When Sascha Rothchild walks into a room heads turn. This Miami Beach-born green-eyed, majestic red-haired bombshell can knock you off your feet not only with her silver knee-high-heeled boots but also with her expertise in (unsuccessful) relationships. Rothchild’s book, How to Get Divorced by 30: My Misguided Attempt at a Starter Marriage, was released January 26, 2010, after Penguin Publishers came across the article and wanted to publish a memoir. Rothchild has also written for Psychology Today Magazine, Women’s Health Magazine, match.com and dippolitics.com. Although always busy freelancing articles for various publications, or flying out to book signings all over the country, Rothchild still finds time where she resides in Los Angeles for the little things in life like her cat, Spork, her love for frozen yogurt, and her obsession with vampires and black nail polish.
“I always knew that I wanted to be a writer,” said Rothchild. “When I was 11 or 12 years old, I read an ‘Interview with a Vampire.’ I was so completely immersed in those books that I realized if I can create my own world with my writing then I can control my own environment with my writing. I always had the habit to jot down funny conversations I heard while out with my parents. Because my father was a writer, it just made sense. I grew up surrounded by writing and watching him write. I must say it is probably the least glamorous job in the world because you sit alone in a room wearing sweatpants. But there is something glamorous to me about people reading what I write.”
From a very young age, encouraged by her father, this now 33-year-old Jewish Boston College graduate always felt the need to write. Her philosophy is that if she doesn’t write it, it isn’t real. Always propelled to write down everything, whether it is something that happened to her or a story idea, Rothchild’s mantra is about writing things down to define her reality. “The process of sitting down and writing can be very scary for a lot of people,” she said. “Some dread it and continue to put if off. For me, I’m not afraid of it. Maybe I’m afraid sometimes that the writing won’t be very good. You have to do a little bit everyday, and because I’ve been doing it since I was seven or eight years old, it comes naturally to me. I feel if I don’t write, my life isn’t complete. If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? For me, if I live my life and I don’t write about it, I haven’t really lived my life.”
Moving to LA upon graduating with a degree in theater specializing in playwriting, Rothchild soon realized that living in LA and getting in touch with the big-screen people was more than just tough love. One night, prior to her moving to the west coast and while she was eating out for dinner with a few college friends, Rothchild was deep in conversation and David Black, the executive director of Law and Order, overheard her. At the end of dinner, he had given her his business card and told her that he liked her spunky personality and he would give her a job after she graduated. Thinking she would get many offers down the road, Rothchild didn’t find it necessary to keep track of the card and lost it within a few weeks. Years later, while struggling to balance freelance writing and waitressing, Rothchild had learned a valuable lesson and has kept every business card she’s received since.
The hardest part about being a freelance writer, according to Rothchild, is that the need to write should always be there. “If you don’t write all the time, then you aren’t a writer,” said Rothchild. Writing for at least five hours a day, six days a week, this freelancer, memoirist, and screenwriter calls writing her cardio. “I do write like it is a job and as if I have a deadline even if I don’t have a deadline because it forces me to produce good material, said Rothchild. “Eventually I hit a wall, but usually in five hours I accomplish a lot. You have to build up to writing a lot. When you get used to it and when you’re really feeling it – it zips right along. I enjoy writing in coffee shops because I can sit in a corner while there is this soft chatter around me and I don’t have to focus on it. If someone says something that gets my attention I’ll listen for a few seconds. Afterwards, what’s going on will have energized me and then I can get right back into what I’m writing.”
Rothchild has continued to freelance. After she pitched and published the LA Weekly article “How to Get Divorced by 30,” following her actual divorce from her husband of three years, both Penguin Publishers and Universal Studios showed an immense interest in getting a memoir and movie out of it. Readers can tell the article and memoir has proven anything but anti-male. “If anything, I’m hardest on myself,” she said. “The book is about not buckling under pressure to get married. The whole general response to the book has been that I have had such a weird life but that I’m really relatable.”
Now with the recent release of her book and meanwhile in the process of writing the script for Universal Studios, Rothchild feels like she has obtained the expert title in relationships. Although she does not have a psychology background, Rothchild claims that she has always been obsessed with analyzing people and relationships. Her regular columns for Psychology Today and How to Get Divorced by 30 – both the article and the book version- have gotten Rothchild labeled a professional and expert in this particular field. Having been asked to be on an episode of VH1’s Tough Love, which will air within the next few months, and constantly interviewing for many women’s websites and magazines, she has been deemed as the relationship expert. “By failure, I have been the expert.”
by Michelle Golden
Two summers ago my mother landed up in the emergency room; her heart rate was at a low four and the nurses were pumping something in her veins to reverse the drug effects of her attempted suicide. I remember staring at my mother, wondering if she was experiencing the same kind of internal emotional pain my sister and I were going through.
When she was later seen by a social worker we were told that she’s bipolar. My sister and I had been prepared for this answer for a while due to her years and years of destructive behavior. But when we finally had the answer in front of us, I don’t think either of us knew what to do next. Then, as if the social worker knew this was what we were thinking, she told us, “Your mother needs to get her self immediate help.”
We learned that bipolar disorder consists of disruptions in brain chemistry. The parts of the brain that control emotions don’t operate the way they should and because of this, individuals with the disorder experience certain moods more strongly and frequently than others for a longer period of time.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health approximately 5.7 million American adults or about 2.6 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year are affected by bipolar disorder, a disorder that severely affects mood swings. Out of the 5.7 million Americans who are affected by this disorder a lot of them are not aware of it and some may not even do anything to receive the right treatment.
For a number of reasons people who suffer from bipolar disorder don’t get the necessary help they need from a doctor. They may ignore their family and friend’s plea to seek treatment. Most of the time the number one reason for not seeing a doctor is fear. When people suffering from bipolar disorder live in denial they don’t have to face themselves, their fears, and reality. They can continue going about their everyday lives – even if their relationships with family, friends, and co-workers are at risk.
When getting treatment isn’t a priority people can risk becoming suicidal and one’s long-term physical health is at risk as well. And that’s the stage my mother was in when we found ourselves at her hospital bed. For years we didn’t know what the problem was and for years she never thought she had a problem.
Millions of Americans have bipolar disorder and it can develop at any point in an individual’s life. It’s not only a personality disorder but it is also a real disease. It requires medical attention just like cancer or diabetes requires treatment. The right treatment is out there for everybody. Medications are available to help stabilize moods and in therapy one can discuss feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. Through seeking professional help people can learn to cope with the bipolar disorder and learn how to fully engage in ways to better live a more gratifying and functional life.
One thing to realize when you’re dealing with a family member who has the disorder is that it isn’t your fault. For years my mother put the blame on my sister and I for her divorce from my father, or for her health, or just for even being born. But it is important to understand that all of these are irrational thoughts and though they may hurt, it really is the bipolar disorder in the parent speaking. Sometimes I think that maybe there is hope and she will change. But then those thoughts are interrupted when I remember the harsh names, the hitting, the shoving, and the manic state she was capable of getting stuck in. I used to think I was just the bad daughter. But when I moved out and my sister then had to deal with it, I knew that I had been wrong for many years and my mother’s daughters weren’t the problem. The fact that she wasn’t getting the right help was.
Although it’s been two years after my mother’s diagnosis and she still isn’t seeking the right help, I know that it takes time. It is true that her life has gone in a downwards spiral since then. She isn’t emotionally and physically healthy and stable to have a job. My mother is still suffering from the tremendous effects of the disorder. But I do have faith that at some point she’ll be ready to take the right medication, to speak with the right professional, and to trust in her own self and others that there is a light at the end of the long and dark tunnel. Like with anything, the first step is admitting when there is a problem. And after that, it’s about taking one day at a time.
by Michelle Golden
One day my boyfriend said I had to wear more makeup, straighten my hair everyday, and wear heels weather permitting. I didn’t know whether to blame his idiocy or Heidi Montag and her fake sex appeal. All I knew was it seemed that my appearance wasn’t good enough and that he was instantly attracted to a certain type of Barbie girl. Then I thought back to my own Barbie dolls I used to play with. Their hair was always long and straight. Their skin was always soft and free of acne. Their eye makeup was always perfectly (and permanently) applied.
That’s when I realized it’s not poor Heidi Montag and her plastic bimbo self who is to blame for creating this unrealistic image. Of course she isn’t my number one role model and I wouldn’t bring my daughter if I had a daughter near her with a ten-foot pole. But Heidi doesn’t know any better. She, too, was probably brought up with Barbies.
I’m telling you, it’s Barbie. Barbie is to blame for some of women’s body image views and men’s distorted fantasies of what women should look like. Barbie and Photoshop. But Barbie came first.
As women, our expectations of what we should look like often mirror fantasies of what men and society want their girlfriends to look like. When we get older many of these artificial expectations are based on our ideals of women who come across as perfect on the television screen, in magazine spreads, or in movies. However, as a young girl playing with my Barbie doll collection, when Ken finished work for the day, he would come home to an attractive Barbie with big boobs, a small butt, a tight stomach, and a dress that slips over her slim (actually really, really skinny let-me-try-to-suck-in-my-tummy-like that) waist – and that’s what made a perfect girlfriend. Barbie wears high heels. She wears fancy dresses. And she also wears tight mini skirts. She would make the perfect trophy wife. Her plastic life was certainly fantastic.
Caitlin Boyle creator of the empowering movement “Operation Beautiful” focuses on forming positive messages for girls. “I think the core issue is that our society tells us over and over again that we’re never good enough the way we are. We are never thin enough or never pretty enough. It’s not only about being thin. It’s about being perfect in every single way.”
In my opinion, Barbie has been a silent, deadly, and far from innocent (and actually a rather false) advertisement for young girls for nearly fifty years. As young children we are sponges and we mimic a lot of what we see and interact with. Though this bendable doll seems like the perfect holiday gift to give to a little girl, it may actually cause more harm than good to her in the long run.
Why? She’s only plastic, you say. Well, so is tabloid queen Heidi Montag and look how great of a role model she turned out to be — ten plastic surgeries in less than a year.
Although only a toy and meant to only be a toy, Barbie, still, nonetheless, represents something that no girl can measure up to. Because of her “perfect” appearance, Barbie focuses too much on physical beauty and ignores a girl’s capability of developing intellectually and emotionally. I know she’s just a doll and she doesn’t know any better but think about how many little girls get Barbies for their birthday, for holidays, for just-because-they-won’t-be-quiet-in-the-grocery-store days. We didn’t mean for Myspace to be the spot for 40-year old men to prey on teenagers but it somehow happened. Barbie was just a doll and is still just a doll but packaged with a lot of internal messages of beauty and perfection.
Author and teen Katherine Schwarzenegger knows what it is like to struggle with body image issues and isn’t a stranger to girl’s lack of confidence. In her book, “Rock What You’ve Got” Katherine celebrates the female form. “I think it is important for girls to understand that the media puts a certain view of beauty out there and that it’s not realistic,” said Schwarzenegger. “Girls need to focus on their own unique beauty and not compare themselves to the views in the media.”
In her book Schwarzenegger cites studies that suggest Barbie’s proportions would be impossible to achieve by a real live woman. Finland’s University Central Hospital in Helsinki says “If Barbie were alive, she would lack the required 17 to 22 percent body fat required for a woman to have her period. Her measurements are certainly unhealthy and mostly unachievable.”
Maybe Barbie is unachievable. But some girls still try to be that perfect Barbie girl living in a Barbie World whether for their boyfriends, parents, peers, or for their worst enemy, the mirror. With Barbie Girl stuck in my head, I told my boyfriend, “If I’m not good enough the way I am, there’s the door.”
RCG Mag Editor-in-Chief, Nikki Roberti and her soon-to-be fiance are entered in an online contest to win a $10,000 engagement ring and $5,000 toward their wedding.
They are currently in first place in the Simon G. Jewelry “Perfect Proposal” competition, but other couples are not far behind. An eHarmony couple is just 60 votes away!
Please, please vote for them so they can get the wedding and engagement of their dreams! And spread the word! They announce the top 5 every Friday on the Simon G. Jewelry Facebook and the top three will be announced on Nov. 1st. If Roberti and her boyfriend make it to the top 3, they will have until Nov. 30th to get enough votes to win the ring!
To read their brief story and vote, click here.
Thank you again and please! Spread the word!
By Hannah Penfield
Imagine you have a job. It’s your dream job, but only because you cannot get any other jobs as an illegal immigrant. You are paid around $10,000 US a year, if you’re lucky. That’s less than half of the poverty threshold for a family of four. You have none of the normal rights of a US worker: no right to organize, to overtime pay. You have no health insurance, sick leave, vacations, pension, or job security. This is the life of a farm worker subjected to forced labor, as described by antislavery.org.
There are no firm numbers, because forced labor is a secretive criminal activity, but antislavery.org estimates that about five percent of farm workers are subject to forced labor. The vast majority of these workers are migrant workers from Mexico, Guatemala, and Haiti. Most of those are undocumented, and therefore are easy pickings for traffickers looking to exploit these vulnerable immigrants.
However, not all of these migrant workers are undocumented. Legal workers and even US citizens can be victims of forced labor due to the need to find work, transportation, and shelter. People who are in serious need are the most vulnerable.
The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), a workers’ rights activist group based out of Florida, documents cases of forced labor. Every case they have documented involves some form of debt bondage. Debt bondage is forcing someone to work off a debt; the debt is generally inflated over time with interest or the initial amount is raised without warning. In these cases, traffickers promise to provide transportation to work locations on credit, saying that the debt will be paid off quickly through work. Often, the workers arrive thousands of dollars in debt. This gives the trafficker all the power.
Once this power structure is in place, the worker is forced to work 12 to 14 hour days, generally from dawn to dusk, seven days a week. Their wages, which are the only means the workers have of paying off their debt, face deductions for transport, accommodations, food, work equipment, and supposed tax and social security payments (a scam to take more money). Wages are sporadically paid, but often there are so many deductions that the wages are reduced to nothing.
Employers also expend some effort to protect their free labor. They work in what can be described as concentration camps, facing total domination and brutality. Workers live in small, poorly kept trailers with 11 to 15 fellow workers. They are under constant surveillance and are tracked by armed guards. The employers and guards also threaten the worker’s family. In some severe cases, public beatings, pistol-whippings, and shootings are used as intimidation.
This type of slavery is the easiest to fight back against. Simply choose carefully where you buy your food. Taco Bell, Burger King, Subway, Whole Foods Market, and Bon Appétit have all signed agreements with CIW to pay fair prices for their vegetables and to not work with companies who use forced labor. The companies that CIW is currently boycotting to stop using slave labor for their stores and restaurants are Kroger, Ahold (parent company of Stop & Shop and Giant), Publix, Aramark, Sodexo, and Chipotle. Avoid these companies and visit ciw-online.org to find out more.
Special thanks to antislavery.org.
“Hey, I put some new shoes on,
And suddenly everything is right,
I said, hey, I put some new shoes on, and everybody’s smiling.”
Paolo Nutini’s lyrics sum up just what it’s like to strap on a new pair of shoes. Despite his Y chromosome, Nutini nails the feeling of confidence that seems to well up from new kicks. For women, though, the right shoes not only ignite feelings of confidence, but also a sense of simply “feeling pretty.”
Ateba Crocker, shoe lover and founder of the women’s online boutique Shoe Revolt, knows all too well how girls want to feel confident and beautiful in the clothes and shoes they wear. Her abusive father, however, robbed her of that feeling at an early age.
“My mother bought me this dress,” Crocker reminisces. “When I did a spin, it made this hoop thing – like in ‘Little House on the Prairie.’ He said that I looked like a prostitute. At that moment, I remember my heart just shattering because I thought I looked really pretty.”
Just like that twirling dress, Crocker’s life soon spun out of control, and her father’s words would eventually ring true. After becoming pregnant as a teenager, she joined an escorting agency to support her son Maleek.
“My body was already broken as a little girl, but it got worse,” she explains. Feeling broken both on the outside and inside, it took a few words from her young son to spark a trip to a local church. While riding in the car one day, Maleek said, “Mommy, mommy, I want to be a meacher.” By “meacher,” Maleek meant “preacher.” Crocker questioned how Maleek could possibly do this if she was a prostitute.
At a church service soon afterwards, she heard the story of Lazarus, a man Jesus raised from the dead. “That was my life,” she says. “I was dead emotionally. I was dead on the inside. My heart was hardened. I wanted to become alive.”
And she did. Crocker decided to follow Christ that day, and he took her on a journey out of a world of prostitution, bondage and addiction.
“I can’t begin to tell you how hard it is to work through addictions, your childhood abuse, your pain, to go through all that counseling, and then to go to school to get your degree so you can become someone in society,” she says. “It was because of God and because of my tenacity and that I didn’t give up.”
After receiving her master’s degree, working for the Nike Corporation, establishing a family of her own and teaching at a university, Crocker decided it was time to step out and help other girls and women who have fallen victim to sexual abuse, human trafficking and prostitution. She now assumes the full-time role of heading up Shoe Revolt
Crocker explains how she channeled her anger at the commercial sex industry by starting this revolt: “I love shoes, and I figured other women love shoes. I wanted to ignite that energy and that power and get women fired up and feisty.” She adds, “God loves us, and he values us so much. Men and women are exploiting girls, and it makes me mad, and I want other women to get mad and fight with me.”
And what a fun way to fight – by buying a pair of shoes! Phase Two of the revolt will launch Aug. 1, when the boutique will open its online store. For now, Shoe Revolt is seeking donations for used shoes in excellent condition or new shoes that people or corporations are willing to donate. The goal is to have 5,000 shoes by July, but Shoe Revolt’s ultimate goal is to create a multi-billion dollar industry to kick human trafficking to the curb.
Since the commercial sex business is also a multi-billion dollar industry, Crocker says the best way to fight these exploiters is with money. “We have to have something to establish us financially so that we can compete with them.”
Shoe Revolt’s profits will be donated to Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEMS), as well as other organizations seeking to provide assistance and transitional housing for girls victimized by trafficking and prostitution. Shoe Revolt will also help create scholarships for victims.
“Victim” is a word that means a lot to Crocker. “We are not criminals; we’re victims,” she asserts. Shoe Revolt will also work to reestablish society’s view of prostitution. “For many girls, freedom is being taken away from them. I want them to know that it’s not their fault. I want society to know it’s not the girls’ fault.”
Crocker wants to encourage girls to find life on the other side of prostitution. “I know there are girls out there who are being enslaved into this lifestyle. It’s not impossible for them to come back. They have an opportunity to really change their life.”
Shoe lovers, or “shoeistas,” as Crocker likes to call them, have the opportunity to help change lives by simply donating a pair of boots, heels, wedges, flats or sandals – or making a purchase when the store opens in August.
As Crocker works to assemble the shoeistas, she knows there’s a big fight ahead.
According to UNICEF, as many as two million children could be sexually exploited each year. The Polaris Project sites this number at one million and also reports that an estimated 244,000 children in the United States are at risk for sexual exploitation. To add to the problem, many of the children who come out of sexual trafficking and slavery have no long-term treatment options. A recent article in The Los Angeles Times reported findings of a study by the Department of Health and Human Services; only four rehabilitation centers exist in the United States for children exploited through prostitution.
Statistics like these are driving Crocker to fight and to encourage others to do the same.
Nutini’s lyrics now take on a much deeper meaning: “Hey, I put some new shoes on, and suddenly everything is right.” The fight against human trafficking and sexual exploitation of girls may not end suddenly, but women around the globe can help make things right – one pair of shoes at a time.
For more information on how you can donate shoes, visit www.shoerevolt.com.
You can also join Shoe Revolt’s Facebook fan page and follow Ateba Crocker on Twitter @ShoeRevolt.
By Courtney Miller
Near the beginning of March, two words jumped out from my calendar: SPRING BREAK! For the first time, I was jetting off to a beach for the weeklong college vacation.
While many of our classmates headed to Italy and unforeseen frigid temperatures, my friend Amanda and I had sporadically chosen Morocco as our destination weeks before. Italy would have been easier, but we were excited at the prospect of Africa.
One 4:30am bus, a layover in the strangest airport in Madrid, and an accidental first class train later, we were at our hostel in Casablanca. Did we go because of the movie? It was a name to start with, but Amanda hadn’t even seen the 1942 film until after we came back. Morocco came up in a shout-out brainstorm of what to match with Barcelona, and we just went with it.
Best choice ever. Morocco is a giant clash of tradition, modernity, garbage, constantly honking horns and cafes. In Casablanca, there are exactly two tourist attractions: the Hassan II mosque and Rick’s American Café. The latter was built by an American woman a few years back as an exact replica of the one Humphrey Bogart runs in the movie, and we never even ended up wandering over. I didn’t really know what to expect, but what we got certainly wasn’t Casablanca. We’d read and been told that Casablanca was worth no more than a day in any itinerary, and we left the city agreeing. It’s a city for commerce, not tourism. We maneuvered it without a map, without ever taking a taxi, and armed only with thick skin and the sad leftovers of my high school French.
In seven days, we hit Casablanca, Fes and Rabat—three cities chosen because of their close triangular position on a map, some online advice and a connection with a friend. Fes holds the largest piece of medieval Morocco in its sprawling 1200 year-old medina with over 9,000 car-less streets. We were transported back in time by a place that’s resisted change and passed down its history family by family.
We caught hugely different slices of Moroccan life everywhere we went within this small piece of the country, from dirty rude streets to polished white houses gated in. Palm trees ran in boulevards against rundown building fronts. We rode parallel to the stunning Atlas Mountains in the distance while kids ran alongside train tracks piled high with trash. And then there were the towering five-star hotels with security at the doors, holding the visitors who wouldn’t see the Morocco Amanda and I discovered.
I needed this trip. Seduced by adventure and travel, I’ve set myself on a path filled with the new, the faraway and the unfamiliar. Yes, I hated the bargaining culture. I wouldn’t survive in it for more than a few days. I couldn’t stand the car horns that punched the air (London seemed quiet upon our return). The train tracks flooded with the rain and people begged, bothered and conned when all I wanted was to get out of the station. We expected, as women traveling alone in Morocco, to get verbally harassed and we were—in four different languages. I felt inept, confused and frustrated much of the time, and I am a person who thrives on control. But it may have been the best decision of my spring. I went to Morocco with a pile of budget traveler tickets, a backpack and a roll of toilet paper (best advice given to me), and I gained an experience of a lifetime and a much needed lesson: I can survive the unknown.
A man we met on the train to Fes graciously invited us into his home for a real meal and to meet his family. It was luck, trust and respect that led to the best night of our trip. Three strangers meet…it sounds like a Hollywood construction. And there were times when I felt like I’d been dropped in a scene from Romancing the Stone, one of my favorite 80s movies (but not an action scene). Wrong continent, but it matches the strange mood of feeling entangled in a culture so foreign and—to me—raw. A curious test of endurance and fellowship.
Amanda, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
(Courtney is studying at the Ithaca College London Centre this semester. She’s living in Earls Court and plans to see as much of London on foot as she can.)
RCG Mag staff wanted to take a moment to shout out to their special mom’s this month! So take a moment and read up on why we love our mom’s…then go hug yours or any other inspiring woman in your life. Here’s to the strong, empowered women of our lives! Happy Mother’s Day!
My mother is my best friend… maybe it’s a special bond we have because we share the same birthday, or maybe it’s just because she is such a compassionate, comforting and understanding woman. My mother is stylish… we share our clothes. My mother is more popular than I am… we can’t go to any store without her seeing someone she knows. But most of all, my mother is an inspiration. I have never met a person with more strength and optimism than my mother, and I doubt I ever will. There’s nothing she can’t do. She graduated from college, had a full time job, raised two kids, and most amazingly, fought cancer. The things she has gone through just within the past year of her life are more than most people would ever be able to bear. But not my mother. Sure, there are tough days… she’s only human. But the way she faces the world in such a confident, optimistic and fearless way, makes me want to look life in the eyes and challenge it the same way. Seeing my mother’s strength and heart gives me the strength to get through the tough days. She gives me the power to see the good among the painfully unfair things that have been thrown our way. And most of all, she gives me support, love and solidarity when I feel like life may be falling apart right in front of me. I have never stopped learning from her, and I know I never will. So, thanks mom…you’re pretty great. Happy Mother’s Day, I love you!
Words can’t describe the love and respect I have for my mom. The older I become, the more I realize all she has done for me. Not only is she my mom, but she is my best friend. This past year has brought some difficult situations my way, and my mom has stood by my side through them all. She is there for me no matter what I say or do, and I can never thank her enough. What I love most about her is that she strives to be a Godly example for me. The way she lives her life is a testimony to me, and I am forever grateful for this. Her patience, love, kindness, and courage are all parts of her loving and charitable personality that I respect and hope to attain. God has blessed me with a wonderful mother who loves and worships Him, and radiates compassion and forgiveness. I am so thankful for her, and I couldn’t ask for a better mom.
When I look at my mom, I see the kind of woman I desire to be. With four children, she takes joy in putting all her time into supporting us in everything we do. She is such an encouragement to my life and has taught me what it looks like to be a hard-working, genuine, compassionate and godly lady. I am amazed at her selfless desire to help other people, no matter who they are or how busy she is. My mom is the epitome of the godly woman described in Proverbs 31, specifically verses 25-26: “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.” My mom is not only my role model, but she is also one of my best friends, and I so much appreciate how she is always there to listen to me, understand and offer godly advice. Even when I don’t treat her the way that I should, she chooses to love me no matter what. I cannot begin to express how thankful I am for my mom. God has really blessed me with her and my dad; I could not ask for a greater example of Christ’s love. Happy Mother’s Day Mommy…I love you!
When I was a senior in high school, my senior prom fell overnight into Mother’s Day. When they didn’t have enough volunteers to work the 11pm to 5am after-prom event, my mom chose to begin her Sunday in a high school cafeteria. And when we woke up mid-day after getting home, she made a full breakfast for ten people. This is why my mom is amazing: she has been a caterer, a driver, a hostess, a boss, a chaperone, a psychologist and an audience. She has sat through enough bad violin concerts and grade school plays to fill a scrapbook. She has two kids but plays an integral role in several of their friends’ lives. Yes, sometimes I think she mothers too much and we have our share of squabbles. I still get frustrated when I’m home from college and she makes me text her telling her I’ve reached a friend’s house. But I know she does it because she loves me. She’s always looking out for me. If the world had more people that cared as much, it would be a better place. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.
I would like to wish my mother Cheryl Neal a Happy Mothers Day. My mom has always been there for me when I needed her to. Ever since I was born she has put in a hundred in ten percent to help me an anyway that she could. I know sometimes we can have our arguments, but I believe it’s because we’re so much like each other. I want to thank her for raising me to be a beautiful classy young woman just like herself. I wouldn’t trade her for anything in the world. At the end of the day in many cases she is the only one who understands. I don’t tell her enough how much I appreciate her and love her so I want to take the time out and thank my mommy. I love you!
From my genes to my strength, I am my mother’s daughter. Most importantly, she is the reason that I’m alive, but she’s also the reason behind who I am. She gives me my independence when I need it and she offers advice when I ask. She accepts me and she loves me. I admire her from a distance as she leads by example, running her own company and being a successful woman in a patriarchal corporate world. She’s my best friend, but let’s not forget, she’s also the reason for my great hair. You always hear people say that they can never repay their mothers and it’s at this point in my life when I realize just how true that is. I can only hope to one day become for my daughter what my mother is for me – my core.
Happy Mother’s Day to my wonderful mom, Christine Louise Russell Gonzalez. I love you for “oofy poofy oofy poofy, nope!” and “Koala Lou, I love you.” I love you for all the years of home schooling I wouldn’t trade for anything (if I’m a genius—and I am—it’s only because of you!). I love you for being my favorite person to weep copiously about movies with. I love you for raising me to love God, and for not raising me to be one of “those girls.” I love you for all the times in the last few years you’ve pushed and encouraged me, to help me become the kind of woman I want to be. Not to mention you’re way more beautiful than all the other *cough*-year-old moms around! I love you Momma, big as the world.
By Michelle Golden
The new hit web-series Anyone But Me’s Nicole Pacent looks like a spitting image of Angelina Jolie. Created by one of the writers and Consulting Producers of The L Word and ThirtySomething, Susan Miller, and independent filmmaker Tina Cesa Ward Anyone But Me introduces a new post 9/11generation struggling with homosexuality, identity, and modern long distance relationships. Pacent flips her freshly salon highlighted brown hair, flashes a Crest-white smile and tells me she has been acting since she could put one foot in front of the other. Placing her Au Bon Pain coffee near her computer, she explains how she was nominated as one of Shewired.com’s 2009 Gay Women of the Year and what it means to her to be a part of Anyone But Me.
“We’ve amassed such a wonderful, small niche following for Anyone But Me,” said the New York University Tisch School of Arts graduate who plays 15- year old Astor, Vivian’s (played by Rachael Hip-Flores) on-screen love.
“I think people really relate to the Vivian and Astor characters and the fact that in that first [SheWired.com] interview when I came out, people were really psyched about it. I guess it’s just not that typical,” says Pacent. “It’s funny to me now because it’s just so second nature for me. I don’t even think about it. I talk about it because it is who I am, and it’s part of my life.”
After coming out publicly to the press as bi-sexual on April 21, 2009, shortly after the release of the first season of the web-series, Pacent has been contacted by devoted fans saying they have been touched by her efforts. “It’s why I act at the end of the day. Besides my own love for it, it is to do something that makes a difference with people.”
As a kid in the early days of her acting career, Pacent often played the little mermaid during recess, always showing admiration for the song, “Part of Your World,” to the point that even to this day, she still relies on it as her audition song. Theater was always something that just “made sense” to Pacent.
“Anything that was theater or music related I just loved. When I watched a movie or went to see a show, I was just completely transfixed,” she said. “I went to see Red Riding Hood when I was seven and all I wanted to do was be red riding hood.”
But the confident and smiling actress reminiscing about her musical production and community theater days on and off the playground actually used to be a little girl scared of coming out to her peers, and more importantly, to herself.
“It’s such a funny idea this whole idea of coming out because if we lived in a world where people didn’t assume that you were straight until proven otherwise, then maybe things would be different. But really you come out everyday to people.”
One would never think that in the middle of a hockey field where practice was being held, someone could have an identity crisis. However, for 15-year-old Pacent it was possible. During a summer afternoon, her and her teammates saw, what they thought, was an attractive-looking guy across the field. A few minutes later they found out that this guy was actually a girl, when he, or rather she, took off a baseball cap to expose a shaved head and a face that had very apparent girl features. That moment was the turning point in Pacent’s awareness of her sexuality. As all the other girls laughed at the idea that they could possibly think this ‘guy’ was “cute,”
Pacent still could not get it out of her head that she still thought the girl was attractive in her eyes.
“I remember looking at her intently and being like, ‘That’s a girl. You know it’s a girl now. Why are you so attracted to her?’ I had to keep on telling myself, you know this is a girl, right?’”
At 15, coming out was a scary process for Pacent. It was different and she did not know anyone her age that identified as gay.
“It was so the other. As soon as it came in my conscience mind that this just might be who I am, I suddenly was alienated in my own head. I became the other that everyone could talk about, and to me, that was very scary. It was scary because it was real.”
Able to relate on a very personal level with her character on Anyone But Me, Pacent says Astor is very confident.
“She’s much more myself now than myself in high school. Myself in high school was a little more Vivian,” says Pacent. After moving from New York City to Westchester, Vivian has to deal with coming out to her peers in a new school and neighborhood and subsequently has a hard time adjusting to that idea while still maintaining her relationship with Astor back at home.
“Sometimes I was comfortable with it and sometimes I wasn’t. In terms of owning to who she is, she is more mature than I was. Astor is the kind of girl that I would date, not necessarily the person I am,” says Pacent.
Performing as Astor on the show makes Pacent think a lot about her identity as an actress, saying that often where people have trouble in acting is where they have trouble in life too. Sometimes during scenes where she needs to become vulnerable, Pacent finds it hard to do so in front of other people when she is not in control. “There have been times in scenes where I’m like, ‘Should I cry in this scene?’ and I found myself so uncomfortable at the idea of crying and I ask myself ‘Is that me being uncomfortable for Astor or me being uncomfortable for me?’
Since coming out to her peers and family, Pacent is finally comfortable forming relationships with other women and not afraid of being judged. The Angelina-look-alike is starring again on the second season of Anyone But Me.
“You know, my ex-girlfriend in the beginning thought I looked like Angelina Jolie but then over time said ‘Yeah I saw it when I first met you, but I don’t see it anymore. You’re just…you.’ That’s what I get from most people. They see it at first and then they don’t see it anymore. I mean it’s an incredible compliment. That woman is outstandingly beautiful. Can’t argue with it.”
If necessity is the mother of invention, then the need for relativity may very well be the mother of inspiration. At least, that’s how president and publisher of The African American Pulpit Rev. Martha Simmons discovered her inspiration to create the first African American Lectionary.
A lectionary is a listing of fitting scriptures and sacred readings that can be used on special occasions in the church. Simmons was using a traditional lectionary when she realized the need for an African-American lectionary.
“It didn’t excite me. It was a lot of text, and I didn’t understand how I could related it to the black community,“ Simmons said.
Simmons first polled nearly 10,000 black clergymen to decide if the need was valid. Simmons then pitched the idea to the Lilly Endowment and received a grant for almost $2 million.
The lectionary launched in December 2007 with the support of Vanderbilt Divinity School’s Kelly Miller Smith Institute. It has developed into a free, online resource containing content such as videos, poems, scriptures, readings and hymns traditionally used in the black church. The content is particularly slanted toward special days and occasions such as Young Adults Day and Youth Sunday. The site was designed to be visually stimulating and user-friendly.
“The feedback has been great. We’ve gotten hundreds of emails on how stunned [users are] at how much information is there. The most common response is ‘I can’t believe this is all free.’ And it is all is relevant,” Simmons said.
The Lectionary Team, a small group of black Christianity experts, hand-selected the content and contributors for the site. Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagan, the founder of singing group Sweet Honey and the Rock, serves as the Cultural Resources Team Leader. Nolan Williams, the music editor of the African-American Heritage Hymnal, serves as head of the Worship Division.
Despite the academic nature of the contributors, the site has a very personal feel and message. Simmons said her personal goal for the site is it will inspire others to— well, inspire others.
“I hope young people, girls especially, will be inspired to take this and make it their own. We’ve got videos; they should add videos. We’ve got poems; they should add their own,” said Simmons.
Simmons emphasized the key is relevance, being able to apply the pre-researched information and ideas to real-life situations that may affect your community and church.
“Let’s say a you’re a youth worker. If a young black girl comes to you and says there’s a lot of violence in my neighborhood. A you may say, ‘I’ll pray for you.’ That’s good, but you may ask is there anything else I can do?” Simmons said.
Simmons shared stories of churches using the lectionary to start programs and host services on topics that particularly affect today’s times such as incarceration, cancer, and absent fathers.
‘I’d like to see a lot more people use [the lectionary] who are teaching people about religion and faith. I’d like to see people use it who are teaching people how to live out their faith in today’s hard times,” she said.
With the hardships that exist in 2010, there are plenty of opportunities to practice faith. The African-American lectionary exists to inspire people to continue to share that faith in creative ways, despite such hardships. That spirit of creativity, endurance, and faith is what lies at the center of the black Christian experience.
To use The African-American Lectionary visit www.theafricanamericanlectionary.org.