Woman, You are Worthy!

woman and prayer

These past few months have been quite revelatory for me. I have found myself ministering to the spirits and souls of young women going through various crises. The most dangerous has been that of spiritual well-being. These women are broken and beat down by a belief system which they have internalized that tells them they are not worthy or valuable, and much of this is coming from their life partners. It does not help that media continues to perpetuate this belief system, especially for women of color. This belief of unworthiness has become their kryptonite, and it is killing them and their children.

Today, the world is celebrating Giving Tuesday, and although it is supposed to be about giving support to charities, I think it should also be about giving to self: give yourself hope and love and truth. You cannot help others if you first cannot help yourself. We have got to change the recordings of the belief system that says we are nothing. You were not put on this Earth to be nothing. “Women must stop letting the world – men – make them feel unworthy. We ARE worthy. We are strong. But we let things interfer with our strength. God gave Eve to Adam because he needed her” (G. Oglesby).

Know your worth. Walk in the truth of your existence. Our children  are watching…and waiting. Namaste.


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Was Feeling Mighty Low, But God…

But GodWhat an amazing week this has turned out to be! You know, when I woke up Monday morning, I was feeling mighty low. The weight of the potential effects of the “dramas” of this country was heavy on my spirit: murder on holy ground because of skin color, denial of the right to love and marry whom you wish, the right to access to healthcare for your family. Media’s constant looping of negative, doomsday rhetoric along with the drama of my personal life was beginning to creep into my spirit and infect it. I tried to shrug it all off and reminded myself to stay focused. But when the Devil sets out to destroy, he leaves no stone unturned. I have long known that bringing pain, darkness, chaos and evil upon the inhabitants of the land IS his job. BUT GOD…

See, when you recognize the moment – the feeling – for what it is, you can choose then and there to either ball up into yourself or give it all over into the hands of the Divine. I chose the latter. When you recognize and accept that the only thing you can control in any situation is your response to it, that action is most pleasing to God because it is HIS job to take care of the situation. He has the power, not you. Our job is to believe in that power – to work our faith, to understand our role in our relationship with the Divine. And you know what? He will always reveal to you His handling of the situation in the end.

What began this week as a potential downfall of  spirit and moral, the Divine has turned into a victory on a national (and personal level). “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 20:11, New International Version). So the next time you feel like you are not going to make it, or that justice (whatever that means to the Divine) will not prevail, remember, BUT GOD…

Rebekah

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Book Review: The Secret Life Of Lucy Bosman

I love history. I strongly believe that historical fiction is one of the creative ways in which we can teach it without being distant from it or placing it into a box for such so called learning requirements such as Standards of Learning exams. History is more than dates on a timeline. It is a living, breathing remembrance. “The Secret Life of Lucy Bosman” is such a remembrance in that the story is told with the intent of demonstrating the choices available or not to women of 19th Century pre-Civil War America – women both black and white. The choices center around the greatest myth ever told in American history, and that is that of the “American Dream.” That dream did not exist for women – women of color, especially – or at least the patriarchal society of that time tried to make it so. But the spirit of woman is resilient and determined, and that is what I wanted to showcase in my novel. That we cannot look at such poignant moments in our history and only place it in one box of discussion. Women have always played a role in the birth and growth of this country as patriots, caretakers, and even more importantly, as entrepreneurs, and we still do regardless of the color of our skin or the class from which we sprouted. This is the power of historical fiction. It tells the story within a flexible frame of context – not just dates on a timeline and exclusively male-centered. As such, I am resharing a review for the novel from a reader outside of the United States. To me, it is proof that this genre has the power to teach and entertain.

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TSLOLB Cover - Final

The Secret Life Of Lucy Bosman by Rebekah L. Pierce

The Secret Life of Lucy Bosman has truly opened my eyes to a world and time I knew very little of. The struggles and treatment of coloured people that Rebekah describes is heart-breaking and I’m manly enough to admit, bought a tear to my eye. The way the writer has described the setting for the story is beautiful, and that, combined with Lucy Bosman’s flashbacks, transports you into a world of prejudice and heartbreak, but also bravery, courage, faith and compassion.
I know in America there is Black History Month, something I didn’t get in the UK during my school education. Much research has gone into this down to the simplest detail such as fashion and speech and I have learnt so much through this book that I struggled to put it down. It is elegantly written and there are…

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No, I’m Not Alright! The Truth About Depression

depression

Depression

Like many of you, the apparent suicide of actor and comedian extraordinaire, Robin Williams on August 11, 2014, has rocked my spirit. The reports of his suffering from severe depression, however, is even more troubling because if it is true, then we’ve perhaps allowed this man to take us on a horrible roller coaster ride of laughs that had a secret compartment filled with agonizing pain.

For over 4 decades, we have looked to him to make us laugh – to take us out of our own temporary misery and give us medicine to heal our pain…if only for a moment. Whenever we heard he was releasing a movie or was going to appear on some talk show, we scampered to see what funny thing he was going to do to make us “not feel” – laugh – this time.

And we cannot help this because he set us up to do just that: look for him to make us laugh. But behind all of this laughter – on the part of both parties – was an authentic sadness – pangs like needles jabbing mercilessly into the heart – that soon became unbearable. He no longer wanted to make us laugh – his pain was too much. And unbeknownst to us, he made a decision to silence not only the pain, but the laughter.  Hmmm.

Depression is a silent killer. It wears a mask of laughter or “I’m okay” on the outside to the world, but the truth is, it always reveals itself. Addiction is a band aid which attempts to cover up the root problem. Robin Williams was remarkable to me in that he was never afraid to talk about the band  – his addictions. Yet, it was the depression that was not often addressed publicly, and it was the depression that caused him to end his brilliant life. Even the greatest funny man in the business could not bring himself to share this part of his life with us. Why? Because we still see mental illness – depression – as a thing to be kept from the world or as something one can get over if they just think positive.

I, as a writer, must find a way to continue to address this horrid roller coaster ride in my work. In my gut, I sense that it is in theatre and film that we can have an open and honest dialogue about the darkest issues that threatens the serenity of our existence – of our ability to live our lives to the fullest, happy and healthy, because the movie/theatre goer has paid to see/feel that visual truth.

My 13-year-old son asked me yesterday after he heard my husband and I talking about Robin, “Mom, why did he kill himself?” I had a moment that no parent wants to have when it comes to something as dark and sad as suicide: do I tell him to not worry about it or what I perceive to be the truth? My reply, “Because he probably thought it was the only way to stop hurting.” We simply cannot let this be any longer. The hurt – the pain – is all too real for people who suffer from depression. I should know: I tried to take my own life when I was 18 years old. Yes, depression is SO VERY real: clinical or environmental.

I challenge all artists in every field to create dialogue in your genre about suicide, depression, addictions, etc. We are the storytellers of our generation and right now, the world needs us to tell the stories. We need healing, and I am going to do my part (see below). We cannot let the deaths of our young children, teens and beloved friends – even if only on the screen – be in vain. Theirs is a cry for help, and I’m listening. Are you?

R.I.P., Robin Williams

Note: On September 1, producers of the anti-bullying and teen suicide film, “Memphis Sun,” will launch its crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. If you want to play a role in educating and bringing awareness to suicide and bullying, then please consider supporting this film. I am proud to be the screenwriter for this very important story. To learn more about it, visit http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3864028.

 

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I’m Speaking at BlogHer 2014; Join Me!

BH14_speaking

I am so excited to share that I will be a panelist/speaker at the 2014 BlogHer conference in San Jose, CA at the San Jose Convention Center on July 25th, 10:45a-12p. The session I am presenting is Writing Lab | Good to Great: Radically Improve a Blog Post in Real-Time . I will be speaking about storytelling through blogging. If you have been following my blog, you know that storytelling is what I was born to do.

I hope you will join me at this dynamic event for women bloggers. If you have ever wanted to blog, but didn’t know how, or want to take your blog to the next level, then you MUST be at the 2014 BlogHer conference. Registration is now open at http://www.eventbrite.com/e/blogher-14-registration-4010986970.

Happy Blogging!

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The Birth of a Children’s Book Author

It’s not often that I have the wonderful experience of introducing a new writer to my readers, but I am so happy that I can today. I met Shana Bernabela when she was about to graduate high school. I was her supervisor for an after school tutoring program. Then, she interned for me as a college student when I published Average Girl Magazine. We have kept in touch over the years and now I am so thrilled to share that she is embarking on a new journey in her life – that of a children’s book author. Inspired by events in her life as a little girl, Shana is ready to empower girls all over the world with her soon to be released children’s book, Sparkalina Brights. Check out her story below, and look for her blog to come soon.

Shana BernabelaMy Path to Writing Children’s Books

By Shana Bernabela

Growing up, I struggled immensely with a low self-esteem. Everything about me seemed to be flawed: my kinky hair, the color of my skin, the extra pounds I carried – just to name a few things. Often the victim of cruel teasing, I became very self-conscious, believing that something was terribly wrong with me. It didn’t help that every time I turned on the television or flipped through a magazine, my mind was inundated with images of women who looked NOTHING like me. I didn’t fit in with the American cultural ideal of beauty or value. Those models were beautiful – I was not – or at least that is how I felt. I didn’t love myself. I felt unworthy. I felt small.

This destructive mentality led me down a very difficult path and it was not until I was in my mid-twenties that I truly began to accept myself – flaws and all. I began to love myself unconditionally. I was beautiful, and truly believing that transformed my life. I started to soar to new heights and life became much more fulfilling.

With this newfound self-perception, my purpose started to reveal itself to me. Some people say that your purpose is tied to your pain; that statement could not be truer. Questions began to invade my mind. What could I do to help girls avoid the pitfalls that I faced as a child battling a poor self-image? What could I do to inspire girls to love who they are and to embrace their individuality? What could I do to make their hearts sparkle and to show them just how lovely and adored they are? Then, out of nowhere, it hit me!

When I was a young girl, I’ had an insatiable appetite for reading. Every time I opened, a book I felt like I was embarking on a magical new adventure – exploring new worlds, gaining new perspectives. Reading was fun. It was inspiring! However, when I look back upon my reading experiences, I realize that I did not see many characters that looked like me. There was definitely a void, a void I desperately wanted to fill. And just like that, my creative thoughts collided and Sparkalina Brights was brought to life. I was thrilled! This book would be my medium to inspire and empower – to shape minds and change lives.

As an aspiring children’s author, all I desire is to make a positive difference in the lives of little girls everywhere and to show them just how AMAZINGLY beautiful they are! I want this book to scream, LOVE YOURSELF! BE YOU! LIGHT UP THE WORLD!

Sparkalina Brights Release date: Fall 2014

~Shana Bernabela

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Rewriting The Presentation of Women of Color in Women’s Literature

Slave WomanShe is often treated in 19th Century literature as a product of sin or a whore to be saved or dismissed, but the story of the mulatto woman is much grander than this. In my newest novel, The Secret Life of Lucy Bosman, I present another image of these women – of women in general – as patriots, entrepreneurs and realists.

I was actually inspired to write this novel by a story I read in an 1862 issue of the local newspaper here in Richmond, Virginia – The Times-Dispatch – while I was doing research for my other historical fiction novel, Murder on Second Street. In the report, a mulatto woman is arrested and accused of prostitution – corrupting the morals of white men – during the Civil War. I found the story fascinating because prostitution was rampant during the war, but here they were arresting a mulatto woman for doing what many white – and other colored women – were doing. That story stayed on my mind for two years until I decided to enter the National Novel Writing Month (www.nanowrimo.org) contest again in November 2013. It was the perfect time to write this story especially as we enter the 94th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment which not only gave women legally the right to vote, but made them officially American citizens.

There are three reasons why I feel readers would like to support such a work. First, the mulatto woman has historically been represented in literature (and film) as a helpless creature destined for ostracism or to be some man’s whore. Also, many of our secondary and undergrad students are not taught that women did own successful businesses during this period: that not all of them were willing to give up their property and what was rightfully theirs because the law of the land said they were women and did not have a voice. Marriage was not to a woman’s advantage in many respects during the 19th Century and well into the 20th. Finally, it’s a different perspective as to how the Civil War forced people, but mainly women of all colors and class, to put security and safety over morality and human rights. The institution of slavery forced people to hide and forgo true love for racial superiority. It’s the greatest tragedy!

In November 2013, I won the novel pitch contest by www.authorsensei.com and as part of my winnings, we have created a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for editorial services, print production and a few more fun things. Please support my efforts to prepare this book for publication by pledging to a monetary donation of at least $10 to http://pubslush.com/books/id/1425. You can read an excerpt from the novel as well as more personal insights from myself. I am offering some wonderful rewards in exchange including a signed copy of the book upon its release next month. Please share this link with others who wish to honor the spirit of women in America – past and present.

The Secret Life of Lucy Bosman is the story of love, race, entrepreneurship, gender and war. It is the American woman’s story – black, white, yellow or brown! And I wish to share it with the world.

Images courtesy of Black-face.com and Pinterest.com.

 The Winning Pitch

The Secret Life of Lucy Bosman

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