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MoniqueJ, Author at B.Positive Magazine



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Author: MoniqueJ


Writer’s Block, Issue 1: “The Weight of the Heart”

Welcome to the first edition of “Writer’s Block”, where I’ll feature writing pieces from people in Birmingham and beyond. Our first submission is from “Sandie lee” of Ontario Canada. Sandie lee has been writing for 15 years and lives with her husband and three feline “kids”.  She is currently working as an assistant editor for Imagination-Cafe, an online magazine for kids ages 4-12 of Imagination Cafe (http://imagination-cafe.com), as well as the blog and newsletter editor  of the Imagination Cafe Blog (http://imaginationcafeblog.blogspot.com). Check out her story, The Weight of the Heart, below, and if you’d like your writing to be featured on B. Positive, email me at moniquej@bpositivemag.com.


The Weight of the Heart
By Sandie lee

“Three more. Two more. Come, on people,” commanded Tory, the perky fitness instructor. “Reaching your goals means pushing yourselves.”

Janet gasped as she lunged toward her out-stretched leg.

Easy for her to say, she thought. She’s not the one carrying around an extra fifty pounds. At least we’re sitting down – not so far to fall if I pass out.

Janet grunted, bent, and stretched out her fingers until they barely grasped her big toe. Sweat rolled down her face and dripped from her chin. She quickly wiped it on her shoulder as she heaved herself to the left.

“Good job, people!” Tory chimed.

Janet screamed in her head…why do I put myself through this torture? I could be sitting at home, eating my sorrows away. Oh…that’s right…I could be “eating” my resentment towards Charles for leaving me. At least, that’s what my therapist keeps telling me.

The class finally ended and Janet collapsed onto her back, panting hard. She closed her eyes and tried to bring her breathing back from race-horse-pace to normal.

“Good workout today, wouldn’t you say?”

Startled by the male voice, Janet popped up to a sitting position and looked at the man. He was gorgeous – tall dark and handsome; such a cliché but totally accurate in this case. Janet quickly glanced around to see who he was talking to, but he kept his eyes on her.

A blush spread across Janet’s face.


Just then, Kim and Shelley, the resident hot-bodies, walked past, interrupting Janet’s response.

“Hi Todd,” they chimed in unison. Todd smiled and nodded back.

“Well, I guess I’ll see you around,” he said. He turned and followed the ladies out.

Janet watched him leave.

Why would Todd make a point of talking to me?

He was so good looking, and a fireman to boot. He could have anyone he wanted.

He was probably just being nice, she reasoned.

Janet gathered her towel and water bottle and headed to the change room. The showers weren’t full but her own self-consciousness won’t let her disrobe in front of the other women. Instead, she grabbed her gym bag, flung open the door and zigzagged her way around the equipment toward the front exit.

Suddenly she felt a light tap on her shoulder. She turned and to her surprise it was Todd.

“Hey. I’m glad I caught you,” he smiled brightly. “Would you like to join me for a fruit smoothie at the juice bar?”

Janet’s mind raced. Was this really happening?


“My treat” he coaxed.

“Okay…sure,” was all she managed to sputter out.

They walked together to the sitting area and set their belongings in the corner of a booth.

“So, what’s your poison…strawberry, banana, acai berry?” Todd flashed another killer smile.

“Whatever you’re having is fine.” Janet slid herself into the booth and tried to slow her pounding heart.

“Great, triple soy chocolate it is,” he said.

When Todd returned with the drinks he placed one in front of Janet. He then slid into the booth across from her. His leg brushed hers and immediately Janet felt goose bumps crawl up her arm. She gave him a nervous, twitchy smile as she took a sip of the thick liquid.

“Hard to believe these are healthy,” he said, tipping the cup to his lips.

Janet nodded. And I can’t believe I’m sitting here.

“So, I’m Todd.” He stuck out his hand.

“I’m…a…Janet,” she said, grasping his fingers, giving a weak shake. They felt so strong.

“I guess I should apologize to you.”

Janet was puzzled.

“I’m not usually so forward,” he explained. “I had a horrible divorce…you know…once bitten twice shy and all that. But you don’t look like you’d bite my head off. So I thought, why not?”

Janet nodded. “I was wondering why you were being so nice to me.”

I’m a practice run.

Now it was Todd’s turn to look confused. “What do you mean?”

Janet tittered. “Didn’t you see Kim and Shelley in there?” She motioned with her head. “They were definitely into you.”

Todd smirked. “Really? Never noticed.”

Janet took another sip of her drink.

“Besides…you’re much more my type.”

Janet was shocked. “Why!? I’m so…so…unfit.”

That’s it, no more games. Be straight with people. (Dr. Harris would be proud).

Todd looked at her with such tenderness she thought she might burst into tears.

“I was once over weight myself,” he said. “Why do you think I endure this torture every week?”

He then gently grasped her hand. “Besides, the weight of the heart is only about 260 grams.” He held her stare with his soft brown eyes. “So, I’d say we’re good to go.”

Janet was speechless. But she let the warmth of his hand seep through her loneliness and into her soul.

The End

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How about those "Glee" pictures?

(credit: GQ, Google)

Okay, for any Gleeks at the website, this one is for you.

Recently, there’s been some controversy surrounding the actors of Glee, particularly Dianna Agron (left), Cory Monteith (center), and Lea Michele (right). In the latest issue of GQ Magazine, the two girls are portrayed as one of the most popular male fantasies–fresh, highly sexualized high-school girls, complete with red lollipops (click here to see the pictures in question). Meanwhile, Monteith, the only male in the photoshoot, is frequently clothed in layers–one picture has him in two shirts and an overcoat! The Parents Television Council has since come out against the pictures, stating:

It is disturbing that GQ, which is explicitly written for adult men, is sexualizing the actresses who play high school-aged characters on Glee in this way…It borders on pedophilia … Many children who flocked to High School Musical have grown into Glee fans. They are now being treated to seductive, in-your-face poses of the underwear-clad female characters posing in front of school lockers, one of them opting for a full-frontal crotch shot. By authorizing this kind of near-pornographic display, the creators of the program have established their intentions on the show’s direction. And it isn’t good for families.

Agron has released a well thought-out statement which states how she apologizes for how the photos came across, stating:

[I]n perpetuating the type of images that evoke these kind of emotions, I am sorry. If you are hurt or these photos make you uncomfortable, it was never our intention.

(for the full statement, click here)

So, with that said, I put it to you: Do you think that the Glee GQ photoshoot was bordering on pedophilia, was just a “regular” level of disgusting, or are you unaffected? Sound off below. I’ll start off by throwing in my two cents–at least Agron is wearing a skirt throughout the photoshoot, unlike Michele.

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The Reach Initiative offers ACT tutoring, helps students excel

(left to right) Ashley Jones, Walter Turner and Chastity Taswell

Birmingham-area high school students who are looking for a new way to study for the ACT finally have a new venue.

The Reach Initiative, which started at the beginning of this year, is a group of college students from UAB and Samford who have dedicated every other weekend to mentoring and tutoring high school students in preparation of the ACT.

The group, comprising of Ebony Hinton, Chasity Taswell, Abdular Kuaan, Phillip Philon, Sam Mobley III, Jacob Wooten, Erin Hulsey, Travis Lilley, Adrian Jones, Walter Turner, and B. Positive’s own Ashley Jones, is one that Jones believes will help Birmingham’s youth in terms of their success rate on the exam.

“We wanted to start the group to positively impact the low graduation/college entrance rates we observed in the Birmingham metro area primarily among minority students,” said Jones. “We believe that if given the right study techniques and some opportunities to practice, we can help raise these students’ scores enough to gain them entrance to a two year or four year university. We want them to strive for higher education–in today’s society, education is key, and we couldn’t just stand back and watch students in our own backyard miss out on higher education.”

Jones said that the group holds two sessions per semester. “Each session is four Saturdays long, and each Saturday consists of two classes–around 1 and a half hour each–and a lunch break. Each of the four ACT subjects are taught for the first three Saturdays, and on the final Saturday, a mock ACT is administered.” According to Jones, everyone in the group is involved in the teaching process. “I teach English with Erin; Walter, Jacob and Travis teach Math; Ebony, Adrian and Phillip teach Science, and Chasity teaches Reading.”

So far, Jones says the group has received successful feedback from their work with the students and hopes the group will continue long after she and her friends have graduated. “We give the students evaluations [about The Reach Initiative’s performance] after every session, and so far, the students find the sessions helpful,” she said. “We want to continue them [the students] until we graduate and hand the program over to other UAB students; it’s a UAB student program, and we hope it thrives after we’re gone.”

One of the things Jones is excited about is actually seeing her group’s lessons help the students with their problem areas. “I think the best thing for me is to see the students learning,” she said. “When a student completes a set of practice questions and gets them all right, or even if they get them wrong and realize their mistakes, it’s great to see that learning happen. I feel better about myself when I see their minds working, and I feel that they’ll be able to take these skills into the testing room when they take the ACT.” One lesson she hopes the group is imparting, however, is that the ACT is just a test.

“[T]he ACT isn’t an unconquerable monster,” she said. “They can master the test and make a good enough score to get into a university and succeed. I hope they see that college is an option, and they’re full of more knowledge than they know.”

This is the first operational year for The Reach Initiative, and the group hopes to grow from this point forward. “[W]e’re a small organization that wants to make a big difference in Birmingham,” said Jones. “We’ve started from the ground up, and we’d love to establish relationships with organizations in the Birmingham community to make our program better for our students.”

If you would like any information about The Reach Initiative, you can call Jones at (205) 936-7574, the group’s secretary, Chasity Taswell at (205) 427-4447 or email The Reach Initiative at thereachinitiative@gmail.com or reach@uab.edu. You can also download their brochure here.

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Do you like your hair?

Seems like the buzzword for this week and last week is “hair-tastic”, because there has been a lot of follicle-praising offerings given to us in entertainment.

Firstly, it’s the anticipated music video for  ”Whip My Hair” by music newcomer Willow Smith, daughter of Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith. When this song first hit the internet, everyone was shocked by how mature Willow sounded for a nine-year-old. The music video is cute and really puts the emphasis on what the song’s about, whippin’ hair around.

Willow Smith – Whip My Hair (Official Video)
Uploaded by Jeffhardy143. – See the latest featured music videos.

Also, “Sesame Street” uploaded a video called “I Love My Hair,” featuring an African-American girl puppet singing about how she loves her hair and all the styles she can put it in. Even though the video was made primarily instill self-esteem into black youth, it can also be used to help us grown people realize that, even though relaxed hair is a beautiful style, our hair doesn’t always have to be relaxed to be beautiful.

So what do you guys think? Are these videos helping African-Americans in the conversation about hair, or are they merely entertainment? Sound off below.

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