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#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #18

To my Church Families:

Lee’s Chapel Baptist Church in Brookside, AL
First Baptist Church Graysville East in Graysville, AL
St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church in Graysville, AL
Mason City A.O.H. Church of God in Birmingham, AL
First Baptist Church Carver in Bessemer, AL
Cathedral of the Cross in Birmingham, AL
Gateway Family Church in Trussville, AL
Zion Church in Landover, MD

In some way, shape, or form and at some point in time, you completely changed my life for the better. Each church listed up there hosts memories from my childhood to now and I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything.

Cold ankles in lacy socks at Sunday School. Red Baptist Hymnals. Your sense of community. The smell of wooden pews. The whir of the Leslie when I turned on the organ. Music bouncing off the walls. Sausage and biscuit breakfast before worship service and free lunches every summer. The smiles on your faces and the sternness of your voices. Sequins and pearls adorning your suits. Tie pins and cufflinks that could rival any corporate executive’s attire. I remember thinking that you were the smartest people in the world when you read verses aloud. You were walking art and I was your canvas.

Photo by Dan Whitfield on Pexels.com

I call you family. Whether you prayed for me at the altar or laughed with me in the church parking lot, you played a major part in the woman I am today. You taught me that community is more than a word, it is an action that is always in season. We fed the poor, tutored children, taught God’s Word, and consoled each other at funerals. We forgot about the troubles of the week together. We danced until we felt free. Our hands lifted up and so did our hearts. God met us both inside and outside of those buildings.

Thank you.

I appreciate your light and life lessons. I pray that you continue to shine just as brightly as you did in my life. Keep smiling. Keep saturating yourself in the Word. Keep being a light. Keep encouraging youth so they can grow up to be grateful like me.

Sincerely,

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #15

To My Amazing Massage Clients —

The first thing I want to say is that I’m proud of you. You took a step toward being a stress-less self. You said “I don’t have to live like this,” and made the call.

I know it wasn’t easy. You’re used to being on-the-go and at-the-helm. You’re the giver, the knower, the person that juggles all the things… but one day, you decided to book your appointment. The next month, you did it again. You kept making the decision to put yourself on your own calendar and making self-care a continuum instead of a dot. For some of you, it was a financial sacrifice and for others, it was an emotional one. It may have meant stepping away from the kids or caregiving duties to catch your breath or taking a break from work for 30 minutes to recharge for the next stint. Either way, I am grateful that you took a chance on me being your licensed massage therapist and kept me along for your wellness journey.

You already know my mantra and that it breathes in me. I believe everyone deserves a healthy version of themselves… everyone deserves that moment to remember they are not what they do — they are human. This includes all socio-economic statuses because massage is more than a spa day. It’s a conscious decision to press the pause button so you can continue to be a healthy you. It’s scientific and it’s spiritual and I never take it lightly that you extend your time and trust every time we meet. There are laughs, sometimes tears, and at other times, silent reflection or snores. It’s all a testament to your recuperation… your moment to refresh your mind, body, and spirit before you get back out there. That’s what fuels me to work with you each week and read all I can about your conditions before you arrive and after you leave. It’s the exchange of wellness and growth between us.

I pray that you always create room for yourself in a world of many demands. I pray that you always remember that YOU MATTER. It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle of life by being everything to everyone and answering every direct message, call, text, and email. Just remember the day you booked your first appointment. Recall that feeling of looking at your calendar and anticipating that you have a pause coming in a few days. Think about when the pain didn’t seem so great or you got quality sleep that evening. Then, do it again… as many times as you need to without any apology to anyone. After all, your name should be on your time too.

See you soon,

C. J. Wade, LMT

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #14

Shawn!

You would be having a complete field day right about now! For real!

Between the pandemic and pandering politics, we would be having the best conversations if you were still here. Seriously. Your wit would be making me laugh aloud and you would be amen-ing your frat brother Roland Martin’s commentary per usual. I can hear your quips as I type — coming at me like rapid fire.

Can you believe that people are making political stances about wearing facial coverings to slow the spread of a virus? I just heard you chuckle. lol

Science. That was your jam and I know you would have something sarcastic to say about all of this. We would probably chat around mid-afternoon and about the latest foolishness concerning our country and the world-at-large. Our conversation would undoubtedly include the current state of educational affairs be it that you were an exceptional educator. You were the physics half and I was the social half of our scientific duo, but we met in the middle when it came to distress of public education. *insert fist bump here*

Photo by Ann H on Pexels.com

Part of me is glad you’re not here to experience this mess and part of me wishes you were so we could decompress at length. You said I was the pontificator between the two of us, but seriously… that was you. You knew how to make a kid’s meal out of the most difficult math and physics problems. The context in which all of this craziness is floating is complex to say the least — the perfect ingredients for your beautiful mind.

We would be having some hilarious conversations right now, my friend. I believe that. We had finally reached that place before you left Earth and for that I am grateful.

Rest In Peace,

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #13

Dear Children That I May Have,

The first thing I want you to know is that I love you already. By this time in my life, I thought there would be two or three of you bugging me about our next family trip or having a dance-off in the living room. Since you’re not here (possibly yet or not at all), I’m having enough cool experiences to share plenty of memories with you.

Let me be clear — I didn’t wish for you when I was child playing with dolls. I didn’t pine for you to be here faster because I couldn’t live without you. There will never be a lie between us (that’s how my parents raised me, so, you’re stuck with that), so I won’t start with those. I did know that if you showed up that I would welcome you with an open heart and my love would pour all over the place. That’s just how I am and that’s probably how you will be too.

Thank you, Desiree Danielle Beauty & Photography. You always slay.

You have a dope mom. Yep, I said it. It’s OK… you’ll find out if you get here. I learned to be a strong woman in the midst of adversity yet soft enough to listen to your spirit. I learned to encourage myself when no one was around and I learned to lean on Jesus for my Peace of mind. I pray that is passed down to you as well. Your mother is a survivor and you will be too. I’ll do everything I can to help you, but I won’t coddle you one bit. I give you my word that I will laugh at you when it’s funny and hold you when it’s not. I’ll have your back and your front. No matter what gender you are, I’ll remind you it’s OK to have a sensitive heart and a strong will. Both of them can co-exist.

You’ll be amazing humans that will find your own way. You will grow up in a loving environment with plenty of culture and dialogue. It won’t be perfect, but it will be healthy… and I promise to let you and God have your own relationship. Period.

I hope you make it here, but if you don’t, your mom loves you and I’ll see you when I get up there.

Sincerely,

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #11

Hi, Military Family.

This letter is going to sound so random, but I guarantee it will host everything I want to say without the whole thing sounding sad. OK? OK.

Many people say thank you (me included), but I want to be specific in my gratitude. I appreciate your ability to say “yes,” when most of us would say “no way in hell.” Your yes provides us the opportunity to sleep well at night because we know you’re on 3rd watch. I know you hear it all the time, but it truly is a sacrifice and I never take that lightly.

The sacrifice you made/make causes me to pause at every soldier I meet and say “thank you for serving,” but I often pray that we continue to serve you and your family once your assignment is over. It angers me that some retire well and some end up homeless. When I taught veterans at a career college, it infuriated me to hear of the repeated runarounds of their simple requests at the VA or that their mental health wasn’t being taken seriously.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels.com

That’s another thing… your state of mind. It takes a lot to do what you do — to be trained to be a machine on demand. I appreciate your ability to do that too. Undoubtedly, it is necessary. It’s the 2nd half of this call-to-action is the aftermath. I’m sorry that you have to experience PTSD in various forms. Yeah, I know… don’t feel sorry for you, it was an honor to serve, and you love your country. I’ve heard it all. My family tree and friend circle are full of Armed Forces and I’ve seen the effects. Your honorable nature doesn’t detangle the mess it can leave behind.

So, I pray for you often. I pray for your safety and for your fight. I pray your skills stay sharp and your family bonds stay tight. I hope that you never forget to tell corny jokes as necessary and to remember that you matter. Remember funny stories about basic training and don’t forget to help others thread memories together so they can stay warm out there too.

I appreciate you all. I love you big. Thank you for being you.

Sincerely,

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #9

To my awesome Grandparents:

I must say… *sigh* I am soooooo glad that you were my grandparents. You did an excellent job! Ahhhh!!!!!

I am the daughter of so much coolness. Military and entrepreneurial blood move through my veins. Intellectual stealth crowns my head. The relentless pursuit for better fuels my tank and that’s because of you.

My observational skills were on point whenever you were around. I loved your laughter and your wit. They worked seamlessly together every time. Watching you cook, listening to you dissect newspaper articles (giving me the comics, of course), and rummaging through your music collections were the highlights of my day… and when we “went to town,” I was in heaven. That backseat of the Cadillac was my cozy little makeshift office with paper and books strewn across it. You never bothered me about until it was time to go inside the house, then you would say “All right now, clean up your little house.” That’s how you all were — teaching me lessons along the way for my tiny feet to follow. I remember competing with you in wordsearch battles to see who could finish the book first. I was fascinated with your mathematical wizardry; you could count anything in your head. You knew phone numbers of almost everyone in the neighborhood. And let’s not talk about the way you dressed… Whew, you could put a runway to shame. You only bought quality. Period.

Photo by Raphael Brasileiro on Pexels.com

Because of you, I’ve never been afraid to take public transportation. You taught me how to read the bus schedule and highway signs so I wouldn’t get lost. We walked the streets of Downtown Birmingham like it was Times Square. I watched the cobbler fix your shoes. I noticed how you spoke to the pharmacist. I saw you mourn with friends and feed the poor. You taught me loyalty, integrity, and how to be part of a community. Those sentiments still run deep in me.

I truly believe you were undoubtedly made for me. All of my quirkiness didn’t scare you. My shyness was your friend. You knew how to tap into my heart when I wanted to keep it closed for safekeeping. Somewhere between time and love, our souls met in the middle and my life is richer because of that sweet collision.

On many days, I wish you were here, then on others, I’m glad you’re not. You would probably hate being here right now, but the selfish me would love having you near. As grown as I am, I would most likely be at your houses every week talking smack, listening to wisdom, and cooking on your stoves. We would play cards or board games as usual and I still wouldn’t mind helping you with anything.

I miss you so much, but I’m glad you’re safe. I’m glad your souls are at rest and I can’t wait to enjoy heaven with you. I love you forever.

Sincerely,

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #8

Hello, Beautiful Couple.

Below is what I wrote during one of flights as I quietly admired your interaction. Your love was so sweetly expressed that I have it in etched into my memory with a smile. I hope you are still loving each other as I virtually speak. – CJW

I returned to my reading material but I couldn’t stop glancing every now and then. Truth be told, it was more than “now and then.” They were adorable and I admired the love and care radiating from their atmosphere.

Salt and pepper hair and aged to sweet perfection. A beautifully seasoned pair. My guess is they traveled often… together.

This time, she was tired. As she leaned on his chest for a short time, she eventually laid her head in his lap. He was still and careful to read his book without disturbing her. You could tell she was at peace in his arms. And when it was time to awaken, instead of her being jolted by our descent, he gently caressed her shoulder to let her know it was time to return to the world. And she did, slowly rising up like a nubian Queen on her throne. I should have felt badly for being an observer but I didn’t. I was in awe. In front of me, I witnessed something sweeter than molasses, louder than a sonic boom, and enchantingly obvious. This was Love over time and it was immaculate, authentic, and my attention wouldn’t let it go.

I said to myself “Now, that’s what you want.” You want someone that you can sleep in peace with… where your heart is at home no matter where you are.

So. Dear Sweet Couple on the Plane, you inspired me though we never spoke. Thank you for showing me what God’s Love looks like on Earth as we flew high above those clouds. You were simply being yourselves and that was dessert for my soul.

Sincerely,

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #7

Hey There!

Why am I writing you if you were not a pleasant addition to my life? Simple. Because I want to.

After all, you always did what you wanted at my expense. I took it, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t leave wounds to irrigate later.

Calling me darkie, inkblot, nigger… it all fortified my breastplate of righteousness. When you walked up to me and slapped my elementary-aged face for no reason except to get some laughs, my body grew hot like a bonafide member of the X-men. As weird as it sounds, I knew even then that anger was dangerous if left inside of a soul.

Don’t worry — I’m nowhere near bitter and this isn’t a “See where I am now” message. I don’t have time for that. I don’t have anything to prove to you. My life is enough. My peace is my proof.

Photo by Evelina Zhu on Pexels.com

I do want to thank you for strengthening my chops. It made me bend so I wouldn’t break and and it concentrated my self-discipline. My mental prowess is as sleek as a panther now. My vocabulary expanded the shortstops of your lips and that’s all because your teasing made me generate responses I was too scared to say… so they germinated and lied in waiting for future situations.

You were good for me. I hated the experience, but your bullying was great training ground.

You don’t know it, but I prayed for you… relentlessly and despite my tears. My mother made me. It was a hard lesson to learn, but I’m glad she did. It prepared me to dig up and dismantle bitter roots sooner than later.

So, I truly hope you are doing well and that the wounds you were hiding or the evil you were hoarding have been flushed out of your life. I hope to see you soaring and not in the same toxic state of mind. I pray no one else is disintegrating from your actions and you and God are best friends. Everyone makes mistakes — some enough to burn a hole in your heart… but even they should have forgiveness on their plate.

Thank you again. You were a blessing. Peace and Blessings to you and your families.

Sincerely,

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #6

Hey, Sweeties!

You already know that I love you to the moon and beyond. I think all of you are absolutely exceptional. Your minds work so fast because you grew up in a world where it had to. Your creativity is so diverse that I’m just grateful to have a seat in the audience.

Unbeknownst to you, I loved you before I saw you. For real. In most cases, I was with your mother and/or father up to the final hours before you graced us with your presence. It was so cool to stroll down the memory lanes of our friendship as I held you for the first time or shared our first conversation. It was official — you were an addition to my village too. It’s difficult to fathom, but your parent(s) actually had a different life before you got here and I was in it, so by default, you’re part of a tribe. A loving tribe.

Let me tell you some things that you may forget later.

First, the world owes you nothing, so do not hold back who you are. Do exactly what you were born to do — no exceptions. If that’s being a mechanic, you better shine doing it and let me book a service appointment. If that’s being a fashion designer, you better throw your whole self in it and let me buy one of your pieces. Remember that you will always have access to me. Some of you already have proof of that as we’ve laughed, learned, or navigated difficult conversations. Others have yet to redeem that perpetual offer, but you know it’s there. Either way, you have a support system, Love… a whole tribe. Don’t let anyone or anything make you feel alone.

Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

Next, work smart and play hard. Laziness will get you nowhere and you know I will call you out on it, so don’t slip. I’m hard on you because I know what you can do. I know the stock you came from. I know how serious your parent(s) was about your health, safety, and education before you were a teenager. I know how hard they studied in school. I know how many times they picked themselves up after being knocked down, so I know what’s in you. I accept nothing less your best.

Lastly, I hope you soar beyond thunderstorms of negativity and that every word against you bounces off your Loving armor. Trust me — more clouds are coming but they don’t have to be gray. The lightning bolts of unexpected failures don’t have to take you out of the game. When you feel overwhelmed, remember that moment is just a blip on your life spectrum. It does not define you and it will pass. I promise.

I’m so proud of you already. You are exquisitely created to go beyond this generation into the deep waters of progress. Move forward and know that I will always have your back.

See you around,

CJW

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