Monte Carlo

Riding around one night with my nephew, actually, on my way home, I spotted a mint condition (maybe late 80’s) dark brown vintage Monte Carlo. You know how certain songs on the radio or a particular scent can take you back to a carefree time in your life when you were your happiest. Well, that night the sight of that car, in that color, rewound time and made me smile. So, of course, I had to share the story with my nephew.

The first man I ever truly loved came to me with nothing. At least none of the things young girls look for in a mate today. At only 19 years old, he had no money or house of his own. But he did have a job and his own car. It wasn’t new and you had to climb in through the windows to get in, but it was his. None of that mattered to me anyway. I’ve never been materialistic. What was important to me was that he was sweet, kind, unique, funny and had swag, y’all!! Because it’s all about the eyes for me, his pretty unique brown eyes captured my heart!

As if that’s not enough, he was a familiar face. See, God allowed me to go to high school with this young man, have several classes with him throughout our four years at puberty hell high, but NEVER have one conversation. Here we are two years later meeting again as my sister and I visited our ill father at the nursing home (a whole other story) where he just started working. Once we looked into one another’s eyes it felt as if we were seeing each other for the very first time. I knew immediately he was it for me. I knew that this man was this Mrs. Right, Mr. Right.

That day we talked and exchanged numbers. Soon we set our first date, a family dinner at my house. The evening of the dinner, he was so late I thought he wasn’t going to come. My sister-in-law (oldest brothers wife) cooked and everybody was ready to eat. The food had been re-warmed a few times, still, thirty minutes later, no date.

As soon as I had cried a puddle and was ready to give up, a thumping melodic mix of hard base and rap filled the night air from at least three blocks away. The neighborhood could’ve been a stage for a Snoop concert as ‘laid back, with my mind on my money and my money on my mind‘ thumped closer until it stopped, blaring, ‘Sipping on Gin and Juice’, in my front yard. He was finally here. My sisters seemed to be excited for me. The four of us were scurrying around, giggling, trying to make sure my hair and lipstick looked ok after the forty-minute wait.

Our house was an open layout with a 30-foot ceiling, speculated to be one of a few standing old slave houses. We had a long hallway stretching from the front door to the back door. Leading to the front door was our sitting room where two small love seats, a few corner tables, and a dim ceiling lamp strategically furnished the tiny space like the waiting room of a small lawyers office.

When my date knocked on the door, my mom nudged for me to open it. I didn’t want to look too eager, plus I was so scared. I stood there as she answered. But tell me why when the door opened there were two young men on the other side? Who brings their cousin to a first date at their potential girlfriend’s house? It could’ve been a very strange moment. But for some reason, the minute we saw the two of them standing there, we all looked at one another and laughed. Instantly, it felt as if we already knew both of them for years. It helped to know he was so nervous that he had to bring support with him. And it worked out well. His cousin instantly fell in love with one of my sisters. “Love at first sight”, he said.

When dinner was over, there was a little daylight left. We resigned to the wooden porch which surrounded our house guarding all for sides. He and I sat on the front, and his cousin and my sister, the side. He turned his car radio on 92.9 WTUG and we danced, laughed and talked for hours. I never felt more comfortable and completely myself around anyone like that before. Our first date didn’t end until the early hours of the next morning.

That night is fondly etched in my mind. A great memory of how opposites quietly attract. I was his church girl, he was my bad boy. The date ended with my first kiss, our first kiss on the front porch, in the darkness lit only by the headlights of his epic, dark brown Monte Carlo. Cheers to the good old days and this piece of my journey! The puzzle pieces are falling into place.

#vfurrmstheblogger #montecarlo #vintagecars #1960s #mypoeticlifebook.wordpress.com #mypoeticlifebook #mypoeticlife #instagrampoet #IG:my_poetic_life_

Body Image (published on http://vocal.media)

Body Dysmorphia

“Body Image” by @vocal_creators https://longevity.media/body-image-5

What is your first memory of yourself? Let’s go back in time for a moment, to the first time you remember, for whatever reason, disliking something about your body? For me, my very first memory of body image issues began as a preteen after my father abruptly moved our family from saucy Arizona to corn-fed Alabama. In Arizona, most people I knew were thin. I recall very few children who were overweight. Alabama was a culture shock for me. The accents were different, the food was different, and most children my age were healthy looking—not obese—but so much taller and bigger than I was. Unlike myself, most girls here were developing already. I felt invisible.

At 11 1/2, suddenly I was forced to become aware of the shortcomings of my own body. I hated my scrawniness, and hid behind my sister’s hand-me-downs and my brother’s large t-shirts even in high school. I stood almost five feet and seven inches, weighing 98 pounds when I graduated high school. The bullying I experienced, however brief, left me with a horrible complex. As a young adult, my body image issues resurfaced differently. I had to worry about not being small enough. Especially after having my children.

I divorced shortly before my son’s fourth birthday. Even though I was still thin when I got out, I was empty in so many other ways. My body image issues did not just disappear because my stomach was flat and I could wear whatever I wanted. I was its captive. Captivity became part of who I was, engraving itself into my state of mind. When I looked in the mirror, I saw everything I lost—my marriage, my health, my livelihood, my lack of womanhood, and my self-esteem. I was too broken to see the real beauty inside myself.

I couldn’t stand seeing my own reflection. To me, the pudge in my belly was disgusting and the fat under my chin, disturbing. I saw the dark spots in my face as war wounds from all the tears I cried. Constant reminders that I was worthless. I had no idea any of that was true. It’s funny what your mind can make you believe. My mind’s distorted image of myself made me believe I was fat! To complicate the matter, I was an emotional eater; I still am. At points in my life when depression would completely take over, which was often, I ate. My own reflection disgusted me, all the time, and I never told a soul.

Over the next few years, I fought a constant battle with stress seizures, depression, Fibromyalgia, anxiety, panic attacks, and dysmorphia. I continued to gain weight without even noticing my steadfast climb into obesity. I listened to “close friends” tell me, “Girl you’re not fat!” and “If you were fat, you know I’d tell you,” all the while not listening to my true friend: The scale.

All dieting attempts failed. The Atkins, Keto, Pluto, Weight Watchers, Grapefruit diet, popcorn diet, smoothie diet, and any diet seen on Facebook after 2009; I tried them all. The only thing I saw, IF I looked in the mirror to put on lipstick, was defeat. I was so devastated I gave up on myself. By the end of 2015, I weighed 206 pounds—the heaviest I’d ever been. I couldn’t do it anymore and I simply stopped caring. I’d just try to love my plus-size self at a size 18 to 22. Right?

Wrong…

I didn’t like anything about my body or myself for that matter, so how could I love myself? I tried to be content, but I couldn’t live like that. I longed to feel like my old self again, before marriage, illness, depression, or divorce! Therefore, I went into 2016 determined to keep my New Year’s Resolution of not losing weight, but simply becoming a healthier me. I wanted to look in the mirror and like what I saw. I’d had enough self-pity, so I decided to make a drastic lifestyle change, cutting out sugars, bread, starch, pasta, red meat, and soft drinks. I began to feel a little better as I saw pounds melt away.

Encouraged with my progress, I decided that total wellness for me meant getting a handle of the Fibromyalgia chronic pain. When I went to see a specialist, I weighed 183 pounds. My encouragement was short-lived. The doctor’s preliminary testing, despite my efforts, showed that I was pre-diabetic, in the beginning stages of kidney failure, had liver issues, high cholesterol, and a host of other things wrong. Again, I felt defeated. Plus I began passing out for some reason. But the brunt of how sick I really was didn’t really hit me until I nearly died about a week later from an adverse reaction to cholesterol medication.

I could’ve given up! There was still so much I hated about my body. My efforts were not in vain! I rededicated myself to getting my weight down with a bigger purpose in mind: To see my daughter bring my first grandbaby into the world. A diabetic shot knows to cause weight loss in small amounts, and sticking to my personal changes brought me down to about 150 pounds. I was blessed to see my granddaughter born in Honolulu on September 2, 2017. But before my trip was over, I passed out again.

A month later, back at home, I continued to lose small amounts of weight. I was on different medications for a number of years. Doses had not been adjusted to fit my new weight. One morning, around two AM, I became extremely lucid and was rushed to the ER. Apparently, my body reacted as if I had continuously overdosed. Regulating my meds solved the problem, and to date, I’ve had no other issues. People will forever have negativity to spread. So because I was in the hospital, false rumors of drug use spread like wildfire, and for a minute, I found myself back to believing and seeing myself as too small again. I suppose my new found confidence allowed me to address why and HOW I lost weight and set people straight.

Now, a year and eight months later, I feel good because I’m maintaining my weight in the 140s. I’m no longer diabetic, reversed the liver issues, high cholesterol, and kidney failure. About a month ago, I walked by a mirror and I had to take another look. I didn’t recognize myself at first and I started crying those good tears. There I was, not the same, but a new woman: Valerie 2.0! A better version of myself who brought forth life after being drained of life, fought battles and lost, and now fought battles and won.

Weight loss is not a complete cure or magic fix. I still have body image issues, just on a much smaller scale. At 45 years old, I don’t just dislike the flabbiness under my arms, my stomach, and chin, I hate it. I understand I may always have dysmorphia, however small, but I’m willing to do the work to overcome it. If this journey has taught me anything, it’s to realize that whatever you’re trying to fix about yourself includes tackling other issues. You have to be resigned to achieving full body and mind wholeness in order to truly rebuild and find inner peace.

We live in a society where body image plays a huge role in how others see you, regardless of how you see yourself. Not everyone will understand your battle so be patient with yourself and go at YOUR pace to achieve your personal goals. Although weight loss was a huge stepping stone for me, you have to find what you believe will catapult you back into living your life to its fullest. It took me almost two years to undo a decade of self-harm and become what healthy means to me.

Now I feel equipped to continue to conquer my fears and achieve my dreams and goals. Today, I constantly admire my reflection, and although I’m just beginning, I’m interested in adding makeup artist to my resume. I have a makeup Instagram page @valmarie_aspiringmua. I suffered from social phobia my entire adult life, but added stage actress (in front of a packed house) to my resume earlier this month.

I’ll admit that some days I feel stronger than others. But I feel the same level of different each and every day! By different, I mean change. I stopped doing the same thing expecting different results. That’s the definition of insanity. Changing allowed me to accept the new physical me, find inner peace, and fall in love with all of me over and over again.

So, as you take baby steps, enjoy each of those steps in your journey and stay true to it. It’s yours, so make it only about YOU! Don’t do it with anyone else, because of anyone else, and more importantly, for anyone else! This journey has taught me that it’s okay to not be okay, normal to make mistakes, and alright even if you fall along the way. What’s important is that you never give up on yourself and you remain steadfast in your quest to find you again, even if you have redefined who that will be.

My Battle with Insomnia

Unlike fibromyalgia or seizures, there’s no one time I can pinpoint when I began experiencing insomnia. I learned that non-restorative sleep can exacerbate many physical conditions, such as Fibromyalgia. There are nights when I’m exhausted and sleepy, but I cannot close my eyes and sleep.

After about three consecutive days of insomnia, I can’t even clear my mind long enough to pray one continuous, say, “Amen” at the end, prayer. I can’t keep a clear idea in my head, or put a sentence together without stuttering. The correct use of words escape me and I’m so tired I ache more. But, still, I can not sleep.

It’s not that I’m wired, drank too much coffee or I’m hopped up on chocolate, or any of the usual causes. My mind just refuses to cut off enough to allow me to rest. I’ve done everything my doctors tell me to do, aside from taking more medication to cure it. When my insomnia is left untreated, I’ve experienced extreme memory loss, a drastic increase in physical pain, extreme chronic fatigue, migraine headaches, mood swings, and etc. At it’s worse, which was about five years ago, I would experience a condition called Global Amnesia, one of the scariest things I’ve ever gone through.

Global amnesia occurs when your memory can no longer reboot itself due to the lack of restorative sleep. These awful episodes only occurred while I was driving. When driving to a place I’ve been to a thousand times before, such as the hospital to visit someone or my Aunt and Uncles house, my mind would completely go blank. Suddenly, it was as if my car was lifted up and sat down in the middle of a town I’ve never been in before.

For the longest minute or so, the most powerful extreme panicky fear consumed me and I had no idea where I was. I couldn’t recognize any roads, buildings, landmarks, or street names. Nothing! My mom would have to calm me down until I could either pull over or if I couldn’t get out if traffic, follow her driving directions to get where we were going. After those terrifying moments, my head would clear, I’d regain my memory and know where I was again.

My neurologist put me on a medication call Nortriptyline to help me rest. Thankfully, I haven’t had an episode in a few years now. I do notice that when I’m stressed out, upset or in a lot of pain, the insomnia is worse. Due to that, I’ve tried everything from relaxation breathing techniques, over the counter sleep aids, Benadryl, cold medication and Motrin, to reading, and playing games on my phone. Unfortunately, most times when insomnia hits, nothing works.

The good thing that comes from insomnia is being able to write in interrupted. My suggestion though is never to share your work until you’ve slept and can edit it first. I have posted things that read crazy the next morning, so now I don’t post until I have read it over to make sure it actually makes sense. The struggles I go through for my craft. But just like with any other job, there are sacrifices.

I thank God for this gift and for the fact that writing never keeps me awake. If I get sleepy, I will put this down in a heartbeat and get my sleep. Nothing is worth your adequate rest. Those people who say, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”, and mean it, will change their mind before they hit 30 years old. Our bodies need sleep to recharge. Insomnia plagues me 3-5 days a week now. I always suffered from it but never like this. My next step is talking with my neurologist. Hopefully, he will have a solution to help me.

If you believe suffer from insomnia, have been diagnosed or have questions go to http://sleepfoundation.org for definitions, information, and tips on how to treat it and maintain this condition.

Sweet dreams!

#insomnia #mybattlewithinsomnia #mybattle #sweetdreams #sleepfoundation.org

Love Your Mother; You Only Get One

Last week, I got, what at the time, was one of the worst calls I ever thought possible. After just a few words from my brother including, Momma passed out and had a stroke, I found myself faced with possibly losing my own mother. I instantly fell into a puddle of tears.

For the last six months or so, my mom started getting sick while doing simple tasks around the house. That day, she got sick but this time passed out while trying to cook dinner. The EMS thought she may have had a stroke. The same as her mother, my Grandma Leathia, 50 years ago.

I began to replay the last 48 hours with her in my head. She slept a little more than usual, but there was nothing else out of the ordinary. My mind was racing and it was hard to think that I hadn’t been there to hold her hand or tell her I love her. At that moment, I wasn’t a level headed nurse, I was my momma’s youngest daughter and for all I knew, my biggest supporter, my heart and best friend, could be leaving me. But God!

Two of my cast members got me to the hospital while praying all the way there. But by the time I finally got to see her, I was in full panic mode. Thank God, she was awake and talking. As usual, she was trying to be strong. Unbeknownst to her, she gets a panicky look in her eyes when she does that, surely the opposite of her intent. But, she tried to reassure me that she was ok.

God was in the blessing business because initial tests showed no evidence of a stroke, or anything wrong neurologically but the young doctor wanted to keep her overnight. Reluctantly, but wisely, she agreed. She ended up having to stay three days for unrelated issues and further testing. Last Sunday she was glad to finally get to go home.

Within the last fifteen years, I’ve lost my oldest brother, daddy, grandfather, aunts, uncles, cousins, and best (school) friend, but had I lost my Mommy that night, I don’t know how I would have survived that. Thank God I didn’t have to find out.

The whole night made me reevaluate other relationships. I’m not especially close to my four siblings, or extended family. Within the last year, I either parted ways with or just don’t have the same connection with close friends. So, except for my two children, my sister- friend Bridgette, my Sissy Consuela (from my blog: I Have A Doppelganger) and my sister-friend, Kawanda, I still find myself feeling alone.

Therefore, I really can’t imagine my world without my mother. We’ve been through everything together. I can’t fathom the heavy fear, loss, and emptiness that would consume me. So when I pray, I continue to speak life over her and us all. I will relish in this time I’ve been given to continue to care for her, love on her, and be in her wonderful presence. While another friend I checked on tonight, is still reeling from the loss of her mother, I just thank God for being in the midst that day for mine.

We’re only given one mother, so love her with all you are and tell her you love her all the time. Thank you to Jean and Linda for taking me to the hospital, praying steadfastly, calming me down and staying with me. I love you both very much!

Mommy showing her Apache/ Cherokee Indian heritage 100%! (2018)

Trey with his Grandma on his 21st birthday (2018)

Me and Mommy Christmas (2017)

Mommy on Easter last year (2018) showing off her recent weight loss! She worked hard!

I thank God for you Mommy and the joy of being your daughter!❤❤❤

I LOVE YOU, MOMMY😘😘

Single Black Female: Finding My Happily Ever After

I talked with another blogger this morning @Jasons-Journal.com about the difficulties of finding love. His blog posts concerning the subject got me to thinking. I haven’t updated my Single Black Female series in a while. If you follow my blog, you know, one I’ve been unlucky in love and, two, I have not really had the time due to fulfilling my life long dream of acting in my first stage play.

I believe God brings people and situations into your life for a reason. Each serves a purpose. Because this play is the eighth in Shawna Moore’s ministry, I went into it believing I would be blessed beyond measure and maybe find love. Well, I made no friends, but family. And I found myself attracted to someone but I’m not putting my hands on it. Whatever is to be for me will be.

In the past, every time I fall for someone, it never fails, that several others begin to bide for my attention. And every time, I usually chose the wrong one. I am doing things differently this time in hopes of different results. This time, I’m taking my hands off it and allowing God to move. No, I’m not dating several men at one time. Actually, I’m not dating anyone. I am just continuing to work on things I need to accomplish for myself. If love comes, it comes. I’ve learned my lesson about seeking it out!

Men don’t understand what we go through as single women, not to mention us, single-divorced with children”, women. Most men do not talk about their feelings so we spend the first few months peeling back facades, sifting through possible lies, looking for red flags, basically rummaging through the bullshyt. Then, when we finally see the real him, possibly, a whole three whole months later, we’ve most likely wasted our time.

Therefore, as for me, I wasn’t one to introduce my kids to just anyone. I had to be in a long-term relationship. Being that I’m a relationship girl, its harder for me because I’m a Christian, I don’t do casual dating, one night stands, dating sites, or friends with benefits.

I still believe there are good men out there, despite those I’ve met who pose as single/available when they’re actually either married/in a relationship, or are extremely immature, emotionally detached, mentally damaged, and the list goes on. After my talk with @jason’s-journey, I understand that single decent good men like him are faced with the same issues with single women. I hadn’t realized that dating pitfalls work both ways that much.

So what do we do as good Christan, loving, caring, kind, singles, available in every way, looking for love in a world where love doesn’t seem to be valued as much? Marriage seems to be a dying art. Some of our parents, grandparents and great grandparents had marriages that lasted a lifetime. It appears there are fewer looking for that type of forever with someone.

But I still believe in love, in soul mates, in the beauty of seeing forever with someone. I feel blessed to have been completely in love more than once, so I suppose I’m just a hopeless romantic. I know I won’t be single forever because I am steadfast in my prayers to be blessed with my happily ever after. I deserve it! I’m speaking it into existence! God is good!

PS. During your search for love, hang in there and try to always remember the words below from Dr. Maya Angelou…

My Victory List and A Quiet Storm

My meaning of a bucket list is not traditional. To be honest, I don’t like to think about death, therefore I will entitle my Victory List. I made the bulk of this list during my final days of high school. I wrote them down in what we called our Senior Memory Book. It consisted of the following: Go to college, record/sing on somebody’s record, act on stage, become a lawyer, get married/have 5 kids, move to a farm (but not farm) lol.

Well, as for college I have degrees in Business administration and nursing. I’m still waiting to get on a track but actually recorded with the Buren BoBo District COGIC Choir one year. One day my daddy once told me lawyers lied for a living. I don’t know if they do but I decided to become a nurse instead. I got married and divorced all before the age of thirty. We were blessed with two beautiful children. I haven’t found that farm yet, but being on stage this past Saturday night has made me not want to be off somewhere with no one else around. I believe that social phobia is beat!

I wish I could think of the words to explain how it felt to be on that stage for the first time. I can say that it felt good to be trusted to bring three characters to life in four different scenes! I knew I loved doing plays and musicals in grade school, so I’d love this. I find myself completely in love with the entire process. Not only am I blessed to have worked with the phenomenal playwright Shawna D. Moore, but the actors and singers that graced that stage stirred some souls both times we performed!!

Everyone brought their A game. We supported one another so I wasn’t really nervous. Shawna and our star, April Watson, a seasoned actress, gave us all the advice, nurturing, and encouragement we needed all the way up to opening night. I admit I did have a temporary dementia moment during my third scene in the first show but recovered nicely by panicking and saying, “Oh my God!”, directly in the mic! 😂I was so mad at myself, but my new family embraced me and let me know it was ok.

For those who came out, you got a treat of a lifetime! And you know it! People are still talking about, “A Quiet Storm”. For those who missed it, you missed a true testimony of tragedy, heartache, denial, faith, and deliverance. With her, count them, eight stage play, Shawna Moore continues to put God on display for all to see. Her writing undeniably stresses the power of prayer, the necessity of faith, and the truth behind a sound mind, soul, and spirit. A lesson we all could learn.

“A Quiet Storm” shed light on downplaying of mental illness in our communities and how we would rather breakdown than admit we need help. It’s sad but true that we are all guilty of making someone feel “crazy” through actions of our own or by simply ignoring their plea for help. I hope patrons left Saturday night with the understanding that mental illness exists and can be treated but you have to love yourself enough to take that first step!

Special thanks to:

Shawna D. Moore, Mor-Shy Productions, our wonderful A Quiet Storm family, our great sound guys, our outstanding singers, the voluntary stagehands, vendors, caterers, Rent A Center, friends, family and all those who helped make both shows a complete success!

Unlocking Memories

Hopefully, none of my readers have ever had seizures, but if you have you know that they mess with your memory. I’m not sure of the exact year, but a few years after my first seizure in 1998, I began having stress-induced seizures back to back and was admitted to the hospital. During my stay, I was poked, proved and medicated. After discharge, I recalled being thankful that week-long stay was over. Except it hadn’t been a week, not even two weeks. The medication I was given really affected my memory. I had actually been in the hospital for seven weeks.

My doctors told me that I would never regain my memory of that hospital stay or the few years of my life leading up to it. But God. Recently, I have begun to have memories come back as if photos were being shown to me like flashcards in my mind. Or video clips would turn on and off periodically in my head. I get excited when I remember because it proves that God has the last say and that happiness changes the chemical makeup of your brain somehow. I’ve unlocked memories I thought were lost forever.

It was so heartbreaking before when Id look at pictures of my son and daughters birthday parties and not be able to recall taking the pictures or even the events of that day. But God. Some, not all, of my children’s childhood photo memories, have come back to me. I can remember my son’s party at CiCi’s Pizza where he was given a Nintendo DS with Pokemon on the front of it and the Christmas their dad bought them the late great Eddie Guerrero WWE t-shirts. He was Trey’s favorite wrestler. I remember in bits and pieces but Lord knows that is better than not remembering at all.

I have made myself my first priority along with my mom. And I am so much happier for it. Life has been better and good since I stopped allowing others to determined my happiness. Why did it take me so long to cut negativity out of my life?

I believe some memory loss is caused by the seizures and fibromyalgia. I also think (by example) that retrieval of memories has something to do with your clear state of mind. We live hectic lives with issues and worries that can cloud our minds and hearts.

You have the ability to speak life over yourself. To speak positivity into your home and surroundings. Your energy or spirit is controlled by your state of mind. Live a life where you are #1 and where you work on your happiness each day. Watch God work. Whether it’s unbreaking your heart, unclouding your mind, or unlocking memories, remember you are in control of it all. And as always, prayer works!

Me and my babies Brittney 2 1/2 and Trey 1 1/2.

Break A Leg

In one week, we will perform on stage, some of us for the very first time, the play “A Quiet Storm”. A testimony of sorts written by Shawna D. Moore will definitely be a ministry to all who witnesses it. The premise surrounds Mental Illness, a taboo subject in every community.

No one wants to talk about it but according to statistics from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 adults will suffer from mental illness in America each year. One in twenty-five will suffer a serious mental illness each year.

When you attend this play, you will go through a series of emotions. You just may see yourself in one or more of its characters. I know I do. As we transformed into this wonderful cast we learned about one another’s pain, tragedies, heartache; our darkest places. But each day we came out of those dark places by praising God.

I found myself soul searching revealing many things, the greatest was forgiveness. But that’s not it. Twenty years after being hurt, I am able to say, ” I forgive you”. I learned to let go and let God, not just when it’s convenient but because it’s necessary.

I’ve suffered from depression my entire adult life. But last night as I wrote these words, I’ve never felt freer from it while in it. I know medically, it will be there, but my focus is no longer on it. You know the saying, you can speak life over certain situations. Well, I speak life into healing from depression, pain, fear, and anxiety.

So, Saturday, March 9, I won’t only be living a dream of mine by gracing the stage with this amazing cast, but I’ll be defeating a few demons as well. This play means so much to me. It has touched my spirit and healed places in me that I forgot were broken. It will do the same for you. We often ostracized ourselves into believing we are alone in our struggle. But no one is truly alone. God is forever here.

Come out to Stillman College Birthright Auditorium March 9, 2019, @ 2pm/7pm for this ministry which is sure to change your life as it has changed mine! Ticket are $15 in advance/$20 at the door. If you CashAp Shawna Moore @ $ShawnaDMoore or myself @ $vfurrms2 or your tickets will be waiting for you at the door. No need to pick them up!

Peace, love, and joy,

Val

@vfurrmstheblogger

Rhythm and Blues: When Did You Fall in Love with R&B?

I have loved all genres of music my entire life. I began singing very early and sang my first solo at church when I was five years old. I’m no Tamela Mann or Patti, but I can do a little something. When I was a teenager, I kept a notebook with lyrics to all of my favorite songs. I knew every word and learned each and every note. This is how I became good at singing by ear. I never learned to read music, but I learned the upbeats and downbeats and those in between by hearing them.

As a young girl, I sang soprano and could hit notes I dare not to attempt now. I always sang in school choirs and in church. In grade school in Arizona, we sang at malls, performed musicals, and presented plays. My favorite choir teacher was a seasoned musician, singer, and performer named Ms. Huggins. She replaced our music teacher when I was in the third grade. She taught me about counts and beats. I learned the importance of timing from her.

Because we grew up sheltered, we were not allowed to listen to particular music. So we would wait until my dad went to work and turn on 106th and Park and watch music videos on VH1 and MTV for hours. My mom didn’t mind at all as long as our chores were done. We didn’t really know much rap music but heard it played by my oldest brother sometimes. It was years before I knew who the pioneers were.

The best musical R&B decade of my generation, in my opinion, was the late 80s and 90s. It was during these years that I’d discover my true love of music and dance. I was already in love with R&B from my childhood. But I remember the precise moment I fell head over heels in love with contemporary R&B. Atlantic Star released their beautiful ballad, Always. I had trouble with the bridge and my sister worked with me until I got it. That girl can sing!!

My love for Pop started with (solo) Michael Jackson but when I heard his little sister, Janet Jackson’s Miss You Much from her album Rhythm Nation. That entire album was fire!. Coincidentally, Miss You Much spent four weeks at number one on the Billboards and was the first single on her fourth album (Wikipedia, Janet Jackson Biggest Billboard Hits, retrieved 26, October 2017). I still remember every word.

In fact, some of my favorite artists whose songs made it to my dance routines as well as into my notebook were the Queen, Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, of course, Natalie Cole, Mariah Carey, Boys II Men, Vanessa Williams, Pam Tillis, Dolly Pardon, Ray Charles, Garth Brooks, Michael Jackson, Prince, Madonna, Alicia Keys, and the list goes on. My taste in music has never discriminated. My love for all music reached beyond singing. In college, in majored in Nursing and minored in Dance (Jazz/Hip Hop).

Back in the day, before CDs, we had cassette tapes. Complete albums took up both sides of a cassette and sometimes a second. Single Eps had the artist’s lyrical song on one side and the instrumental on the other. I used to love Mariah Carey so much that I’d blast the instrumental in the car and sing each note at the top of my lungs. When my daughter was younger she would sing along wondering how she knew the words. I played those songs when she was in the womb. My baby has a beautiful voice and has tried out for both American Idol and The Voice.

Today, my taste is a little more refined because I’m older and the last couple of decades of music have been disappointing, to say the least. I’m still an old school R&B lover at heart. I’ve tried to get into contemporary artists, such as H.E.R. SZA ,and Ariana Grande I but find myself turning Spotify and Pandora back to the soul-stirring R&B of the past. I fell in love to those songs, fell out of love to them, made love to them, cried to them, smiled to them, slow danced with my love to them, and bonded with my babies to them.

Old school R&B and hip hop is a cultural journey that millennials and their babies will most like never understand the meaning behind. Sadly, some will never hear a classic R&B song in its completion in their lifetime. I’m so happy that I was able to share music from my favorite decades and many others with my children. It makes me proud to see my granddaughter dance and rock to 19-year-old Mariah Carey, young Whitney Houston, and the original ladies of En vogue.

Not many 20 somethings even heard of SWV, Avant, Kem, or know the original singers behind the beats used in the music they listen to every day. We won’t even mention the great music of the 50s and 60s, etc. The music behind Sparkle, Cadillac Records, and Dream Girls. They think The Temptations, Commodores, Diana Ross, Gladys Night and the incomparable Patti LaBelle are uninteresting. But if you ask an artist of today where they get their inspiration from, I bet they mention one or more of the greats.

I could talk all day about music, but I’ll leave you with this, of all the things you could give your children in life, let it be an appreciation of the greats. The ones who came before them. Give them respect for those who paved the way whether in music, art, dance, civil rights, invention, or movies.

Bless them with the gift of knowing where and who they come from so that 20 years from now their children and the generations to follow will always know and never forget when they first fell in love with their biggest passion. Mine just happens to be music. What is yours?

(I do not own rights to these lyrics)