Changa Bell (Photo: Courtesy)

“I have had books brewing in my spirit since I was a child, says Changa Bell. “My family are all educators and my paternal grandmother was a published poetess. Nevertheless, I’d have to say that my interactions over the past five years with people in the community work that I do finally motivated me to ‘do the work’ and make writing a priority. This book is the first of many to come.”

Tell us about your new book, Affirmations for Dads.
Affirmations for Dads is a book for all fathers but with a voice and perspective rooted in African American culture. I get frustrated in the wellness Industry because there are very few people of color, especially males working prominently in that space. I wanted to make sure that future generations of men of color don’t share my frustration. My hope is that they will have my and many more voices, supporting holistic lifestyles values and thinking.

Tell us about your commitment to the well being of men.
Somebody has got to unconditionally love on us; so why not us? This is the sentiment of Trabian Shorters, BME founder, and someone I greatly admire. When I first heard this sentiment expressed to a group of approximately 200 Black men from across the nation, I took the message straight to heart. The message is so simple that I have overlooked it all my life, while selfishly seeking that same unconditional love for myself. I instantly shifted to unconditionally and unapologetically loving myself and that made it much easier to identify and express that love and respect on to others.

What was the process like to create your first book?
In all honesty, I feel like I didn’t write it. God wrote it through me. I know it sounds cliche, but I simply sat at a table, opened myself up to the notion of being empty and letting God fill my heart with sentiment. The feelings moved my hands and arms and the book was born. It was an amazing experience. I now know how I will move forward with all my other titles. I will simply move out of the way and let what the Greeks called muse, and I call the Holy Spirit, shine through.

What advice do you have for dad’s that you weren’t able to include in the book?
My primary advice for Dads is to be in a relationship with God. Ultimately, the Holy Spirit is evident in all things. Without connection, the leadership aspect of fatherhood can be lonely. There is not a lot of people to talk with or accept guidance from. I can’t call my cousin or friend and constantly ask them for support or advice on how to lead or operate my household’ that would be crazy. That would put another man in charge of my family. In addition, for all the single dads as well. Without the support of a spouse, girlfriend, or partner – again the leadership is lonely. We as men have to be in contact with a deeper self; that loving energy that created us all. And most importantly, understanding connection and respect that must be paid to women. As couples, we are reflections of ourselves, and at times we are autonomous individuals. So honoring our wives, girlfriends and ‘baby mamas’ is important. We must listen to and respect our partners in parenthood equally as we would have others listen with respect and empathy to us. Women allow us the honor of fatherhood by carrying and bringing forth life, there is a great deal of honor in that which must be supported in both action and word.

What does it mean to you being a dad?
Being a dad is a lot of things! I recognize that I am fortunate to have souls other than my own to care for. However, being “daddy” means that I am under constant observation. My kids see what I intend for them to see, as well as all the other “stuff” that I don’t. This is where fatherhood is terrifying, exhilarating, stressful, enlightening, hard, fun, challenging, and inspiring. My blind spots about myself get equal amounts of shine as the elements of my character that I work hard to project. Ultimately, being a dad makes me proud and has me aware of humanity in an entirely different context.

How is it being a father of six children?
Being a father of six is like Kendrick Lamar’s latest release. I jest, but it is constant work. We home birthed three, we homeschool five, and my oldest just started college this year. Because I am in love with my kids and I truly honor, love and respect their presence here on the planet — I work hard to engage with them in learning, playing and do my best to support their individual personalities. Being a dad of six is a never-ending saga and journey of drama and action that leads me to find creative ways to adjust to life and its circumstances of joy and suffering. Although it takes a great deal of energy out of me, at the end of the day my kids pour an equal amount of energy back into me.

What are your goals for the book?
In a very basic sense, my goal for this book is to establish my voice in the wellness community and industry. I want to have this first book, Affirmations for Dads, be a beacon, a useful resource so that my next book has an established audience. In a secondary sense, my goal for the book is like fatherhood itself — the book is like my child — it is born of an ephemeral agreement between me and God. I will be a good steward of it, speak on its behalf and help it stand and to live and flourish for a life that prayerfully extends beyond my own. Lastly, my goal for Affirmations for Dads, is that it be of use and utility for future generations of fathers that helps them both in times of disconnect and happiness.

How can people find out more about what you are doing and purchase your book?
My website, www.changabell.com, has information on my speaking engagements, life coaching, workshops, and other work-related items. Daily videos are forthcoming. Affirmations for Dads, as well as audio affirmation singles, are also available for purchase on the website.

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Yvette Caslin

I’m a writer, image architect & significance marketer. Love photojournalism, creative expression & originality.