Align Your Assignment With God
Your assignment is not the assignment of everyone else. Once I learned what those nine words truly meant, my focus on life changed. Of course, I have been told that God gives His toughest battles to His strongest warriors, but that memo didn’t include details of when the battles would end. Instead of sticking my chest out during my victories and hanging my head during the moments of defeat, I’ve decided to learn from each circumstance, and by doing so, I am prepared for the next battle with each new day.
The best advice I have ever given myself is to be satisfied in my attempts to be better. When I first launched Huami Magazine, I was presented with a situation that adversely impacted the quality of my relatively new publication. I was frustrated, but I also knew what had occurred and why it happened. The idea of quitting never came into my mind, even while I sat motionless, staring at the balled-up copy in reference. I didn’t know then, but God was preparing me for something greater.
In November of this year, we will begin our seventeenthanniversary celebration of the birth of Huami Magazine. When I think about all of the layouts, the photo shoots, the interviews, and the distributions that have taken place, all I can say is God has been faithful and continues to keep His promise.
Had I given up in the beginning, the stories and testimonies of countless individuals may have never been published. Had I given in to the pressure of operating in the unknown, my mother would have never been able to mail magazines to her friends. Had I not decided to pour everything I have in me into producing something my community would celebrate, the hope that others have in God doing a great work for them may not exist.
All of my assignments have come with a lot of responsibility. What is more interesting is that the same set of instructions has accompanied them all: to seek God first and operate according to His plans. My assignment is not everyone else’s, and I know everything I desire is connected to how it aligns with God’s plan. Learn your assignment and align it with God. He will handle the rest for you.
Soul Food Scholar
Adrian E. Miller regards himself as the Soul Food Scholar who is dropping knowledge like hot biscuits. The Dever, CO, native has enjoyed careers in various arenas. He is a recovering attorney, a former Politico, and an author. Currently, he is the Executive Director of the Colorado Council of Churches. In his role, he brings people together across denominational lines in the Christian faith tradition, and they collectively do social justice work.
He focused on commercial litigation as an attorney, but the main focus was employment law. “That area of focus was not what I really wanted to do. I wanted to do corporate law, assist entrepreneurs in building their businesses, and help them develop an exit strategy. But, when you go work for a big law firm, they plug you in where they need you. It just wasn’t for me, and it got to the point where I was singing spirituals in my office,” he says.
As the Council of Churches, Adrian oversees 13 Christian denominations, representing over 800 churches in Colorado. Adrian primarily works with the mainline protestant denominations and strives to get people to connect people outside of their church walls and denomination walls. “Most people only relate to people in their church. I try to connect people in the broader Christian community and collectively do social justice work. We are a lot stronger than we are separately,” he shares.
Adrian’s journey also includes a stint with him working in the White House with former President Bill Clinton. The program he worked on was called The President’s Initiative for One America, an outgrowth of President Clinton’s initiative on race, which the late John Hope Franklin chaired.
As mentioned, Adrian is regarded as the Soul Food Scholar, a self-proclamation derived by Adrian. The books he has written on this subject matter include Soul Food: The Surprising Story of American Cuisine, One Plate At a Time, The President’s Kitchen Cabinet, and Black Smoke: African Americans and The United States of Barbeque.
Adrian says, “I am self-taught, and I arrived at this title due to unemployment. After leaving my stint at the White House, I was trying to get back to Colorado and start my political career. The job market was really slow, and I watched a lot of daytime television. In the depth of my depravity, I decided to read something and purchased a book from a local bookstore titled The History of Southern Food, written by John Edgerton. In his book, John said the tribute to black achievement in American cooking has yet to be written. I found that to be very interesting. I decided to reach out to him and see if he thought that was still true. John said he did and believed that no one had taken on the full story. With no qualifications at all, besides eating a lot of soul food and cooking it some, I started on the journey to answer my own question,” he says.
Adrian headed back to Denver, and upon arriving, he got into politics. In his spare time, Adrian would read everything he could get his hands on about African-American food traditions. This included 3,500 oral histories about formerly enslaved people, 500 cookbooks, half of them authored by black people, and thousands of magazine and newspaper articles and talked to hundreds of people. Adrian shares that because he cares about his subject so dearly, he decided to eat his way through the country; he visited 150 soul food restaurants in 35 cities in 15 states. That exploration lasted about the course of a year and a half.
In regards to soul food, Adrian says his favorite dish is greens. “I love soul food greens. My favorite is mustard and turnip greens without the turkey. My mom is from Chattanooga, TN, and she cooked mustard and turnip greens. I learned there is a regional difference in the preference for greens. If you are from the Deep South, you will most likely eat collards. If you are from the mid-Atlantic, you will likely enjoy kale. I also love bone-in-fried Catfish. I love that,” he says.
In his travels to learn more about soul food, Adrian says what shocked him was learning the narrative that it was created by white people for black people as the food they did not want. “In doing my studies, I learned the Southern food story has more to do with class and place than it is about race. So, pretty much, African Americans of the same socioeconomic class are eating the same foods.”
He also gained a deeper appreciation of the African influences on soul food. “Before, I didn’t know much about African influence. I learned that African’s brought some of their foods to America from Africa and adapted to some things in America. I saw a lot more agency in trying to shape their foods while in the most horrific circumstances.”
Adrian says that due to his research, he has become inspired by the celebration of African-American cuisine. “I observed how the African American food tradition was heavily criticized while others were not. I wanted to know what was up with that. If you investigate the nutritional facts of other cuisines, you can’t argue they are healthier than soul food. I thought that something else must be going on. I learned that it is criticized because it is strongly associated with slavery and poverty. It is also believed to be inherently unhealthy. I wanted to unpack that and sort out fact from fiction. I also wanted to celebrate what we’ve brought to the table in terms of the cooks, the cuisine, and the culture,” he says.
For those interested in venturing on a journey similar to that of Adrian, the Soul Food Scholar, he offers some advice that may help along the way. “First of all, you have to do the work. It is so tempting to take a shortcut, but that often leads to mistakes. You must keep receipts because there are people who will doubt you, especially within the African-American culture. Also, find your bliss and that which sings to your heart and soul, and share your dream with others because that might open new doors of opportunity for you,” he says.
Please visit his website to learn more about Adrian Miller and purchase copies of his books.
Fostering Great IdeasBy Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Latece Logan
Greenville, SC, native and resident Latece Logan doesn’t appear to have issues standing out front. She proudly holds the title of North Greenville College’s first African American Homecoming Queen. Latece also performed in the Opening Ceremony of the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, GA. Today, she is the Director of Fostering Great Ideas Life Support Mentoring Relationships Program, which focuses on helping youth who are in foster care. These individuals often lack consistent relationships and may struggle academically, developmentally, and relationally. “High-quality relationships are the foundation for all other learning,” Latece shares. In her role, she oversees over 100 mentor relationships between highly qualified mentors and youth in foster care. She is also enrolled at the Life Purpose Institute out of San Diego, CA, studying to become a certified Life Coach.
Fostering Great Ideas Life Support Mentoring Program is the largest mentor program for youth in foster care in the southeast. Additionally, Latece serves as a Transitional Coach at Legacy Early College and mentors senior scholars as they transition from high school to college. Most recently, Latece was promoted to Fostering Great Ideas Chief Culture Officer, an executive leadership position responsible for fostering an inclusive, collaborative, and engaging organizational culture that aligns with FGI’s mission and values. She is also responsible for leading cultural initiatives, supporting staff development, and implementing programs that enhance the overall organizational environment.
“Through the work of the dedicated team at Fostering Great Ideas, healing is possible and success is attainable,” Latece says. “Fostering Great Ideas is a charity to support children and youth by offering each youth ages 14 and up with a mentor through its Life Support Program. They also offer a Tutor Match Program for school-age youth in foster care. Older youth can join their Aspire program, which provides a certified life coach to help transition from high school to college and beyond. Another program, It’s All Relative, offers supportive training for family members when children are removed from their homes. To ensure that siblings who are separated from their brothers and sisters have regularly scheduled visits with each other, they’ve developed the Sib-Link Program. “When we say family, we mean parents as well. Our Mom’s Matter program is a service that offers training and support while encouraging moms to reach their reunification goals,” Latece says.
Fostering Great Ideas is also big on community connections and education through its Care2Foster program, which supports current foster families and recruits new ones. They also advocate for youth in foster care and help amplify their voices through their Speak Up Program. Lastly, they offer an interactive role-play workshop called Life in Limbo, that gives a perspective of what the experience is like for those in foster care.
I did not get where I am today because of my education. I got where I am today because I’m operating in my gift, and it has made room for me.”
Latece’s journey at FGI began in 2015. After her friend, Ava Smith, the owner of Flatfee Recruiting, submitted Latece’s resume to David White, CEO of Fostering Great Ideas, she was hired for an entry-level position. In eight short years, she earned the executive leadership position as the CCO, and she’s not finished, as her story is still being written.
Inspiring people to be their best selves Latece says, is what drives her. “I love God, and I love God’s people. He is my source and my strength and it is through Him I live and have my being. His love for me has compelled me to treat people how I would like to be treated, and I want to demonstrate His love everywhere I go through words of encouragement, affirmation, and simple acts of kindness.” Even more, helping others is something she loves to do, unconditionally. She adds, “With FGI, I have the ability to express who I truly am. Proverbs 18:16 says, “A man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men”. I did not get where I am today because of my education. I got where I am today because I’m operating in my gift, and it has made room for me. Empowering people to thrive and support them as they help others do the same gives me life!”
Latece also acknowledges the impact her mother had on her life. “My mother was a beautiful woman. She was wise as a serpent yet gentle as a dove. She passed away in 1999, yet the love she carried in her heart for her family is why I love as hard as I do. I want to be just like her; someone who is loved and adored, not because of my accomplishments, but because of how I treat people and love God.”
Latece has enjoyed her journey and shares there isn’t much she would change about how things have happened. “If I could change anything about my journey with our organization, It would be to push to go statewide sooner because too many children are still waiting to feel the support and love that Fostering Great Ideas offers. It takes funding from individual donors, corporations, and grants, and we need to push harder for these children daily.”
As the future unfolds for Latece, her purpose will be the same. She says, “On a professional note, I will strive to enable Fostering Great Ideas to be known as a one-stop shop for the needs of youth in foster care and will equip our volunteers and staff to do just that. Personally, I plan to continue to educate myself on building leaders to empower youth and families to live life out loud and unapologetically. Soon, I will be a certified life coach and own a Performance Coach Practice to help people perform in whatever capacity they desire.”
Latece has been married to Bud Logan for 24 years, and they have two accomplished daughters, Shekinah Ellis and LaChara Logan. She also has a bonus son, JaQuan Logan, and grandson, Landon Logan. Latece is also under the Worship & Arts Pastor, Jessica Duckett, of the Divine Worship Center Praise Team.
Please visit their website to learn more about Latece Logan and Fostering Great Ideas Life Support Mentoring Relationships Program.
Giving Back Is How She Does BusinessBy Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Leatriece Franklin
Leatriece Franklin of Memphis, TN, is a multipreneur. She is the owner of both LF Mobile LifeSaving Courses and The Skrub Kafe Network. With LF Mobile LifeSaving Courses, she provides basic to advanced CPR Training to individuals and groups as early as nine years old. She also offers custom first aid kits and the children’s book series The Adventures of Captain LifeSaver and Kid Shock. With The Skrub Kafe Network, Leatriece offers high-quality scrub uniform styles and accessories, a spacious networking area, and LF Mobile LifeSaving Courses.
Leatriece is a native of Memphis and grew up in Raleigh and graduated from Raleigh Egypt High School. She is a mom of one son, Thomas. Since 1997, she has worked as a nurse. Additionally, she is a Retired Army Captain of 22 years. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing, a Master’s Degree in Nursing (concentration in Leadership and Management), and a Master’s Degree in Healthcare Management.
Leatriece shares that her journey in business aligns with her career of serving in the military. “While in the Army, a Military Training Network certification through the American Heart Association was required to provide Basic Life Support training to EMT-B and EMT-B Recert students. As I trained people for the military, more people started reaching out for training on the civilian side. So in June 2016, LF Mobile LifeSaving Courses was born,” she says.
In 2018 LF Mobile LifeSaving Courses was designated as an official training site for the American Heart Association. In 2022, Leatriece published her first book in the series, The Adventures of Captain LifeSaver and Kid Shock. Her goal was to get LifeSaving concepts in front of children at an early age. “CPR can double to triple a cardiac arrest victim’s survival,” she says. Fast forward to 2023, LF Mobile LifeSaving Courses has trained and certified thousands of LifeSavers.
With The Skrub Kafe Network, Leatriece says she got tired of talking about what she wanted to do. “Sometimes you have to stop and check yourself and just try,” she says. “My lease with my CPR Training space was ending, and I thought it was the perfect time to acquire a space large enough to conduct CPR Training and provide scrub uniforms in one place. So, in August 2021, The Skrub Kafe Network was created.”
Her location is sectioned into three parts. There is one for scrub uniforms and another section for networking and seating. The third section is designated for CPR Training. The Skrub Kafe Network’s official opening happened on July 23, 2022. Leatriece says, “It was beautiful.”
The vision for both businesses, Leatriece says, came from a need. “The need to offer cost-effective and location-friendly training to all sorts of people, not just Healthcare Providers.” The community of Raleigh was chosen due to being an area of need. “There are no scrub uniform stores or CPR Training sites in Raleigh. It was also a goal for me to open up shop in Raleigh as a means of giving back,” she shared.
Leatriece says what she loves most about her businesses are the opportunities she has to meet amazing people, whether in class or during a sales transaction. “I love providing my amazing clients with the skills necessary to save a life and providing them with scrub uniforms at a competitive rate.”
While her journey continues to prove itself as a learning experience, Leatriece credits her family and friends with having a significant impact on her life and career. “The military and nursing have prepared me with thick skin. I can handle anything thrown my way. My mom was a nurse and retired after working for 32 years at the V.A. Hospital in Memphis. Her work ethic showed me you can do anything you put your mind to. My brother was in the Navy, and my sister was in the Air Force.”
Besides being faced with the challenge of having adequate capital to grow her business, Leatriece shares that marketing and staffing is just as important. She has addressed both by utilizing social media, word of mouth, texting, emailing, and more. “It’s hard, but if you want to be successful, you must keep going. I do what I can when I can, and I do more when I can. As a nurse, I’ve seen the horrible staffing market, and it’s no different for reliable retail associates.”
For those who may follow in her footsteps, Leatriece advises them to be determined and prepared. “Become as educated as you can in your field. Also, find a mentor or someone who will pour into you. It’s enough opportunity out there for everyone. Your path will be individualized for you, and things will happen when you want them to. It might not be when you want it to happen, but I’ll be right on time.”
As her future unravels, Leatriece plans to continue providing services in Memphis and hopefully nationwide. By the looks of what she has done thus far, Leatriece’s brands are here to stay.
Please visit their website to learn more about LF Mobile LifeSaving Courses and The Skrub Kafe.
Memphis Shelby Police Activities League “A Little Can Go A Long Way”By Monica Montgomery Photos Provided by Craig Littles
Over the years, stories of youth growing up in crimeinfested areas have become increasingly common. Craig Littles, a military veteran and former law enforcement officer from North Memphis, Tennessee, has a similar story. But instead of giving in to the pull of the role models in his community, Mr. Littles took a different path with the help of his mother and sports coaches. Grateful for the opportunities and help he was blessed to have, Craig has built a community that helps kids like him find a different path. Today, he is the founder and Executive Director of the Sheriffs and Police Activities Leagues. The Memphis Shelby Police Activity League, or PAL, has been a life-altering organization for the youth of North Memphis for over thirty years.
In addition to being the founder of the Memphis Shelby County PAL, Craig is the National PAL Vice President. Nationally, PAL serves 1.5 million youth, over three hundred chapters, and seven international chapters. Locally, Memphis PALs serve over two thousand youth annually.
Craig’s passion for being an advocate and resource for the youth in his community comes from a deep sense of gratitude and respect for God and those people he believes God sent to help him beat the odds.
“Growing up in an impoverished neighborhood in Memphis, my role models were gang bangers and dope dealers,” Craig explains. “I started this program thirty years ago to be a better role model than our kids see in the community every day.”
Craig, a single parent to three, now adult children understand the importance of good examples outside and in the home. He and his brother were raised by a single mother who made sure they were surrounded by strong male mentors who could give them good guidance and sound advice when needed. “My brother and I are a year apart, and our mother ensured we were always involved in something positive. We were really good at sports, so that’s where we focused our energy,” Craig shares. “It made our mother happy because it kept us busy, in school, and away from influences that would distract us.”
A star athlete, Craig, and a fellow teammate were being heavily recruited to play college football. Going to college and getting a degree, all while doing something you enjoy would be ideal for anyone working to change their circumstances. Craig was no different, but he had to look at the bigger picture.
“I wanted to go to college, but I needed to get out of Memphis. One weekend, a teammate and I were scheduled to be picked up for a college visit. We waited, and they never came. The entire weekend passed, they didn’t come, and no one called. We found out later the coach and the staff of the college’s program were fired,” Craig shares.
Feeling like the college option was closed to him, he did what a lot of young men do. He went to the military. “When the college tour fell through, I signed up for the Army as soon as I was able to. College was my first choice, but in the end, I had to get out of my neighborhood. I saw the military as the fast way to do that at the time.”
After four years in the Army, one spent in the Dessert Storm campaign, Craig came home with a purpose. “While in Dessert Storm, I prayed to God. I told him if he got us home safely, I would do whatever He told me to do! I had no idea of what that would be. I didn’t know if I would be a minister, a teacher, or a chef! It didn’t matter. If God got me out of the foxhole and home safely, I would dedicate my life to doing what he directed me to do,” He shares pointedly. “When I returned home, I kept my promise. I went with what I knew and what had worked for me and my brother as children. Sports.”
In 1997, Craig started the first youth sports program. “When I got out of the Army, God led me to start a youth organization. I gathered several of my high school buddies, and we started with twenty-five football players and five cheerleaders and started our youth football cheer program called Memphis Bears Inc.”
Craig returned home in 1991 and joined the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office in the jail division; later, he became a Memphis Police Officer. “Law enforcement felt like a natural progression for me but not for the reasons you may think,” Craig starts to explain. “I’ve always felt the call to help people. For that reason, I find myself drawn to the jobs and situations nobody wants to do.” h
Growing up in an impoverished neighborhood in Memphis, my role models were gang bangers and dope dealers....
I started this program thirty years ago to be a better role model than our kids see in the community every day.”
In the thirty years since starting their first sports program, Craig and his team have been strategic and hyper-focused on creating programs that benefit the youth and the community. Continuing to draw from his own childhood, Craig wanted to channel the group’s efforts toward mentorship. “Again, growing up without a father in the home, my mother tried to ensure my brother and I were exposed to good male role models. Whether it was our uncles, the pastor, or our coaches. She positioned us in a space where we had positive examples to help shape and mold us into the men we are today. Our coaches held us accountable and gave us goals. Those things kept us out of trouble. That is what we set out to do for the kids in our community. We wanted to give them good role models to emulate because that is what worked for us,” Craig explained.
Because of the overwhelming response to their initial project, new programs and initiatives were started. “We started with the twenty-five football players and five cheerleaders, and we immediately saw the positive impact that it made in our community. As a result, the program grew. We started a track program, a summer program, and on the academic side, we have tutoring and homework assistance,” Little shared with enthusiasm. “There was such a need; students and families were hungry for the opportunities our programs have brought to this community.”
In the years since Craig gathered a few high school buddies to honor his promise to God, they have not had a shortage of support from the community. “We have a strong volunteer base and partners who provide financial support. We have thirty staff members and over two hundred volunteers that span all programs. Our volunteers include the advisors, coaches, tutors, board members, and booster club.”
Because MSC PAL is an independent non-profit, the program relies on financial support from sponsors and partners. “We have been so blessed to have so many people and companies who believe in us and what we are doing here,” Craig explains. “The programs that we create are not based on what I think is needed. We listen to the community and create programs based on their needs. Whether the need is nutrition, mentorship, or help with academics. We work to find a partner that helps us meet that need.” Craig shares. “If a parent says they need intervention for their child, we’ve partnered with the Ford Foundation and the juvenile court. In some cases, in lieu of being arrested, those students attend my training. There are a plethora of avenues that we can access to support our families at little or no cost to them.”
The success of the programs that MSC PAL has instituted has been evident in the students who graduate from it. “We have students who go on to complete college and trade school successfully. We have students who come back and volunteer, and we’ve had students come back and teach or join the police department in their community,” Craig said with pride. “That is why our program is so successful. We focus on
where the need is. For those reasons, the people of the community respect what we do, and we get to see the success stories that make this all worthwhile.”
If you haven’t caught on yet, Craig Littles loves his community and the people that live there. So, it was only fitting that the program be housed at his alma mater. “The best part is that we were able to host the program at our alma mater, Trezvant High School. That’s where it started for us. Now, thirty years later, we are still there and have been blessed to open an after-school program inside of the school. Trezvant High School and Memphis Shelby County Schools donated a wing inside of Trezvant. With a $300,000.000 renovation, Memphis Shelby County PAL was able to start after-school, summer, and extended learning programs,” Craig said proudly.
Over the years, Craig has been recognized for his labor of love. Craig has received numerous awards, such as the Meritorious Community Service Award by former Mayor W. W. Herenton, Outstanding Community Service by former Congressman Harold Ford Jr., River City Gala, Community Man of The Year, and Community Service Award, Memphis Police Department, just to name a few.
Staying true to his original vision to give kids in the North Memphis community something to emulate, make them proud of themselves, and stand a little taller, Craig’s current project is to give the local schools a stadium to hold their sports events.
“Right now, the schools must leave the area to participate in sporting events. They don’t have a place in their community built for them,” Craig explained. “The Field of Dreams Project is a state-of-the-art sports stadium where local schools can host sporting events and activities,” he shares passionately.
Bloolutus Vedayoga “Healing From The Depths”By Terry L. Watson Photos
Tashira Mone’, also known as “Shi”, has enjoyed a colorful and thrilling journey in life. She is an Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor, 200 RYT Hatha/Tantra/Vinyasa, 300 MTT Yoga Nidra Meditation, Sound Healer, a veteran, mom, and wife in Twin Flame Union.
Tashira is also an Air Force Veteran who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom. She has served as a nurse with a career that spanned over ten years. She has many experiences in various demographics, including being a licensed Tantra/Hatha/Vinyasa Yoga and meditation Instructor. Tashira’s training in this field happened in Indonesia. Additionally, she is an Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor and alumnus of Kerala Ayurvedic Academy.
After high school, Tashira joined the Air Force immediately, unleashing her inner warrior and bravery. She hadn’t even turned 18, but she set off with hope! “With only an inkling of who I was or wanted to be, I started my independent journey as Military Police personnel, which led to a deployment to Iraq and serving in mission Operation Iraqi Freedom. Upon separating from the military and four years of military police work, I sought healing career options,” she explains. “My own healing journey began after separating from the military, divorcing, and embarking on a new journey as a civilian and single mother. So, I studied Nursing and worked in various fields such as psych to rehab and addiction, corrections, and hospice. For the most part, I’ve always possessed a burning passion for acquiring knowledge through self-study and wisdom through my fearless experience and solitude.”
Currently, Tashira owns Bloolotus. Her company offers a unique and individualized holistic approach to health and wellness using Vedic knowledge and practices to support individuals in attaining balance, well-being, and optimal health. Her mantra, “The only way out is in”, and Tashira explains she is committed to assisting others in addressing the root causes of their challenges and ailments. “I structure my personal life and business around this mantra and strongly believe in the power of introspection as the catalyst for radical change. A healthy mind creates a healthy body, and healthy minds create a healthy society!”
Her services are designed to guide human beings seeking wellness and health in awakening the healer within, using the powers of the mind, Vedic practices, and through the understanding of the subtle energies in our food, thoughts, and actions. With this approach in counseling, Tashira takes her clients on a holistic journey as they cleanse and reprogram their mind-body-spirit system, bringing optimal health, balance, purpose, clarity, and inner peace into their life experience. “Rather than seeking to heal others, my role is to awaken individuals to their inherent abilities and powers to heal themselves. This approach enables them to walk their authentic path and overcome any obstacles hindering them, ultimately fostering harmony, good health, clarity, purpose, and fulfilling their desires. I intend to create a space where my clients can fully embrace the healing experience and carry it with them long after their program ends.”
Some of the services offered by Bloolotus are 1:1 Yoga/Meditation Path, provided in monthly packages. In Yoga, Tashira says, it is believed that dis-ease results from disconnection between mind, body, and spirit. The path to Yoga begins by monitoring the mental processes, understanding the mental process, and becoming undisturbed by the fluctuations of the mind so you can remain stable amid challenge and change.
They also offer Yoga Nidra + Deep Healing Sound Therapy, which is an ancient, deep meditation practice that facilitates healing from the subconscious mind outwards. It is an ancestral practice that stems from Indian traditions and philosophies grounded in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Tantrism. “This technique uses the body, breath, and awareness to allow you to drop into a deep state of relaxed awareness. Yoga Nidra facilitates awakened clarity and deep relaxation and, with consistent practice, can help one transcend self-created perceptions and limitations, heal psychological wounds, reduce stress, improve sleep, and connect to one’s inner wisdom, which transcends any lineage or guru,” she says.
Next, Bloolotus offers Ayurvedic Counseling. This service emphasizes the food consumption of her clients, which she says is defined by the food they eat, the air they breathe in, and the quality of breath taken in through senses such as sound, visual food, and taste of food. “Ayurvedic guidance helps one identify where disease and imbalance is present, how it shows up, and what triggers it. Based on an individual’s Dosha (mind-body type) we work together to stop feeding the triggers and start feeding the innate healer through changes and management of lifestyle, surroundings, diet, activities, and mental state. It’s all about selecting the right ingredients and combinations to feed the healer within based on which elements support the individual’s mind-body type,” she says. “Ayurveda keeps the body and mind healthy for a sustainable and successful Yoga practice.
Finally, there’s the Ayurvedic Curated Seasonal Cleanses & Packages, which are offered during the Fall and Spring seasons. Living an Ayurvedic lifestyle, Tashira shares means seeing and understanding the nature of the self and the nature of everything the self takes in and making conscious calculations about what to add and what to remove to maintain harmony, balance, and good health. “It’s about understanding Karma, transcending mental limitation, and living in a way that best suits your mind and body. This changes with the seasons, as designed. Seasonal cleansing allows us to shift with this change and live in rhythm with nature. Ayurvedic seasonal cleansing prevents some of your most common and longstanding physical health issues alone.”
Tashira says the vision to start Bloolotus began many years ago, happening along with her own healing and spiritual journey. “I traveled to Peru for an Ayahuasca ceremony in 2016 and had a soul awakening, mind-blowing experience. I experienced a frightening yet beautiful rebirth, faced some of my innermost shadows head-on, and awakened to my unresolved traumas. The ceremony gave me forgiveness, acceptance, a deeper connection with my intuition, and a deeper understanding of nature and the human psyche. My perception of healing and medicine shifted. Shortly after returning home from Peru, I experienced a traumatic event in my personal life: a home break-in and sexual assault at knifepoint. This left me in mental and emotional turmoil. I turned to yoga philosophy and practice to help cope, and I obtained profound healing and enlightenment. With the anxiety and panic attacks resulting from the break-in, I couldn’t find the space to breathe and heal, so I decided to travel to Bali, Indonesia, to earn my yoga teacher certification through intense training and immersive study. I wanted to learn more about Yoga, which led me to the science of Ayurvedic Medicine. At that discovery, I knew I finally found my place, purpose, and path,” she says.
Tashira’s advice to others who may find themselves in places like she was is to let go of what you think your journey should look like because when you do that, you make space for the possibilities. “Any rigid thinking limits you from the infinite versions of outcomes that you can’t even imagine. Your mind only knows what it knows. So have faith, have fun, surrender, and trust the process,” she says.
To learn more about Bloolotus, please visit their website.
Artist Visual Arts StudioBy Dr. Marrissa Dick Photos
Do you remember when you took art classes in elementary school or dabbled in art while at your afterschool program? Do you remember making Play-Doh figures and gluing them onto a paper plate, tracing your fingers to form a turkey figure, and then placing different colored pieces of construction paper on them to resemble feathers? Remember rushing home to present your artwork to your parents so they could hang it on the refrigerator with a magnet? Now, parents, tell the truth and shame the devil. Did you ever look at that artwork and ask, “Now baby, what is this supposed to be?” How about the response didn’t match the picture or, better yet, the picture didn’t resemble you? Nonetheless, your child designed and glued that picture just for you, so you hung it up anyway. Now that many of us are parents and grandparents, we most likely have our children’s or grandchildren’s artwork dawning our refrigerators.
Parents, have you ever asked your child how they came up with that design or what they were thinking about when creating their unique art piece? Art is a conceptual idea. It’s an expression of the imagination in a visual form. Some art forms are more intricate than others, such as Batik art. Let me help you connect with this 2000-year-old type of art.
Do you remember melting crayons onto paper and using that melted, colorful wax to create an abstract image? Without your knowledge, you were in the infancy stages of Batik art. It’s one of those artmaking processes requiring much preparation and skill. Batik means wax painting and is a technique of using wax-resist dyeing applied to whole cloth. Batik is made by drawing dots and lines of the resist with a spouted tool called a canting or by printing the resist with a copper stamp called a cap. The applied wax resists dyes, allowing the artisan to color selectively by soaking the muslin cloth in one color, removing the wax with boiling water, and repeating that process if multiple colors are desired. This tradition is cultivated in Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nigeria. However, the Island of Java, Indonesia, is the most famous country for this type of art. One of the most famous Batik artists lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, and his name is Henry E. Sumpter.
Born in Myrtle Beach, SC, Henry is a Contemporary Batik Painting Master. Those who have viewed his artwork believe he is a hybrid of Picasso, DaVinci, and Raphael. They also believe his talent for creating Batik should have propelled him to greatness long ago, except Henry wasn’t ready to grace the world; instead, he chose to remain in his shell. “I’m a very simple sort of guy. And at 77, I’m still naïve. That’s the thing that helps me to create – my naivete.”
So, where exactly does Henry’s inspiration come from? He says, “God gives me visions in my dreams when it’s time for me to create. I’ll give you one example. One night, I heard this voice talking in my room. When I woke up, I thought it was Satan, so I said Satan, get away from me, and I went back to sleep. When I went back to sleep, I picked back up on the same dream, and here comes this voice again. So, I said, Hey, Satan, you can’t talk to me! This time, the voice spoke back and said This is not Satan; this is God, so I got up and began painting the vision He was showing me in my dream.”
As Sumpter grew up, he knew he was different from his peers. At an early age, he could hold conversations with his elders, which is one of the reasons his mother dubbed him with the nickname of ‘Fessor short for professor. Henry recalls, “I was a different type of kid on the beach. At seven and eight years old, I wandered everywhere. I would roam almost three or four miles away from home at night just to get on the Air Force base to speak to the airmen/pilots and get all the information I could from them about their travels, thinking I was a kid on base, they would talk to me. Even during that time, it was really dangerous for me to be alone, but I didn’t have any fear or ever thought about anyone hurting me, especially because I had a big white German Shepherd who would accompany me when I sneaked away from home. I feel like that was God protecting and guiding me. He went everywhere with me; I know now it was God. I’m just as curious now as when I was a child. Sometimes, with flashlight pressed against my hand at night, I’m still amazed at the bright blood running through my fingers. I get up daily, look at the sun, and marvel at how photosynthesis makes the flowers grow. I’ve even asked my doctors why I am still that way, and they just say that it’s a part of my DNA.”
Another piece of Henry’s DNA is his ability to draw. As a child, he couldn’t draw anything more than stick figures while his family members were able to surpass him. “I couldn’t always draw. It wasn’t until I started working in the country clubs and cleaning floors, and working in white people’s homes cleaning their floors that I could connect the dots. The folk I worked for never understood why I enjoyed doing the floors, but I did that so I could look at the pictures hanging on the walls. I would be working and looking at the details. Even though they thought I was strange because I received enjoyment while hand polishing their floors, nobody would stop a black man from that type of work, especially since I had the best floors wherever I worked. Nobody knew that I was steadily waxing, studying, and developing my technique. When I was 13 years old, I just woke up one morning and could draw, and that’s how that happened.”
Painting on opposite page: Hidden Treasures
I get up daily, look at the sun, and marvel at how photosynthesis makes the flowers grow. I’ve even asked my doctors why I am still that way, and they just say that it’s a part of my DNA.”
Painting on opposite page: Red Skies Over Tamara
Sumpter has a rich history of working as a protégé of some of the greatest contemporary drawing artists, such as Charles Schulz, the creator of Peanuts (Charlie Brown and Snoopy), and Leo Twiggs, a professor at South Carolina State University and Claflin University Alum, and who is also an acclaimed Batik master. Sumpter recalls, “I attended Claflin as a freshman. Professor Twiggs took me over to his place, and I watched him doing this weird stuff with wax and dyes, and I said Sir, who taught you this? He didn’t answer that question; instead, he said Son, you’ll never be able to do this. He said that I wouldn’t have the intellect to do it and that I wouldn’t have the initiative or the desire to do it. He said Batik was beyond me. He should have never said that to me because those words were the impetus that caused me to want to prove him wrong. After that, I began experimenting with the art on my own, and the rest is history. I became enamored with this process; you must understand what the finished painting will look like before you start painting and also understand color.” The process of Batik art is time-consuming. These artists spend countless hours consumed with this craft. Sumpter has attested to working on one piece of art for nine years. Leo is still the best.
One may ask why drawing and painting one picture would take so long. Henry says, “I have some pieces that I’ve worked on for nine or more years perfecting. You see, my artwork is different because I have designed it using a three-D effect. You can see my effect up close, and you can see it just as well far away. For someone working with a hot wax tool, my hand speed is like Mohammad Ali’s. My hand speed is so fast the cameras can’t catch it. This is a time-consuming process where you can lose yourself and lose track of time. The tools needed are a process by itself. First, you have to envision your picture and see the colors. I’ve mastered the capability to make any color on the spectrum to paint. I literally get lost because I become intoxicated with the process from the beginning. I must use the perfect fabric or Muslin, my dyes, brushes, beeswax, hot plate, and pot to melt the wax. I then lay down the fabric, draw my vision, and apply the first wax layer. It’s the wax that provides the resistance. Then, I actually create my own dye colors; then, I have to remove the wax with a hot iron and newspaper. The whole process is very timeconsuming, but to me, the days are more like seconds,” he shares.
During the Vietnam War, Henry was drafted into the US Army, where he was assigned to the material performance branch in a craft shop, perfecting his art. After his tour in the Army, Henry began exhibiting his art and winning recognition. Several of his pieces can be found in New York, Atlanta, and London. Often, people are not recognized as great in their hometowns. However, Henry wants his artistry to stand the test of time long after he is gone. He shares, “I want the world to know that I have worked for over 40 years to create a unique body of work that will be aweinspiring and historical and archival work that will last for about 1,000 years.”
If you want to learn more about Henry E. Sumpter and purchase his works, visit https://visualdesignsstudio.com
712 Summit Avenue - Greensboro, NC 27405 336-275-6361
One Accord Ministries, INCBy Terry L. Watson
S. Kaye Latimer-Ellerbe’s mission is to inspire and empower others through practical and spiritual guidance. Her favorite life scripture is 3 John 1:2 (Beloved, I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers), which is always at the forefront of her mind as she challenges God’s people to live up to their full potential.
Born in South Carolina but now residing in Philadelphia, PA, Kaye is married to Reverend James B. Ellerbe, and together they have four daughters. She holds a Master of Business Administration, a Bachelor of Arts in English, and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications. Currently, Kaye is pursuing a Master of Science in Information Technology.
Professionally, Kaye owns and manages One Accord Ministries, INC, and On Point Events LLC. One Accord Ministries Inc., a nonprofit organization, is committed to serving the Lord and spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the truths of God’s word. Their work is done through live drama presentations that consists of dramatization, dance, and spoken word. “Our services are designed to reach the hearts of the lost and encourage Christians toward a closer relationship with Jesus Christ,” Kaye says. “Combining the Gospel with drama helps the audience see, hear, feel, and understand the message like never before, as the word of God comes alive on stage. Our vision is to take these productions to many different churches, conferences, and theaters, and break down religious barriers and speak to the believer’s heart so that people can be healed, delivered, and set free of bondage.”
For the most part, Kaye has always been drawn to the arts. She studied Liturgical Dance under Pastor Kristopher Halsey, founder of the Look & Live Creative Arts Team of Unity Temple Worship Center, Philadelphia, PA, and Minister Carolyn Johnson, founder of Breaking the Barriers Arts Academy, in Pennsauken, NJ. Additionally, she has shared her gift of ministry in dance throughout the United States, Bermuda, and Uganda, Africa, and held many church leadership positions, being ordained to the office of Elder in 2010. At the close of Unity Temple Worship Center, she founded One Accord Ministries Inc.
“Our vision is to take these productions to many different churches, conferences, and theaters, and break down religious barriers and speak to the believer’s heart so that people can be healed, delivered, and set free of bondage.”
During the Covid-19 pandemic, Kaye decided to follow her passion for decorating and design and started an event design business called On Point Events, LLC. On Point Events was created because of Kaye’s desire never to have anyone look back on their special day and be disappointed by what they see in the pictures. “A picture is worth millions to some and worth nothing to others. Once the moment has been captured in a picture, it can never be changed,” she says. On Point Events’ goal is to take their client’s dreams and make them a reality using decor designs from chairs and table linens, sashes, table runners, and centerpieces. “Our services are for anyone who has a vision for a special event and wants to see it come to life.”
As a Playwright and Director, Kaye says what she loves most is the opportunity to express her artistic vision and ideas through the medium of theater. “My job is to create unique stories, develop compelling characters, and explore diverse themes and emotions that keep the audience engaged and invested in the story,” she said. As an Event Designer and Coordinator, she mostly enjoys creating memorable experiences that reflect her client’s vision and love story. “I want to make sure that every time they think of the day or look at their photos, they experience the same euphoric feeling as they experienced on the actual day.”
Kaye shares that her daughter, Abria Nicole, inspires her to be the best she can be. She says, “Once I found out I was pregnant, I set out to ensure a better life for my daughter. Abria is the reason I have made many choices, stepped outside of my comfort zone, and allowed myself to be stretched in ways I couldn’t even imagine. I’ve done all of this to be the example she could follow as she grows in life. My daughter is a natural-born leader and a go-getter and is making waves in this world.”
Amazingly, Kaye has been able to build her business while working full-time. While doing so, it has been a challenge for her, but still, she has persevered. Kaye is determined, and most of all, she loves serving others in ministry and in business. Looking ahead, Kaye shares her plans for a rebroadcast of the 2023 Production “Already Defeated” which will be held in Philadelphia PA. Her team is also looking for opportunities to bring it to churches in and out of state. Additionally, she has launched a movement called “I’m SICKA Church” which depicts the issue of “church hurt” from all perspectives. There will also be a podcast series launching in the fall prior to the stage production in 2024.
Kaye is also seeking individuals to become a One Accord Ministries Inc. Partner. She says that by doing so, it helps them in so many ways. “It will allow us to cover production expenses and continue traveling the U.S. to preach the gospel. A partnership helps to increase the artistry of drama, helps to create professional scale life-changing videos, and reach people all over the U.S. and abroad,” she says.
Kaye shares her love of God with her husband, Reverend James B. Ellerbe
“We Are All Pieces In The Same Puzzle.”By Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Men of Faith Inc.
“Be a pebble to someone else’s path. We must find a way to bridge the gaps within our communal restraints.”
That is a quote taken from Dannell Marshall, the founder and Executive Director of Men of Faith Inc., based in Louisville, KY. Dannell Marshall Sr. attended and Graduated from Shelby County High School. He studied in the Kentucky Union Pipe Fitter Apprenticeship and attended Rowe Bible Institute and the University of Louisville.
Men of Faith Inc., is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with three core principles: Preserve, Empower, and Restore. Along with his vice president, Tim McFarland Sr., this organization has positively impacted countless men’s lives in the Louisville, KY, community.
“We strive to preserve the community we live in, empower every citizen, and restore faith in all,” he says. “Although people associate the word faith with religion, the definition of faith also includes hope. In efforts to achieve our mission, we offer mentoring, do various outreach throughout the whole community, and assist the elderly and the unfortunate. Many call the people we call unfortunate, such as the homeless or displaced. At Men of Faith, we call them unfortunate and acknowledge that everyone is one or two dire situations from being truly unfortunate.”
Dannell’s organization hosts an event called “The SPARK”, which is also free to the community. SPARK events, he says, are embodied around health, wealth, and awareness. They also host an annual breast cancer banquet called, “Fighting Cancer with Faith Banquet,” in which they honor male and female breast cancer survivors and those recently diagnosed with breast cancer. A segment of this production educates its audience that men can be diagnosed with breast cancer. They have partnered with other 501(c)(3) organizations, including Moments Matter. “By collaborating, we present a spring and fall break camp for girls and boys that includes guest speakers, S.T.E.A.M projects, and a variety of extracurricular activities. Our ultimate goal is to assist and share resources when resources are not readily available or even aware for the youth, women, and men.”
Dannell says the idea of his organization was conceived in 2015, but did not become official until 2016. Originally, he wanted to form a group to work with a particular group of churches, but God guided them in a different but parallel direction. Once the mission was formed and event concepts were shared, the idea of Men of Faith was well received by men in Dannell’s community. He says, “They relished participating in the planned outreaches and giving back to their community. The one thing about me is that I am a person of action. A lot of people will talk and never do anything. Men of Faith prides itself in doing.”
Dannell says he finds joy in constructing a group of men from various backgrounds, ethnicities, and even political or religious preferences who assuredly care about improving their community, not only for their family but the overall good of humankind. “To
build and fill the gaps in our broken society and communities, we must overcome our differences and capitalize on our similarities. When you see men banding together to restore and replenish our communities’ social disparities, it exemplifies hope. I get inspired and rejuvenated when I see the smiles of individuals who felt the weight of the world minutes before. It is equivalent to pulling someone to safety. God blesses us in a way for us to help someone else; we should not hesitate to share that blessing,” Dannell shares.
Men of Faith’s core values are embedded in their desire to serve and help others succeed. Dannell leads by example and hopes to create opportunities while doing so. “I heard as a young man the more you give, the more you’ll receive. Serving others is not about receiving something directly. I enjoy knowing someone’s situation; although they are amid an emotional storm, you can offer an umbrella from the pain, if for just a little while. It is also refreshing to know that some genuine people genuinely care about the welfare of others. It is trendy to see people brag about assisting others on social media, but honestly, that comes from a place that is not sincere. Matthew 6:21 says, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” We are not doing these things in the community for a show or to be seen. It comes from each man’s heart to progress and sharpen others who may feel dull.”
Understandably, Dannell’s organization has faced a few hurdles and challenges throughout the years. One was sustaining the assistance they provided during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the rest of the world shut down, they were able to continue their operations and meet the needs of those they serve. Such challenges and finding ways to persevere through them have proven Dannell’s effectiveness as a leader of his organization. He says, “I firmly believe that our life and the adversities within form the purpose we must find. Years of uncertainty about personal and professional outcomes molded me into the man or puzzle piece I am today. My journey was never perfect or practical, but with each new day, I became even more convinced that it was all worth it.”
Moving forward, Danell says he plans to expand the Men of Faith Inc. organization to a national level. “Extending past our geographic lines, the expansion would demonstrate an even bigger assembly of more men with faith, more assistance, more resources, and a fervent affection towards humanity.”
“We Are All Pieces In The Same Puzzle. When looking at our logo it explains that everyone has a role in forming this world. We are one piece of the whole puzzle. Regardless of our ethnicity, gender, religion, or political affiliation, we are molded to a particular shape that fits somewhere in fulfilling the puzzle of the world. Some pieces are similar but never the same. Go, find the place where your piece, which is you, fits!”
Ashton HairstonThe son of Shannon Hairston
“We looked like a wholesome, loving family on the outside, but on the inside, our house was a living hell. I had a controlling father, and my mother was his punching bag. I felt abandonment, fear, anxiety, and depression. I didn’t take care of my childhood trauma, so it showed up in my adult life. I wanted control, and the men in my life were victims of my wrath. My life came full circle when I met a man just like my father.
It is time for my story to be told my way. My trauma. My triggers. My truth.”
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