g self. “o that s why I had the surgery.

Fancy: Wo , so I’

urious to know how you knew how to go about the process and find a doctor in Mexico?

Laurinda: So I met this young lady while at home office when I worked for Wal-Mart. We were in Bentonville, AL for training, and do t ask e h , ut all of sudde 58

Laurinda also recently released an anthology She Blinked and an autobiography, She Blinked: the Book of Me. Both are available at To learn more about Heal the City, Inc., visit

Connect with Laurinda below.


@sheblinked_llc @heal_the_city_inc


This summer I spoke at the Heal the City event and my boyfriend Darrein, came along. This was his first women empowerment event ever. At times he would pull out his handheld game and play, so I thought he wasn’t really paying attention. However, later on after we made it home, he confessed that he had in fact been listening and that he was really surprised that the women had endured such abuse and yet they were so transparent. Then he made a comment as if he to say that he didn’t understand why the women would not leave their abusers. Having attended many events and interviewed hundreds of women, while also having experienced domestic violence myself, I understood why the women didn’t leave. I rattled off reasons such as they are too afraid to leave, they may not have a place to go, and how sometimes they don’t even realize it is domestic violence. Self worth is another reason why many women don’t leave. Sometimes they don’t think they are worthy of anything better or they lack the confidence to believe that they can have better. I shared how in my own case, I thought it was a onetime thing. In another past relationship, it was more so emotional abuse, but I had no place to go and didn’t want to move back out of state. Yet, when I made this statement, I had no idea how big of an issue

finding safe shelter is. “It was a regular summer day; I was at my annual gynecological appointment and given a clean bill of health. As I was getting dressed, I noticed a sign on the back of the door. The sign had 10 questions. As I read each question, my answer to each one was simply ‘Yes’. The conclusion, if you answered yes to any of these questions, you’re in a domestic violence situation. Seek help and get out. I was in complete shock. I had never heard of the words "domestic violence". That's when I became aware,” says Qiana Buckner, CEO of A Diamond in the Rough Productions, who escaped her abuser years ago and would now like to open a battered women’s shelter with her nonprofit. “The past several months of my life prior were chaos. The bloody noses, the busted lips, the kicks to the body, the choking, the name calling, the spitting in my face, and so much more were the result of the abuse. The moment that I became aware, was the moment that I knew I had to get out. It almost cost me my life, but I got out. That night that I left was the worst of all. I was forced to strip down to nothing but a T-shirt. I was


punched in the face multiple times, I was kicked repeatedly in my abdomen, burned with a pack of cigarettes, urine was thrown in my face, and I was severely beaten over the head with a thick wooded brush,” Qiana continued. “Blood poured down my face onto my shirt as I tried to fight back and grew tired. The abuse went on for several hours that night. Once my abuser saw how much blood there was, he tried to put me to sleep by choking me.” When that didn’t work, Qiana’s abuser sent her to the store for a pack of cigarettes, and that is how she escaped. Although she did not have to use a shelter herself, Qiana does understand the importance of shelters.

“I have assisted so many women and children with mentorship as well as finding shelter in the past; I have even opened up my home as well. Assisting others find shelter in the past was not just an honor, but an awesome experience,” Qiana shares. “I was able to plant a seed of help, but most importantly hope. It gave me the opportunity to also share my own testimony of survival as well as encourage and inspire others and let them know that their story can have a beautiful ending too.” While the numbers given are usually estimates, according to a report released in 2017, there are 553,742 homeless Americans. Men account for 7085% of that, and not every woman who is homeless has been affected by domestic violence, but many are. Yet with the numbers being as staggering as they are, there is a shortage of domestic violence shelters for women. It is almost something of a conundrum. Reports say nearly 20 people are abused by their partner per minute. The number of domestic violence incidents or intimate partner violence is increasing while some states are cutting their funding for domestic violence shelters. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention released a report last year that says half of the number of women homicides are committed by a partner. Black women are killed at a rate of 4.4 per 100,000 people, and indigenous women at a rate of 4.3 per 100,000; every other

race has a homicide rate of between 1 and 2 per 100,000. CEO of Nikki Nicole Hair, Shameka Nicole, survived a domestic violence situation of her own, but has never stayed at a shelter either, yet she too understands the importance of them and is working to open one for her non-profit, Christine’s House, which is named after her late grandmother. “I have assisted many with refuge from abuse, but have had to fund things from my own pocket, because I know how it feels not to have help and have to protect and support yourself and kids on your own,” Shameka explains. “…I have sent a few women to the local shelter and have gotten reports of the unclean living conditions and insect infestations, so I do not like sending another person to it,” Shameka says. The unclean living conditions that Shameka speaks of are sometimes why some women don’t seek safety in the shelters. However, many organizations that operate the facilities are working to change that and are working to make the safe spaces more women- and kidfriendly by upgrading their décor and making them feel more like home. In a live recorded interview on Dr. Phil, Robin McGraw visited Laura’s House, a domestic violence shelter to show viewers what some locations look like. It was beautifully furnished, and the CEO/ director, Margaret R. Bayston, said that they went all out with the décor, because they wanted the women to feel like 61

they were worthy of such beautiful environment, and then possibly began to feel their own worth. The shelter also included a therapy room for the children and provided social services for the women and mothers. However overcrowding is still a problem, and most shelters report turning women away or sending them to neighboring counties for assistance. In the summer of 2017, New York City announced that it planned to open 90 new facilities over the next five years and 54 additional apartment-style units were supposed to be opened in July 2017. I’m not sure of what progress has been made on either project. Yet, domestic violence advocate, Lavon Morris-Grant, warns that those who plan to open these locations for battered women should be prepared and well trained for the dangers that may come about, violent husbands being one major concern. In McGraw’s video the director, also shared that the families were instructed to lock away their electronic devices in lockers so that they could not be tracked and possibly lead harm to the house. Furthermore, shelters are only temporary living arrangements. As Lavon also pointed out, when women and their children live in shelters, they have no home, they have no permanent address. Studies also show that often times, these abused women may also have evictions on their credit reports which can also limit their housing options, thus keeping them trapped in the homeless cycle.

Libra women, especially those that are in and/or running businesses, that i gs out the est i us. I just simply BLESSED to be able to use these gifts God gave me & believing in myself enough to go for it EVERY chance I get.

Fancy: What inspired The Up Close & Personal With Mz. Radio Diva Show?

Iesha: Well honestly, Angie

Iesha Bryant is the owner of the catering company Bert's Granddaughter's Place, hostess of The Up Close & Personal with Mz. Radio Diva Show, a radio producer at WNLK 1350 a.m. which powers her show, the visionary of inspire HER, a travel agent, and a mom. I’ve know Iesha several years; we connected, because we are both Libra women and in media, as well she is always sharing yummy looking creations on her page! Plus I’ve been a guest on her show, so I’m happy to share her story with you all.

Fancy: How would you describe your swagher? What makes Iesha, Iesha? Iesha: As ou al ead k o , I a Li a, a d it s so ethi g a out

Martinez! I was an avid listener of interviews and Angie Martinez, and FunkMaster Flex and a few other New York City deejays always had my undivided attention with the best in studio interviews. Being that Angie was a female, she made hosting more realistic and obtainable for me. I registered, attended, and graduated from Connecticut School of Broadcasting in 2009, and from there it was destined that I host my own show.

Fancy: What type of topics do you all discuss?

a t to get to k o & Pe so al .

Fancy: Now you are also a Producer at WNLK 1350 AM. What exactly does a radio producer do?

Iesha: Yes I am a studio manager, host, and producer and my job as a producer is to make sure my show and whomever else show I produce is clean as a whistle. That means the audio, content, and creativity of that show must meet our company standards and/or guidelines. You do t a t to liste to a radio show and the audio is low then high or high then low....I am the person responsible for managing what goes out to our audience.

Fancy: Outside of your show you also have your catering business, Bert’s Gra ddaughter’s Place. Tell us a little about it and the significance of its name? Iesha: Be t s G a

Iesha: I typically sit down with the

ho s ho of o u it a d beyond. If you have a unique business, I want to know about it a d ou, the highs a d the lo s… to have my listening audience know it s ot al a s oses. If ou have impacted me in any way, I


ou Up Close

ddaughte s Place is my babyyyyy! I started this catering business in honor of my grandmother, Alberta Swinton. She as the fo e o e of Be t s Place, a soul food restaurant where I worked as a little girl and where she taught me everything I know in the kitchen. When she passed away, I felt it was a must to keep her legacy alive and carry on her

dream, so #iAmBertsGranddaughter.

Fancy: You recently partnered

ith a e ue, so o Bert’s customers can sit down and eat. I think that is really cool and unconventional, do you mind sharing how you all worked to create that partnership?

Iesha: Yes, convenient is an understatement! I am thankful for all these businesses believing in me while I try to gain a building of my own to call home. The establishment is located in the hea t of ou do to a ea; it s a great location and already has a welcoming presence in our city of Hartford. I started this usi essship th ough ho e ade BBQ sau e Lil “udie s B.B.Q. Sauce, and from there kept ties to expand and partner for a time like this.

Iesha: Yes, inspirHER is my personal favorite because it deals with the heart and issues of women. This was and is an assignment from God I remember being on prayer call and the prophetess prophesying to me about this same organization that I still i the p o ess of i thi g it. I am currently making, writing, and working on my vision board for 2019 and this is at the top of my todo list....Stay tuned!

pe so al life. ‘ight o I work with less play.

Fancy: Do you have any upcoming events or projects that you care to share?

Iesha: I am currently planning my next Women inspirHER Seminar for 2019 and a Wing Tasting in a few weeks. Please stay connected to my social media for upcoming announcements.

Fancy: If you had to pick a favorite, what do you enjoy doing the most?

Iesha: Radio, it is my first love and

passio ...I ki da a people pe so , lol! “o it o es atu all . I feel like Lil Oprah when I get in my zone.

Fancy: How do you balance your work and personal life?

Fancy: I know that you are big on women empowerment, and you were working to start your women organization, inspirHER, when we last spoke. How are things going?

Iesha: I do

t! It s all mixed up in one...I feel I need to work smarter not harder, so I can be at a place he e I o fo ta le a d o te t enough to sit back and enjoy my

Connect with Iesha below. TheUpClosePersonalWMzRadioDivaShow | BertsGranddaughtersPlace @ mzradiodiva | @_bertsgranddaughtersplace



Vince Decades ago we had popular quotes such as the Bible scripture "The truth shall set you free", and Benjamin Franklin's iconic quote, "Honesty is the best policy." These quotes were often used to encourage a person to tell the truth despite the fact of the impact the content of the honesty may contain. Present day, the social mentality has executed a complete 180-degree turn. Most people only speak the truth on a voluntary basis if that truth has a positive tone. When the truth takes the shape of a negative tone most elect to ignore it, or give a watereddown opinion of the situation. When it comes to the issue of not speaking the truth, Charlamagne Tha God doesn't have that problem. A product of Moncks Corner, South Carolina, Charlamagne Tha God is the cohost of nationally syndicated show 'The Breakfast Club', with DJ Envy,

and Angela Yee. On the show Charlamagne often delivers his raw and uncut opinions about issues in hip hop, politics, sports, and entertainment. The self-proclaimed "Prince of Pissing People Off," is brutally honest on a consistent basis. His direct honesty was delivered in literary form in April of 2017 when his book Black Privilege: Opportunity Comes to Those Who Create It was published. The book Black Privilege gives his insight on how living an authentic life is the quickest path to success. In the book, Charlamagne uses his own personal experiences to illustrate this method. The focus of the book steers you in the direction of following eight principles. For example, one of my favorite principles is Principle Number 5. Listed as "Put the weed in the bag, Principle Number five is defined as you have to work hard

first, then worry about the money. The gem dropping book earned Charlamagne Tha God a spot on the New York Times Best Sellers List. Staying true to being open and honest, Charlamagne never shies away from a conversation involving his personal struggles with anxiety. Once Charlamagne incorporated therapy sessions in his life, he admitted it was a hundred percent game changer. "My therapist told me I don't need medicine, I just need someone to talk to, "Charlamagne stated. He didn't intend on writing a book about mental health. He kept a journal of everything he was going through, and when the publishers came knocking for another book, he realized he had a rough draft of a book just from the excerpts within his journal.

Charlamagne delivered another one, as his book entitled Shook One: Anxiety Playing Tricks On Me is currently available. The title of the book "Shook One" is from the Mobb Deep single also named Shook One. The subtitle comes from the Geto Boys song Mind Playing Tricks on Me. Charlamagne was drawn to the subtitle "Anxiety Playing Tricks on Me" due to the content of the Geto Boys song. The iconic Geto Boys single was one of the first songs to articulate anxiety and paranoia.


hat ou see is hat ou get: category. One label you can't put on Charlamagne is the one of being phony or fake. He's also a man who wears many hats. He's a radio host, television personality, author, and executive producer of an upcoming documentary about a fellow product of South Carolina political analyst Bakari Sellers. Back in 2006, Sellers became the youngest African American elected to public office at age 22, when he ran for the South Carolina state House and defeated a 26- year incumbent.

Shook One details how anxiety has been the driving force in Charlamagne's life since childhood. During a stop on his book tour, Charlamagne told a story of how he was molested when he was 8years-old. The sexual predator was his cousin's wife. He jokingly admitted the driving force of him making her stop, was the fact he didn't like the smell of her jheri curl. Shook One is the gateway into Charlamagne's journey with anxiety. It also serves as a tool for the Black community in particular, to start a productive conversation about mental health. "Black men, we have so much trauma. We constantly deal with anxiety. If you grew up in the hood, you're going to have some type of trauma, PTSD," Charlamagne stated. One of Charlamagne's main concerns in the Black community, especially with men, is the fact they resist the notion of professional mental treatment due to the fact they don't want to be labeled as soft or crazy. He figured by him being a celebrity, if he was able to come out and speak about his anxiety and trauma, it would make it easier for other Black people to join in on the conversation and get rid of the stigma.

Charlamagne admits to having a friendship with Kanye West. Though he doesn't agree with Kanye's recent behavior, Charlamagne stated he's not giving up on Kanye. "By calling Kanye crazy and saying he's losing his mind, all we're doing is increasing the stigma. When Kanye was on his meds, his thoughts were clear and concise and everything he said was making sense. Now he's off his meds and it's like we're seeing somebody have a manic episode. He was bipolar, now he's saying he's not bipolar. He needs help. I'm not cancelling him," Charlamagne stated. Charlamagne Tha God is that type of person you can respect. I like the type of person that falls into the


The documentary entitled While I Breathe I Hope is based on Bakari Sellers 2014 run for Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina. "I'm all about things South Carolina, and I believe in Bakari. I feel Bakari could be President of the United States one day," Charlamagne stated. Despite his constant bout with anxiety, Charlamagne Tha God continues to strive for excellence. From his persona alone, he's a polarizing figure. His second book Shook One: Anxiety Playing Trick On Me, will likely afford him a second appearance on the New York Times Best Sellers List. It's a detailed oriented book when once you read it, the book almost forces you to access your own mental status. Shook One: Anxiety Playing Tricks On Me is a must read and it's currently available.


I felt myself dying. I was 34-years old, and I just felt -what I named in my book, the Blackness of Death was overtaking my life. I felt the bullet moving through my head, and I felt death move in at the same time. I remember sta di g the e sa i g, oh God, I d i g! I o l ea s old; I ha e t do e a thi g et! I d i g! A d I just ha e to share this really quick piece, e ause it s i po ta t to ho I became who I am today. I heard in the back of me or my mind, which was the weirdest and um- really great opportunity to hear, but I heard my spirit

sa i g to God, Please do t take us et. We ha e too u h to do, a d I as just like hat? It as as if, just i that o e t e e thi g slo ed do . It was like I was there for a long time, and I can only describe that space during that time as being as if I was transporting to a spiritual realm, as I call it. Everything was real slow. Yet it was as if a lot of time had pass since I heard Spirit ask God to please not take us, but it felt like a bolt of lightning struck at the top of my head. It jilted my body sideways to the left, and when I came back up, all the life was back in my body. I felt the bullet stop on the right side of my head, and I just began to run. I had to run past him apparently, but I did t see hi . I did t k o he e he as. I as i a zo e, I guess, o “pi it just had me going. I ran past him to get to the door, I guess. I ran to the top of the stairs, and I saw my children at the bottom. Then I felt hat I des i e as a pi g i utt. I did t k o hat it as the , ut from the ascended position I was in, I dove. I dove head first with arms outst et hed do the stai s. I did t tu le; I did t ha e ug u s, hi h sho ked the do to s. M ists e e t oke . Nothi g! I was screaming, Ma ues, Co e , “he iah- o s o i g! I holdi g head he e the ullet e te ed it, a d I pushi g up ith the a k of feet a d s i i g with one arm to help me get down the stairs. As I am going down the stairs and screaming their names, my husband is still shooting at me down the stairs, and a bullet struck me in my foot. It struck my left foot, a d it oke o e. No I ha e to tell ou this. I do t k o a out these bullets until later. I did not realize it then, so I just had to put it together when each wound could possibly have occurred. The only bullet I knew about was the one in my head.

I get down the stairs, crawl into the living room, grab my children, and we run to the back of the house. We do t go th ough the f o t doo , e ause hus a d is shooti g at the f o t doo . “ighs. We u to a eigh o s house, a d I elli g, Help e, help e! He e t shot e! He e t shot e! We burst into her house, unfortunately. From there, I tell he to put hild e i the ase e t, e ause I do t want my children to see my die, and I am so sure that I am going to die. because I have a bullet in my head. And you k o ho TV tells ou, if ou ha e a ullet i ou head, ou e supposed to e dead. So I begged them to put the children in the basement, and I crawl into the kitchen to lie on the floor. Laughs slightly. I did t a t the lood to ess up eigh o s floo . 67

I was really conscious of everything I was doing and what the impact of all of that could be. I crawled to the kitchen to lie down on the floor, so blood can get on the floor and not the carpet, and I could lie down o the floo a d die. I as just ti ed. I like ok, I ead . O e I found out the kids e e se u ed i the ase e t, a d as I la i g the e elie i g I goi g to die, “pi it just sa s, o, e a e ot doi g that. I like es, I ti ed , a d I hea “pi it sa , o , hile I like, es . We went back and forth, and by this time, police arrive, paramedics arrive, and everybody is touching me. When a police officer arrived a d slightl tou hed shoulde to see if I as ok, as I la i g flat o the floo i ight go a d he sa s, Oh, e se t the a ula e to ou house . I o de ed To house? I looked at hi , a d I asked Did hus a d kill hi self? I do t k o what made me ask that question, but I did and, he replied, – no, I did t sa that. I asked hi Is hus a d dead? He looked at e, and he had this look in his eyes that asked how do you know that. But he said, ot et , a d I just said, Ok. The above is part of the story of domestic violence advocate and MACOSH Healing Network executive director, Lavon Morris-Grant. Over 22 years later, Grant recalls this day vividly, because it was the day that changed her life and set her purpose into action. Grant had left her husband months before and moved into a shelter, stating that she was tired of the verbal and emotional abuse, but her husband had never been violent until this day, Sept 8, 1996, when she went to pick her kids up from a visitation with him. Bla k o e o la k people, at that pa ti ula ti e, e e t eall telli g thei sto ies a k i the 9 s, a d people e e defi i g ou li es and our stories based off of their own information and not based off of hat e elie e, hat as fa tual o ou ealit , G a t sa s. “o when I came along, I was one of the first black women to survive something like that, survive that kind of physical abuse with a firearm and then being a black woman telling my own story and my own experiences of where I came from. This is pa tl h G a t s sto is so sig ifi a t a d ho she is i demand as a domestic violence advocate. While Grant says she was already a spiritual person, surviving the shooting made her very aware of her purpose. I did t k o hat it as at that ti e, ut afte the shooti g, I became very aware of the purpose or aware of when the purpose sho ed up. I do t thi k I alled it a pu pose at the ti e, but oh wow! I do t thi k I alled it pu pose at the ti e, ut the oppo tu ities just sta ted happe i g.. G a t e alls. 68

After being released from the hospital and going on about her life, local churches and organizations began to reach out to her to speak at their events. I e t a k to upstate Ne Yo k, a d I was being asked to do a lot of speaking. I would spend a lot of time going to various events about domestic violence and being a survivor, so I was getting a lot of opportunities to speak, and I was like oh o , I a do this! G a t e plai s. That is hat sta ted the journey, by them asking me to speak. The I ealized, ok, this is hat I a doing. This is what I am supposed to be doing, going around bringing awareness and education, particularly being a black o a . While she was living at the shelter months before, she also began attending therapy, so after almost losing her life at the hands of her husband, she was still in therapy, but then she was also instructed to start journaling her thoughts and feelings, because she had so many traumas to sort through.

I was functioning, but I as t functioning. I was functioning as long as I stayed in the house and people did t ha e to see e. Like I could hide it, but it was bad. My mental health was really bad. The sa i g g a e as that I did t ha e to go to a 9 to . I did t ha e to go work for somebody, because I was ot a le to o k i so eo e else s structure. So yea, that was all working together to work into the pu pose. However Grant did not allow that to stop her. From attending and speaking at various events, she began to learn more about domestic violence and advocacy.

Withi that fi st ea I had fi e journals. Someone happened to read something that I wrote where I as talki g a out the la k ess of death , hi h is hat I a ed the bullet; and someone was like, La o , ou a e a eall good ite , a d I as like, huh? Grant says and laughs. Grant was then pushed to share her journal with another writer who later became her editor, when she decided to publish her book, Who “hall I Fear: A Spiritual Jou e i . Bet ee the speaki g a d the book coming out, it went together. Once the book came out I rose to atio al status, she e plai s. People a ou d the ou t starting hearing and talking about this woman who was shot four ti es a d ote a ook. “he s

speaking. She lived, and she wrote ook. With her new found credibility and the insurance money from her hus a d s death, G a t ad its that life should have been decent, but mentally she was suffering. I e t i to se e e, severe depression, which was probably PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) That (depression) was there too. It was all there on the same spectrum, opportunities, success, and depression. I would go to an event whether it was local or out of state, and I would come back home and could barely get out the ed, G a t e alls. “o depression and my purpose of work were working at the same time. I wrote the book when I was in severe depression, and that is weird, but I did it.


I did ot k o that a oss the country there was this big movement of women –and some men, but definitely, mostly women of organizations, that worked on behalf of the victims and survivors of domestic violence. There were local programs, state programs, and national programs that offered resources and services to train people to do indirect services and direct services. Grant explained that direct services were those services provided working directly with the victims and survivors themselves. While indirect services were services where one worked with what they alled the ad o ate , ho e e the individuals doing the work within the organization to keep the organization running and operating. “o fo e, I a e in doing the indirect services, and what that means is when I was going to board meetings, everybody wanted me to be a part of their organization,

because I was a high profile case, and I fit a lot of agendas that they were just getting to. They were like, look at this o a . “he did t go through the pattern of what we k o a d he e it es alates , Grant further explains. The o al patte is the a use starts off verbally, mental abuse. Right? Then it goes to the physical, to where he is trying to kill her or e ds up killi g he . Mi e did t go like that. It went from a lowvolume of what you want to call verbal abuse, and then he tried to kill me right? Boom! There was no physical. He never hit me, we never had that. It just e t oo , so everybody at the state level wanted me to work with them and e o thei oa d. From working with the different boards and attending board meetings, Grant began to learn of the various tools and trainings, as well as government policies, and she ealized ho poli ies hurt poo o u ities of olo a d ho thi gs a e s ste ati all designed to why people stay poor, h people a t get e tai se i es. Grant realized that her insight, not only as a being a survivor, but also being a survivor of color was more purposed than she thought. She realized things were much bigger than her, because most policies and laws were created by nonBlack people, so she began to train those who influenced the law. I ega to liste , at h, a d lea how all of this was being navigated and having a marketing degree, I

was like I can turn this into a usi ess, e alls G a t. I a keep learning, and I can start training the judges, the lawyers, law enforcement -even the advocates themselves, because agai the did t k o a lot a out the black culture. They knew a lot about mainstream European ways, and the European way is the right way which is what we say. The did t k o a out othe cultures, whether it was Latina culture, black American culture, Asia ultu e‌ A d so agai , I came –and I hate to put it that way, but I came at a unique time when things were just starting to be talked about. So I would use my story of my life experiences and connect it to the political environment and policies that were being worked on, stating why we eed it to do diffe e t thi gs. Grant continued to share her own upbringing and knowledge of black culture so that her peers and clients could understand how abuse was normalized within the black community. She argued how est ai i g o de s a e ot worth the paper they are written on, why we need stronger gun laws for abusers who were convicted of a i e, a d h the do t eed a gun permit, because I (Grant) was shot ith a gu . Grant was able to share a different perspective of things, and one policy that she instrumentally o ki g o as h e a t blame the victims. She trained her clients on the importance of why the language that is used and the


line of questioning when speaking with victims are so important, because victims can sense when someone is blaming them for that othe pe so s eha io . More than 15 years later, Grant is still speaking and advocating for domestic violence. Her organization, MACOSH, which is an acronym she created out of the fi st t o lette s of he hild e s names, is a social justice agency that provides holistic, culturally specific resources and programs to survivors of domestic violence. The organization implements a number of culturally and trauma informed programs, activities, and events, focused on building collaborative community and healthy interpersonal relationships, connecting survivors and communities to resources, and empowering communities to end domestic violence. This is carried out through the programs and i itiati es the e eated.

To learn more about Lavon Grant or her organization MACOSH, visit Note: Her organization does accept donations, partnerships, and volunteers.


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