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February, my least favorite month–or at least it was until this year. February is the month of love, or so people think it is because of Valentine’s Day.

Annually, we watch as women swoon over candy and roses; and their suitors break their banks in hopes of a truly romantic evening. For me, however, it is my birth month. With me being born a mere two days before the holiday, I have often found myself in a losing a competition for my family and friends’ time and attention. Then, when in May, my brother’s fiancee announced she was pregnant; I knew yet again my special day would take yet another backseat…

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Aairess (pronounced “heiress) Nyari Victoria McCurdy-Fanning (a mouthful huh?) was born on the late afternoon of February 3, 2014. It is rare girls are born into my family. In fact, it had been twenty-five years since my youngest sister, the last girl, was born into the family. Naturally, she was the source of quite a celebration. My brother and I, at best are fierce rivals, many liken us to Batman and The Joker. So, when it came time for me to meet my new niece for the first time I was not too thrilled. I entered the hallowed halls of the hospital with the intent of doing my uncle and brotherly duties and then abruptly departing, knowing I had taken the higher road.

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Well that was the plan until I held Aairess for the first time; and she opened her eyes and smiled–her first smile! Whatever permafrost the happenings of life coated around my heart began to thaw. Sure, I kept my composure, but it was indeed love at first sight. The weeks and months passed and as my brother and his fiancee hustled to make ends meet, Aairess spent more and more time with my parents and I. Despite my attempts to remain the cold, elusive, disciplinarian uncle; I found it hard to ignore her cries, coos, and hugs when I entered the room. Then, when she finally began to walk I enjoyed being run to after a long day of work. It made my whole day and any problems endured worthwhile. She was my niece and I, aptly dubbed by my parents, became “Uncky Mike.”

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As her first Christmas approached I found myself wondering what should I get a ten month old little girl. At her age, a cardboard box would actually be the perfect gift. Still, I had to get my new found love something special. As I walked the Girls’ Toys sections of Toys R Us, Target, and Wal-Mart I found myself vastly disappointed. Every doll was either a princess, solely Caucasian, or had something to do with making a girl something she was not. In general there was lots of pink and everything was just “too girly.” As I examined the toys, I thought about a quote I once read that said (paraphrasing) children are like blank canvases and every stroke, or lesson, you teach them shapes them into who they will ultimately become. As I looked around I could tell I did not want my niece to become some BRAT monster or Barbie; and that the odds of her becoming an actual princess are astronomical.

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My brain began to buzz as I strolled through the Boys’ Toys section. Who says she only can have what is designed for girls, or women, for that matter? When did we as a society decide that as a female she has to be taught from birth to cook, dress up, marry rich, and to always be ultra-pretty. We never teach this nonsense to our boys and instead bombard them with cars, trucks, toy weapons, and superheroes–all things that scream of power and dominance. These devices and characters are not soft and dainty, they are trailblazers teaching young boys, and later men, to reshape the world to their convenience. That’s what I want my niece to be…a trailblazer. A strong woman who sets the standard with her own set of rules. Aairess and every little girl in the world must be taught they can have anything, any man, anywhere can and that it is okay not to settle for anything less. Thus, underneath my Christmas tree is a Tonka Truck, wrapped with her initials on the packaging.

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A lot of people may disagree with me and say that Tonka Truck will not change anything, but they would totally miss my point. The truck is a symbol and a blessing from a man to a woman saying, “Hey it’s okay to be all that you truly can…” Merry Christmas Aairess!

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lifestyle

Moving In The Right Direction w/ The Right Hand Foundation (@righthandfdn)!

Anytime successful individuals feel compelled to give back to their communities I feel God smiling down on us. The Right Hand Foundation has supported shelters for women, children, and group homes all throughout Atlanta. With plans to build Right Hand “Havens” in communities throughout the country, Courtney Stewart is on the right track.  

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Anytime successful individuals feel compelled to give back to their communities I feel God smiling down on us. The Right Hand Foundation has supported shelters for women, children, and group homes all throughout Atlanta. With plans to build Right Hand “Havens” in communities throughout the country, Courtney Stewart is on the right track.

Courtney Stewart Hey Mikey ATL

Stewart cutting ribbon on Right Hand Foundation

 

So the other day I was invited to this event and I was told that it was DJ Khalid‘s nonprofit. As I’m putting the address in my GPS I realize I’m heading to College Park from the north side of Atlanta. I know what some of you are thinking … yes there was traffic but the house was in a good area. Down the street from million dollar homes and my favorite restaurant right now, The Real Milk & Honey.

Stewart & Bobby Valentino, Stewart & Family

Stewart & Bobby Valentino, Stewart & Family

Pulling up I got connected with the PR folk on site and they got me introduced to Courtney Stewart. Prior to meeting him I was sipping on some rosay and enjoying these delicious jerk tacos made by Chef Joe. Oh and let me “Slow Down” … it was nice to see Bobby Valentino there as well. Stewart is truly a god-send a very humble entrepreneur. The artist manager, record label executive, and humanitarian maximizes every opportunity for success from all angles and was also recognized on Billboard’s prestigious “40 under 40”.

Right Hand FND Home

Right Hand FND Home

 

Right now Stewart is moving one family in their newly renovated home and once they are stable continue to work with other families. Where him and his team will provide weekly educational sessions, life-skill activities and income-savings programs. The Right Hand Foundation partners offer workshops as well as mentors and personal coaches to provide hands on education for families. And as I told Courtney I definitely appreciate what he’s doing for our community. So many people say they want to give back but to do that and also take it a step further by insuring that theses families get hands-on attention is truly unbelievable.

 

Right Hand FND

Right Hand FND Event

Follow the movement at RightHandFDN.org

 

 

 

Written By: Triston Devon @TheTristonDevon

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lifestyle

Slinging Into Success! DeAndre Lemans’ Slingshot Headshot is ATL’s New Hot Spot for Great Head Shots!

When it comes to the entertainment world there are a few things every actor, artist, and model should have–comp cards, a professional bio, and above all else a head shot! Having all of these just shows you’re serious about your craft–think of it as part of your resume. However, head shots–good ones at least–can be expensive and hard to come by for many in the industry.

Thankfully one company has realized, and is capitalizing off that need, SlingShots Headshots! Ran and owned by noted model, cinemaphotographer, and actor, DeAndre Lemans (Freefall), SlingShots, has become the one stop shop of Atlanta for all of your head shot needs!

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slingshots headshots

When it comes to the entertainment world there are a few things every actor, artist, and model should have–comp cards, a professional bio, and above all else a head shot! Having all of these just shows you’re serious about your craft–think of it as part of your resume. However, head shots–good ones at least–can be expensive and hard to come by for many in the industry.

DeAndre Lemans slingshots headshots

DeAndre Lemans

Thankfully one company has realized, and is capitalizing off that need, SlingShots Headshots! Ran and owned by noted model, cinemaphotographer, and actor, DeAndre Lemans (Freefall), SlingShots, has become the one stop shop of Atlanta for all of your head shot needs!

We came across SlingShots after a few noted Web Stars and producers like Tripp Ali, Lyrik London, Sherrod Willis, and Jaquay Wilkerson posted their own amazing head shots from the company. We were even more amused and surprised to learn the price of these professional photos was a mere thirty five dollars! In an interview with us DeAndre discussed his company’s origins in depth. “I myself, have been in the entertainment and fashion industries for a number of years, and I’ve always noticed that there was a need for head shots among the community…Atlanta is full of actors and quite a few of them just did not have the essentials they needed to move and be noticed in the industry. Head shots are definitely one of the basic tools they need, but many of them either can’t afford them or find a photographer that captures them correctly. That’s what we do at ‘SlingShots Headshots,’ provide quality and affordable photos for the public.”

We have to admit we initially thought the affordability and production had to be a fluke or have some Catch-22, but we are happy to admit we were wrong. Our very own, Michael “Hey Mikey” Fanning was invited to get his own complimentary head shots and the results were magnificent. See below:

The process was simple. We made an appointment with DeAndre via SlingShots’ Instagram page, @slingshots.atl, showed up, and followed his directions to a “T.” “I can make anyone look great each head shot is only thirty five dollars, and any additional edits are only five dollars a piece. You can pay me cash or Cash App me at ‘$DeAndreGresham.’ I figure even a starving artist can afford those prices [he laughs]. We also shoot on weekends to make it more convenient for everyone.” We definitely endorse DeAndre and his sprawling business as legit and a surefire investment in yourself. We live in an age of imagery, and how you present yourself is everything! Do it right and start here! Mr. Lemans wants everyone to know “when you come to ‘SlingShots’ you’re going to have a great experience, receive amazing customer service, and you’re going to want to tell a friend–so please do so!” 

**Check out his website for more information and booking, https://www.lemanscinema.com/slingshots!**

BOOK TODAY!

 

 

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Travel Asia! 4 Countries To Visit “Crazy Rich Asian” (@CrazyRichMovie) Style!

Looking to jazz up your next vacation with something a little more exotic, then take a trip through the Orient–“Crazy Rich Asian” style! Whether you want to take in some culture, relax on the beach, hike the trails, or shop ‘til you drop many countries that make up the mysterious Orient can offer you all that and more. We’ve decided to offer four hot spots and the reason they should be tops on your list of places to get away from it all!

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travel asia

Written By: Dartangnan Johnson

Looking to jazz up your next vacation with something a little more exotic, then take a trip through the Orient–“Crazy Rich Asian” style! Whether you want to take in some culture, relax on the beach, hike the trails, or shop ‘til you drop many countries that make up the mysterious Orient can offer you all that and more. We’ve decided to offer four hot spots and the reason they should be tops on your list of places to get away from it all!

Brunei

travel asia

If you’re a Millennial you probably grew up watching “The Fabulous Life” in which case you’ve probably heard talk of the Sultan of Brunei and his many golden toilets, and with good reason, the country is super in black gold, Texas tea or as the lay folks like to say oil. The capital Bandar Seri Begawan is known as one of the most opulent cities in the world, with the crown jewel being the golden tipped Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque. The mosque has marble minarets and golden domes, courtyard and is surrounded by several trees and floral gardens. The mosque’s most recognizable feature, the main dome, is covered in pure gold. The main minaret is its tallest feature, it mixes Renaissance and Italian architectural styles. The minaret has an elevator to the top, where a visitor can enjoy a panoramic view of the city. The interior of the mosque is for prayer only. You can also check out Istana Nural Iman the largest governmental building on Earth, home of the Legislature of Brunei.

travel asia

If prayer temples and parliamentary procedure isn’t your idea of a good time, then you can take a hike along the rope bridges and canopies of the Ulu Temburong National Park which is a state sponsored conservation effort that a natural rainforest ecosystem. After you’ve hiked the trails, you can rest your weary legs on the beaches of Kuala Belait which is on the western edge of the Sultanate.

(more…)

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