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'Usted y YO Familia' YOU and Your Family  and your self esteem

It's not always the bullies on social media, the co-workers on the job, or you. Sometimes the blow to your self esteem comes from the people who love you the most.

Why a WIN in BRAZIL was a win for black women in the U.S.

Plain and simple- black women in the U.S. still have to prove they are enough.

 A new video produced by reporter Elaine Houston takes a look at plus-sized women in one town who are fighting back against  body shaming!    'CURVEE GIRLS'

She's accused of feeding her face with cheeseburgers all day and negecting her health. A new video looks at the lives of plus-sized women in one New York town and how they are taking a stand.  Watch the trailer!

She lost the ability to walk. Her amazing courage to live.

It's  a disorder you never heard of until now.

Coming soon!

Your home is your castle, your crib, your humble little abode!

Our "New" series  shows you how to fill it with beautiful things.  

Her life was no straight line......read below 

Her brain was falling into her spinal column.  

It’s hard enough to read those words...

so just imagine what Jacqueline Rowe was going through living those words. “I was distraught about my condition, she said.”  The condition is called Chiari Malformations. The Albany, NY woman says the nightmare began in 2009 when she was living in Baltimore and heading to work at Johns Hopkins. 

Mi Cuerpo, Mi Familia. My Body, My Family& My Self-Esteem!

by Emily Sarita

Latina women have always been criticized. They’ve been criticized by people who are not brown skinned and know nothing about our culture; calling us “hot-tempered, bodacious, and bossy.” They associate our physicality with our character.


 Many women in my family are curvaceous; hips, big breasts.  But, I also have female relatives that don’t resemble the desired Latina body-curvaceous and such. They have as much attitude as my curvier tias and hermana, and plenty of attitude to go along with it.


However, not all of the talk came from outside.  Growing up as a young Latina, I struggled with my appearance. I did not have the desired Latina body. I am skinny and always was. Kids in middle school said I had chicken legs because my legs were so thin. Others thought I had an eating disorder. All the while, I ate pretty well and loved food to the core. I always wanted to have those curves and pretty much compared myself to other girls my age.


 At eleven years old, most the of the girls in my elementary school were eleven years old going on twenty. Many of these girls were fully developed and I was completely shocked.

I thought something was wrong with me. I was quite angry with myself. In our culture, curves are glorified. A curvaceous body is desired, praised and considered beautiful. I wanted to be curvaceous, yet I felt awkward. I was envious of the bodies of the other girls not understanding why my body wasn’t up to speed.

 So I had the talk with my mami.  Yep, the talk about when I would become a woman. She told me about her experience and how she didn’t reach puberty until the age of fifteen. And, I started to realize that everyone’s body is different. She said the process can be slow but slow is okay.

 It helped, but I was still impatient. I looked at myself in the mirror daily and I didn’t see a change. Going to school didn’t help, since boys loved comparing girls to one another. The criticism at home wasn’t helpful either.

Unwittingly they were helping me stay in my shell, remain an introvert. Sometimes families don’t realize that the criticism of a young woman’s body can affect her in the long run. Most families think that it is okay to talk about a daughter or sister’s weight. They don’t see it as a negative. In fact, some might not see it as a criticism. For example, when someone in my family talked about me they just looked at it as a statement of fact, not a criticism.


While I don’t have statistics, I know anecdotally that in some Hispanic households family members tend to criticize the body of girls as young as 10.  Sometimes, it doesn’t even matter if you're slim or curvy.  If the girl is too skinny, there is more criticism about her appetite, the clothes she wears, and how the clothes fit. If the girl is too fat, there is criticism about how she should eat less, work out, and how her clothes don’t fit.  Take the case of my friend, Josephine.  When she was around 8th grade she says she realized she was fat.




S* T*A* R* S Ministry 

The 12 Steps Spiritual Journey

Women's Bible Group


Meetings Every Thursday

6:00pm to 7:00pm


Capital South Campus Center (CSCC) Albany, NY

(518) 426-9423   20 Warren St.

Minister Shelia Jackson



*A support ministry of  

Christ Church of Albany   *381 Sheridan Ave. Albany, NY


The Persistent Mom

"I did not know my grandmother was not my mother, she said.”

by Elaine Houston

Some people get their parenting skills from their parents.  But, what happens when you realize the people you thought were your parents are not? That was how life started out for Trina  TiTi Ladette Cleveland.  “I was raised by my paternal grandparents. I did not know my grandmother was not my mother, she said.”


In fact, she was 6 years old when she discovered her grandparents were keeping secrets. Her birth mom was the first secret. Secret two was that her mom had committed suicide.  She was 13 when she learned that. Understandably these lies began to have a negative effect on her, but it was the one about her parentage that started her fall over the cliff.  “It did have an impact but there was a lot going on, she says.”  According to Trina, what was going on was that her siblings were being molested. She says she told her grandmother what her uncle was allegedly doing but no one stopped him.


So she says she started running away. “All of that set me on a path to really seek out dark places, she says.” She says a neighbor molested her with intravenous drugs at 13. “I didn’t get addicted right away but I never forgot that feeling, she said.”   That feeling she discovered was a way of escape and she had a lot to escape. “There was prostitution, violence, dysfunctional relationships and I loss my kids 5 times to the state, she says.”   She says she’d never been in trouble before but at 19 she went to jail over drugs. “ I took a ten year sentence for transporting drugs for a guy, a pimp.  He said I wouldn’t get a case because of my age and for never being in trouble. He said they would let me out, she said." They did not. She got out just weeks before her 30th birthday.


But there would be more twists and turns to come. She had two kids before going to jail. “ When I got out I kept having babies. I got every hue of a child. I kept having babies, she said.”  And her life soon became a vicious circle. Her drug charge was a felony so she couldn’t get a job or welfare and food stamps, which meant she had no resources to take care of her kids.  She would relapse and start using drugs again and would lose custody of her kids again.  “The relapses kept happening it was a Catch 22, she said. “


Her transparency about the gritty and painful world she grew up in on the streets of Austin, Texas has people across the world talking. They know about her heartaches, bad decisions, and heartbreaks because she is sharing it all in a video on social media.


    She's a Social

En-tre-pre-neur,    a Female with innovative solutions to society's problems

Muncy State Correctional Institution is a Medium/Maximum security prison that houses female inmates. There are 76 buildings at the facility; 18 house inmates. This facility also houses all female death row inmates.  There are approximately 1,450 inmates at the facility.


source :PrisonPro.com

23-year-old Hannah Miele never imagined she’d end up in prison yet there she was in March of 2016 inside a women’s prison in Muncy, Pennsylvania.  The prison is home to more than 1,450 women however, Hannah was there by choice. 

The woman was serving life. 



She was there to minister through art to murderers and those whose crimes were now costing them time behind bars. 

“Instead of us performing for them we went and trained them in the arts, acting, singing, working together, she said.” She was part of the group Shining Light Ministries,  they go into prisons to offer hope, joy and the gospel.  “I wanted to spread love and light to those who have been forgotten and I thought it would be an amazing opportunity, she said.”  


Hannah says the mission trip was amazing in ways she’s still processing.

“The talent was amazing, I was surprised at the talent, she said.”  But some of the memories are heartbreaking.  “There was a woman there she had already been there for 35 years and she was 69, she said.”  The woman was serving life. Hannah says more than half the women will die behind bars. Yet they, the women, gave her a gift; they unwittingly got Hannah, a Christian to reexamine her faith.


“It deepened my walk with the Lord like never before. To see these women who’ve made terrible choices and are bound in this place, some of them forever, and they’ve accepted Christ’s forgiveness and they are choosing to walk in the love of God.  If they can do this having committed murder and other crimes what is stopping you, she says.”



Hannah graduated from college with a degree in performing arts, performed in a professional opera company last summer and would love to travel the world performing but her faith has to be a pat of any career decision she makes. When she heard about Shining Light she knew it was a dream come true.  “My faith is very important and this was a combination I was looking for music, art, singing, she said.”


And next month, she’s off to prison again as a member of the Shining Light Impact Tour. It is a group of 30 young adults from across the country. They are coming together to go into prisons across the east coast and minister through the arts. “We will travel to Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Pennsylvania, she said.”

But, she had to earn her spot not only through auditions but also by raising 1000.00 for hotels and food. Like many young people who want to be socially responsible but don’t have the funds she set up a Go Fund Me account and was pleasantly surprised.

“ I was brought to tears when I saw the response, she said.”  The money was raised in less than a month. “I am not a lover of having to ask people for money but my parents said it’s an opportunity to allow someone to be a blessing through this and the money came in faster than I thought, she said.”



Hannah is choosing not to have preconceived ideas about her next stint in prison; the people she’ll meet, the impact her performing group will have on the prisoners, or vice versa but she’s open to her life being changed again by people others have written off. “I have found that today it’s like were all about change. We want to see change, we want to see revival you know, not just in Christianity, we want to see a move, something take place. But, I think the revival needs to start inside us first. We can’t lead someone to a place we haven’t gone first, she says.



For more information about Shining Light Ministries go to http://shining-light.com/our-story/


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© Elaine Houston