Monday, March 28, 2011

The Missing All American Girl

March 28, 2011 marks the 3-month anniversary of Phylicia Barnes’ disappearance. This straight “A” and college bound student vanished on December 28, 2010 while visiting family members in Baltimore, MD. As would be expected, her parents and siblings are devastated. Since her disappearance, Phylicia’s friends and family were forced to celebrate her 17th birthday without her. Her classmates are now planning their proms, and are preparing to graduate and go on to college. Yet, Phylicia remains missing. No, she did not run away as the police initially suspected. Anyone will tell you that Phylicia is an overachieving young woman and not a troubled teen with a history of hard partying. In fact, she’s the All American Girl Next Door…with a megawatt smile.

Recently, her classmates joined me on my blogtalk radio show to share their insight about their beloved friend. They described her as loving, friendly, and bubbly. Their pain and sadness was almost tangible, as they wept when they verbalized the possibility of never seeing her again. It was a first for me. While I often talk to the family and friends of missing children, they are usually adult. This, however, was the first time that I interviewed teenage peers. Their maturity impressed me, and it was clear that this tragedy has caused them to bond together in a magnificent way. Their show of strength and unity is observed in the fact that the entire school wears bracelets with the tag “Faith, Hope, Love” in honor of their missing classmate. They have even held numerous prayer vigils and established a reward fund for Phylicia. It is clear….they love and miss their friend.

Although Phylicia’s story received some media in the weeks following her disappearance, the coverage has come to an apparent halt. In addition, the tips coming into hotline dedicated to her are reportedly dwindling. "They've slowed down,” said Homicide Major Terry McLarney, “They are coming in at probably a fraction of what it was a month ago…” However, McLarney did say that they receive flurries of calls after news reports air. Thus, pointing out what many of us know….limited media equals limited leads. Despite this, the police have a special squad of six detectives with a sergeant working the case in hopes that discovering any leads in the case.

Police believe that a tip is more than likely the only way Phylicia will be found. It’s clear that someone knows what happened to her. You may have seen something…Heard something….Or were told something. Someone knows something. That is why I, along with her classmates, family members and loved ones plead with you to call the hotline at (855)223-0033 if you might know anything at all about Phylicia’s disappearance. It's EVERYONE'S job to save our children.

This post was written for the Time's Up Blog ( which is a collection of bloggers who are champions for victims of crime. The purpose of the blog is to bring awareness to the injustices to victims and to search out solutions with an SOS to those in the capacity to make changes happen.

An open and honest blog about what matter most...children and families!!!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Divine Bodies: Pole Dancing For the Lord

Ladies get your clear platform stilettos ready because there's a new exercise/ dance phenomenon called Pole Dancing for Jesus.  That's right!  You can get your praise on and work out your glutes at the same time.  The only requirement is that you present your church bulletin to participate.   No...I'm not making this up (lol)!

Instead of Hip Hop, Christian music plays as church-going women perform routines on the poles. But don't get your panties in a bunch because the instructor and the students say it's not about sex.  For them, this is about getting closer to God. "God gives us these bodies and they are suppose to be our temples and we are suppose to take care of them and that's what we are doing," instructor Crystal Dean said.  Hmmm...Now it's easy to pass judgement on this type of (eh hem) exercise.  However, these are adult women who are not getting paid to take off their clothes for patrons.  It's a newly popular form of exercise that is taking the country by storm.  In fact, I once took a pole fitness class for a tv show that I was on and I can attest that it was a true workout!  What I'm struggling with, however, is associating it with religion.  I mean what's next Tantric Bible Study...ijs

But that's not where the story ends....did you know that you can also take a mommy-and-me pole class with your elementary school baby girl?  No, you probably won't find these classes everywhere.  But a Canadian company that operates in Vancouver and Langley, has taught students age 9 and up in regular classes and has gone as young as 5 years old in private lessons.  While the thought is distressing to many, supporters say that only adults eroticize pole dancing, and that children see the pole as something similarly found in a "firehouse, playground or circus."  Moreover, the instructors defend the classes by saying that if kids aren't taught to strip, grind, or gyrate...there's absolutely nothing wrong with it.....OR IS THERE?  I believe so.

Kids should play on monkey bars, slides, balance beams, see-saws, swings, jungle get the point.  They have a life time to be exposed to things such as stripper poles and their innuendo.... so why do so prematurely?  Of course young children don't understand the association between a silver pole and what it symbolizes.  The fact remains that there is an association and undeniable connotation.  That is why pole dancing is not child's play.  So ladies, whether you're swinging around a pole for the Lord or just for exercise, puh-leeze leave your children at home.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Saturday Morning Confessional;)

This week, my family and I (along with millions of other Christians) celebrated Ash Wednesday. For those that aren't familiar, Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the season of Lent. It's a season of soul-searching and repentance. It's also a season for taking stock of who you are, and where you are in your journey called life. I love this time of year because it's yet another reason to do some serious self-reflection. But...I think I may have overdone it this
year:( each and every year, I made a vow to sacrifice something for the 40 day Lent season.  Well...overzealous  me vowed to give up (sigh).... meat, alcohol, swearing, and feeling stressed.  I will be fasting 2 days of the week.  Yup' just water with lemon and orange zest.  What in the world was I thinking????  It's no doubt a set of lofty goals.  But here's my reasoning for abstaining from all of these things:

I, like every parent I know, gets overwhelmed with the rigors of the day.  Between working full time, volunteering, non profiting, full time mothering, full time wifey-ing, and all the other things that come up....I am both physically and mentally exhausted.  Some days I feel like I can hardly get up from the coach in order to go to bed.  That's simply not healthy. abstaining from these things, I believe that I might actually be able to attain a clearer and more sound body and mind.  I also believe that my spirituality will be further strengthened. Consequently, I will be a better mom, wife, non-profiter, community activist, and all around person.  So that's the goal.

Here's the reality!  I'm just a few days in, and I really miss chicken and bacon.  I mean, I REALLY MISS BACON!!!  And I confess that I let a couple expletives out during the afternoon rush hour traffic (If you live in Atlanta I'm sure you understand).  Then, last night I went out to celebrate my friend's birthday at a swanky downtown dinner/dance club spot.  Guess who was the DD (designated driver)???  Yup!  I had a great time....but I have another confession.  NO, I didn't have a drink (lol)!  But I found that when you're not drinking....drunk/tipsy people look absolutely crazy!!!

Any who....wish me luck and send me strength during these several weeks.  I'd love to hear whether you have given up anything that is truly difficult for you.  At least that way I'll know that I'm not suffering alone:)

Monday, March 7, 2011

What's So Funny About Charlie Sheen?

I might be the only person on this earth who is disturbed by the media frenzy surrounding Charlie Sheen's psychiatric breakdown. It seems like I can't get away from all the hoopla and jokes about his “Tiger Blood” and “Winning!” comments. ENOUGH ALREADY! Although he denies it, it is clear that he is like millions of other addicts who are in the midst of destructive cycle of drug abuse.

So why is the media wasting its time covering his nonsensical and grandiose ramblings? I guess for the same reason why networks put out many of their shows. In fact, a crop of shows have seemingly taken the country by storm....16 And Pregnant/ Teen Mom, Jersey Shore, The Housewives of Wherever, Bad Girls Club, and now...(sigh) Skins.

The Jersey Shore debuted a couple of years ago amid large amounts of controversy regarding the use of the words because of its portrayal of Italian-American stereotypes. However, all the press helped the series, as the ratings have been through the roof. Love it or hate it...The Situation, Snooki, JWOWW, Pauly D, Sammi Sweetheart, Ronni, and Vinny are celebrities. I know that statement probably annoys some of you, but it is the truth. Have you heard how much they make an episode? Add to that all the endorsement deals...these young people are rich, and in high demand.

MTV, like the Today Show...Good Morning America...Piers Morgan Tonight... "20/20"...TMZ and (to name a few) have figured out that people gravitate to salacious and scandalous "entertainment." They have also figured out a way to push the boundaries in a way that gets the attention of young America. But, at what cost? Do you ever wonder what message our adolescents are actually getting from watching Sammi "Sweetheart" punch her boyfriend in the face because she was mad? Or maybe what they think about JWoww repeatedly urinating in public and as cameras rolled...Or the endless stream of women in and out of The Situation's bed? But I digress...

Back to Charlie Sheen. Have we lowered the bar so low as a nation that we view someone's slow and emotionally tortuous demise as entertainment? Are we that vacuous that we don't believe that we have a right to expect more from those who create the shows that inundate our culture, and help to influence our children? Just how far are we willing to push the limit before we are fed up? Maybe this might help formulate your answers....Imagine that Charlie Sheen was your son. Imagine that he was that out of control, and instead of helping him… everyone enabled him just so they could get a "funny" soundbite or audio clip. Horrible, right?

Nothing is funny about what Charlie is doing and experiencing. There is also nothing entertaining about inundating children with negative imagery. Our kids deserve better, and our society needs better. So where do you draw the line?