Soul Stories: Grace and Patricia Ekall

Strength and Courage

This month, we feature the mother-daughter duo, Grace and Patricia Ekall. They share their heart-warming stories of discovery, including growing through the challenges of life.  A beautiful and touching journey to self-awareness and personal success!

You can learn more about Grace Ekall’s fashion by visiting her website, L’atelier Grace Ekall, or by clicking here.

You can also read our three-part interview with Patricia here.

###

Enjoy and let us know your thoughts on our new programming!


Read more »

Up Close with D’angelo Thompson: Nathan Hale Williams!

upclose nathan hale

The power of knowing yourself, including embracing your flaws, makes you great.

About Nathan Hale Williams

Born and raised in Chicago, Nathan Hale Williams began appearing in theatre, commercials and television shows at the age of 8. A classically trained dancer, Nathan continued to perform and study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. After college, he attended the George Washington University Law School where he was the president of the Student Bar Association, a Dean’s Fellow and the recipient of the GW Law Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Scholarship and Leadership.


As President & CEO of iN-Hale Entertainment LLC, Nathan is a storyteller. In traditional terms, Nathan is a multi-hyphenated entertainment professional who is an award-winning filmmaker, award-winning author, entertainment attorney, and television personality. His latest film, 90 DAYS, which he wrote, directed and executive produced alongside Empire’s Jussie Smollet was screened at over thirty top international festivals receiving several “Best” awards, including, an African Movie Academy Award (Africa’s Oscar equivalent) for Best Disapora Short and Overall Winner, Best Actress and the Audience Choice Award at the 2018 Diversity in Cannes Short Film Showcase. Nathan is the executive producer and producer of the NAACP Image Award and GLAAD Media Award nominated film, Dirty Laundry (FOX/Codeblack).



His other film credits include: The Ski Trip (MTV Networks), Love for Passion, Blackbird, starring Academey Award® winner, Mo’Nique; and, Pastor Brown. His television credits include: My Model Looks Better Than Your Model (BET), NAACP Image Award nominated, Leading Women (Centric); Leading Men (Centric); Real Life Divas (BET-J); The American Candidate (Showtime); Inside: Black Culture (BET); The Kimchi Chronicles (PBS) and, Girl’s Who Like Boys…(Sundance Channel). In 2018, a dream came true when Nathan was hired to direct and produce live action films for Sesame Street’s 49th Season, including films for Elmo’s Wonderful World. He has directed and produced commercials for Isabella Fiore Handbags (starring Veronica Webb), Jumpstart (starring LL Cool J) and the U.S. CDC’s “Testing Makes Us Stronger” campaign starring the Real Housewives of Atlanta. His next films for iN-Hale Entertainment, Burden and What If I Told You? are in pre-production and will be completed in fall 2018.


D’angelo Thompson.  D’angelo Thompson is known for his mastery of beauty and quality aesthetic. He is also one of the entertainment industry’s most sought-after artisans. Originally from Chicago, D’angelo always dreamed of one day taking the beauty industry by the reigns both nationally and internationally; and, in the past two decades, has done so in a phenomenal way. It is his personal vision to elevate his
profession by creating a global brand and community, empowering all to see and celebrate their beauty.

As a professional, D’angelo’s expertise extends to beauty, bridal, editorial, commercial, film, TV and private clients. As hair and makeup artist for guests and celebrities on The Wendy Williams Show from 2008 – 2011, D’angelo earned three Daytime Emmy nominations with a win for “Guest Hair” in 2010. Most importantly, in over two decades, D’angelo has developed a body of work that classifies him in the A-list of beauty professionals.  He is currently working with Law & Order SVU (Seasons 17, 18 & 19), Blue Bloods (Season 8), Worst Cooks,/Celebrity, Joy Mangano/IDL, HSN and Pudding Boy Productions.  As an author, D’angelo’s self-published lifestyle and beauty book entitled “Enhanced Beauty” (2016) continues to sell domestically and internationally.

Stay in touch with him:

Brand Ambassador, Owner of www.EnhancedBeauty.nyc

Twitter: dangelopresents | Instagram: dtbeauty71


Read more »

Rwanda, Forever!

rwanda

From a violent past, the people of  “the land of 1,000 hills” have endured.

When we told people we were going to Rwanda we got the same incredulous look soon followed by the “why aren’t they at war or something?” from all our friends and family. I can’t lie; all the comments gave us some pause.  I am so glad we pushed past the ignorance and followed our gut, if we hadn’t we would have missed out on some of our best experiences traveling. Rwanda got on to our radar as a destination from a colleague of mine who has an NGO and does some great work in the region; she could not stop talking about the beauty of the country and the warmth of the people. Having a chance to experience it myself, I wholeheartedly agree, the Rwandese are a strong, united, resilient people. Rwanda has been able to bounce back from the horrific genocide of 1994; and, now aims to be the “Singapore of Africa.” From what we saw and experienced during our week, they are well on their way. I suggest hiring a driver and hooking up with “Go Kigali” for their great City tour and “Azizi Life” if you would like to do some work in the community while you are there. Try to get there before everyone else discovers this wonderful place. Oh, and if you check out the location of “Wakanda” on the map of Africa, you will realize it’s the exact location of Rwanda. Rwanda, Forever!!


A classic image of Rwandan women. The ladies in the front carry pots that probably contain a gift of beans or something for the house they will visit. The lady in the back is carrying her baby on her back, like just about all the women in Rwanda do. As you can see in the picture, it’s not uncommon to see a baby, laundry or food, handbag and sometimes water all being carried at the same time.

 


A farm in one of the rural areas of Rwanda. 70 percent of the population are farmers.


Three Rwandese boys are enjoying a bike ride. Rwanda is a country of bikes and cyclists.




A zebra in the Akegara National Park.


Ladies from the weaving collective in Muhanga share a laugh, probably my wife telling a story about my cooking.


A little girl from a rural village on the way to Akegara National Park.


Our group is peeling some sweet potatoes for lunch. Sweet potatoes, beans, and avocado are staples of the Rwandese diet. They don’t eat much meat because it’s too expensive.


Sunset in Rwanda. No matter where you are in the country you have a fantastic view.

 

Check out Damien’s amazing story to Cuba! You can read it here!




Damien Jackson is of West Indian parentage and was born in Gibraltar. Raised in NY, his passion for travel and telling people’s stories have taken him all across the globe. His images aim to give the viewer a glimpse into lives, culture, and energy of his subjects. Damien is married with four children and resides in Brooklyn

Follow Damien’s work at his website: Nedari Photography and on Instagram: damien.jackson06

 

Read more »

My Journey to Honduras (pt 1)

honduras

When you are called to go out of your comfort zone and to another country.

She asked me if I was going to teach when I got back to the U.S. I told her no because in the U.S. you need to be certified and I am not a certified teacher. She asked me how I learned to be a teacher if I’m not certified. She said I seemed like a professional teacher who has been teaching for years. I told her I thought it was a “calling” and that certifications are good, but a piece of paper cannot make someone a good teacher. I told her that I had always wanted to be a teacher, but for various reasons, I was never able to do it. As I sat in a coffee shop in Siguatepeque, Honduras with one of my student’s parents, speaking to her in relatively fluent Spanish, I began to think through the events in my life that brought me to this place.

From the time I graduated high school, the thought of being a teacher was always in the back of my head. Throughout my 20’s I thought I’d have time to figure it out later. But in the mid 30’s, I started to worry about my future. I did not worry about money or a job. I worried about my purpose. I started to notice that my friends had homes and marriages and kids; and, I  looked around and realized that I didn’t have those things. Then, I understood I didn’t want those things and began to wonder why I did not want them. It wasn’t long before I rose to worry that I would live a purposeless life. That, I would end up working in Government contracting until retirement, never having done anything truly purposeful. I thought teaching was my purpose and I started making plans to do whatever I could to explore that before it was too late.



Finally, in 2014, the year I would turn 37, I got what I thought was an amazing opportunity to move to New Orleans and teach. At the time, I was living in Florida and having bought a house less than two years earlier. But, decided to sell it and move to New Orleans. I was so excited, but I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I thought I was finally going to live my dream. Experienced teachers are probably laughing at this point. That first year, was the worst year of my life to date. I struggled more than I have ever struggled with anything in my life. I would even go so far as to say I hated it. I know this because when I think back to the things I’ve done, there are a lot of things that I wouldn’t mind repeating. This is the only event in my life that I would never repeat.

Don’t get me wrong; I loved my students. But, I hated what I had to do every day. Every day, I went to school and tried to teach my students something that always seemed so irrelevant to their daily lives. I wondered why I should teach them about verbs and nouns when they hear gunshots at night. I wondered how knowing about the American Revolution was going to help them when the lights get cut off at their house. I wondered how I was going to teach a 7th grader, who can’t read (or hate reading) when they want to drop out. Every day, I wanted to do a good job. So, every night, I worried all night and couldn’t sleep. During the day, I was exhausted. Because I was exhausted, I wasn’t myself.  Then, there would be a fight, or one of my students would bomb a test.  I would go home and worry and over think everything I did and not sleep. I was in this cycle for almost the entire school year.



When that year was over, I thought I would never teach again. Thinking back to that time, I think I should have been sad at what I thought was the end to my life’s purpose, but I was relieved. I had always had this “fear” of living on a teacher’s salary. I grew up poor, and I did not want to be a poor adult. I wanted things, and I knew I needed money for this life. So, I thought this was a sign that I could finally live my life as a free single person with disposable income. After I left teaching, I spent that next year buying things and lived in an expensive apartment. I was looking to buy a newer, better and bigger car (even though mine was three years old at this point and was paid-off). I decided to leave New Orleans for the DC area, so I could find a job that had upward mobility (e.g., more money).

One day, in May 2016, I was at my computer looking for apartments in Ballston/Alexandria, VA area, when an old acquaintance/co-worker messaged me and asked me if I would consider teaching at a bilingual school in Honduras. My response was “I have to pray about this because I am excited about my plans for August.” But I’m a “good” Christian; so, I knew that’s what I had to say. Sadly, I was not interested. I had already pictured myself as a wealthy single woman, living in an expensive apartment somewhere with a great view, and an excellent neighborhood. But, I couldn’t sleep that night. I couldn’t stop thinking about how this might be THE opportunity.




Kahlilah Hammond is a seeker of knowledge and purpose. Always learning, always asking, never satisfied with the status quo. Kahlilah has been teaching fifth and sixth grade at a bilingual school in Honduras for the last two years and is currently trying to figure out what her next move is.

 

Read more »

Moment of Poetry: Separation

separation

Tread Lightly.

I changed your name in my phone today.

Not so no one would know who you are, but because I am not yet ready to let you go.

I should be because my mind says you are not right for me, no matter how much I’d like you to be.

But my heart has attached itself to you because you were familiar. And because you were familiar, my heart had no problem running back to you.

I thought, well my heart led my mind to think that you were finally ready for me.

When I saw that you weren’t, my heart convinced my mind to accept your reasoning for why I should still share space with you.

So here I am, feeling what I’m feeling while my heart sinks to the pit of my stomach. I keep wanting to give you chance after chance because you’re familiar.

You’re safe.

But if I continue on this path, you will become just SOMETHING TO DO.

Because my heart will eventually harden towards what it is it craves from you when my mind takes over and begin its rule.

For now, I will have to deal with this pit in my belly.

But baby, when my mind takes over and the hurt I placed myself in harm’s way to experience is no more — neither will you be.

 




Tracey Barbee is a writer/blogger and first-time collaborator to Soulivity Magazine.  She currently resides in Detroit, Michigan.

 

Read more »

Up Close with D’angelo Thompson: Sherice Torres!

up close sherice torres

Empowering all of us to live fully, freely, and with passion.

About Sherice Torres

Sherice Torres is an inspirational leader with nearly 25 years of experience in marketing, brand and product management, strategic planning, change management and organizational development. She currently serves as Marketing Director in Google’s Brand Studio – creating programs to illustrate Google’s values in the areas of Crisis Response and Environment. Previously, Sherice was responsible for Google’s kids and family products, empowering families to make the most of their digital journey together with the Family Link app. She also served as Marketing Director for Google Pay and Google Express.


Prior to Google, Sherice spent nearly 15 years at Nickelodeon, the #1 network for kids 2-11 in the US, in a variety of leadership roles with multi-billion dollar P&Ls covering consumer products, strategic planning and digital. She is a mother of 2 boys, with a passion for revolutionizing the public education system in the US. She serves as a board member for Breakthrough Silicon Valley – a nonprofit empowering high potential students from underserved schools in San Jose prepare for and gain entrance to four-year universities, and is an advisor and former board member of the Global Language Project – a non-profit bringing language learning to urban schools.


D’angelo Thompson.  D’angelo Thompson is known for his mastery of beauty and quality aesthetic. He is also one of the entertainment industry’s most sought-after artisans. Originally from Chicago, D’angelo always dreamed of one day taking the beauty industry by the reigns both nationally and internationally; and, in the past two decades, has done so in a phenomenal way. It is his personal vision to elevate his
profession by creating a global brand and community, empowering all to see and celebrate their beauty.

As a professional, D’angelo’s expertise extends to beauty, bridal, editorial, commercial, film, TV and private clients. As hair and makeup artist for guests and celebrities on The Wendy Williams Show from 2008 – 2011, D’angelo earned three Daytime Emmy nominations with a win for “Guest Hair” in 2010. Most importantly, in over two decades, D’angelo has developed a body of work that classifies him in the A-list of beauty professionals.  He is currently working with Law & Order SVU (Seasons 17, 18 & 19), Blue Bloods (Season 8), Worst Cooks,/Celebrity, Joy Mangano/IDL, HSN and Pudding Boy Productions.  As an author, D’angelo’s self-published lifestyle and beauty book entitled “Enhanced Beauty” (2016) continues to sell domestically and internationally.

Stay in touch with him:

Brand Ambassador, Owner of www.EnhancedBeauty.nyc

Twitter: dangelopresents | Instagram: dtbeauty71


Read more »

Soul Stories: The Beauty of Paris with Founder Brian Westley Johnson

The Beauty of Paris

This month, Soulivity Magazine founder, Brian Westley Johnson is featured.  He shares his thoughts and feelings about his favorite place abroad, Paris, France.  Brian shows us special places and the history of how this city became a soulful experience for him.  From his first trip there to things to do, he guides us through the joy and splendor of the famous “city of light.”

You can learn more about Paris, France by visiting their official tourism website, sponsored by the city’s Convention and Visitor Bureau“The Bureau actively promotes Paris as a destination for leisure and business tourism to tour operators and the media. It organizes promotional campaigns, which highlight such different aspects of Paris as Paris, the capital of shopping, gastronomy, romance… As well as providing solid support for the organization of company events, the Bureau also actively champions bids by the capital to host national and international congresses.” (from ParisInfo.com)

soul stories brian westley johnson

Enjoy and let us know your thoughts on our new programming!

Read more »

Want to Stay Together? The Importance of Work in Your Relationship

soulivity doing the work couple

Everything worth having is worth working for.  There is no exception to your relationship.

Most of us understand the importance of work.  You work to earn money, education, status and achieve your goals.  You cannot be productive and successful in life without work. This begs the question:

“If you’re willing to work in every area of your life, for what you want–why not in your relationship?”



Why Work Is So Important to Your Relationship

Think about it…You’ll go to the driving range to practice your golf swing, to avoid embarrassment in front of your friends and colleagues. You’ll study and work long hours to support yourself as you attend college, planning for the future career you’ve always dreamed of. The list goes on and on.  Why would you not put in the work to achieve success in your relationship?  We’d like you to keep one critical thought in the back of your mind…

“Anything worth having is worth working for.”

It’s as simple as that.  The same drive that keeps you focused on life goals, has to also be applied to your relationship… you both are going to have to do the work.  There is no way around it. And, you don’t have to worry about what your spouse is or is not doing.

You can start your work… today.  You can focus on being a healthier and happier person, no permission needed from anyone else.

There is still time this year to get started.  Why not NOW?

For more support, we have described in-depth how to build communication and effective work with your partners in our book, Mining for Gold in Your Marriage, available on Amazon.

mining for gold marriage

We would love to hear your thoughts and comments!

To your relationship success,

Jesse and Melva


Learn more about them by visiting their website, www.jesseandmelva.com

Read more »

Parallel Parking (Inspiration for Father’s Day)

The story of learning to drive and a father’s love.

When I was a girl, my dad would pick me up with his car, and I remember those rides were always so quiet; no radio, and we didn’t talk much. Once I may have asked him what he was doing as he drove, he said “thinking.” So I started thinking too. Frankly, I’ve become very good at overthinking; I got that from him, no doubt.

During those rides, we’d often end up at some indie grocery market or deli – he loved a Jewish deli. We’d load up with fresh rye bread, heaps of fatty sliced corned beef, a tube of mustard and tomato. We’d be on our haul home, and he’d show me how to assemble my own corned beef sandwich. I can make a direct connection for my love of a specialty grocery shop and farmers markets to these excursions with him.

Connecting through Advocacy

When he had an audience, he would talk about his march with Dr. Martin Luther King, and the time he desegregated Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. In the 1970’s, discriminatory hiring and promoting practices led him and his men to file against the company to highlight the need for more opportunities for African-Americans.

parallel parking millicent sherman dad

I was young; my memories are watery. Among my two images are that of my dad and his men in our backyard, sawing 2×4’s, hammering, and making signs. I knew the basics, and I was excited. I wanted to help, and my Dad made me a sign, I was six years old. We held our picket signs; we chanted and marched. My other memory of that day was my Mom pulling splinters from the picket sign I’d held. In college, I was unafraid to help protest the lack of diversity and push for increased recruitment and enrollment of people of color (sound familiar?).



The federal lawsuit and the protest had their desired effect. The suit settled, and the terms included a commitment to provide better recruitment, hiring, and advancement opportunities for people of color. I was older before I understood that the victory came with a price for my Dad – he was unofficially blacklisted, and he watched as the men he fought for were promoted instead of him.

A Special Touch of Love

Dad continued to inspire me.  Out of what must have been a disappointing experience, he left his beloved insurance industry; and, he and my Mom became entrepreneurs. Mom’s successful cosmetology clientele and Dad’s business acumen grew the beauty salon Special Touch. They never looked back, innovating the industry with radical ideas such as operating 7 Days a week, 9 am to 9 pm, 12-6pm on Sundays, with cosmetologists working on commission.

My Dad had me right there with him. I learned to answer the phone; book and manage the appointment book for 20 cosmetologists;  and accounting, banking, and bookkeeping. Today, I fill my world with an affinity and affection for the small business owner, and I give a thumbs up when the children work there too.

 

parallel parking millicent sherman fathers day

When I prepared for my driving test at 16, Dad had me drive along the busiest boulevards near us. Driving, I thought it was routine practice when out of the blue, he said “Park right here,” a quick flick of his wrist gesturing to a parallel space, yards ahead. Thinking “here? now? no time…not expecting this,” I signaled, and I tried. My attempt wasn’t fabulous. He had me try again. Cars waited behind me, cars whizzed by me, “Ignore them,” he said, and he talked me through a foolproof way to parallel park. We drove along the boulevard for an hour, each time he’d gesture without warning, and I parked.


Saying Goodbye, Remembering His Legacy

Dad eventually made his way back to his beloved insurance industry, retiring just before his 80th birthday. Shortly after he was diagnosed with cancer and six months later, I said goodbye to my hero. Knowing that my time with him was finite, I was occupied with a panic that I wouldn’t know what to do, how to handle life, and how to make decisions.  I knew that the moment it happened, it would be an explosion, with the ground cracking open and falling in. Instead, on August 24, 2012, it was so still and quiet, it was the most deafening silence I’ve ever experienced. What was I going to do now? I’d started my period that morning, my head was pounding, and I contemplated canceling the re-financing of my house scheduled later that day. Numb, and for reasons I didn’t know, I kept the appointment.

Weeks later, I found myself referencing him in conversation, like “My Dad used to say, blood is blood, but business is business.” In fact, I’ve never had a sense that he isn’t here. Dad was progressively sick in those last six months, and for all of my panic, it occurred to me that I’d been handling things all along. I see what you’ve done there, Dad. Now, when I see a frustrated driver abandon a parallel space they couldn’t fit, I ease in and blow a kiss up to my Dad.


Millicent Sherman is a graduate of the University of Michigan and University of Detroit-Mercy School of Law, working as a button-down attorney in Detroit, Michigan. When Friday comes around, she is the “weekend Bohemian,” who loves her local Eastern Farmer’s Market, and can’t pass up a specialty market, roadside fruit stand or boutique. She enjoys cooking and travel, and given a chance, would steal Anthony Bourdain’s job.

 

Read more »

Howard Caesar – Making Oneness a Way of Life.

Howard Caesar and Oneness

Finding your center is more about living connected with everything.

About Howard Caesar

Howard Caesar has been speaking, teaching and inspiring audiences with his transformational spiritual messages since his twenties. Recognized as a leader in his field, he has served and built two large ministries. The most recent was in Houston, Texas where he served for 30 plus years. His positive, practical, progressive approach to spirituality has empowered thousands of people to live happier, more prosperous and fulfilling lives.

Howard’s Personal Philosophy on Oneness

Every person is first and foremost an eternal spiritual being.  They are in the process of growing in conscious awareness of the truth that their Real Self is Spirit, which is whole, free and perfect.

The true nature of God is love and goodness.  Its Presence is found in ALL THAT IS.  Everything is alive with God’s life energy.

“Either we learn to master our mind, or it becomes master over us. Either we learn to use it properly or it will use us. All conflict is a product of the mind, unmanaged and lost in the separation of the Truth of God and our True Selves. Wisdom is found in the heart and will show the way back to peace, love, and joy.

…I believe that whatever the circumstances or situation of the world or a person’s life, that through perseverance in living the principles, and following inner guidance, things do shift to the good, and the Light will always win in the end.”

Howard has traveled the world, led pilgrimages to other lands, presenting uplifting messages to tens of thousands via radio, TV, and the internet, always communicating inclusivity, diversity, love, and oneness.

Howard and his wife, Diane, have three grown children, three grandchildren and reside in Sugar Land, Texas.

Find out more about Howard and book here!
Website: HowardCaesar.com
Book: One + One is One – Making Oneness a Way of Life



Read more »