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Unsolicited Mirrors : The Story of Two Becoming One

Alfred and Sherrell Duncan first met in the early 2000’s at an event. They were at an event where she was the event host and he was a judge. Sherrell needed a ride home so Alfred offered to take her. As they rode, the two sparked a cool vibe and great conversation. Alfred was taken aback by Sherrell’s depth. At the time, Sherrell was better known as – Sherrella La Bella. She was on the nightlife scene gaining a following as a curvaceous model, event planner, club promoter, and beauty broker. In her free time she gave sex tips on Twitter. Alfred knew the Sherrella La Bella from Twitter, but the woman he met in the car that evening seemed like a completely different person. He dropped her off and thought to himself, “Maybe she changed?” He couldn’t have been more wrong. The very next morning, as he scrolled through his timeline Sherrella La Bella was at it again on Twitter. “I could see right through it all,” he said, “I was not impressed.”

A few years passed and Alfred continued to do his thing. He was the lead singer for go-go band, Mambo Sauce and a part of reggae band Soja. He toured the world and landed a hit record, “Welcome to DC.” The song was picked up by many of DC’s major sports teams as a theme song. He had gained a reputation as an acclaimed artist and kept himself busy. When Sherrella La Bella’s presence on Twitter diminished he barely noticed.

Sherrell was going through a serious rough patch in life. An entrepreneur her entire career, she realized she hit rock bottom when she had to go get a job. “I was so depressed. I didn’t even know what it meant to work for someone else.” She had gained over 100 pounds, began drinking very heavily, and attempted to take her own life. One day she was sitting in her office with the lights off, she had been suffering from a migraine for the last three days. Concerned, her boss encouraged her to go to the clinic. “You could be suffering from a stroke or something and not even know it,” she urged. Sherrell agreed, and before even exiting the building she collapsed. By the time she gained consciousness, she was at the hospital with tubes and IV’s connected to her. Her brother said to her, “If you don’t change your life you are going to die.” He was a trainer and begged her to get her health and wellness on track.

As soon as Sherrell was discharged from the hospital, she knew she was ready to get her life back on course. She felt compelled to be transparent about what she had gone through.

“I was almost killed more than once. For me to make it out of that, I know the purpose for my life is far greater than my circumstances.” – Sherrell Duncan

She went to social media, posted a picture, and let the world know.

“I know most of y’all aren’t used to seeing me like this, but I’m almost 300 pounds, and I’ve been going through it. I’m ready to change my life around. Watch me work!”

This post caught Alfred’s attention, he began to start paying attention to her after she posted that picture. A few months later, he reached out giving her words of encouragement on her progress. That turned into more frequent communication between the two of them. Feelings bubbled up. Although they both thought, “Maybe there is something here,” the timing wasn’t right.

They finally got back in touch. At the beginning they were talking on and off. And, when they did begin dating, it wasn’t exactly sunshine and roses at first.

The Good Thick

What started as Sherrell’s brother training her back to health, evolved into a lifestyle. Longing for the curvaceous body she flaunted in her days as a model, she exclaimed to her brother, “I don’t want to be fat anymore, I want to be the good thick!” Sherrell had a new mission, to transform the way that black women looked at their bodies and health. She knew she had an experience to which others could relate. A natural born entrepreneur and influencer, she gained a solid platform training clients throughout the DMV. With that she coined the name of her fitness brand, “The Good Thick.” Her clientele grew solid steadily. One day while training a group at the Broccoli City Festival, Alfred saw her from a distance. He gave her a call and could see an annoyed facial expression as she picked up the phone. “Hello?” she said, in a tone that sounded more like “What!?”

The Work

Alfred and Sherrell became known as #ForeverDuncan in 2016 when Alfred proposed to Sherrell at noon and then surprised her with a wedding at 5 pm that same evening. The wedding went viral on several major national television networks and social media. Immediately they were being flooded with requests to speak as relationship experts. Alfred felt slightly uncomfortable being less than a year in and giving couples decades into their marriage advice. Sherrell, saw things differently. “I know things I was doing in this relationship, before we got married were things that I had never done in a relationship before.” – Sherrell Duncan

Put the Mirror In Front of You

The work comes from not being afraid to look at yourself. Not placing the blame on others and taking ownership. Reevaluating your intentions and motives. Really looking at yourself and asking, “How can I be a better person? How can I be a better listener,” she explains.

Feed your Soul and Spirit

“In order for me to be the best at something. My soul and spirit have to be in the best state,” Sherrell learned.

Unpack Why You Do What You Do

Alfred explains, “You must dig within yourself to understand how your actions are affecting you and what is triggering them.” Sherrell agrees saying, “A lot of the work is looking within. I cannot be lazy in my self work. In order to heal from traumatic experiences, you gotta do the work – you can’t run from it.”

Conquer Your Fears

“When I feel something in my gut that makes me afraid. I know I have work to do,” admits Sherrell.

Safe Spaces for Black Men and Women

Dear Self Brunch was created by Sherrell to liberate black women. A room full of women get together for an empowering and uplifting conversation. Her goal is for women to leave the brunch feeling supported and letting go of things that no longer serve them. She wants women to get away from suppressing their feelings to people please. She is teaching women to use their power to tell their stories boldly without shame. Sherrell’s brunch teaches women to transparently own their story. She inspires, “We are not perfect, we should stop trying to be perfect, own our mess, and just fix it.” Her hope is that women leave the brunch feeling free and better able to communicate their feelings in healthy ways.

Man Uplifting was created by Alfred to get men in a space where they are comfortable communicating amongst each other to recognize their shared challenges. His intention is for the men to have the courage to be transparent and understand that you are not alone. Black men often feel alone because they isolate themselves. Not wanting to be judged, they think, “there’s no way someone else could be going through this.” This group is a place to come together and be comfortable talking about mistakes. Through these conversations men realize they are not alone.

Alfred hosted Man Uplifting at the Tough Mudder in June. He brought 15 young men and 15 adult men to the competition. They were the only black group present. They came as strangers, but left as brothers. Every man pushed and pulled together. The experience heavily impacted the mindsets that men had of themselves and each other.

“Coming together is the beginning. Keeping together is progress. Staying together is success.” – Alfred Duncan

Dear Self and Man Uplifting have both been sold out events.

Views from Forever

“It’s really a marriage seminar or conference in play form.” – Alfred Duncan

The play, “Views from Forever,” was created by the Duncan’s. It is emotional, humorous, and thought provoking. “Views from Forever” is about Alfred and Sherrell 40 years from now if they did not seek wise counsel or learn how to effectively communicate. Every scene has a message. After each scene a pastor comes out and gives the biblical and practical application to teach couples in the audience how to prevent that narrative from happening in their own homes.

Alfred and Sherrell play their personas, ‘Alfort and Sheryl.’ While depicting the characters Alfred and Sherrell learned to put petty differences aside. “Sometimes we would get to rehearsal after an argument and I would not be feeling him. And he would not be feeling me. The play doesn’t just impact the lives of others, but it impacts our lives,” explains Sherrell.

Reflecting on the experience Sherrell continues,”The reason ‘Alfort and Sheryl’ are the way they are is because they weren’t prepared to do the work we are actually doing right now. I’m a 34 year old woman, I need to learn how to shorten my learning curve through the experience of playing this 70 year old woman and do the work on myself now.”

The Duncan’s close by sharing, through everything they lean on the spirit of God through praise and worship

You can keep up with Alfred and Sherrell by visiting www.foreverduncan.com.

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