Welcome to the All New GSyndicates!

GSyndicates Design™, or just GSyndicates (formerly Graham Syndicates)(also GS) is a fashion / sewing / modeling / e-commerce, beauty, apparel, and accessories mashup e-commerce business and shop owned and founded by Shenica R. Graham. This mode forward fashion hybrid combines skin care, cosmetics, jewelry, bags, apparel, shoes, and custom tailoring to form a one-stop source for all of your fashion needs.

The GSyndicates Story

Our Mission

GSyndicates is about more than the clothes you wear. Our motto is, “This is the look you’ve been looking for.” Our mission is bringing “style from day to night and dazzle to divalicious™ by promoting positive self-image – something that will never go out of style.

Our Specialty

The specialty is “comfortable elegance, providing custom tailored apparel and accessories designed to turn up the style in any wardrobe.” Our services comprise total image consulting. We have a helpful concierge for all of your fashion needs. GSyndicates also creates opportunities for aspiring fashion industry stars including designers, models, photographers, artists, and more.

Our Vision of How GSyndicates™ Will Work

GSyndicates™ is style in motion, moving designs from concept to personality in the digital fashion world, driven by social media as designs are shared on Facebook, pinned at Pinterest, Tweeted, blogged, and worn with confidence. We create opportunities for aspiring fashion industry stars including designers, models, photographers, artists, and more. The infographic below illustrates this visionary process.

GSyndicates Model

The Beginning

GSyndicates began as a “Made in the USA” project of fashion and couture artist, Shenica Renee Graham. She founded GSyndicates and Haute Midwest Magazine with Sponsor, House of Sherell, following her apparel and accessory designer début (collection titled GSIA – now part of GSyndicates) at the House of Sherell Fashion Extravaganza on November 6, 2013.

About GSyndicates’ Designers

GSyndicates apparel and accessories are designed by Founder / Owner / Designer Shenica Renee Graham, and through collaboration with GStyle Experts in the fashion community. GStyle Experts vote on new designs, request in-store releases, and more. These fashion experts bring their marketing, design, fabrication, and other skills to the community and earn a stake in the GSyndicates business.

About This Project – GSyndicates Design

Design Specs

These are the project design requirements: Create a new logo banner for GSyndicates™ Design (shown above) that matches the GSyndicates brand. Display the words “GSYNDICATES DESIGN” as a main heading. Display the designer’s name above the main heading. Display the words “We Have The Look You’ve Been Looking For” as a subheading.


Update the previous website cover / banner (Circa 2013, shown above), by Shenica R. Graham (with silhouettes by sattva). Photo(s) preferred over non-human graphic illustrations. Update the current website at http://gsyndicates.wordpress.com. Include a minimum of the following pages: Home, About (subpage: Brands), Blog, GStyle Concierge, Shop, Contact. Add other sub-pages as appropriate. Update the brand’s social media presence. Create an e-commerce website combining all GSyndicates shopping portals. Update the product descriptions with more fashion flair copy. Refer to project sources provided by the client for current descriptions of all categories and pages to be updated. Create a subscription based, branded fashion magazine to promote and support the brand.

The new look should reflect the forward motion of the new brand strategy, the designer has a vision to update the brand from mid-level to a triple threat – ready to wear, mid-level, and high fashion – taking the brand from six to more than a dozen categories including clothing and accessories (adding watches, neckties, and shoes!), skin care and cosmetics (including a specialty line for African American skin like mine!), and home making products like blankets, bath accessories, and even furniture!

Project Fulfillment: The How

The website cover / banners shown above were designed using pexels images by Dellon Thomas as backgrounds with the new logos as transparent overlays. The color scheme and background match the black and white or grayscale trademark of the original GSyndicates logo.

Logos, taglines, and descriptions were updated for each the GSyndicates Brands. The GSyndicates Stamp” or initials monogram is shared by every logo, whether or not the main brand title is spelled out or the brand name starts only with the monogram.

GSyndicates Brands

GSyndicates is a collection of over a dozen exclusive brands with common style threads – a fashion syndicate where each brand has its own flavor.

GSyndicates Classic

Our GSyndicates Classic brand is preserved as the first spin off of GSIA, which grew up in Iowa, USA. Our expansion to the more universal GSyndicates brand, allowed us to remove the ceiling that limited us to local merchants. Today, GSyndicates is a fashion staple with over a dozen unique brands.

GS Accessories

GS Accessories™ are made of unique and non-traditional materials that create stunning pieces to complement your best looks.

GS Gifts

GS Gifts™ is a curated collection of custom gift bundles and services that can be added to any purchase.

Give the gift of style with GSyndicates gift cards. Give any amount from $10 and up. Digital gift cards are available immediately after purchase.


GSCA (GSyndicates California) is your year round summer style maker. Add a splash of color, a pinch of flavor, and a taste of fun to your look whatever the weather.


Model Bree in GSIA

GSIA (GSyndicates Iowa) is the Official Designer of Haute Midwest Magazine and an exclusive House of Sherell brand. GSIA will get you ready for cool nights and winter getaways. Designs are inspired by a love of bold looks that capture the heart in breathtaking moments and fuse elements from East and West vogues.

GSIA was the first member of the GSyndicates design group and made its debut at the House of Sherell Winter 2013 Fashion Show. Haute Midwest Magazine™ was launched the next day. GSyndicates Magazine is the next revolution of that publication.

GS Intimates

GS Intimates™ by GSyndicates™ has everything you need for daywear comfort and nighttime elegance.


GSJEANS CO apparel is made from 100% American grown cotton jean fabrics made in the USA. Styles are bold enough for your fashion statement, and hip enough to last. GSJEANS CO jeans are always in style: so, take your look to the next level.

GS Kidz

The heritage of GSyndicates™ is passed on from generation to generation. With GSyndicates Kidz, you can train up a style in the way it should go.


GSNY Butterfly Mini Shirt Full Length

GSNY (GSyndicates New York) is your fashion source for uptown style at a hometown price. GSNY™’s “Hotline” will get your heart pumping with fitness and wellness products to help you feel your best in everything that looks good on you.

GSNY is inspired by comfort and classic lines. Breathable fabrics complement lifestyles on the move. Convertible styles mean more mojo for your money. Whether you take to the catwalk, the office, or the shops on the avenue, you will look and feel great in GSNY.

GStyle by You

GStyle by You™ is a feature rich fashion experience driven by your own personal style. You can customize your GStyle apparel and accessories to make them truly your own.

GSyndicates Black

GSyndicates Black honors African American heritage and GSyndicates Founder, Shenica R. Graham. GSyndicates Black includes African American culture inspired apparel, signature accessories including bags, shoes, and scarves, a jewelry line, a skin care line, a fragrance line, and so much more!

GSyndicates Home

From pillows and cozy throws to comforters and shower curtains, GSyndicates Home is your source for practical homemaking designs with a high-fashion touch.

Now you can decorate anywhere in GStyle. « more

GSyndicates Swim

GSyndicates Swim™ suits are built for all figures. Get smooth fabrics and slimming cuts in flattering designs. Our motto is, “A suit for every body.” That’s a suit for everybody!

SteppIn’ by GSyndicates

STEPPiN’ by GSyndicates™ is for savvy people like you, who love what they do. Whether you’re stepping out for work or play, or the all too common hybrid –  since you love to mix, we’ll keep you stepping out in style. So go ahead and love every step.

GSyndicates Shop

The Woo Commerce platform was used to create the all-new main shopping portal at https://atomic-temporary-58953174.wpcomstaging.com/shop, which also links to other existing shopping sites managed by the brand. Woo Commerce won over other options because as a Web and CSS designer with over 9 years experience working in online sales, I have not found a better, more user-friendly, consistent, reliable, robust and completely customizable content management system than WordPress. Woo Commerce integrates seamlessly with WordPress.

This project implements a customized version of the Shopify template (theme). Both the main brand website and the shopping portal include extensive graphic design and online copywriting.

GSyndicates Magazine

The next edition of GSyndicates Magazine is available online and in print at https://atomic-temporary-58953174.wpcomstaging.com/magazine/. Here’s a preview (at left). Subscribe to the free online edition. Subscribe to the print edition.

For the magazine heading (shown above), I implemented my trademark 180 degree word spin, taking the minimized word, “Magazine” from horizontal to vertical.

Social Media Profiles

Habla Stylish?

Fashion For-Word Lexicon

Fashion is the word for life in Style!

The Fashion For-Word Lexicon is a fashion forward (see what I did there!) modern glossary. It expands your ability to define a fashion related experience (as in your answer to the question “What’s the word for a specific fashion event (such as a runway selfie pic)? Example: “The #fashionforword of the day is #styleselfie.”

This glossary originated with the foundation of the predecessor to GSyndicates Magazine, which is a publication that was also written by the GSM Editor In Chief, for Haute Midwest Media.

Go ahead, have fun with it! Grow your style vocab with the Fashion For-Word Lexicon.

Hash Tag



A fashion ensemble that is perfect from head to toe. Example: “You dressed #bangstoBlahniks for this _________ (insert a fashionable event).”


The serendipity of GSyndicates fashion. Discovering in an unplanned experience, that GS has the look you’ve been looking for. Example: “What #brandipity will you discover next?”


A fashionista’s educational and or professional credentials. Example: “Get your #divagree in #fashUcation.”


A fashionista’s world of style. Example: “Welcome to the #divaverse: it’s a beautiful world.”


When when you have whatnot to wear that’s what “not” to wear. Example: “Did your #fabgodrab? Get style help from the GStyle Concierge.”


A fashionista’s nationality – ‘cause we’re all divas – every color, every language, everywhere. Example: “Vogue is my #fashionality.”


How to say that you are defining a fashion experience (as in the answer to, “What’s the word for (a fashion experience such as a runway selfie pic). Example: “The #fashionforword of the day is #styleselfie.”


A dictionary of fashion related words founded by #HauteMidwest. Example: “Look up #divagree in the #fashionforwardlexicon.”


A fashionista’s anthem. Example: “Girls just wanna have #fashionfun!”


A curriculum or program of fashionable education leading to a #divagree, or a degree in a fashion driven industry. Example: “Get your #divagree in #fashUcation!”


Haute Midwest Fashion University, affectionately known as #FashUversity; an online fashion education program. Example: “Get your #divagree from #fashUversity!”


The unique ability to apply a peak fashion sense and sensibility to more than the clothes you wear. Example: “I’m living life in #GStyle.”


The fashionable Midwest. Haute Midwest Magazine – The Midwest fashion experience. Example: “Iowa is the heart of the #hautemidwest – and the home of Haute Midwest!”


A spa holiday to refresh your inner fashionista. It will make you say, “Ahh.” Example: “Win a #Spahhliday“.


Show and tell for the fashionable masses. Example: “Share your best look: #styleandtell.”


Fashion on your 6. Example: “GStyle has your styleback.”


A fashionista’s creative portfolio (design sketches, garments, and accessories, modeling portfolio, photography book, hair show reel, etc.) Example: “Update your #stylefolio before submitting your application.”


A style overhaul. The ultimate makeover. Example. “Seriously, you need a #stylehaul.”


A deep appreciation for the professional skills of a true fashionista in her or his element. Example: “I have #StyleLove for you!”

Featured Product

Rep that GStyle! Get a gaiter (facial covering) like the one featured at the top of this post. Buy it from the gsyndicates shop.

Ciao for now!

Happy National Mentoring Month

Celebrating the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King Day is observed in the US on the third Monday of January. This year, “MLK Day” is Monday, January 18th. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize on October 14, 1964. This honor was majorly in recognition of his untiring work to end racial prejudice in the US by leading a non-violent resistance.

On MLK Day, people worldwide recognize the historic and empowering service and leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by serving their community. If you are looking for ways to get involved in the National Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, visit http://mlkday.gov.

Quality mentoring is one of many ministries that empowers people to continue in positive ways, and to make needed changes for the better. Have you thought of how you can make a difference in the life of a youth this year? Here is one way…

Through publications and other resources that will be added to SandLine Productions, I am offering the opportunity for parents, teachers, and other leaders, to be a part of a powerful mentoring program for at-risk youth.

Mentoring is Ministry

Christ always took time to teach others what they needed to know to grow – not only what He wanted them to know about himself. Of course He taught about His role in God’s plan. He also taught many practical lessons. His teaching was not as one know-it-all to another. Christ was a people-builder. He understood and embodied the difference made with proper guidance. Even in His divinity, He always acknowledged the connection to His Father, God – the ultimate role model.

What would you guess is the biggest problem facing youth today?

One of them is discouragement (the same boulder that may have blocked many of your own roads). We can solve that problem with life investors – people who invest their life energy in mentoring, apprenticeship, financial and spiritual support, and BEING CREATIVE in their response to what ails the world.

What a Difference a Mentor Makes

I nearly lost my own life to suicidal depression. I know what a difference a mentor makes; what else has helped me; and how to teach (much of) what worked best. That being said, I will be posting to this blog, elements of the SandLine Program – a mentoring and leadership intervention for at-risk youth. This program will be offered freely to anyone who can and needs to participate.

The SandLine curriculum will include high-impact courses, which will be delivered via online educational platform. Related materials including applicable tools and resources that I may be able to present, will be made available for streaming, download, printing, etc. as appropriate. The full content of the original SandLine Program | Mentoring Workbook will be donated to an appropriate entity upon completion to ensure that the original form remains free to the public, even if later compiled in a traditional format.

You’re Invited!

You may already be a life investor. If so, thank you. If not, you can still make a positive difference in the lives of others. Whether you are a Doctor of Leadership, or a teen looking for a reason to give good a chance, this is your personal invitation to start 2014 by becoming or training to become a mentor for at-risk youth. Your training is free here; and you can access it from anywhere in the world. If you need the program for your personal growth and are not ready to be a mentor, there is also no fee to participate.

Happy National Mentoring Month.

Each ONE reach ONE. EveryONE teach ONE.

– Shenica R. Graham
Ciao for now!

Meet The GStyle Concierge

From day to night and dazzle to divalicious, the GStyle Concierge is at your service.

The GStyle Concierge™ is your personal expert digital image consultant, fashion advisor, color analyst, fashion stylist, apparel designer, makeover artist, personal shopper, and wardrobe stylist. From sourcing the perfect accessories to education on how to maximize your looks, the GStyle Concierge™ has your #styleback.

Did you land a new job? Are you getting ready for a special occasion? Even if you just need a lifestyle lift, the GStyle Concierge™ has just what the stylist ordered.

GStyle Concierge™ Services

Color Analyst

The GStyle Concierge™ can direct you in personal color analysis (PCA) and skin-tone matching, as well as determining a custom color palette for clothing and makeup that are in harmony with your unique complexion, eye color, and hair color. This vital information will benefit you when working with the GStyle Concierge™ as your personal style consultant and when selecting your custom wardrobe.

Custom Tailor

The GStyle Concierge™ has over forty years experience in custom apparel manufacturing. If you are looking for bespoke fashion to complement your unique style and expressive personality, the GStyle Concierge can assist you with everything from design to delivery of custom tailored clothing that will fit your figure and your life.

Fashion Stylist

Got what not to wear? We can fix that. Discover the fundamental elements of a wardrobe that works as well as you do – for you. Learn the 3 C’s of your personal GStyle™ (cut, color, confidence) and never let your #fabgodrab again.

What is the GStyle Fashion Stylist?

The GStyle™ Fashion Stylist is your personal fashion consultant. She selects the clothing you wear for published editorial features, print or television advertising campaigns, music videos, concert performances, and any other public appearances you make.

The GStyle Fashion Stylist is an everyday stylist who can also meet the demands of celebrities. She creates custom looks for red carpets, catwalks, and office parties. Even if you are not famous, the GStyle Fashion Stylist can help you upgrade your personal style from “unknown” to “best dressed”.

The GStyle Fashion Stylist is a perfect addition to your creative team. She can collaborate with your fashion designer, photographer/director, hair stylist, and makeup artist to create the look you want and or the look your team is working to build for a particular theme or project.

The GStyle Fashion Stylist uses your GStyle Custom Fit Profile to curate your perfect wardrobe and complete your makeover. Request a consultation today for your custom wardrobe or other apparel including wedding garments and special occasion attire.

Adapted from Wikipedia.

Image Consultant

Get the inside look to bring out your best and take your image to the next level. The GStyle Concierge™ has the expertise of a custom tailor and a proven stylist with the tools to rebrand you without breaking the bank.

What You Will Learn

  • Your color palette / profile
  • How to coordinate your clothing and accessories
  • Proper etiquette
  • Proper body language
  • Effective communication
  • Personal presentation
  • Personal branding

Plus++ you’ll save more $$ when you purchase an exclusive wardrobe including custom apparel and accessories. Request a consultation today for your personal image makeover.

Makeover Consultant

Get a GStyle makeover and work your wow factor. Plus++ you’ll get custom spa essentials and more to re-create your new fabu. Contact your personal makeover consultant, the GStyle Concierge to get started.

Shop Plus+

Shop Plus+ services enhance your gift giving.

  • Free Shipping for GStyle Community Members.
  • Gift Cards. Select a gift card amount from $5 to $5,000. Get instant digital delivery.
  • Gift Boxing. Add $10 to any purchase for delivery of your custom order in a GS gift box with a  greeting card that you can personalize for your gift recipient.
  • Gift Wrapping. Add $10 to any purchase to include external gift wrapping over a  gift box containing your purchase.
  • Greeting Cards. Add $2 to any purchase to include a greeting card that you can personalize for your gift recipient.

GStyle Concierge™ Solutions

  • Community. The GStyle Community is important to the success of GS brands. Members share their fashion experience and style expertise with their family, friends, and social networks. Select GStyle customers are invited to become GStyle Experts.
  • Custom Fit Profile. Get the right fit every time. Read the FAQs to learn more.
  • Personal Shopper. The GStyle Personal Shopper helps you shop by giving advice and making suggestions according to your color analysis and other GStyle profiles. Get advice and suggestions before you buy.

Free Initial Consultation

Request a free initial consultation today for your custom wardrobe or other apparel including wedding garments and special occasion attire.

Ciao for now!

Design Review: Best of the Near Decade (2013 – 2020)

GSyndicates’ designer recalls the foundation of the brand’s revolution.

If you have been following GSyndicates since its inception, you will recall the debut of GSIA (GSyndicates Iowa) in 2013. Today, GSyndicates™ is a curated collection of private label and exclusive brands with common style threads – a fashion syndicate designed by Founder, Shenica R. Graham.

The new year is upon us. GSyndicates has been a best kept secret since 2013. Before we introduce the all-new GSyndicates, let’s take a look back at our top 5 best designs of the near decade. Follow along as we count them down.

#5 – The GSNY Butterfly Mini Shirt

Rounding out the top 5 is the Butterfly Mini Shirt by GSNY. Hold on to your hemline, folks. The Butterfly Mini Shirt is the long and short of comfortable Style. This is the best wearable chic since reversible jackets. While you won’t want to turn this one inside out, you can easily transition from office to night owl with this one of a kind fashion standup.

For comfortable day wear, position the hemline around your upper hips or waistline. For nighttime flair, lower the hemline to make a mini dress. That’s two looks for the price of one!

#4 – The GS Impress Necklace

Holding up her swag banner at number 4 is the GSyndicates Impress Necklace. It has all of the impressive impact, without the heavy metal. This signature piece offers a stylish alternative to fashion jewelry composed of non-precious metals, to which some people have allergies. This piece is constructed of a leather-look material, which gives each element a nice sheen. Black beads connect the tear droplets to the neck base. The enclosure is made of velcro, which keeps the piece secure when worn, while offering an easy mechanism to fasten and remove the piece.

The GS Impress Necklace is handmade in the USA of unique and non-traditional materials that create a stunning piece to complement your best looks.

#3 – The Marilyn Suit by GSIA

Stopping the show at number 3 is the Marilyn Suit from my own super powered alter-ego, Mati. Backstage at the House of Sherell Fashion Show where GSIA had its debut, the I gave the models a little challenge… “Wow me in five seconds or less.” Ashlyn took three steps and walked into fashion history.

The look, which is a two-piece ensemble, did not exist before the day of the fashion show. I had been working on other designs for the event and finally had a strong emotion that while most of the clothes I planned to show were founded on black fabrics in various textures, I needed to add something that would catch the light. It had to be bright. It had to make the crowd stand up and say, “Wow!”

I could not sleep. Around 2:00 am on the morning of the show, I draped the halter top and skirt, did some of the stitching, and went to bed around 4:00 am. After sleeping just two hours, I woke up and started working again. The look had to be finished.

Working until that afternoon, the show-stopper was ready to hit the runway.  I hoped that whomever the model would be, the sheer elegance would shine through.

This would be the GSIA debut. I was nervous, excited and nervous all over again. This had to be the look that people would remember GSIA by. It had to be strong enough to build a brand around. It had to capture every sentiment of a labor of love – for fashion. That energy had to be infused into the garment; and that energy had to live on after the show.

Arriving at the House of Sherell Fashion Show workroom, it was my first time meeting most of the models. I recall seeing a tall blonde (Ashlyn) sitting patiently as her ringlets flowed from a hot curler. She had a quiet elegance that spoke the gentle language of finesse. Her doe eyes seemed to mask a fierce competitor who could rise to a challenge, though she was not the boisterous, crowd-over-talker who would make a scene.

It was like that look had been made just for her. I recalled the strong emotion that I just could not fully rest until that look was put together. When Ashlyn stepped out in that GSIA ensemble, everyone noticed. It was a breathtaking moment in every step.

Modeling is more than wearing nice clothes. It takes more than a pretty face.

Do you have what it takes? Apply to become an HM MODEL.

When a model makes this work look easy; when she (or he) is creating memorable moments in time – that is the mark of a professional. That is talent. That is what super models are made of.

#2 – The Moxie Jacket by GSJEANS CO

Making a grand entrance at number 2, is the GSJEANS CO Moxie Jacket. It’s strong shoulders carry all of thee proud sentiments of its name…

mox·ie/ˈmäksē : noun. 1. The ability to face difficulty with spirit and courage. 2. Force of character, determination, or nerve.

This “so much more than a plain jean jacket” has style as bold as your personality. You will love the intricate details, strong angles and subtle curves of this fun and functional wardrobe essential.

As with all GSJEANS CO apparel, the Moxie Jacket is Made in the USA with 100% American grown cotton jean fabric. Styles are bold enough for your fashion statement, and hip enough to last. GSJEANS CO is always in style. Wear it to take your look to the next level.

Treat yourself to a little Moxie!

As with all GSJEANS CO apparel, the Moxie Jacket is Made in the USA with 100% American grown cotton jean fabric. Styles are bold enough for your fashion statement, and hip enough to last. GSJEANS are always in style. Take your look to the next level.

#1 – The Kimobi by GSIA Fusion

Finally, topping the chart at number 1, is the Kimobi (an easy favorite) by GSIA Fusion. The Kimobi is a Western take on the time-honored Eastern arts and traditions of the Japanese Kimono and the red wedding Sari (or Saree) of India, from the design coiffures of GSIA. This intermeshing of style culture is called, fashion fusion – though you’ve never seen it like this!

A Truly “Global Culture” Concept

Bringing the World Together

GSIA’s Kimobi (Red / Silver print shown above and below) (also called the KimoSari (or KimoSaree)) blends a modern Japanese Kimono with an American prom-style pleating that shares some of the traditional draping of the Japanese Kimono in a more lightweight design, topped with over-the-shoulder possibilities that helped make the Sari famous.

Capturing the flavor of the traditional Kimono – and the other side of where the garment gets its first name – the Kimobi has an attached, half “obi” (the traditionally separate Japanese sash worn over the Kimono at the waist and typically paired with the “gita” shoe (The Telegraph)).

This modern styled half – obi is only visible from the back of the original Kimobi and is a more flexible version of the traditional Japanese Obi. Adding a taste of India – thanks to the uniquely cut Kimobi sleeve which updates the traditional Japanese Kimono sleeve, the Kimobi sleeve is flexible enough in styling to be draped over the opposite shoulder like the traditional free-flowing end of the Sari, called the pallav (Greeting India).

This first Kimobi of the GSIA Fusion collection is also a nod to the traditional wedding Sari, which is often red in color. The sari is one of the most common and oldest forms of dress for women in India, traditionally worn with a cropped and fitted blouse (the choli) and made of 6 metres of cloth wrapped to form a skirt (over a petticoat) before being draped over the shoulder (Greeting India). However, many more modern styles are also worn today. While Western traditions have favored the white wedding gown since the Victorian era, many eastern cultures have had a traditionally red or other vibrant coloring for wedding gowns.

These two dresses are so well fuzed, the Kimobi gives a whole new look with a 180 degree turn. You’ll hardly believe its the same garment from front to back. It’s two looks in one! For the beautiful and bold, wear the original Kimobi backwards! It still looks amazing!

This article is reprinted by permission of Haute Midwest Magazine.

Ciao for now!

My Life Is a Tyler Perry Movie (almost) (Video)

This article continues from Editor’s Letter – Spring 2021

Most recently, I watched Tyler Perry’s “Good Deeds” for the first time.

This movie touches my life in so many ways (the way that only Tyler Perry movies seem to do). I found myself (literally) all over this movie. I think that stories like this need to be told for those of us who have lived some part of it; and they need to be told by people like Tyler Perry.

When I saw Lindsey Wakefield (Thandie Newton), a single mother and cleaning worker for the Deeds Corporation, desperately picking up trash bags filled with her belongings (about 13 minutes into the movie) as everything from her apartment was being thrown out on to the curbside because she could not pay her rent (with her child waiting in the van that was almost towed just hours earlier), I almost cried.

I thought, “Thank you Jesus!” Because there but for the grace of God go I.” I recall being a single mother of a toddler while we were both transitionally homeless and everything we owned was in a van my cousin sold to me for $100.

Living in that van, I remember going to Quick Trip bathrooms to wash up and change clothes (Lindsey and her daughter do this about minute 42), dropping my son off to a stranger’s car in the parking lot, and trying to go to work without worrying about him. Finally, I remember being evicted from our first home and having to leave my job as my depression and bipolar symptoms flared leading to a mental breakdown and residence in a psychiatric ward (the first in a series of stays).

All of those memories came flooding back when I watched Lindsey go to work and leave her daughter alone in a broom closet, promising to return in an hour. I never had to leave my son alone, but I did have to leave him with strangers. This terrified me because it reminded me that when my mother was a single parent and I was left in another family’s care, I was sexually abused at the age of six. It has taken me thirty-six years to re-gain steady ground in my life, after living a downward spiral despite many accomplishments (mental disorders are often “off and on”. So, a high functioning person can be sometimes high functioning, and sometimes dysfunctional). As a result of abuse, I live with three mental health disorders that almost killed me on several occasions.

About minute 26, Wesley Deeds (Tyler Perry), head of the family-owned Deeds Corporation where Lindsey works, recounts a story to her of almost drowning in the Maldives on vacation. Although his father warns him not to go into the sea (neither of them knew how to swim), Deeds jumps in anyway. Lindsey asks, “How did you get out [of the water]?” Deeds tells her, “My brother jumped in and saved me.” I thought, Wow. I remember thinking the same thing about my eldest brother, E

He was the second child born to my mother, almost 13 years after I came into this world. Somehow, I knew that he would be a blessing to me specifically – not only to my mother. While mom worked to take care of us, I practically raised him to the age of five. My brother went on to be a high school valedictorian, West Point graduate, military captain, devoted husband, and doting father.

When I was drowning in sorrow, my brother stepped in and saved me. I was even able to forgive him for putting a sandwich in the VCR player (we didn’t have DVDs in the early 90’s) and rendering it useless; and for pouring glue into my Lego phone making the receiver stick to the base and all of the keys unable to be pressed down (I loved Legos and that was my first real phone. Losing that phone hurt, but I loved that child immensely. When I was sixteen and announced that I wanted to go on missions to Africa, he said, “I want to go with you.” That’s who he is to me. He always has my back. I haven’t been to Africa yet (although I believe God sent me a gift all the way from Kenya in the person of my son’s father (Oh yeah, I prophesied as a child that I would have African children), but I have been to France, Germany, and Austria – with him + 1 of my brothers). Below is a view from our trip to Paris in 2003.

When I had my son, it was only natural that I also named him Emanuel after my brother (translated,God with us”). Little did I know that God was not going to stop there. Despite my lonely beginning, I now have five +1 brothers and a sister, all of whom I am extremely proud of for various reasons. I have also gotten to know amazing men and women in my cousins, aunts, uncles, and extended family.

Now here’s a throwback tribute to three of the greatest games of the 80’sFrogger, Pac Man, and Ms. Pac Man! About minute 32 of Good Deeds, Lindsey’s daughter Ariel (Jordenn Thompson) plays the Frogger arcade game.

As a child of the late 70’s, I was just 3 ½ years old when Frogger hit the US market in 1981. But it was one of the first games I ever played, along with Pac-Man (1980) and Ms. Pack-Man (1982). These are still the only video games that can hold my attention for hours (even though I don’t really play any video games these days) Just ask my siblings)).

O.K., back to the movie…

About minute 32, Ariel’s stomach growls and Deeds offers to take she and her mother to a pizzeria. They go to the restaurant and Lindsey explains over dinner that she was previously in nursing school. I still remember getting my CNA diploma; but I never actually worked in the field. Unfortunately, Lindsay recounts, she had to drop out of college with just two years left in her program after she lost her daughter’s father to Iraq.

Suddenly a single parent having to carry all of the bills, Lindsey needed a job. She became a janitor. No, that wasn’t the fulfillment of her dreams. She was a college student, working most probably for minimum wage. I totally understand. After mental illness ravaged my life, I worked for minimum wage despite holding two college degrees.

About minute 40, Lindsay states (and how ironically), “That man is persistent.” This couldn’t describe Deeds (or Tyler Perry) more. About minute 45, Lindsey is trying to get a space in a shelter. I remember doing the same thing. I felt like I was being asked so many intrusive questions, but I was thinking the entire time, “God, please let this woman tell me I have a place to sleep tonight.” Thankfully, she did. I do not know what I would have done if she had said otherwise. As if I did not have enough reasons to feel like I was seeing my life in this movie, one of the women in the line to get in to the shelter (minute 46) was named “Renee” (my middle name, which I was primarily referred to as during high school and in my twenties).

About Minute 50, Lindsay and Deeds have a heated discussion about parenting. Lindsey asked Deeds some tough questions that prove he does not understand the plight of a single mother trying to make ends meet and failing. Minute 53. Lindsey and Ariel check into the shelter. They go to sleep in their clothes and shoes (not abnormal in a shelter). In the middle of the night they are attacked by a shelter resident. Lindsey grabs and Ariel and runs out of there.

About minute 55, Deed’s fiancée, Natalie (Gabrielle Union) calls him “predictable.” Granted, throughout the entire film thus far, she has been able to finish his sentences and knows what he will do before he does it. But what Deeds does next could not be more surprising. What does Deeds do? You’ll have to watch the movie to find out.

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Cover photo source: Tyler Perry at the 82nd Academy Awards by Sgt. Michael Connors – 302nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment / Public domain.