He Named Me Malala Film Screening

hnmm_posterThe E Street Cinema held a screening of the documentary,
He Named Me Malala on Monday, October 5, 2015. (Be sure to check out the book, I Am Malala.) Something that immediately stood out to me was the feeling of being homesick. After the attack on her life, Malala, and her family cannot return to their home and friends in Pakistan’s Swat Valley. Now, they reside in the United Kingdom. The film captures the family well; reminding the audience that a Pakistani family has similarities to ones right here in the United States. What a difference it would be if there were continuous reminders of the things that make us similar instead of a constant reminder of what separates us.

The documentary helps the audience to see how her parents helped influence her life. She would sit with her dad as he had conversations about politics as, her father created a school which she explored at a young age. He spoke out against the Taliban using Islam to treat people unjustly. In one scene he reveals watching his own father give sermons wanting to be like him. I enjoyed hearing from her father and learning more about her mother. The relationship between father and daughter really touched my heart.

In the first scene and throughout the movie animation that resembles a moving watercolor brought to life tells stories from the past and how Malala got her name. These scenes break up the tense reality of the darkness of this world.

I had the honor to hear Malala speak during a phone interview on the day of her movie premiere. She encourages youth to speak up, and women to believe in themselves because they can do anything. She’s so confident and convincing. I’m reminded of other world leaders who knew of the threat of death over their life but didn’t let fear silence their voice. Her father spoke up feeling he had to speak up, her mother taught her she must always tell the truth, and the gun shot tells her she has already faced fear there is nothing left to stop her from continuing to speak for the right of girls going to school.

There is a moment when she doesn’t speak when asked about her struggles. It is clear the traumatic experiences she has already dealt with, feeling out of place at school, and being away from a home you love.

The movie reminded me of the children that can be forgotten unless talked about on the news. The refugee children all over the world who not only aren’t in school but don’t have a place to call home anymore.

I recommend seeing the movie with your family this weekend. Discuss it with them, see how you can help the Malala fund. Also spread the word on social media. Check out the trailer below:

Juneteenth Book Festival in DC – Saturday

A family friendly event in DC for the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth.  (June 19th, marks the day commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.)

CHXsKSfUAAAidJvThe event will celebrate the works and stories of Americans of the African Diaspora. This event is held in honor of the legacy of U.S. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. To promote literacy among children and their families, every child will leave the festival with a FREE book. The host of the event is ArtLifeStyle a creative works firm in  DC. The event will include: storytelling, read-a-longs, musical performances, contents and giveaways.

The Juneteenth Book Festival’s purpose is to highlight and celebrate literature and it’s critical role in the pursuit and protection of survival, freedom and expansion of African-American men, women and children. It is the only one of its kind being held in the nation’s capital.

June 20, 2015
12:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

1901 Mississippi Ave. S.E. Washington DC 20020
In collaboration with The Black Theater Festival

Website: www.juneteenthbookfestival.com
Twitter: @juneteenthbf use #JBF150

Read the press release.

The Spirit of Jazz on The Arts Walk (Thursdays – Free LIVE Jazz)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I stumbled upon a jazz free concert on my way back from Barnes & Noble on Thursday. This is what I witnessed:

In this open space there is a freedom to be yourself, to actually “dance as if no one is watching”. Here, spectators are not judging your dance moves because they are too busy letting the spirit of music move them.

wpid-00230002.jpgThe audience: a beautiful mix of people with DNA from all over the world, reflecting a glow of colors, illuminating their movements.  Children played; making new friends and telling secrets to the ones they knew. A leader, led the girls in their flying dresses, flapping their arms in their air as elegant butterfly angel dancers, one would leap off the raised stage of grey washed concrete, and the others would follow in glee and slight hesitation.

A multicolored circular object (that we know as a hula hoop) rolled into their world, filling their eyes with excitement and curiosity. It twirled around hips too small to make it work its magic. Adults joined in to demonstrate but I’m pretty sure they were taking advantage of a moment to unleash their inner child. An older man, with brown skin, covered in a bright white t-shirt, took the object for a spin. His lover, watched in slight embarrassment but more pride to see him moving his hips with skill and joy.  The little ones were guided through different hoops creating a mini tunnel of rainbow circles for little feet to skip through.

Shared snacks of popcorn and gummy bears made their way through little fingers. Couples displaying their love, through dance steps and twirls. One hula hoop became a skip it circling around a bare brown ankle, and bouncing off the ground.

wpid-dsc_0390.jpgFamilies, more than mere strangers, waved, and embraced before sitting on wooden benches to enjoy the show, on arts row.

The drummer, the pianist and the saxophonist creating musical notes in the air, under their imaginary spotlights, from the rays of the sun. Fast paced notes soaring through the air, dancing on the ear drums of anyone who meet their path. See as the audience follows the rhythm by tapping the ground with their bare soles.

wpid-dsc_0387.jpgJoin this amazing atmosphere next Thursday to free your soul, and twirl your hips, to the notes of jazz playing through the air.

Arts on 8th Music Performance – Thursdays 6:30 pm – 7:45 pm
(Brookland Metro stop – red line)

Follow on Twitter:
Monroe Street Market – 
The Arts Walk – @ArtsWalkMSM

The Journey film premiere for Survivors of Suicide Loss Day from a supporter without personal loss

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Coverage of The Journey film premiere for Survivors of Suicide Loss Day from a supporter without personal loss
By: Nicole Howard (Twitter: @Ms_Shininlight)

On Monday, November 17, 2014 I attended the Film Premiere of The Journey at the AFSP Public Policy Office in Washington, DC. An event to discuss and view the film created for #SurviorDay usually includes this question, who are you here for?

Out loud I responded, “I am an AFSP volunteer and came to support.” In my mind I would say, myself.

I received an invitation to the event from Ryan Newcomb (AFSP Area Director: Metro DC-National Capital & Maryland) who I worked with while volunteering in the planning stages of the annual Out of the Darkness Community Walk in Washington, DC.

The space was inviting with high top tables covered in royal blue tablecloths, hors d’oeuvres, and drinks. The area designated for the screening was in theater style with large TV screens on both sides of the panel table. Guests were able to mingle with AFSP staff, survivors featured in the documentary, and other survivors of suicide loss. The diversity among the guests was a clear reminder that death by suicide can affect any gender, any ethnicity, and a range of ages.

Eric Marcus, the Senior Director for Loss and Bereavement Programs, who is a survivor of suicide loss as well, gave the opening remarks. He shared a personal moment of looking at a photo of his father as he sat as his desk in his AFSP office. He is responsible for planning the events that will take place on #SurvivorDay. Next, AFSP Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Christine Moutier introduced the 30-minute documentary. She is featured in the film providing expert commentary.

The Journey: A Story of Healing and Hope

The documentary helps bring to light the stigma around suicide, the effects that stigma has on the survivors of loss, and the different ways to grieve after a loss.

A few moments in the film resonated with me:

Suffering in Silence: Survivor Sandra called the death by suicide in her family, the big secret. This feeling of living with a “secret” can be viewed as a parallel to people who deal with mental illnesses in silence. They may be dealing with depression but don’t speak about it. Survivor Alice story really touched me. She shared the moment she found her son’s journal. Alice said, “I had no idea how much pain he was in.” Some survivors knew their loved ones were dealing with a mental illness others didn’t know the amount of pain they were enduring.

(Signs and Symptoms of Depression according to NIMH)

Volunteering as a means of healing: After reading the film discussion guide it is clear the majority of the survivors in the film are also volunteers with AFSP or other organizations. Survivor Kathleen spoke of hosting support groups for mothers who are survivors of loss after her only child died by suicide at the age of sixteen.

Asking for help: The survivors talked about attending therapy sessions and support groups. A reminder to ask for help and to grieve alone.

To find out about Suicide Warning Signs visit the AFSP website: http://www.afsp.org/understanding-suicide/suicide-warning-signs

I knew better than to attend this event without carrying tissue. I was able to get through the film with only a few tears but once the panel discussion began you could hear the sniffles in the audience which immediately struck me in the heart. The panel included Filmmaker Jeff Gersh, LeAnn Johnson, wife of Congressman Bill Johnson, The Journey participants Dylan Kane, Katie Kane and Paul McShan.

After the panel discussion, there was additional time to talk with others and enjoy coffee and desserts. Little did I know I was about to have an Ah-Ha moment.

I thanked Eric Marcus for his work with AFSP and he introduced me to filmmaker, Jeff Gersh. I don’t remember exactly how I began to open up so quickly to Jeff but he listened. I spoke about the fear of speaking up about mental illness in general. People can be told to keep it hidden, don’t reveal something so personal there can be consequences. Friends and family may not know how to respond, no one will want to hire you, etc. His response was the importance of speaking out. These public conversations need to continue to happen. What really stuck with me were the words he said he would leave me with, “You are healthy.”

Attending this event and volunteering with AFSP remind me of the effects that taking one’s life can have on family and friends. The reminder that you are never alone, seek help whenever you need it, and don’t give up.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

No matter what problems you are dealing with, we want to help you find a reason to keep living. By calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7. If you feel you are in a crisis, whether or not you are thinking about killing yourself, please call the Lifeline. People have called us for help with substance abuse, economic worries, relationship and family problems, sexual orientation, illness, getting over abuse, depression, mental and physical illness, and even loneliness.

Learn more about International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention



REVIEW: How We Got On

Downtown Silver Spring, Maryland has become a place to enjoy all forms of the arts. Venues such as AFI Theater, Round House Theater, and The Filmore have brought a variety of artists, actors, actresses and more to the area. October 30 – November 22nd the play, How We Got On is featured at the Forum Theatre. The play was written by Idris Goodwin and directed by Paige Hernandez.

The play blends hip-hop history, old school rhymes, and the story of friends living in The Hill (a suburb in Midwest America), trying to become respected rappers. They look up to the rappers featured on Yo! MTV Raps. Hank (Manu Kumasi), Julian (Thony Mena), and Luann (Kashayna Johnson) are pursuing their dream but deal with obstacles along the way. Idris Goodwin demonstrates the characters conflict personally and the ones they face towards each other.

For many hip-hop fans, especially those who are familiar with hip-hop from the 80s you might catch yourself “rapping-along”, waving your hands in the air, or just feeling positive vibes when you see Hank’s boom box or watch The Selector switch records.

The Selector (Alina Collins Maldonado) skillfully takes on multiple roles throughout the play adding in moments of humor when she is Hank & Julian’s fathers. One of the conflicts throughout the play includes seeking approval from their parents.

Hank, Julian, and Luann come alive as they develop a passion for the art of creating, writing and performing rap music. They become one with the art and the most vulnerable when they experience writing at the top of the water tower. You will most likely cheer along as they find a way to come together and create their own mix-tape. Remember those? They attempt to compete in rap battles, and radio competitions hoping to make it to Yo! MTV Raps.

The script shows a part of the music industry that is seen today-songwriters whose names may go unknown (Hank), as the performers (Julian) bring their words to life. Sometimes the writers step out to give the world of performing a try. A few artists you may know who have done this: Frank Ocean, Meghan Trainor, Keri Hilson, and Ne-Yo.

I recommend taking some time out before the show leaves Silver Spring to experience the music, the rhymes, and the energy for yourself. http://forum-theatre.com/buy-tickets

8641 Colesville Road, Silver Spring, MD

Here are some songs to get your energy right before you see the play selected by Idris Goodwin from the Forum Theatre’s blog

Q & A with Jas Boothe – D.C.’s Toyota Standing O-Vation Recipient on Oprah’s Weekend Tour

Q & A from the Round-table Interview with Jas Boothe hosted by Toyota Brand Ambassador Amy Purdy. 

By: Nicole Howard

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


High resolution photos above are Courtesy of Harpo Studios, Inc. / George Burns 

Watch this video of Jas Boothe’s incredible story from losing everything after Hurricane Katrina, to being discharged after 13 years of service in the U.S. Army after a battle with cancer.

Learn more about her organization here.

Follow on Final Salute, Inc on twitter: @FinalSaluteInc

Q.  Do you have psychological services available?

A.  We have a full-time case manager. We also have a  connection with veteran organizations. Some of our residents in the house are Veteran disability rated and are getting support that way.

Q.  Is there anything that we can do on our platforms to help the problem before it gets to the stage where you are helping the woman.

A. People say, do you need more homes? – No we need less homeless veterans. Prevention is the key. I think it starts in the military.

“I don’t think it’s a military issue, I don’t think it’s a governmental issue, I think it’s an American issue.”

Q.  How did you get past your own struggle to help other people?

A.  You have to get your foundation set first. You have to be in a position where you can help others. If you can’t help yourself you’re truly not in a position to help others. Once I got in the position to help others I personally felt that I couldn’t live the life I wanted with so many women who serve not getting what they needed out of life.

Q.  What is the next vision that you have?

A.  My next step is to be out of business. I want to get to the root causes and try to cut if off before it gets too bad. I’ve helped over 300 but there are over 50,000 out there.  I don’t want any veterans male or female to have to be homeless on American soil.

Q. How are you balancing pursuing this passion and still maintaining your family life?

The work life balance is a myth. It’s not really work life balance -it’s focus.  Focus on what your doing at the time and give it your full attention.

Q.  Have any women in your program gone on to work with you further?

A.  Most women who come through our programs want to give back. One way they gave back is through their testimonies. It let’s other women in that situation know they are not alone and their are people who care about them.

 Q. How will you use your $25,000 grant?

A.  The money will go toward the mortgage of the home to allow more women and children to come in. It will also go towards preventing homelessness i.e. help with utility bills.

Q.  How can our children get involved?

A. Read books, have a movie night, make lunches, etc.


Continue reading

Army Veteran, Jas Boothe – president and founder of Final Salute, receives “Toyota Standing O-Vation” at Oprah’s Life You Want Tour

Washington, DC – On Saturday, September 20, 2014, Army Veteran, Jas Boothe, president and founder of Final Salute, a Washington, D.C.-based organization Boothe founded to help homeless female veterans in the United States by providing them and their children with transitional housing was honored by Oprah Winfrey and Team Toyota brand ambassador Amy Purdy. Final Salute will receive a $25,000 grant from Toyota.

Courtesy of Harpo Studios, Inc. / George Burns

Courtesy of Harpo Studios, Inc. / George Burns

The audience rose to their feet to give Jas Boothe a “Standing O-Vation” after watching a video of her story. Boothe has overcome many life experiences from losing her home during Hurricane Katrina to overcoming a devastating cancer diagnosis. Jas Boothe faced homelessness and the loss of her job firsthand. Once back on her feet, Boothe recognized the availability of helpful programs for male veterans, and the lack of such services for women. Today, Final Salute has helped more than 300 female veterans and their families from 15 states and territories.

Jas Boothe response to becoming the Washington, DC, Toyota Standing O-Vation, recipient, “It lets me know I’m on the right track.” Boothe hopes receiving the honor will raise awareness to the issue of female veterans homelessness.

The Toyota “Standing O-Vation” is an opportunity to celebrate remarkable women who are not only making the world a better place, but also motivating others to spark their own journey of personal change.

“Oprah’s The Life You Want Weekend” will include additional presentations of Toyota’s “Standing O-Vation” awards during the following tour stops:

Oct. 17-18              Houston, Texas                   Toyota Center

Oct. 24-25               Miami, Florida                      American Airlines Arena

Nov. 7-8                  Seattle, Washington           KeyArena at Seattle Center

Nov. 14-15             San Jose, California           SAP Center at San Jose

Coming soon interview recap with Amy Purdy and Jas Boothe. 


Return to 

My AH-HA Moment from Oprah’s the Life You Want Tour-Intentions

oprah energy


Oprah said, “You’re responsible for your intentions…You co-create your life with the energy of your intention.”

I saw it again in her recently released book, What I Know for Sure”. Oprah wrote, “When you don’t examine your intention, you often end up with consequences that block your progress.”

Intention: a determination to act in a certain way (m-w.com)

Intent: a :  the act or fact of intending :  purpose;  b :  the state of mind with which an act is done … (m-w.com)

Many times we say this little prayer: Oh God, if you just… I won’t ___ever again.

Before we get to that moment a simple pause to stop and think: what is my intention? before acting could save us from those desperation prayers. These prayers usually come with feelings of anxiety, stress, and even self-hatred. It can turn into one ugly cycle.

An example, spending money first, then regretting it once you realize you needed the money for something else. Your intention at the time was probably connected to an emotion. I’ll feel good if I buy these shoes. Later, you feel stressed once you figure out you’re coming up short for a bill payment.

Quick actions without reflections on intention can lead to life changing consequences or episodes of regret.

As Oprah spoke during the first night of the Life You Want Tour in DC I watched this video clip of Newton’s third law of motion: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. A great image I’ll think of to remind me to pause before I act.

Return to 


Demetria Lucas – Debuts New Book, Don’t Waste Your Pretty in Washington, DC

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Demetria L. Lucas (aka “Belle”) the creator of ABelleInBrooklyn.com debuts her second book – Don’t Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love in Washington, DC. She hosted “Conversations With Belle” to celebrate the debut of her book at Eighteenth Street Lounge on Tuesday, September 23rd. The event included complimentary signature cocktails, a relationship & dating Q&A, and book signing.

Today she spoke with undergraduate and graduate students at American University about her writing career from starting her blog on myspace.com to working for Essence Magazine.  She also answered questions on relationships and being a confident woman. “Focus on what you’re good at.” said Lucas when asked how to confident. This event was hosted by American University’s Association of Black Journalists (@AUABJ) .  Look for a full event recap tomorrow.

Tips for Making the Most out of O-Town

Photo Courtesy of Harpo Studios, Inc. / George Burns


The lines can get pretty long so arrive early if you want to experience all the amazing things O-Town has to offer. 

snap (3)

These stations are usually just a quick snapshot with a sign or in a car that gets sent to your O Tour Wristband. Start with the lounge areas. O, the Oprah Magazine & Reinvention / Renewal Lounge.

 Lounges 1st  & Photo Opp last
wpid-20140919_134605.jpg   Bx-oWhmCcAAanQw


snap (4)Learn from my mistake PLEASE. If you know there is one station you really want to experience do it FIRST. If you run out of time to see everything at least you won’t have a regret of missing it.

snap (5)You will get free samples along your way so having something to hold everything in will come in handy. If you are a VIP or Premiere ticket holder you will get a gift bag. If not, stop by the IKEA station first and get a free bag.


snap (6)
The waiting areas may get a little warm with so many people so be sure to have water on hand.

snap (7)Share your photos on social media and you may see your tweets and Instagram posts on the collage board in O-Town or even during the show.

Follow @LifeYouWantTour for updates during the event use #LifeYouWant_ (fill in the black with the state tour stop i.e.  )

Learn more about the different O-Town areas (Post Coming Soon)

See my O-Town Photo Gallery here

Return to