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Saturday, December 12, 2015

DiShan Washington & Clarisa Velazquez: How Forgiveness Changed Their Lives

by Cyrus Webb

Forgiveness is sometimes easier to talk about than to practice, but for any of us who truly want to be able to live a life of joy and peace we have to be willing to forgive. 

When I announced on Facebook that I was headed to Atlanta I was contact by author and radio personality LaSheera Lee about two individuals that she thought I would want to talk with: bestselling author DiShan Washington and model Clarisa Velazquez. They were on a tour sharing their story, and what a story it was. 

In their own words, DiShan and Clarissa share their story with you and the world, proving that forgiveness really is the key to living a better life. 
DiShan: It's been an interesting journey. Clarissa is my former husband's former mistress. Initially it was really hard, but over time we have been able to develop a friendship and moving forward in our lives, trying to put the past behind us in hopes of being examples for our daughters. We are hoping that through our stories we are able to empower other women and to be examples of what forgiveness looks like.

Clarisa: It's a gratifying experience. DiShan and I actually get along. We are really living what we are speaking each and every day.

DiShan: It's been about 4 years since my ex-husband walked out to be with her. Over time situations in life taught me how to open my heart. God forgives us, so who am I to hold on to something that I feel like she did wrong to me? Of course there was some hatred initially. I blamed her and him for the demise of my marriage. The bitterness that I had ran really deep, but the moment that really changed it all for me and put it in perspective was when I met her. She was a soul. She was just a woman who wanted to be loved, she just happened to fall in love with my husband. The moment we met she looked at me and she said 'I'm sorry,' and we both cried My defenses immediately fell. It changed my entire perspective.

Clarisa: I first had to forgive myself for getting in the situation in order to come out strong and move on. I never had hatred towards DiShan. I had to forgive myself and forgive him. The demise of her marriage was partially because of me.

DiShan: This situation proves that there is nothing too hard for God, if you are willing to open up your heart. I want people to know in spite of whatever situation they find themselves in it's possible to forgive. For a long time I felt my life had been destroyed. I'm hoping that people can understand no matter how broken you are you can pick up the pieces and start again.

Clarisa: I am a working mom. I'm a regular human being. I'm a human being that made a huge mistake. I own it. It's healing for both of us.

DiShan: It's not about us trying to drag him under the bus. It's about us. I live to empower other people. I want to be able to relate to women in general. We are able to empower other women and say you can overcome no matter what you are going through.

Stay connected with DiShan and Clarissa at www.thewifeandthewifey.com.


Entrepreneurs Kenyon Glover & Desiree Glover: Using Their Gifts to Stand Out

by Cyrus Webb

When you are doing the work you are destined to do, there will be conflict, there will be challenges, but the most important thing is to not lose focus.

If you need an example of what determination and resilience look like I interviewed two such individuals while in Atlanta this summer: Entrepreneurs Kenyon and Desiree Glover. This husband and wife duo have been able to make a name for themselves as individuals and have been able to come together and build something amazing that combines their personal passions.

"It's been life changing," Kenyon says when reflecting on what he has been able to do since his career with the NBA ended. Before basketball was what drove him, but today it is a different story. "I've found a new love. I 've found a new passion." And he has been able to share that love with the woman who both completes him and pushes him. "My wife keeps me grounded," he explained. "Just having her on my side has been a blessing."

Desiree Glover who has also been able to share her passion of modeling not just with her husband but her identical twin sister Erin Green adds this: "It's been an amazing journey, but it has also been a long, hard one." She shared how her sister and her were bullied throughout their lives and because of this doubt kept them from seeing who they were and what they could be. Someone else saw their beauty, however, and that led to their being discovered. Today they both walk in the truth of who they are. "On the runway we discovered that we are someone," she says. "We have a special uniqueness that the Lord gave us and that needs to shared with others."

Together Kenyon and Desiree have built a brand that is getting noticed, even in spite of the detractors. One of their latest projects was the 1st Georgia Peach Fashion Week.

"At first I was very reluctant because we had so many haters," says Kenyon about the fashion event. Not satisfied with just the same ole same ole, he says he "wanted to take it up a notch and bring a certain caliber to Atlanta." He says being doubted actually motivates him. In just about 5 month the support poured in, making the event a success. "I was blown away by the support and the energy we were getting," he says. It only fueled his passion. "We have to do this every year and make it better and better."

People are so scared to step out on faith and take a risk," Kenyon continues, discussing why he felt as though Desiree and he initially met resistance. "We're going to take risks together. We're not scared to fail. I carry that attitude everywhere I go."

Desiree agrees that it definitely makes the journey easier having Kenyon by her side. "Having him as my backbone and my support makes it easier," she says. "Having him lifts me up." The two admit they want to shake things up in Atlanta, but for a good reason. "We wanted to share with Atlanta what we have experienced in California, New York and Paris," she says. Their mantra is this: "Why fit in when you were born to stand out?"

That is what they want everyone to realize, that no matter what others might say they are worthy of greatness and it is achievable.

Stay connected with Desiree and Erin at www.twinofakind.org, Kenyon at www.facebook.com/kenyondglover and the Georgia Peach Fashion Week can ve found at www.georgiapeachfashionweek.com.

*   Top photo provided by Dream Photography Group/ConnectedYouto. Bottom photo provided by Shadow Play Entertainment.

Award-winning Author Iris Bolling: Finding Success Writing from the Heart

by Cyrus Webb

I first became aware of award-winning author and Executive Producer Iris Bolling in 2013. She was on Conversations LIVE discussing her book The Pendleton Rule, and it was during that visit that she initially discussed The Heart series with me.

Fast forward to 2015 and now the books that make up the Heart Series are the basis for the television series The Heart that premiered on the CW in Richmond, VA in Feb. of 2014 and is now gearing up for an exciting second season.

Serving as the Creator and Executive Director of the television show, Iris Bolling has assembled a team that has not only helped bring her beloved books to life but are just as invested in its success.

When I announced I was traveling to Atlanta to tape episodes for my new show, Iris took time out of her busy schedule to drive to the city to be a part of the taping. It was special not just because she was so supportive of the event but because it was the first time we met face-to-face.

Ever gracious---even though she prefers to be behind the camera---we were able to talk about the journey that led her to where she is today.

"I still pinch myself," she told me when we began discussing the experience of the books being successful, followed by the response to the show. "First it's actually getting the books done, and they being so well received. Then doing the television series and  have it received very well...I still pinch just to make sure it's still happening."

From the first time I met her, it was obvious why Iris Bolling is so successful: she is genuine and takes a real interest in her fans and is admired by other authors as well. "I enjoy people," she told me. "I do think I give them good stories and they fall in love with the characters, and then they want to know who created them.  I'm very appreciative because readers have a choice.  I'm very fortunate for some reason they have chosen my work. I let them know how much I appreciate that."

The other thing about Iris that is appreciated by readers is that no matter what color the characters might be in her books, she is not penning stories that will relate to just one group of people. "I write stories about life," she says. "Everyone can relate to that, regardless of what status you are in life. I think they can see themselves in the characters or in the stories. I don't think stories are going to happen to this class of people or this race of people. I think stories happen to people. That's what I write about."

Whether you are just discovering the literary gift that is Iris Bolling or have been a fan for some time, she is one storyteller that proves when you work hard and give your all to the craft the audience will come.

Stay connected with Iris and what's coming up for Season Two of The Heart series at www.irisbolling.net.

*     photo courtesy of Dream Photography Group/ ConnectingYouto PR

Omegia Keeys: Following the Lead of Her Gifts

by Cyrus Webb

I've gotten to know bestselling author/writer/actor/producer Omegia Keeys over the past 5 years, and one thing is for certain: she is someone who plays by her own rules.

Before this year it had been 4 years since the two of us had seen each other in person, but while I was in Atlanta filming episodes for my web-series Cyrus Webb Presents we had a chance to talk about the amazing journey she has been on since the last time we met. That includes everything from acting in television shows and movies to producing her own web-series called DONORS.

The first question that came to mind when we began the conversation this year was about where the courage comes from to do all that she does. "From my mom and my Great Auntie," she answered quickly. They taught her to "do it, because they couldn't. They instilled in me to don't let anyone tell me no." Omegia then adds "I've been that way ever since I was young."

For her company AboutFace Media one of the highlights this year has been the web-series DONORS, something that Omegia says was not planned. "The web-series was never supposed to be," she told me. "I was going to jump straight up into the feature." Having her credentials as a filmmaker questions, however, led her to take out her frustration in words. "I wrote the first episode overnight because someone ticked me off," she explained. "My writing ability when I'm mad or upset comes out so crystal clear. I got to do this wonderful backstory" that serve as preparation for the feature.

No matter whether she is writing a novel or a screenplay, Omegia Keeys says that the written word is her "gift." "And who am I not to follow this gift," she asks.

Stay connected with all things dealing with AboutFace Media at www.aboutfacemediaafm.com.

*     Top photo courtesy of Shadow Play Entertainment. Second photo courtesy of Dream Photography

International Recording Artist Cheri Maree's single provides backdrop for #BeAmped Campaign

Conversations Media Group President Cyrus Webb and his client international recording artist Cheri Maree are proud to be a part of the "BE AMPED: Give Yourself the Gift of Health for the Holidays" Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign which seeks to encourage individuals, at risk for the disease, to put themselves first this holiday season.

Webb, along with celebrity ambassadors Multi-Award Winning R&B Singer & Songwriter Bobby V, Comedian Rodney Perry, Eshe (formerly of the Two-time Grammy Award winning group Arrested Development); Yvette Caslin (Rolling Out magazine), Jasmine Crowe (Chief Change Maker), Stacey J The Social Enthusiast (entrepreneur), Shania Jones (Singer/Songwriter), Anashay Gould (model & red carpet host), Cherise B Thomas (business owner), PC (executive assistant), and Phyllis Brooks-Newman (breast cancer survivor) all joined forces to help with the campaign, and Cheri Maree's single "Time to Shine" is the theme song for the promo video that was recently released.






"I am thrilled and honored that 'Time to Shine' has been chosen by the 'Be Amped Campaign' for Breast Cancer Awareness, because it was written to encourage and inspire women/people through life's challenges," says Maree. "It was written to remind us to believe in our magnificence, to be courageous and to have faith no matter what. These are the 3 qualities I have seen in friends and family members that have been stricken with breast cancer. As the song says, 'With your Power, with your Faith, with your Vision, you can make it!'"

You can watch the official video for "Time to Shine" on Youtube here. Get the single and Cheri Maree's new album on Amazon. You can also stay connected with her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Find out more about the "Be Amped" Campaign by visiting http://www.connectingyouto.com.



Kenyetta York: Building on the Power of One to Impact the World

by Cyrus Webb

One person can make a difference.

Kenyetta York and I met each other in person this year for the first time,however, like others featured in this issue we have had the pleasure to converse on the radio show Conversations LIVE.

Kenyetta---or Kenni as she is affectionately called---is a sexual abuse survivor,however, she is so much more than that. She's also an advocate for other survivors, motivational speaker and an author that uses her platform to entertain and to be of assistance to others.

She does a benefit event every April called Let Your Voice Be Heard, helping others to provide the services that are so needed. I asked her what it was like for her to be a voice for others. "It's empowering for me," she says. "I'm still growing, I'm still healing. I tell people all the time that healing is a continual process." She says talking with others has helped her find her voice. "I understand that my testimony is helping someone else to grow."

Though she is a motivator, every day is not perfect. "I can be having a rotten day,"she explains, "feeling like everything I'm doing is in vain. I'll get a random email or phone call from someone saying that I helped them. Listening to these women tell me how my strength and courage made them feel comfortable makes me feel like I'm doing something right. That I'm on the right road."

Sharing her story has been necessary in her healing and in her walking in her purpose. She tells other survivors that it will be of great benefit to them as well. "Once you get to a point of speaking about it you get your power back. You feel free."

That freedom goes to show the power of words, both negatively and positively. "I realized the power of words when I was being abused." Her father would always tell her that she would never be anything. "I realized that words can really hurt you if you allow hem. I decided to use his words to motivate me to prove to myself that I could do better. I could have more. Everything he said I couldn't do I can do. If negative words could be powerful and hurt you then what could positive words do?"

That is why not just during April which is recognized as Sexual Abuse Awareness Month but year-round including October which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Kenni realizes that she has to work with others to help make a difference. "I believe that it takes a village. If we come together we can do more than if we try to do it individually. If I can help you do what you're trying to do then everybody can come out on top."

Stay connected with Kenni's work and her upcoming events and projects at www.kenniyork.com.

*     Photos courtesy of Shadow Play Entertainment

Conversations' 25 Women Changing the World, 2015

Conversations Media Group is pleased to announce this year's "25 Women Changing the World".

"This is one of the best lists that Conversations compiles each year," says Cyrus Webb, President of Conversations Media Group and Editor-In-Chief of Conversations Magazine. "Everyday there are women who are taking the lead around the world, showcasing what it takes to be successful and to make a difference. It is our honor to salute these remarkable individuals that are doing amazing things."

As is the custom with Conversations Magazine, you will find women from all walks of life who are involved in various forms of the arts and entertainment world, business and just using their lives as an example for others through their dedication to excellence. 

Here are this year's honorees (in no particular order):

  1. Leeza Gibbons (2nd year honoree)
  2. Katrina vanden Heuvel
  3. Marissa Monteilh
  4. Julie Geller
  5. Viola Davis
  6. Tiffany L. Warren
  7. Dr. Renee Sunday
  8. Talamieka Brice
  9. Andromeda Turre
  10. Frances Calhoun
  11. BJ Gallagher
  12. Helene Weinberger
  13. Bridgette "Bri" Cooper
  14. Katandra Jackson Nunnally
  15. Chelsea Crites
  16. Gina Prince-Bythewood
  17. Renee Lawless
  18. Donna Goldstein
  19. Andie Mitchell
  20. Amanda Ruller
  21. Mary Ellen Ciganovich
  22. DJ Lake Gang
  23. Shonda Rhimes (2nd year honoree)
  24. Ava DuVernay
  25. Donna D'Errico
This special issue of Conversations Magazine will include interviews and features with the honorees. Order your print edition of this issue of Conversations Magazine by clicking here