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Happy New YOU: A 2018 Preview

Happy New Year! I hope you had a safe, sweet, and fun New Year’s Eve!

Instead of doing a review of 2017 yesterday, I decided to do a preview of 2018 today.

Here’s what I did in 2018 (in other words, these are things I want to do).

  1. Created more unapologetic boundaries. Over time, I got better at this, but there were some points last year where I stepped over those lines in the sand and let the ocean of my emotions wash them away. So, in 2018, I created safe and healthy boundaries where I otherwise disregarded them.
  2. Continued my self-care promise of nail appointments. While pedicures are a non-negotiable for me (choreographers need their feet), I took a break from polished fingernails for years until creating a regimen last year. And I loved it. Nothing extra. Just basic color. Polished, basic-manicured nails make me happy and when they look nice, I feel a bit more… well, polished.
  3. Launched my 2nd book, a continuation of The Morning After. I must admit, Sweethearts… it’s been a fun ride letting the characters write their stories through my hands. There’s some twists even I didn’t expect. I can’t wait until you read about their journeys!
  4. Completed my therapeutic massage program. This was a big one. Over 10 years ago, I wrote this as a long-term goal so I could be a more effective choreographer and understand how to better maintain the dancer’s body. Being a student again was not in my line of sight right now, but I had such peace about walking through this door. Plus, it was nice to awaken this item on my goal list. I had given up on it.
  5. Took two real vacations. Last year, I took my first vacations in years, and it was AH-MAZING. I looked forward to doing it again in 2018 and it was epic. To be away from home and not think about anything except enjoying your surroundings… that was a true blessing.

What’s your preview for 2018? Don’t think of them as resolutions. Sounds too lofty and final. Write 5 previews for your new year and be sure to include a personal development goal in there. That’s how you can evolve into the happy new you!

Happy New Year, Sweetheart! Peace, Thanks for listening, and Blessings to you!

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Protect Your Merry!

Merry Christmas, Sweethearts! I know a photo of Serena may not be your thought of Christmas, but allow me to explain why it perfectly fits mine.

I had to protect my Merry yesterday (and for the last couple of weeks, for that matter.) I mean, I fiercely protected it like Serena Williams defending her side of the tennis court. A few people got clap-backs that they inadvertently signed up for. Rude shoppers, irresponsible drivers, and inconsiderate individuals/former friends in my circle could have sucked the happy right out of my bubble, but I swatted them like flies… and I have no remorse.

They didn’t know that I had to fight to gather my Merry.

I searched for its pieces while crawling through the barren forest of my spiritual winter. I scrounged. I foraged. I created little piles of joy around me, forming a 360-degree barrier between me and the world – me and the reality of my bank account, professional transition, and life changes. I replayed fond memories of my father instead of anticipating his absence on yet another holiday.  Four months later and I still patch the holes of my heart with thoughts of his smile to protect the cracks of my heart from the cold winds of grief. My piles of Merry were the only boundaries I had to keep the darkness from penetrating my oxygenated peace.

So, you had best believe, that I defended my happy with everything I had yesterday. To keep from crying sporadically in public places, I thought of his spirit dancing and I spoke to him.

“I love you.”
“I know.”
“I’m trying.”
“I miss you.”
“Thanks for everything.”

DP1745482_xmas_trees_Glass_OrnamentsTo keep from royally cussing someone clean out (as we say in the South), I retracted the sporty backhand that was perfectly poised under my tongue and said “Have a blessed day.” Friends that were jolly as long as I supported them have surprisingly fallen away like leaves from trees when reciprocity made sense. I stuffed a little happy there too so the wind couldn’t get in and make me bitter. I let the angels do their jobs. I summoned God the Father to comfort me and the Holy Spirit to keep aerating my Merry with reminders of Truth. I let a harvest of joy grow from seeds of gratefulness. As I stood in front of my heater, I thanked Him for warmth. As my feet hurt from working, I thanked Him for the opportunity. As I drove on lesser gas as I normally do, I thanked Him for my wheels. As I coughed and massaged my face from sinus pain, I thanked Him for life. When I ate leftovers, I thanked Him for provision. Upon receiving random messages from sweet friends, I released the expectation from hearing from certain ones and truly let the peace of God rule and wash the hurt away. These things fortified my Merry and I wasn’t letting anything rob me of it.

Maybe you’re like me. You’re holding onto your Merry with both hands and you’re trying to keep it alive in the midst of hardship, loss, or change. I pray that you protect it with everything you got – that you exhibit the grit needed to keep the light in your spirit on, that you regain the strength and courage to fight for your happy, fight for your joy, and fight for your right to live. Don’t be distracted by what you don’t have. Defend what you have and let God heal the cracks. Let the angels of protection do their jobs. Hold fiercely to the Truth that Jesus was born so you could live.

You are loved.
You are cared for.
You are the reason Christmas exists, and your Christmas is Merry because Merry is a state of mind.

I love you and Merry Christmas, Sweethearts! Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo of Serena Williams courtesy of Tennis.com
Photo of Christmas tree ornaments courtesy of Lowes.com

5 Things You Must Do On A Snow Day

Good Afternoon, Sweethearts!

Did you enjoy the snow? Is it still around? Here in Birmingham, Alabama, it’s starting to melt, but ice is still lurking on the roads. I hope you’re safe, warm, and smiling.

The snow day couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I just closed the fall quarter and I hibernate the day after finals to recuperate my mind, body, and soul. Even my mother tries not to call me the day after finals. Sweet Woman.

Since God blessed me with snow on my day off, I did 5 things that made me feel awesome. I think they make fine ingredients for any snow day to feel like the Son is shining on you. If you did anything that made your day, share it!

  1. SLEEP! SLUMBER! REST!
    • Confession – This is one thing I do not do well on a consistent basis. Running a performing arts troupe, writing your soul free, and educating Birmingham’s Finest can make make feel like I’m running on fumes at times. So when my friend texted me a snowy picture, I smiled. It was officially a rest day. I think getting a few winks in when you’ve missed a million is a great way to recharge!
  2. REFLECT.
    • There’s something about the stillness of snow that makes me just sit and watch. I don’t want to talk. I don’t want to drive. I want to reflect on how cool it is…. fluffy goodness floating from the sky. It quiets the world for a little bit. It makes me be careful. It forces me to gaze at the winter wonderland around me that I zoom past everyday. So, I took a few pictures to remind myself to do more of that when life gets busier in 2018.
  3. PLAY OUTSIDE!
    • After the spiritual battery has been charged, then I want to play. My footsteps make art as I look back at them in the snow, plus my miniature schnauzer had a blast trying to eat it. I laughed watching my aunt make snow angels. There’s just something about snow that makes the 5-year-old you feel safe to show out. Throwing snowballs and trying to make snow sculptures are what snow is made for, right? lol
  4. EAT!
    • When it’s cold outside, you simply must eat something warm inside. My vice of choice yesterday? #1 – PANCAKES! I was so hungry when from my self-care, that pancakes and hot tea were the only items on my menu. #2 – QUESO and tortilla chips. But, it’s not just any queso dip. I made my favorite recipe that I conjured up in college. Dorm living will make a chef out of anyone. lol It includes shrimp, ground turkey, cilantro, corn, and diced tomatoes (and sometimes a hint of bacon). The dip was oh so heavenly as I curled up to watch one of my favorite movies.
  5. WATCH A MOVIE.
    • Me, my bowl of queso, my sweatpants, and my fuzzy socks enjoyed one of my favorite movies – Something New (2006). If you’ve never seen it, get ready for some humor, some sensitive topics, and just good old-fashioned Rom-Com (romantic comedy) moments. Curling up on the couch after a long day of self-care was the perfect ending to my classroom duties and the perfect beginning of a well-deserved break.

What do you like to do during a snow day? Do you have favorite foods that taste better during winter weather? Are there movies that you must watch?

Peace, Thanks for listening, and Stay safe out there!

Photo of my awesome aunt and my super dog courtesy of moi.

#bloglikecrazy: Day 30 – Squeeze

So, it’s November 30th and this #bloglikecrazy challenge is coming to an end. This is the second year that I’ve taken part in this writing challenge from See Jane Write and, once again, I’m glad I did it. I squeezes something out of me that I didn’t know what was there. It makes me share more of myself when I want to keep everything hidden in my journals. It makes me brave. It makes me stronger as I become more vulnerable.

When I soaked in the feels after my military letter-writing event, I didn’t post for days, but I kept writing. That’s why you received 2-3 posts a day at times. I was determined to complete the challenge so you wouldn’t miss out. But now that I’m at the end of the road, I have the desire to keep going. Maybe not everyday, but more than once a week wouldn’t hurt me. And based upon the statistics and feedback, it wouldn’t hurt you either, Sweetheart.

I am fascinated seeing the different countries light up on my visitor report and receiving a text from a friend that said they appreciated what I wrote. Doing this challenge reminds me that a writer doesn’t really write for herself, she writes for others – even if it’s a free flow from the heart.

So, thank you, Javacia, for this challenge. It creates more space for introverts like me to grow. I appreciate you.

Sweethearts, what are you willing to squeeze out of you? It won’t feel easy like Sunday morning, but it will make you walk tall like a redwood and smile like the sun.

Peace, and as always, thanks for listening!

#bloglikecrazy: Day 29 – Fog

A little known fact about me. I love fog. I seriously love it.

To some people, it’s annoying to drive through (and I do realize, in some areas, the obstruction can be dangerous). They can’t wait until it lifts so they can see everything clearly.

Not me.

It’s like the clouds are kissing Earth. I love to drive slowly in it. I love to walk in its mysteriousness. I admire the softness of the streetlights and the condensation feels refreshing on my eyelashes when I’m outside for a while. At night, my street becomes a catwalk and I work that runway, Honey. For a mental model, fog is everything.

In the natural sense, a foggy stretch of interstate will make your senses heighten as you become more aware of your surroundings. At any moment, something unexpected can happen and you have to be ready for it. On the flip side, when I walk in fog, I can see what is in immediately in front of me and I have to trust where I’m headed. Walking just a few feet and taking a look back will make you feel like you’re at a standstill… but you’re not. Where you came from and where you’re going are just as viable as when you started the journey. The kicker is that as you keep going forward, clarity is around you – not behind you.

That’s why I love fog. It’s a reminder that as long as I walk with God, I walk in clarity. He’ll lead me perfectly and I have nothing to fear. It’s heaven touching my face and filling my lungs. It’s my Father saying “I’m here.”

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo courtesy of csoonline.com

#bloglikecrazy: Day 28 – Measure

Can we just chat for a minute? OK. Cool.

I was tickled after reading a devotional last night about not being offended by someone else’s portion of talents and gifts. I mean certified tickled. I was laughing in bed and shook my head in amazement before falling asleep.

Check this out: Matthew 25:15 from The Parable of the Talents

“To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one,
each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey.”

So, if you don’t know the story, a master has to leave town for awhile and gives his workers a portion of his wealth to manage while he’s gone. To one servant, he gave 5 talents. To another, he gave two talents. And to the third one, he gave one talent. Now, one talent is worth about 15 years of labor’s wages, so each man had enough to work with. Totally excuse free.

But this is what got me laughing. We pay so much attention to what someone else has, how many talents they received from the Master, that we forget the part that says “each according to his own ability.” Now, check it – if we just grow what WE were allocated, it can still double which is WAY more than what we had (Matthew 25:16-17)!

Then, if that wasn’t enough, both the 5-talent and 3-talent servants got the same response from the master:

Matthew 25:21 (NLT)
“The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!” 

It didn’t matter how much they started with because he knew what he gave them in the first place. He just needed him to grow what they had. Isn’t that a simple concept. God is sitting there waiting on us to just grow what we’ve been given. Don’t worry about the size and placement; just multiply it! Multiply your measure, your gifts, love, peace, laughter… make it grow! The 1-talent servant was deemed wicked because he didn’t have faith in action to believe what he had was enough. Shame on all of us for thinking that way sometimes. And that’s what made me giggle as I turned on my side and set my alarm for the next day. I’ve been doing this thing all wrong. I just have to grow what’s in my hand because it is enough and the God that gave it to me is enough too.

And not to mention that even the verses of the parable doubled (14+14 = 28). LOL!

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo courtesy of YouTube.

 

 

 

#bloglikecrazy: Day 27 – Gaze

“Twinkle, twinkle, little star…” 

When we see something awesome, we gaze. We don’t stare as if we’re trying to figure it out. We behold it. We soak it in. That’s what I did this week on my way home.

I gazed at twinkling stars for about 5 minutes at a desolate exit ramp. Don’t worry; I was safe. But boy did it feel good to just sit and watch.

When is the last time you star gazed? What about gazing at the Stars in your life? Those special people are worthy of beholding. They are amazing creations fashioned with the amazing hands of an amazing God. What would it cost you to acknowledge their greatness for a few minutes?

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Van Gogh Photo courtesy of art.com

#bloglikecrazy: Day 26 – Dance

I have a confession to make. I dance around the house for no reason other than it makes me happy, and sometimes, I do it in heels. My dog looks at me funny from time to time, but I think he’s gotten use to my random bursts of movement.

I step, I salsa, I groove, and I do the running man when it hits me. I’m a dancer, through and through. No, I wasn’t classically trained in ballet. No, I didn’t participate in summer dance intensives. I hear music in my head and I move to it.

Growing up, I listened to jazz, gospel, rock, heavy metal, blues, R&B, hip-hop, country… you name it. Thanks to my family, I was exposed to some good stuff and that goodness would seep beneath my pores and I would be compelled to let it out. Any Man of Mine by Shania Twain would get a mix of hair swinging and stepping. Don’t Worry, Be Happy by Bobby McFerrin would get head bobs and horrible attempts at whistling. Going through my uncle’s cassette drawer was like eating at a musical candy factory. I was in heaven every time I could sneak a listen.

Now the cassette and headphones have been replaced with streaming queues and bluetooth speakers, but I dance just as hard. Music will always be in my DNA no matter how old I get. It makes me feel alive and healthy, running fine on all cylinders – even if but for 3:32. Diving into my audible ocean means everything to me and I always resurface better than before. I think the freedom makes me a better choreographer.

What do you do that gives you unadulterated happiness? Is it bike riding? Rollerskating? Painting? Cooking? Whatever it is, I pray that you get to do it before the year ends and whenever the mood strikes. Get some happy in your life!

Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweethearts!

Photo courtesy of consequenceofsound.net

#bloglikecrazy: Day 25 – Open

CAUTION: Sexual-spiritual theory ahead.

A thought came to me while watching a kissing scene in Frankie and Johnny (1991; starring Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer). What can I say? I like 90s movies.

Have you ever wondered why mouth-to-mouth kissing is deemed so intimate? I have. And I think I’ve finally able to put it into words. Try to keep your mind open as we ride together in my train of thought. It’s going somewhere. Promise.

STOP #1: The Mouth

Our mouths are powerful instruments. They can receive and give. You may have heard that life and death are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21) and I believe this is true. When I was growing up and would say something negative, my mother always respond with “You have what you say.” The tongue is an extension of the soul. As I tell my students, “Who you are will come out of your mouth.” So, since the mouth can reveal the thoughts and feelings of a person and we are subject to eat the fruit of what we say, we often (or we should) choose to use it carefully. Something happens when we taste our food and we taste others. It is an intimate connection. That’s why people choose not to kiss mouth-to-mouth until they are comfortable in doing so, or they wish to kiss on the first date to detect chemistry. Taking it a step further, when we speak, we are in the beginning stages of intimacy.

STOP #2: The Hands

Our hands are the second extension of the soul. We reach out when we’re in want of something or someone. Hugs are essential to emotional development in children and quite frankly, adults need them too. Why else would it be a hello, goodbye, miss you, love you, it’s okay form of contact? Our hands touch so much throughout the day, but during sex, they explore the body of our partner. We glide our hands to understand what is in front of us, and we essentially talk with our fingertips. What we can’t say with our mouths, we communicate through our touch.

STOP #3: Below the Belt

Open mouths correlate with other open areas ready for sexual pleasure. Here is where the circle of intimacy that began with the mouth ends. Sexual intercourse provides a language that expresses the soul’s deepest desire – to be connected. Genital openings of both parties are ready to give and receive from each other – just as the mouth in STOP #1. And in the case of genitalia (and ear canals), meatus refers to the same thing – a passage or opening leading to the interior of the body. So, in other words, intercouse gives us a glimpse into the inner sanctum of the person we choose to sexually enjoy. The decrease of inhibition, reasoning, and muscle control provide the neuroscientific proof that one is the raw version of her- or himself during the orgasmic phase of sexual response cycle. The receipt of pleasure and the giving of bodily fluids constitute as a spiritual exchange as well.

The Junction

Let’s go back to where we started – the intimacy of kissing. If you look at each “stop,” you could see a yearning of two spirits trying to connect past their humanity. When we kiss, we touch. When we touch, we feel. When we feel, we merge. Kissing one’s lips is deemed intimate because every opening we have is a portal to our spirit – the inner core of who we are. We have receptor cells all over our bodies to tell our brains that we are sensing stimuli; therefore, what we nonverbally say through a kiss, communicates through our hands and our sexual drive follows suit. It’s a spiritual circle trying to connect through human form – from top (mouth) to bottom (below the belt). That’s why oral sex falls along my same theory of the mouth being a powerful spiritual instrument. The connectivity is still there.

STOP #4: The Terminal

We have a need, a drive even, to be loved intimately. That’s the kind of God that made us, after all. Having someone that spiritually completes your circle is intimacy at its best. So, when people ask why you’re celibate or why you’re a virgin, you can tell them that you’re not open for business; you’re closed for intimacy. *smile*

I chose this topic because I believe the more we discuss issues that have been made taboo, the better we can walk out this thing called Christianity. Sex was ordained by God to be a beautiful interaction, not a dirty word.

Thanks for riding in my train of thought. You’ve gotten a glimpse into my take on things… what’s yours?

Peace & Thanks for listening!

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