Artist Bio

André Lamar is a father, son, brother, friend, artistic entrepreneur, and respected mentor. While his primary occupation is marketing, his primary passion is his music. Andre has the copyright to the lyrics of 28 of the songs he has written and has quite a few more songs soon to be finished. He is a brilliant writer who is able to evoke emotions with his words and soulful voice. While he deems himself mainly a country writer/singer, his music can be transformed to any genre and has been compared to the sounds of Anthony Hamilton and Craig David often.

André Lamar (born March 25, 1980, Milwaukee, Wisconsin) is an alternative, soul and country singer-songwriter, and aspiring multi-platinum record producer. His first hit single “Gone Fishing”, garnished the attention of his hometown audience and then beyond with over 78,000 views on Soundcloud.com/TheBlackCountrySinger. Andrés raspy voice and sarcastic lyrics; make for a circus of a good song.

Listen to “Gone Fishing” on Soundcloud.com 

Daddy Daughter Dance 2013

me and mirrah1Yesterday was one of the best days of my life. For those that follow me on social media, you might have gotten to see how beautiful my daughter looked last night for the daddy daughter dance of 2013. This was the 10th annual dance. I wondered why I had just heard of it this year. Was it my fault for not looking for such a dance or their fault for not making this better known to the community? I settled on %50 shared accountability and left it at that. I can say that I was nervous to some extent going into a new setting with a lot of unknowns is enough to make any man nervous. Some will admit this and some won’t. I was amazed at how many men were truly in tune with their daughter. Then I saw men with their nieces and grandchildren, it really warmed my heart. I thought about how many of those nieces and grandchildren, had able body fathers who just refuses to be a part of her life. I started to get agitated at that thought that any man would totally just walk out on his responsibility. My wife tells me that your child is the only thing that you can guarantee that God gave you. When you do not do right by those angels that he has trusted you with, you will never have peace. So I started looking at all the nieces and grandchildren and wondered what the story was. I thought harder about the nieces and grandchildren who may have lost their father to gun violence. I thought about friends that I have lost to gun violence. I looked around for a brother or his father to see if she was here as somebodies niece or grandchild. No luck.

So when I am in new social settings and I am slightly nervous, I have a tendency to take in as many messages as I possibly can. Meaning I am paying attention to every little detail and I want to understand everything about everything. Maybe I am the only weirdo who does this. I can honestly do this all night if I don’t stop myself. I wanted to make this night special for my daughter so I stopped myself from trying to solve the world’s problems and just concentrated on her. I gave my full attention to Amirrah, right after she said “Are we going to talk over dinner?” Lol I was like “uh, uh, yeah yeah!” My 10 year old daughter was correcting ME on a date! I, of all people, man shoot boy! Lol She just doesn’t know. Just kidding. After she bust me out like that I got on my stuff though. We took pictures and she thought of the poses that we should do. We danced a little bit. We were too over-dressed to really get down. We mainly just talked and walked. Observed things together and taught each other. I started to realize a few years ago that the teaching that goes on between a child and a parent was never meant to be a one way street. The flow of information should be about the same going in both directions. It just takes a wiser ear to hear truth in the whispers of babies. When I and Amirrah danced off of Luther Vandross’s “Dance With My Father Again”, the father and daughter behind us were crying together. The father taps me and says “She told me not to cry and look what she started”. You should have saw how proud that father was to showcase his tears to me! It made me proud. I looked around again at all the men slow dancing with their daughters and thought wow how much genuine love is flowing through this place right now.

To the fathers who were not there with their daughters and they were fully able bodied and not working or doing something that was productive, to you I say 1 year is a long time to have to wait in order to have another swing at bat. What you can do is love her in this moment. Treat her like a queen today so that she knows what standard to set later. I encourage you to do better. I won’t attempt to tear you down because that gets you no where. AND nothing gets solved. When the most important thing is the young woman that God has trusted us with until we are to walk them down the aisle and give them away to another man who may have daughters with our daughters and he must know how to treat our great granddaughters. We set the standards now and build families that will hold close to those and improve them as well. We first have to be men…

“Meet the Wesleys” Natalie and Quinton

Dear Quinton,

I am speaking straight from my heart to yours with love. I just want to say I know most of the time I know your intentions are good. I know you have a good heart and mean well. Sometimes when you enforce communicate with me and choose to share your feelings and ideas with your friends and family first I feel a little like I’m on the back burner. I would love to be the first, if not only one you need to talk to, but that rarely happens. It always feels like I am in competition to be first in your life. I kind of felt myself go from your muse to your hindrance wife your music. At least I got used to coming 2nd with that as wrong as it is, but that’s nothing I should have ever adjusted to. I want us to be a better team and learn to learn each other. I feel that if we treated each other the way we treated out friends we’d be a better husband and wife. I’m really praying I can be your everything so much that you would let everyone know I am THE most important person in your life without having to fight so much. Can you consider both sides of this? The places where I’ve misunderstood AND the places you can accept some fault. I love you and I hope this can help us.

Love,

Natalie

 

Dear Natalie,

I want you to know that I love you very much. And NO MATTER if these letters work or not, I pray that we see the bigger picture and realize that what we NEED is different from what we WANT. And through GOD, we’ll be able to grasp his plan, and will for our lives.  These last few years have been (in my eyes) “trying ” to say the least. I feel that we’ve been trying to “fix”, “mold”, and “change” one another. I think that in this, I made you feel like you were NOT important, or that your feelings didn’t matter. For that, I really do apologize. That was NEVER my intent. I feel that when it comes to my family, and my music, you feel it’s a competition ….there is NO competition between you and them or my music. For instance, I don’t think you understand how much time, money and dedication it takes to be a producer. Any time I have a chance to gig, or work on music its always “time for bed”, or its late, or its time to give me a list. The only time I really have to do music FREELY is at night, when everyone is sleep and its quiet and I don’t have anywhere to be. Majority of gigs, are in the evening,  rehearsals can have a set time, but sometimes they run over. Its my passion. It will never go away. And if it takes me away from Milwaukee, Idk if you would be able to handle it. Just being honest. I desire support and loyalty over anything

I’ve always had a very close relationship with my siblings. And because there has been times where I didn’t trust that you would be considerate of what I had to say, I would rather talk to someone that I feel will believe in me and what I have to say. So it seems easier to talk to them sometimes. At times I also feel that the damage that’s been caused is almost impossible to repair. (Except God do it) Marriage wasn’t put on this earth to just “work”; it was made to be shared in happiness with your soul mate. Now I do believe that God WILL work it out, (meaning) that we both will eventually get it, and find peace and understanding in our lives. And see the reason why and how things happened the way it did. I will always love you, and we deserve true love and happiness.

Love,

Quinton

 

 

Natalie,

When I read Quinton’s words I hear him attempting to express to you what his vision of marriage would be versus what he is currently experiencing. This is not to say that he is unhappy at all. The fact that he married you means that he thinks no other woman could ever bring him as much joy as you do. I will take this time to try to tell you what I hear.

The first thing I will address is what I hear Quinton saying when he says these years have been trying. I hear him saying that he looks back on where you guys were compared to where you are now and he can see the growth. The fact that Natalie feels secondary to your music is a concern for me. I myself am an entertainer, but when I tell my wife she doesn’t come second to my music, I show her that with my actions. That way she doesn’t have to ever feel secondary. I found a way to include my wife in on the entertainment. She wrote her first novel under our label. I said that to say, your wife should never feel on the outside of anything that you do. If she does that is probably something that you need to delve deeper into.

Now to the family… I too have had this same problem to some extent. What I had to do IN ORDER TO PLEASE MY WIFE (who God has trusted me to protect) and her peace was I had to reposition myself. When me and my wife were not married I was more rooted in my family and friends. When me and her joined in marriage I didn’t consider how much time and effort should go into maintaining a healthy relationship. So I repositioned myself to where my marriage is home base. All operations stem from within my marriage now. I know that pulling back from family will be difficult but you will find that people will (should) respect you for taking care of your marriage. If the communication between you and your wife is broken, your first responsibility is to fix that. It’s comparable to getting your oil changed in your car; or getting the brakes done. If you don’t do the proper maintenance on your car it breaks down on you when you least expect it. Then the costs of repairs are too much to pay because you have neglected the scheduled maintenance for so long. Natalie when Quintion says that he wants support what I hear is he would like his wife to be his main cheerleader! He does it with the “Hope” of one day being able to provide for his family. SO to have his wife understand that and support him in that makes him feel good.

I “Hope” that my words maybe trigger a thought in one of you that opens a crisp 2 way dialogue. I know that you guys will be ok in the long run. Your willingness to even be this open with our viewers says that you guys place more value on the possibility of growth than you do the fear of shame. That is an excellent sign. My word of advice would be to attempt to rid your marriage of as much ego as possible.

Andre

 

Quinton,

When I read Natalie’s words I hear her attempting to express to you what her vision of marriage would be versus what she is currently experiencing. When I read Natalie’s words I can understand where she is coming from as my husband is also involved in entertainment and he has a tight knit extended family. I will take this time to try to tell you what I hear.

Regarding coming second: Most women envision being their husband’s best friend. We expect that the leave and cleave concept will be in full effect once the commitment of marriage had been made. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” When she is put in a position where communication with her is secondary to people outside of the household, it feels like she isn’t your “go to”. There are going to be emotions that you don’t feel comfortable sharing with your wife, but the best thing to have amongst husband and wife is transparency. If something is wrong, she can’t fix it without you talking to her. If you need help, she can’t come up with a solution without you putting the facts on the table. As long as the two of you have committed to waking up next to one another every morning, raising a family, and honoring God, then open, honest communication is going to be a necessity. Anyone outside of your home can’t possible know the full extent of what goes on between the two of you. Being on the same page with one another should be the main objective prior to carrying anything outside of your home.

Regarding your music: Natalie states that she has gotten used to coming second to that. This concerns me. How can you get her vested in what you’re doing? Are there some places where compromises can be made? Have you asked her what her main issue is? Once you know this, then are you willing to find ways to meet her halfway? I think this goes back to the communication aspect of your marriage.

Reading the letters written by both of you I’m confident that there is more than enough love and respect to begin to get over this bridge. It has to start with a mutual understanding of what the expectations and boundaries are in your marriage. I pray that my words and interpretation have done justice to Natalie’s thoughts as well as provided a more clear understanding for you.

Best Regards,

Nicole

 

“Gone Fishing”

The ingredients:

The main ingredient for this album was certainly Love. I wcd-jewel-insert-4ppanted to make sure that… the listener could feel my heart with each and every melody. Deep thinking; Business partnerships; Grind; Money (personal money); Investors; Late nights; Early mornings; Life experiences; Hard work; and also Blood, Sweat, and Tears were spilled over this project. I made lots of friends; Met a lot of new people, but I also Lost a few key friends along the way.  Some sleepless nights; a lot of Stress,  a few People who told me I that I would not be able to finish a professional independent album; very little doubting of myself; a blanket of Honesty, Truth, and Pain blended finely together but in the end…

I learned more of what I am made of…

Sincerely,

TBCS

Please email TheBlackCountrySinger@gmail.com for your copy of the entire album.

Thank you for your support of independent music.

My Armani Watch (It’s not what you think!)

I was having lunch with my favorite most complete of all my mentors at Noodles and Company.  As we were standing in line he glanced down at the huge gray faced Armani watch that was on my wrist. Now that wasn’t the concern for me. The concern for me was the look that he gave me after he looked at the name brand of the watch. Him knowing that I work a modest job and taking care of a decent sized family, I am sure that he wondered how I could afford an Armani watch.  He himself could afford one easily being as successful in business as he is.  But I couldn’t even imagine him wearing this gaudy expensive watch anywhere.  Me on the other hand I wear it almost everywhere. I have it on as we speak. As I type this it sits on my wrist hanging because it is much bigger than my arm.  My best friend (outside of my wife) moved out of town a few months ago and the day before him and his family left, my mother had a get together for them at her home. She hooked up some BBQ and we drank a little wine. And we just talked.  We talked about life period. Where we had been and what we still planned to do.  My best friend became my brother. I have known him since I was about 11 years old. I have watched this man grow and mature. I have played a role in his growth and he has played a role in my growth. This is my brother. The dude I fought with once and would never do it again but I dare you to touch’em.

My brother took this watch off of his arm and placed it in my hand. I didn’t know what to say. I won’t lie an Armani watch is pleasing to the eye lol so I put it right on.  I didn’t know what to say but I knew what I was NOT going to say was “I can’t accept this” lol! No seriously I love my brother and what I should have told him was this: I will cherish this watch because it is from you. The name on the watch is not nearly as important to me as the spirit that gave it to me.  If I never get to see you again I would like this watch to represent that you never changed on me bro! You may have waivered to find yourself, but you never changed on me. The band is too big for my wrist so it slides down, almost to the middle of my arm. I will not take a single link out of it. I want it to remain as you gave it to me.

I know I don’t tell you enough, but I love you! Continue to be a great father, husband, business man and friend!  MILWAUKEE LOVE FOOL! lol

The Unspoken Truth written by Rob Olive

Ladies, what I’m about to dive into is touchy but real. Ask any man in any city with any ethnic background and you’ll get the same answer hands down. That is if this man is answering truthfully and not trying to knock you (we’ll say almost anything to knock you please know this) I say this because I’ve had this same discussion with the men at my barber shop. The guys there reach a wide range of demographic white,black,young and old. Wait,wait…. before I move on, Ladies you should know that us men are something else, SOMETHING ELSE I tell you(okay, I admit that this may be the last time but I can admit it) we(men) live by a different code than you,play by different rules than you I don’t know why that is (it just is)
With that being said Let Us Move On…………
When we’re (men) in a relationship with you(ladies) and you already have kids by a previous relationship we’re(men) going to grow to love these kids like are own. Raise and mold them as if they were are own…BUT let the two of us have a child together a product of you a product of me…well ladies we’re going to love THAT child more way more than those other kids..Realistically you (women) are asking us men to do the impossible when it comes to this, you cannot on GODS green earth except a man to love your kids the same way as his own flesh and blood…IMPOSSIBLE…
Don’t believe me: picture this scenario: your child(by the other guy)and y’all child together are standing on a cliff together and they both fall over which one do you think your man will save(yep) he ain’t gonna be able to save both because he’s gonna need all his strength to save one…
Okay I know that scenario was a bit much(never happen)but say y’all split and don’t make it relationship wise do you think were gonna be picking up your kids(no) that bond brakes with those kids when the two of ya’ll brake(c’mon ladies you know this)
Not a man any where that will pick them kids up…now he might start off doing this but this guy is “saving face” not for you but for them kids. Eventually he’ll stop asking for them all and just ask for his own….this subject is touchy I know and it can go deeper(yes deeper) like how we(men) prefer a women who doesn’t have any kids even if we have 2 or 3 by 2 or 3 different women double standards, double standards I know I’m not gonna go into that tho!!(we would be here too long) so just marinate on what I have disclosed……until next time(if there is a next time) Rob Olive

“The Biggest Loser” Written By Natisha Cottrell

The Biggest Loser

God does great things, and unsearchable, marvelous things without numbers.

Job 5:9

 

God always looked out for my well being, I knew this while in the pre-surgery room at St Luke’s Hospital. I had a variety of feelings, including being overwhelmed, joyous, and grateful. I waited six long months for approval from my insurance company for Gastric Bypass Surgery (GBS). From countless Weight Watchers meetings, to seeing nutritionists and even taking Fen-Phen, I had done everything imaginable to lose weight. Now I was finally going to have my miracle cure from obesity. According to Dr. Thomas Chua, I was morbidly obese, a term I cringe at to this day.   Leaving me on February 5, 2002 was the “chubby” adolescence, the “big boned” teenager, the “obese” young adult, and the five-foot-three inch woman who had tipped the scale at 516 pounds.

            I was the kid who was always picked last to be on a team. I came in last every year in middle and high school when I ran the mile run that was required by the Presidential Fitness Challenge.   I never went to prom or had a serious boyfriend. Most of the boys I met wanted one thing from me, which I wasn’t willing to give. I assume they thought because I was overweight I had low self-esteem. That was the farthest from the truth. I had the highest self-esteem a girl who was overweight could have. I considered myself a T.A.B.-not like the soda. T.A.B. stands for Thick And Beautiful. My father always told my sisters and me we were champions and should think of ourselves as that and nothing less. We were the Cottrell Girls, and no one could take that away. I took that to heart. Even though I was overweight, I kept myself looking beautiful. My hair and clothes were always on point. I can remember clearly a time my mother forbade me from another shopping spree because clothes bulged from my dresser and closet. I had developed a shopping habit no one could break.

              Why would I consider undergoing a GBS if I was so happy with myself?   That question is simple to answer. Although I didn’t suffer from high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes, I did have problems with my knees and with sleep apnea. Walking had become a task for me. At the age of twenty-seven, I depended upon a cane to walk.   I could no longer do simple things a woman my age should do without assistance. The pain in my legs was excruciating and unbearable. I took Vioxx like vitamins just to make it through the day. My family grocery shopped and did laundry for me. When I went to the mall, I had to rest every ten steps before I made it into a store. I managed to go to work every day, but that was it.   I often cried myself to sleep at night, praying, hoping and wishing the pain would just leave. I asked God time and time again, “Why me?” I never got an answer, but I once heard what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. 

            I had two choices: either knee surgery or GBS. Since I was overweight, knee surgery was out of the question. GBS was going to cure my knee pain and free me from my “sidekick,” the cane. I learned about the surgery from my mother’s first cousin. She was enthusiastic about the surgery because just like me, she had been overweight her entire life. Although she was twenty years my senior, she knew what it felt like to have medical issues from being overweight.

                         “Hi, Tish,” Lori said.

              “Hi, Lori, how have you been?”

              “I am doing wonderful. I have never felt better.”

              “Really?”

              “Yes, really. I am sure your mother told you I had weight loss surgery a year ago.”

              “Yeah, she told me, and she told me to expect your call.”

              “Well, Tish, you know its hard being overweight and it takes a toll on your body and health.”

              “I know.”

            “I learned about this surgery from my orthopedic physician. The surgery is not that bad and it is done by laparoscopy. They put six holes in your stomach and use these tools and redo your stomach.”

            After a three-hour telephone conversation, she finally convinced me to call her surgeon. The next morning, I placed the call to Wisconsin Bariatrics for a consultation with Dr Thomas Chua. My appointment was scheduled for a week later.

When my parents and I arrived at the clinic, I was given paperwork to fill out. The forms questioned everything from how long had I been overweight to medical conditions I suffered. The nurse called me back to check my vitals and weigh me. As she checked my vitals, my heart fell to my stomach. I hadn’t been weighed in years. I knew I weighed over 300 pounds because my primary doctor’s scale only went to 300. I feared knowing exactly how much I weighed. I didn’t think they had a scale that could get my actual weight, but to my surprise, they did. When the nurse walked me over to the monster I feared, I began to cry on the inside. The monster was going to tell me the truth that I didn’t want to know. As I stepped on the scale, my legs felt weak.  I waited for what seemed to be hours for the digital numbers to pop up. The red numbers came up as 516, and I nearly fainted. This was something I kept under lock and key. I didn’t want anyone to know I was that large.

            The nurse then escorted me into the examination room, where I waited for the doctor. In walked an Asian man around sixty years old with black hair. He had a calm demeanor about him. He went over all my paper work.

             “Well, Natisha, from going over all your paperwork, it looks like you have a fat gene.”

            “A fat gene, can you tell me more about that?”

            “Yes, from the medical history and what you told me you eat, you don’t eat a lot.”

“Okay, what can I do from here to fix my fat gene?”           

“You will certainly benefit from weight-loss surgery, but you would have to be willing to make life changes with this surgery.”

“What kind of life changes are you talking about?”

“Your stomach would shrink to a pouch that can’t hold more than a cup of food, for starters.”

“Okay, I can deal with that. Is there anything else I need to know?”

“Eating would be different, and it would take some getting used to.”

After getting the pros and cons with the doctor, he told me this was a serious commitment and I should think it over and make sure I was ready.

            Before I walked out of the examination room, I told him I was ready. I was immediately scheduled for appointments with a psychiatrist and nutritionists and for various other testing to get ready for surgery. After waiting six months, I finally received an approval letter from my insurance company. The nurse called to schedule my surgery date.

              I had to wait a month before my surgery. While waiting, I took to praying a lot and asking God to watch over me. The song “I’m Gonna Be Ready” by Yolanda Adams became my theme song. I listened to it a million times before going into surgery. The song gave me strength to go through the surgery and to realize there were great things in store for me.

            Before I knew it, the month had passed, and it was the night before my surgery. It was time for the “last supper.”  I went to El Greco’s Family Restaurant and had my favorite meal of spaghetti and meatballs. As I ate my meal, I was in mourning because I knew it would be a long time before I would enjoy a meal of that magnitude again. After dinner, I stopped at Kopp’s and brought a pint of chocolate custard to fill my sweet tooth forever. As I ate my custard, I packed my hospital bag and my CPAP machine. This machine was for sleep apnea, and I needed it after the surgery to assist with my breathing.

I really believed I was going to lose Natisha. I didn’t want to become anyone different. I wanted to be the same woman who loved her family, friends, music, and life. I didn’t want to become a person who was obsessed with her looks and body. I prayed to God to watch over me the next morning and went to sleep.

            My alarm went off at 4:30 A.M. I had to be at the hospital at 6 A.M. for surgery. I arrived at my parents’ home to pick everyone up. I had a strong support system that included my three younger sisters as well as my parents.

 We arrived at the hospital, and I checked in at registration. After checking in, I was directed to the inpatient surgery area. I was expected to stay two to three days. After I waited ten minutes, the nurse called my name and escorted me to the back. I was directed to take everything off and put on the heinous hospital gown and lie on the bed. One by one, my family came back to wish me luck. They gave me encouraging words and let me know they would be there when I got out of surgery. An hour later, I was wheeled down to the surgery holding room, where the surgery team inserted an IV into my arm. The anesthesiologist, a Caucasian woman who had moons and stars on her surgical hat, came to talk to me. She had a syringe in her hand. She told me she would inject something in my IV to make me sleep and to count backwards starting with ten.

“Ten,”“nine,”“eight….”

That’s the last number I remember making it to. I woke up in the recovery room with the same woman standing by my side. She asked me a number of questions. After I gave her the correct answers, she let the nurses know I was all right.

            After staying in recovery for an hour, I was wheeled up to my room. I slept most of the night until the male version of Nurse Ratchet came into my room.

            “Ms. Cottrell, do you have to use the bathroom?”

“No, I don’t have to go.”

I thought to myself, Why I would need to go to the bathroom? I haven’t eaten since midnight.

“Well if you don’t go within the hour, I’m going to have to insert a catheter.”

He walked out the room without waiting for me to respond. Nurse Ratchet came back in my room with another nurse with catheter in hand.

            “Ms. Cottrell, wake up.”

             “WHAT?”

             “Are you able to go potty?”

             “Nope.”

             “Well, I explained to you what I would need to do.”

Next thing I knew, I was up in the air, and the catheter was inserted. I was so upset I didn’t know what to do. I spent three days in the hospital. I was sent home on a pureed diet and was given my eating schedule for the next month. 

It was a long process learning how to eat again. There were times where I threw up because I ate too fast or the food didn’t agree with me.

The weight melted off of me fast. After six months, I had lost one hundred pounds. Life sure was different for me. The most important thing was I didn’t need my cane to walk again or the Vioxx. I could grocery shop and do laundry on my own. From the looks of it, I made the right decision.

            At least I thought I made the right decision until almost two years later. When I was two hundred and fifty pounds lighter, Dr. Chua wanted me to have a revision. A revision meant my intestines would be shortened and my pouch would get smaller than it already was. Dr. Chua told me I was a success in the medical world, but he thought I could reach his goal weight of 150 pounds. I say his goal weight because I never was small as a child, a teenager, or an adult. I was happy with the amount of weight I had lost, and so was he. I was smaller than when I was in high school. I could actually buy clothes from Lane Bryant. I could finally fit into five-pocket jeans. Before surgery, I could only wear jeans with elastic in the waist and no pockets. Men found me attractive, and I started dating. I decided I wanted a career change and enrolled in college. Things in my life couldn’t have been any better.

Dr. Chua explained the pros and cons of the revision to me. The pros were that I would lose more weight, and feel and look better. The cons were that because he shortened my intestines, my stool would always be like diarrhea and I would use the bathroom more frequently and immediately after I ate. The smell would be unbearable, but it would get better over time but not completely go way. Also, I would not absorb vitamins and could possibly become more anemic. The only things that could not be corrected were the diarrhea and the smell.

After a week of praying and getting advice from various friends and family, I decided to go ahead and have the surgery. The first surgery gave me much of my life back. How could a second one let me down?   I had thoughts of being skinny and not having to shop in plus-size stores. People would no longer stare at me, and kids would stop pointing at me. Even though I lost two hundred and fifty pounds, I was still considered morbidly obese because of my height. My self-esteem was not low, but I knew being smaller would boost my self-esteem, and I would fit into society’s perception of what beautiful is.

My surgery was scheduled for July 20, 2004, at Aurora Sinai Medical Center. I arrived at the hospital early in the morning and asked God to watch over me while I was in the surgery waiting area. Thoughts went through my mind as I waited to go into surgery. The main thought was, Why am I doing this again? Why am I putting myself through this again? I am going to have to learn how to eat all over again. These second thoughts did not stop me from going through with the surgery.

            This surgery was similar to the first surgery, and everything went smoothly afterwards. I started losing weight immediately. The first month, I lost twenty pounds, and the second month, another twenty pounds. Life could not have been any better. I was beginning to feel a lot better and become more active. I did suffer from anemia, and the diarrhea developed immediately, but I learned to live with both.

            Six months later, my weight loss had slowed, but that was to be expected. I was down eighty pounds and loving life. Then one day, out of nowhere, I could not eat or hold any liquids down. I immediately called my surgeon and was scheduled for an Esophagogastroduodenoscopy or an EGD. The doctor would put a scope down my throat to see if the opening to my stomach had narrowed or closed completely.  The EGD was an outpatient procedure, and I went home afterwards. I felt better for two days, and then the same symptoms came back. I went back for another EGD, and once again, the symptoms reoccurred.   In a week’s time, I had lost forty pounds and was severely dehydrated because I could not eat or drink.

            After feeling so weak that I could hardly get out of bed, I had my sister drive me to the ER at St. Luke’s Hospital. I was admitted because of dehydration and a high fever. While in the hospital, I had a number of tests run. My surgeon was called, but he was out of the country, and his partner was taking care of me. Dr. Stan Stewart was young but very experienced. He decided to run an Upper GI.   For this procedure, I lay on the cold table with a sipper full of ice cold dye that tasted like lemonade. When I sipped, Dr. Stewart looked at the monitor to see what was going on. The test showed scar tissue had formed and wrapped around my pouch. I was rushed into emergency surgery within the hour.

Dr. Stewart was able to take the scar tissue out. Also he had to remove the clamp from my pouch because the tissue had wrapped around that.

  When I woke up from the procedure, I had a tube coming out of my nose. This tube went from my nose down into my intestines. I also had a central line in my neck. Dr. Stewart came in to talk to me and told me I was lucky they discovered the scar tissue because I could have been dead had this gone on any longer. The next day or so, I was given some liquids to see if I was able to hold them down. I was so afraid to try drinking because during the weeks prior to the surgery, as soon as I drank anything I threw it up right away. I put the cup up to my mouth and took a sip, and to my surprised, it stayed down.

After this procedure, I did gain seventy pounds back because Dr. Stewart took apart a majority of my surgery to make me better. This was okay because I could have been dead without surgery. Even though I suffer from complications till this day, I am happy for what Dr. Stewart did. He saved my life, and in my eyes, I am the biggest loser. Although my health is not the best, I can’t take back the decision I made to have a second surgery. I am a success because I managed to lose over two hundred pounds. I am even more confident and my self-esteem is just as high. I thank God every day for my life and for everything I have been through. It has made me a stronger person. Life could not have been any better, and those numbers on the scale are just numbers.

LIFEGUARD MOVEMENT!

I Think I Was Called A Monkey Today…

“Drea…I just wanted to let you know that I am truly sorry for my stupid comment and wanting you to know that I respect you as a friend…  and peer.  Please accept my sincerest apology and I hope you can forgive me and know that your friendship means the world to me again…I am so very sorry.”  This was the text that I received shortly after this person’s comment was addressed. He could have at least spelled my name right when he sent the text…

I want to start this blog by saying this is my opinion and also my means of release. This occurrence has affected me greatly and I feel the need to debrief myself.  My opinion doesn’t represent anyone else but my own.  With that being said, let us get to it…

Woke up this morning about 5am to the sound of my gym alarm.  Woke up again at 5:30am so that I could actually make it to the gym lol never did the thought cross my mind that I would be referred to as a monkey today.  Made it to the gym about 6:10am stretched out so that I could avoid injury.  Played hard enough to fall and skin my knee on the court.  Leaving the gym I purchased a banana with the change that I grabbed off the dresser, but never thought that I would be the victim of a racial slur today.  I rushed home after the gym showered and on with the start of my day.  I was in such a rush that I didn’t have time to eat the banana so I took it with me.  Got to where I was going (not wanting to implicate any person or business) and almost left the banana in the car, remembered it and grabbed it.  I see a bunch of people huddled outside only to find out that the storm from the night before knocked out the power. I think to myself “perfect time to eat my banana”.  I peel it and start to walk away from the generator spewing out diesel exhaust so that I can actually enjoy it.  As I walked past two white gentlemen, one older and one younger I noticed the older one said something to the younger man. I thought nothing of it, I was clearly engrossed in my banana a bit too much lol.  The older gentleman thought that I heard him because the first thing he said to me was “ha ha sorry about that I was just joking with you”.  I replied “oh I didn’t even hear you, what did you say?”.  He proceeded to say “I said that it’s good to see you keeping the stereotype alive”.  Now I wasn’t done with my banana when he told me this, but I stood in the same position for about 5 minutes before I could even find the words to say. I spoke to the proper people and…

I spoke with him face to face with a person there to witness.  I attempted to get some answers from him about the situation.  So I asked him how a black man eating a banana for breakfast takes his mind to a monkey eating a banana? His response was “I don’t have a way to answer that”.  He also said that “He hopes that I know him enough to know that he didn’t mean anything by it”.  I responded “So you are attempting to put this in my lap, by saying that I SHOULD know that you didn’t mean it to hurt my feelings.  He also stated that it was a joke, which promptly prompted me to ask what is funny about it?  No answer…

It is now 2:13pm and my mind has been back and forth over and over on this subject and they only thing I keep thinking is “What if I hadn’t been eating a banana?, Why did I have to be running behind this morning and have no time to eat the banana earlier?”. So I have to really take some accountability for how I might have contributed to being called a monkey.  The first thing I could have done to avoid being called a monkey is to not be born black.  It is a little too late for that now so what other options did I have to avoid being called a monkey?  I could have eaten the banana in the privacy of my own home.  If he would have never SAW me actually eating the banana I would have never placed myself in such a predicament.  Silly me to think that I could be free enough to walk around eating a banana!  I mean I refrain from watermelon in certain situations to avoid the looks I sometimes get.  Also I have to be aware of where I may order chicken, but I totally had forgotten about banana’s being a trigger for racial slurs. Silly me to be that far out of touch with reality.  I will teach my children that it is not ok to eat bananas in public.  If they do choose to eat bananas in public and they are referred to as monkeys then in some way that it is their own fault.  I mean who the hell am I to think that a black man is safe to walk around with a banana in 2012 and NOT be referred to as a monkey, silly me.

I IN NO WAY SHAPE OR FORM DID ANYTHING TO DESERVE WHAT WAS SAID TO ME! I HAVE TO UNDERSTAND THAT IT IS NOT MY JOB TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT HIM PROVIDING FOR HIS FAMILY IF HE HIMSELF DIDN’T THINK ABOUT THEM BEFORE HE OPENED HIS MOUTH AND SAID THAT STUPID COMMENT. I ABLSOVE MYSELF OF ANY RESPONSIBILITY FOR WHAT HAPPENED.  THE ONLY THING THAT I AM GUILTY OF IS ATTEMPTING TO EAT HEALTHY AFTER A GOOD WORKOUT AND EXERCISING MY RIGHT TO SPEAK UP!

I have a question for the viewers of this blog post, HOW WOULD YOU PERSONALLY HAVE HANDLED THIS SITUATION? And why?

Please remember this blog is a safe place for ALL people to voice their opinions.

So this point of this blog is actually 2 days after the initial incident.  I thought that I was done with this blog but as time passes after what happened I have actually learned one thing, I have never felt like this before in my life. I don’t mean to make what happened to me seem bigger than other people might believe it to be.  What I really want to do at this point is to shed light on the after effects of a racial slur.  I have compared it to being raped or sexually assaulted.  They are both a violation of a person’s personal rights. So how do I feel?  I feel mentally drained and hurt.  My world has been affected more than I initially considered that it would be.  I went to the gym this morning and had a banana which I have one almost every morning I go to the gym.  I had to eat my banana in the house.  My son was playing with a toy monkey and even though I was joking when I said it I said no playing with monkeys in my house.  Truthfully I had the mind to go back to the scene of it all today clean shaven, slacks and freshly pressed shirt, I was looking to put the whole thing behind me.  When I actually got to work I sat in my 98 degree car for 5 minutes.  The butterflies in my stomach were like a constant roller coaster drop.  I did not want to go back in but I knew that I had to.  J C said it best “it happened now get over it”.  J K made me really feel like whatever he could do to make me feel better he was willing to do.  J B was an ear; she didn’t say much outside of asking what can she do to help make this right.  J H talked to me and prayed with me.  YOU are such an excellent friend and mentor to me.  I thank each and every one of the people that I just mentioned.  But the person that I really want to thank and his name doesn’t start with a J.  This person’s initials are T F.  T F I thank you for coming to check on me.  You being a white man speaking from a white man’s perspective telling me that you felt like I did the right thing, made a world of difference for me today.  By you doing that it repaired a lot of what I had allowed him the power to tear down.  I had given him the power to play in my head with his words.  The good that has come from this is I will have no issues reporting racial “ jokes” or any types of discrimination or slurs disguised as “jokes”. The bad that has come from this is I have had people that look like me (points to skin color on arm) actually tell me that “he didn’t mean it like that…I think you handled it wrong”.  To that I say this if you feel like it is not that bad to be referred to as a monkey than you keep right on allowing yourself to be disrespected.  I choose to address things with all the power afforded me.  I have a voice and I will use it to first of all up hold my ancestors that fought and died for the right to be called a MAN/WOMAN.  Secondly to shame those of men who still perpetuate racial inequality.  You should be ashamed of yourself; your wife should be ashamed to be married to you. Your kids should be ashamed to have such a small minded man as a father.  I hope this follows you throughout your life sir.  Although I forgive you, I will never ever forget the hate filled words that you shared with me.  For the record I am not your, nor any man’s MONKEY!

Are you willing to stand up for yourself and others who may not have the mind to stand up for themselves?

LIFEGUARD MOVEMENT!  LIFEGUARD MOVEMENT!   LIFEGUARD MOVEMENT!

Free Thank You Cards

Free Thank you Card

Thank you to Jazmin Rowe for sharing the site with her mother! Your are ahead of the game young lady!  Keep it up, Nicole and myslef expect great things of you!

This blog is specifically for the people who have supported the blogs I have posted in the past.  I really enjoy thanking people the older I get! Lol I think I have really started to have an appreciation for people and what they mean to me. There are some people who have done some things for me that I will never forget.  So I would like to start by giving a big shout out to Otis!  Otis was one of the counselors that I have had over the years.  He is the one man that I have matched wits with and lost more than I have won.  AND for that I am thankful.  You have taught me so many things over the years that I have known you.  Cognitive thinking skills that I may have never been able to acquire without your sharp opinions and harsh objectives.  You told me one day in front of about 20 people that you believed that I had what it takes to be successful and I valued that so much coming from a man that drives a 745, amongst a few other beautiful cars lol.  Not that this was the reason that I valued it more though.  The reason that I valued it more was because you said that you “wished you had what he had at his age” (talking about myself) in front of those 20 or so people.  You put yourself down to give me a compliment.  This would turn out to be my formula for giving compliments as was as thanks.  Thank you for taking a true interest in a knucklehead like me!  Knowing you made me have to set my own bar higher for so many reasons.  I wanted to be a better husband, a better father, and better counselor and a better business man.  You are someone I will always admire…

Now on to the people that have supported the site up until this point either through a comment on the page or through a text to say that you are following each blog I text you. Or the person that I made sit down in front of me until I saw that you read it for sure lol (do I really do that? YES)!

Cole B you are the man BOY! Lol Seriously man your support is a constant reminder that someone else can really relate to my vision. AND that is one of the best feelings that a visionary can feel! Thank you!

Shena C I have known you since high school.  Even though we didn’t really talk that much in high school or after, as a matter a fact we only been Facebook friends for a couple of days now lol but you have gone out of your way to support the page and I respect that!  Thank you!

Tammy C I thank you for stopping by and supporting a post that was so close to my heart! I was concerned about hitting the publish button on the blog                        but seeing the support that I received from people let me know that it was received the way that I meant it.  I am so glad that you stopped by; I hope that you choose to stay for a while!  Thank you!

Eric S brother man, how you doing???  The same thing I said to Tammy C is that me putting out that post about being molested was a hard post to put out there in that fashion.  I mean I can openly talk about it in front of people after I had felt them out for a while.  BUT to just put it out there and have the support of another male was cool. I appreciated that bro.  Thank you!

Nana, thank you for coming by and showing some love! You make sure that you stop by every week and check out the new posts!  There is sure to be something here that will interest you ever week. YOU HAVE MY WORD ON THAT!  Thank you!

Ms. Dish I haven’t known you that long but you’re a cool person! Very real genuine person and that is always appreciated by me.  Continue to join us!  Thank you!

Juan lol if that is your real name!  Bro you are a good young man!  I know you question my methods sometime but keep an eye on an eagle when he is on the ground, it will be easier to track him once he starts flying bro! Decode that one.  LOVE Thank you!

Myron S you just don’t know how much that text meant to me bro! Thank You!

Candice W.  I know you haven’t commented yet but I am sure that you will sometime soon when you feel like you’re ready!  Just know that I am waiting on it!!!!!!!!!!! Praying for it!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you!

Brittany P what’s up cousin??? I loved the text you sent me “I told my story and made HIS-tory”! Thank you!

If I miss somebody really it’s my fault, its 1:24am right now…

Chrissy S hey big sister!  Little brother run almost everything past you and you help me refine some of my ideas and for that I am appreciative! Waiting on date night with the Stroli’s!!!!!! Thank you!

Rob O brother you were the FIRST person to comment on the website bro!  I will always recall that!  I pray things go well for you with your move bro!  You have my support! Thank you!

Dev C my man!  Nadja C for real we go back to 6th grade!  I knew both of you guys before you were an item! I knew Nadja C from school and I knew Dev from playing basketball at the Y.  I can honestly say that I think I like both of you a little bit more since your guys got together lol JUST KIDDING love you guys.  Thanks for the support. Thank you!

Damien@ Soloectro on twitter lol you are an eclectic brother with a style all your own!  Thank you for sharing it with the page brother.  I value your wisdom.  Thank you!

Ben G we always talk about the future as if we can see it clear as yesterday’s memory!  I don’t know if you know but that actually recharges my batteries quite a bit.  It helps to motivate and focus me.  Thank you for sharing your vision with me!  Looking for the day when we can find a way to mesh them together somehow. Thank you!

Sermaine P for 2 people that think so much a like we seem to debate more than anyone else that I come in contact with lol! Thank you for that! No one else will sit up with me for hours and debate something that we could both easily be considered right on.  You sharpen my points of view.  Thank you!

I am tired… anybody that I left out I didn’t do it purposely!  If I left you out of this post let me know I will make sure that I acknowledge you in a special way!  You have my word!

Thank you all for the input that you share.  The way to a stronger point of view is to rub it up against someone with a totally different one than your own!

Nothing but LOVE here, stay for a while and enjoy some… SOUL PRIORITY ENTERTAINMENT!

LIFEGUARD MOVEMENT!!!!!!!!!

MOLESTED till I was 25

In my family nobody talks about it.  In my family it’s one of those things that everyone knows about but no one has the “freedom” to say how they feel about it.  We just don’t talk about it.  I sit here thinking about how many of my family members had to endure the same pain, and I am almost near tears.  I have less family members that have not been molested than family members that have…  BUT I won’t make this about anyone but me.  This is my road to freedom; I pray that you will join my journey.  I hope that this would help to free someone that is struggling with some of the same issues that I had been hiding for years.  I was trapped because I didn’t know what was holding me.  AND when I did realize what was holding me hostage, I was so broken by it I had to build myself up enough, to even be strong enough, to rid myself of it.  I WAS MOLESTED!

I remember the first person that I told this to.  My older brother.  I remember it like it was yesterday. It was 2005 when I told him. We were sitting in his car drinking cheap vodka and lots of it lol.  We were so drunk I couldn’t stop the words from bubbling up inside of me. The time had come for me to release this thing that was all over me!  It was in my walk, my talk; my interactions with every person before that point were phony to me because I felt like I wasn’t being my true self.  I was hiding something deep inside of me that was killing me.  So this was my chance to release it.  Lol I think he cried more than I did lol.  He will never know how much I owe him for that.  I call him my brother because I have been friends with him since I was 11 years old.  I love that man for allowing me to trust him enough to start my road to freedom with him.  I will never forget that moment bro.  Lol him being the big brother he is he asked me where the guy lived, do I know where we could find him.  I would have hated to see what he would have done to Anthony had I known where we could find him.  My brother once pushed a guy for pulling a gun out on me.  He bullied the one guy who tried to bully me. I love my brother.

So I was about 9 years old at the time, and Anthony was 18.  We stayed off of 14th and Capitol at the time.  Anthony had a basketball on the back of his mother’s garage where a lot of the dudes in the neighborhood would play ball.  I always was a lot more mature than the boys my own age so I would try to hang around the older guys after we would play.  I think about it years later and know that him offering me a dollar for penny candy was his way of grooming me.  I would walk to the store without my mother’s permission and he would keep that a secret for me.  Now I know how a predators mind works so I know how calculated he must have been. The year had to have been about 1989-1991.  I really misplaced that time period in my life for so long that I can’t recall for sure when it was.  All I remember for sure is the vinyl record player that he had in the basement that played until… until he would send me out the back door with a dollar and tell me that he wouldn’t tell my mother if I walked to the store and got some candy.  He kept my secret so that I would keep his…

I wish I would have said something then; maybe I could have saved someone else.  Predators are almost guaranteed to have more than one victim.  SPEAK UP!

Fast forward to 2009, I am talking to a counselor about being molested.  She is the second person that I told.  I am so in love and secure in my relationship with Nicole (I had proposed to her literally days before) that I ask my counselor if I should tell her about me being molested.  She asked if I thought she should know.  I told her it would be only right for her to know why I had done some of the things that I had done in the past.  I had done it all at this point.  I mean I had whored myself out for a dollar worth of penny candy so I had no problem whoring myself out for a couple hundred here and there (every once and awhile a grand or two lol)!  I am 32 years old and to this day I cannot recall me losing my virginity.  I mean it was just never really important to me after 1989-1991.  So 2009 I told my counselor and Nicole in the same year that I was molested.  It took me four years to tell a second person.  So I told Nicole what happened and she made me feel loved afterwards.  I felt STRONG after that talk because she knew the one thing that I thought I should hide from the world and she still loved me!!!!!!  I owe her soooo much for that.  When I told her I specifically asked her to keep it between me and her.  YEAH about that lol.  She told my mother.  Not sure how soon after I told Nicole that she told mother but she did.  My mother let the cat out of the bag one day I was sitting in her kitchen talking to her.  She asked me if there was anything that I wanted to tell her.  Now my mother has this way of saying certain things, that when she says them I can read her tone perfectly and know exactly what she knew.  She would ask me when I was younger “how was school TODAY” (lol) and I would know she knew I didn’t go!  So I might as well come clean.  But this day I knew that she knew but I just couldn’t bring myself to say it to her. I WAS MOLESTED!

I was so mad at Nicole for telling my mother and I asked her not to tell anyone.  It was the FIRST time that I felt she had lied to me, and betrayed me!  What I had to do was recall the virtuous woman that I KNOW her to be! So when I did that I was forced to look at me!!!!  I was forced to ask myself why didn’t I want anyone to know, why was I still hiding and who was I hiding from?  That’s when I realized that the one person that I didn’t want to know, now knew.  If my mother knew what had happened to me I didn’t care who else knew after that!!!!! So God gave me my wife, my wife showed me my path to freedom just by being the woman that she is.  Nicole didn’t tell my mother to be spiteful, it was the total opposite.  She told my mother to free me from the trap that I was caught in.  If you hold the power to free someone, as long as you are doing it out of love, please do it! They may be mad at you for a long while but if it was from love, they will know the difference! They will come around  😉

The road to freedom is a never ending journey.  The road starts with first admitting to yourself what is ailing you. Then being able to admit it to someone else (THIS IS A VERY VULNERABLE PLACE TO BE, BUT YOU CAN IGNORE THAT FEELING AND JUST SAY IT!!!!!!!).  AND even after that being able to admit it to the world.  You have to understand that when you hide some of the things that you have been through you may be keeping someone else from the healing that you were meant to deliver to them.  When you find the cure it is your duty to share it with as many people that may NEED IT!

i was molested…