Simply Ari: Simply Me
The Inspired Thoughts of a Ready Writer
"My tongue is the pen of the Ready Writer"
"Broken Crayons Still Color."
There were a lot of things in 2021 that broke my heart, yet at the same time, those same things narrowed my focus and fixed my vision. I admittedly was emotionally and at times spiritually numb from everything that has transpired in the world at large and in my own world. There have been a lot of tears, a lot of days laying prostrate in worship and in prayer, a lot of restless nights, long conversations, and a lot of late night writing sessions by candlelight. 2021 taught me that it's ok to be broken, and no matter how we break, God specializes in mending us back together, stronger than we were before. I learned that broken doesn't mean useless. Even in the midst of grief, disappointment and change, the faithfulness of God never waivered. He kept me and my family, friends and loved ones. He provided us with all that we could have ever needed, and what we are seeing now is hope restored and what we sowed with our tears in 2020 and 2021, beginning to sprout something new.
There are some dreams and visions that the Lord has given me that I am excited to dust off in 2022. It is with a hopeful outlook and a holy expectation that I persist and will continue to collaborate with the Holy Spirit and produce all that the Lord has placed in my heart to share.
Wishing you and yours a very Happy, Blessed and Purpose-Filled New Year!
There are some topics as a writer, I feel compelled to touch on, because I believe that there is a perspective that needs to be brought to light. A perspective that "pop culture" most often does not deem worthy of addressing, and that is through the lens of faith. According to Dateline, the Oprah interview with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, which aired on March 7, 2021 drew in a whopping "17.8 million viewers, the largest primetime audience for any entertainment special during the current 2020-2021 season, and for any entertainment special since the Academy Awards on Feb. 9, 2020, according to Nielsen Live+same day ratings."
Since its airing, mainstream media both in the United States and abroad (namely in the U.K.) have been going crazy! The turmoil, scrutiny, and dare I say public shaming that this couple has had to endure over the past four years has been overwhelming to say the least, and until now, we, the public, have only gotten a glimpse of what it has really been like to be a "royal", for Markle and Prince Harry. In this post I will be touching on the following topics that I pulled from the interview: Mental Health and Well-being, the claims of Racism, the role of Fear, and considering next steps.
I am not a health care professional, nor do I claim to be. If you or someone you know is dealing with depression. suicidal ideations, or are otherwise struggling with your mental health, know that it is OK to ask for help and that the Simply Ari Media family, is praying for you.
Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for help today.
First, let's get into the state of mind Meghan Markle appeared to be in during the interview. To put it plainly, she looked anything but happy. There was no appearance of light in her eyes, she seemed downtrodden, tired, oppressed, subdued, and most notably, fragile. I strongly believe this interview only revealed the tip of the iceberg of her own emotional unraveling and struggle over the past few years. All I kept saying throughout the two-hour special was, "I just want to hug her." Watching her trying to muster up the strength to push through some very hard-hitting, "no-cut-cards" questions, was a bit heartbreaking for me, because it was clear that she wanted to both put on a brave face and courteously find a way to reveal her truth.
For us as a nation, perhaps more than ever, due to this global pandemic in which we currently find ourselves, we can at the very least, empathize with Markle. She and Prince Harry both, used the word "trapped" a number of times, throughout the interview. In Markle's case, is was a physical, psychological, and emotional entrapment that she was unable to break through. She recalled a conversation she had with someone in power, inquiring only to dine out with her friends. Her inquiry was rejected because there was so much heat on her in the press. The individual in power, said to her "No, you're everywhere right now--" to which Markle responded, "I've been everywhere, but I've been nowhere." Which, upon hearing it, I thought was a very powerful and telling statement. Markle mentioned to Winfrey that her keys, her passport, and essentially her identity, she no longer had access to as a member of the Royal family. Perhaps not all at once, she faded into the relentless grip of the monarchy.
In previous posts, I have shared about my own struggles with fighting emotional demons, asking for help when it felt unbearable to carry, and fervently seeking the Lord to guide me through a very dark time in my life. Having the courage to speak up, was one thing, but as a Christian, having the faith and reminding myself that even if I can't do something on my own, I serve a God Who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above all that I can ask or think, as Romans 8:28 declares, is truly what saved my life.
During His ministry, Jesus never said that weapons would not form against us. He did however promise that those weapons would not prosper. It was because of His obedience, that He became what He created to teach and fulfill the work of God the Father. It was because of Love, that He was beaten, bruised, pierced in His side, and willingly died on the cross for you and me. And it was by His power, that rose Him up on the 3rd day, to conquer, death, hell, and the grave. For those in Christ Jesus, we as Believers, come to understand that what Jesus did on the cross over 2,000 years ago, has the same power and potency that it did back then. The devil is already a defeated foe, and the blood of Jesus Christ covers, heals and restores everything that tries to come against us: sickness, disease, and attacks of any kind! Matthew 11: 28-30 says, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." This passage of scripture is my personal prayer for Meghan and Harry as they navigate through this season of their lives. I pray that by the Holy Spirit, somehow they would come to know in greater measure the Grace, Love, Favor, Mercy, Peace and Liberty, that is found in the Lord.
One of the other topics that stirred the viewing audience was just how bad the racial tension was for Markle. Upon her arrival to the U.K. she stated that she was assured by the powers that be, that she would be "protected." To her shock and dismay, this did not pan out the way that she had hoped. Her greatest regret we later found out was trusting that statement. Her name, her character, and her intentions were all called into question by U.K. press, and the racial slander spewed at and about her, was enough to cause even the strongest person to crumble, and yet, she stood firm, even if her hands shook in private. The turning point for Markle I believe was when the "blackness" of her future child and heir to Prince Harry was called into question, causing a "concerning" stir in palace conversations. Though Meghan did not hear these discussions herself, Harry did, and if his posture in the interview was any indication of how uncomfortable that conversation was in its entirety, we can make an educated guess that it was quite, "awkward."
Upon listening to U.K. broadcasts directly relating to this expose of sorts, and hearing what journalists have had to say in reference to Meghan and Harry's claims, they have said that context of the conversation is key. Which I believe to be true. However, even if it is not given, the fact is, Personal experience is reality. Even if it makes others uncomfortable. What Meghan and Harry faced and experienced was real to them, that is their truth. Who are we to question it? In my humble opinion, the problem here is that no one wants to consider the possibility of such a statement regarding Archie's skin complexion, could be true. An acknowledgement of the possibility or an indication that the matter is being investigated could change the conversation, give others courage to speak out, and could be a catalyst for real change pertaining to race relations in the United Kingdom. Former broadcast journalist of Good Morning Britain, Piers Morgan, who is under tremendous fire for his racially charged comments about Meghan Markle, asked in a live broadcast, "If the color of Archie's complexion was brought up innocently," essentially, would it be still be seen as racist?
Ignorant? Yes, absolutely; but innocent?
Let's take a look at the definition of "innocent" shall we? According to Google's English Dictionary provided by Oxford Languages, the word innocent means, "not guilty of a crime or offense." The only person or persons who are capable of determining the "innocence" of the question is the one who is on the receiving end of it. No one else.
We know that racism in the United States is institutionalized. What we are learning is that as it pertains to the U.K. the apple doesn't seem to fall too far from the tree. Racism manifests itself differently, but it doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. Before Meghan Markle entered the equation, it was only in recent years that we learned about Dido Elizabeth Belle and Queen Charlotte .
From what I have gathered, it seems that the deeper concern is the perception of the Royal Family and Britain as a country, and whether or not they will they be viewed as racist? Possibly. The Royal Family is not exempt from being human. They are human first, which means they too are flawed and then they are "royals." They are not perfect and the perception that they are, to me is the most tragic and damaging lie, because it is an impossible position to try to live up to. Perfectionism is rooted in fear. Prince Harry said it himself in so many words that his family is afraid of tainting their public perception. This begs the question, who is really controlling the narrative or perhaps the propaganda? Is it the ruthless tabloids? Or is it "Firm?" Just something to consider.
When Oprah asked, "Are you afraid of what the backlash would possibly be from the interview?" Markle somberly responded, "I've already lost e-- I've already lost so much. I just want to tell the truth." She and her husband, have given up a great deal individually and together, and the decisions that have been made and in some cases were forced to make for their own sanity and the wellbeing of their family, their son Archie and future daughter (which the coupled revealed they were having during the interview) will undoubtedly effect them moving forward. There is a strain and a deep hurt that I believe they both are feeling. It is my sincerest hope that with time, forgiveness, and grace they will heal, and they can continue to persevere resiliently and create the life that they desire for themselves and for their children.
As it pertains to those in power in the United Kingdom, now is not the time to be silent. Silence is loud, and it can be damaging and deafening. If the Monarchy is to be an example, I am of the opinion that they need to right the wrong and address these issues head on, not make an example out of Meghan and Harry. Luke 8:17 declares, "For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all."
12/24/2020 0 Comments
The Joy of the Season
"The Word became flesh and dwelt among us."
Matthew 2:1-2 says, "Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold there came wise men for the east of Jerusalem, saying, "Where is He that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him."
As we sojourner through life, I imagine our journeys being like that of the Wise Men who embarked on a pilgrimage and were compelled to travel because they wanted to bear witness to something great. Something that would change their lives forever. Though perhaps they didn't know where their journey would take them, they followed a star that ultimately led them to their destination. What a magnificent event to have been a part of! If 2020 has taught us nothing else, it has reminded us to trust the leading of the Holy Spirit, our guiding light, our star. For it is He and He alone in His humility, Who points us to Jesus, our Lord and our Savior. The gift of Christmas is not the presents under the tree, it is the Presence of Jesus Christ in our lives. He, being obedient to the Father, willingly allowed His divinity to be wrapped up in humanity over 2000 years ago. It is because of that obedience, Jesus coming to earth as a baby, the Creator becoming what He created, that we as believers now have an opportunity to have a personal and intimate relationship with the Triune God, and are graphed into His family. The true joy of this Christmas season and the hope that we have as Christians comes from the understanding of Jesus' reason for coming in the first place, He came to save humanity, you and me. John 3:16 tells us, "For God so loved the world that He gave, His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."
In a recent conversation with my mom, she emphasized the first part of the passage again, "For God so loved the world that He gave---" We are the recipients of the greatest gift of all. My prayer is that we never lose sight of that. My hope is that through the word of our testimonies we too can humble ourselves, be a light for those around us and point others to Jesus too!
Wishing a very Merry Christmas to you and yours.
Thank you so much for following along. I hope that you enjoyed this blog series, "Carol of the Blogs."
12/22/2020 0 Comments
Christmas Towns Are All Around
While my family and I go out to purchase presents, and get our family Christmas tree every year, we also like to ride around our neighborhood and surrounding areas to see all of the beautiful Christmas displays! Whether you live in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan area, in a neighboring state or want to venture out and take a road trip to see a Christmas town for yourself, I am here to help! Below, I have curated a list of some of the Top Christmas Towns to visit! Check them out.
12/21/2020 0 Comments
Hey, We Got It... Hot Chocolate!
Warm beverages on a cold winter's night is ALWAYS a good idea! During the Christmas season, my sisters and I love to have movie nights. Now, the movies are great, but usually the star of the evening are our piping hot mugs of hot cocoa! Hot chocolate is a staple in our house, we stalk up just before winter. I want to share with you my favorite hot cocoa recipe:
What You'll Need:
1 packet of Swiss Miss Milk Chocolate
1 to 2 Lindt Lindor Dark Chocolate Truffles
1 tsp of vanilla extract
2 1/2 tsp of cinnamon sugar
1 cup of vanilla almond milk
How to Prepare:
Pour the almond milk into a pot over medium high heat. Let the milk warm all the way through until frothy. Lower the heat slightly and whisk in the hot chocolate packet. One the hot chocolate is fully dissolved in the milk, add the chocolate truffles and whisk until fully melted. Then add and whisk the vanilla extract and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon sugar. Once the drink is beverage is heated all the way through and slightly frothed, take off the heat and pour into your favorite mug.
I like to top mine with whipped cream and sprinkle a half teaspoon more of cinnamon sugar.
If you do try the recipe, let me know your thoughts!
Amidst sheltering- in - place, I learned that I really enjoy interior designing and seem to have somewhat of a knack for it. This blog post installment is all about how to spruce up your space without breaking the bank. Below I have provided some low-budget wonders that are sure to make you feel festive and get you into the Christmas spirit!
I would begin by settling on a theme. Think about the elements of the Christmas holiday that bring you the most joy and go from there. Is it the colors? Is it the twinkling lights? Is it the snow? Is it the fresh smell of pine? Is it the brisk winter air? Is it the sound of a crackling fire? Is it the smell of gingerbread, cloves, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg? Is it the feeling that Christmas brings, that warm, cozy, and inviting feeling that just makes you smile?
This year, the theme for my room was "A Vintage Evergreen Christmas" I stuck with a solid color scheme: deep forest green, ivory, natural burlap and touches of gold. Then I found items around my house and online that would bring my vision to life.
Upcycling is so much fun and it's cost effective. If you are looking for a way to liven up your space, look for things that you already have in your house, chances are, you'll have a majority of what you need. In my design, I used old pinecones that my late grandmother collected and gave to my family. I used a crocheted ivory canopy to put over my bed to add a bit of texture, and I rummaged through a toy chest to find the FAO Swartz teddy bears I was gifted a few years back to bring in a vintage element.
The only things that I then ended up purchasing were candles to illuminate the space and provide a holiday inspired fragrance, some throw blankets to put around the room, a "Christmas tree" ( which is actually a rosemary bush that I named "Clooney" (White Christmas reference)) for my display table which I covered in a lace overlay, an 18x18 pillow cover with a vintage cherry red pick-up truck on it, and a throw blanket.
Overall, the room came together beautifully. To add to its ambiance and charm, I constantly have Christmas jazz playing on my Google mini nest, and a heater that keeps the temperature at a warm 82 degrees at all times.
Rules of Thumb:
12/19/2020 0 Comments
Unpopular Opinion: Christmas Edition
There are so many things that I love about Christmas, to bring a little balance to our conversation, I thought I'd talk about the things that I am not that fond of.
What are some traditional Holiday things that people may be surprised to learn that you do not like?
12/18/2020 0 Comments
Simply Ari's Christmas Playlist
Christmas music really does the heart good. Around this time, my family and I often find ourselves breaking out into 5-part harmony, singing out our favorite carols! Everyone has their favorite Christmas songs to listen and sing along to. I have curated a Christmas Playlist for you to listen to and enjoy! In the words of "Buddy the Elf", "The best way to spread Christmas cheer, is to sing loud for all to hear." Check out my Keep Christ in CHRISTmas Playlist on Spotify here:
12/17/2020 0 Comments
Reminiscing on Christmas Past
There are some special moments that I think back on; some special Christmas memories that I have that bring such joy to my heart. Here are just a few:
Church Christmas Play Production:
I can remember the beautiful singing of the actors, and seeing famous Gospel Singers performing on stage with them; one of my favorite voices was Vicki Winans. The year I remember seeing her, she sang "Mary Did You Know", and after the play was over, I got a chance to meet her! She was sitting behind a long table in the lobby of church, and with her long, bright red nails, she leaned over the table (because I wasn't quite tall enough to reach it) and gave me a button with her face on it, and she had autographed a card for me!
My Acting Debut at a School Play:
In elementary school, I was cast in the school play as "The Main Angel", yep, Gabriel, the messenger Angel who told Mary that she was with the Blessed Child. My lines came straight out of the book of Luke, and even though I was young, I knew that I had a responsibility to deliver them well. My costume was beautiful too, it was white, I had wings and a gold and red halo. I recited my lines proudly and with conviction, because I knew how important Gabriel's message was, for everyone listening.
My First Choir Solo:
I got my first solo at my school's Christmas concert. We were singing "Go Tell it On The Mountain" and I was selected by my choir teacher to sing the first verse. Up to that point, I'd never felt more beautiful, I can remember my mom bought me a midnight blue dress with velvet embossed designs on the bodice and a matching velvet bolero jacket, my hair was loosely curled and I sang my heart out that night. Again, it was the delivering of the message of Jesus that was most important to me.
If you took a trip down memory lane, what were some of your favorite parts of Christmas growing up?
12/16/2020 0 Comments
My Grown Up Christmas List
Over the years there have been some things that I have grown to really love about the holidays. Namely, having the opportunity to give back to my community. My family and I have donated clothes, toys, food, partnered with our church family to package meals, my sisters and I have sung for charity events and so much more! Through those acts of service, what I have discovered is how wonderful it feels to be a blessing to others. The giving of our time and our resources is such a precious gift. Every year I look forward to finding a new small business or organization with whom I can partner and spread joy, love, and the light of Christ to others. Giving back is a two way street. So often we'll find that the giver receives just as much as the recipients of whatever has been given. I believe that we are blessed to be a blessing. I hope to give back more this year to the organizations and causes that are near and dear to my heart.
Here Are Some of My Favorite Places to Donate:
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.