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Listening at the Speed of Life

– by C. J. Wade –

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Short Stops

Wednesday Wind Down: The Breath of History

Hi, Family!

I’m still on high from last night. I had to throttle down enough to share a slice of it with you and make it a short stop (500 words or less). Here we go!

“And what did you say your name is?”

“Christina… Christina Wade, like wade in the water.”

“Ah, Christina…” she stretched her hand toward me and smiled beautifully. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

I looked down at her hand, snatched a quick breath, and smiled too. Then I remembered handshake etiquette 101 – don’t leave the person hanging. Her hand was delicate but strong. Her eyes were bright. I was fascinated at the opportunity to experience Ms. Ruby Shuttlesworth Bester, daughter of the late Civil Rights Activist Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth. Don’t worry, this all happened in a nanosecond.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you too. Thank you for everything.”

I’m never star struck. I’ve always been able to see the humanity in public figures, but tonight I touched history and I felt it. The same as when I toured Talladega College in Alabama as a Black History Month adventure and when I sat in Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia.

History. Living history.

Meet Ms. Ruby Shuttlesworth Bester.

It elevated my senses and I didn’t want to run over the gravitas. There were community leaders, civil rights activists, non-profit champions, educators, authors, lawyers, artists, neighbors, and more. I shook their hands and we exchanged rich dialogue about hosting history in schools and in our hearts. With the artwork of Rico Gatson at the helm, everyone in the room beamed with the energy of Shuttlesworth’s progressive movement.

When I saw the image of his mural on the screen, it felt like wings of inspiration were hovering over every conversation. Illuminating us just like its subject. The room vibrated with goodness. Past met present and the future was born as we left the Birmingham Museum of Art.

I touched history last night, and it touched me… again.

And it pushed me further into my destiny to ensure its breath lives on.

Thank you, Panelists. You sowed in us all.

I leave you with this question – What part of history can you breathe life into? I know the sentence structure is incorrect, but that’s how we talk to ourselves when we have real conversations within.

Pray.
Breathe.
Listen.
Receive.

Then, go forth and change history. The future is waiting on you. On us.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: Growth Rate

Hi, Family!

Here’s a shortstop for your week (500 words or less).

Seeds grow at different times.

I walked in the Birmingham Botanical Gardens recently and heard that in my spirit. It was like a gift I didn’t see coming. I looked around and saw all of the different types of trees, grasses, and flowers and noticed how harmoniously they lived together. I was in wonder enough, then that sentence dropped. Wow, I replied internally, that’s so true. We get so caught up on where everyone else is in life that we forget we’re seeds too and we are on separate timetables. There’s no race to the finish. No checkpoint to reach before our competition catches up. There’s not even competition around you – it’s in you. The more you focus on the growth track of those around you, you’ll stunt the growth in you… but I won’t digress. Let’s keep going. Here’s the next thing I heard.

We need to let a seed be a seed.

Seeds don’t grow into trees overnight. They take time and the right conditions. They require nutrients from the air and the soil. So that means we do too. Our environment affects our growth mindset – words said around us (air) and where we’re planted (soil). We must be patient with ourselves and each other because only God knows the timelines. He is the Master Gardener and He knows exactly what we need to grow to fill what is needed in this world. In the process, He also grows us up… and we can’t rush that. What parent looks at their children and say “Tommy, it’s March. Your sister learned to write her name in March, so you have until the end of the month.” Umm… nobody. Furthermore, you have some growing to do in an area that is probably behind someone that you know and love. We’re all seeds and I thank God that He knows what each seed needs for each season. I would totally messed this world up with too much water, sunlight, or something else. *lol*

I hope you’re having a good week. My prayer is that you are filled with pauses that make you wonder. They’re good for the soul. And if you’re in Alabama, visit the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. It’s a beautiful place. The pictures in this post came from my camera.

I love y’all. Stay well out there. Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: Poetry – I SALUTE YOU

Hi, Family!

In honor of National Poetry Month, I made a goal to share a poem or spoken word piece each week. Well, last week, I feel off the rocker, so I’m posting one tonight and another on Sunday!

The piece below was written exactly one year ago in February while contemplating the past and present sacrifices made in my culture. Thanks in advance for reading it!

I SALUTE YOU

For every elder that was asked “How many bubbles are in a bar of soap?” before casting their vote

I stand for you.

Hold my head up high and walk into work every day for you.
Go to class and flash my smile and say “Yes, I’m here” for you.

For my sisterfriend on the verge of killing cancer dead in its tracks
Intelligence questioned by White men, assuming her competence is thin and porous
For every train car that clickety-clacked with Pullman porters, chins up and hands out in superior service

I stand for you.

This isn’t just Black History to me. This is a perpetual ceremony where you are the guests of honor.

I get the privilege of cooling in your shadows, walking in your footsteps, glowing in your Sonlight, basking in your love for my future.

For every lash received with outstretched arms and naked backs
I proudly stand for you.

Clap my hands, hoot and holla any day for you, because you did what so few could do.
You kept clocking in when they spit on you.
Breastfed their children when they wouldn’t feed you.
Sang and danced like a beautiful Black angel when they wouldn’t even pay you.
You lived when they tried to kill you.

I stand for you.

Grandma, washing clothes of White families over the mountain, feet filled with fatigue
In fatigues, Grandpa called “boy” while lacing up his combat boots getting ready for war
Fighting for rights that didn’t see the light of day… back home

Accepting substandard pay and being told to comb your hair
Swallowing your pride and pushing down your voice
Diluting who you are to match someone else’s choice
Being a superhero for your children when you were just treated like a child
Making me smile after a long hard day
Washing my socks on your hands before Sunday morning
Dressing me like a chocolate doll and telling me I’m beautiful
Even though you couldn’t afford to buy your food

You will never be forgotten.
I appreciate you.
I stand for you.
I salute you.
Forever, and ever…
Amen.

***

The Magic City Poetry Festival is going strong here. Check out their events and read about the founder of the festival who is also first Black and youngest poet laureate of Alabama. How cool is that? I salute you, Ashley M. Jones.

Peace & Thanks for listening! 🙂

Wednesday Uptake: Poetry – THE LATTER

Hi, Family!

I decided to switch it up and pop in during the daytime. Don’t fret – Wednesday Wind Down will return. 🙂

In honor of National Poetry Month, I will share poem or spoken word piece each week. The piece below is hot off the press. I wrote it this morning as I steeped in jazz music. Thanks in advance for reading it!

THE LATTER

When I get old
I pray
That the waves of wisdom that crashed through my life
Will flow as mighty streams into the ones I love
Pour into cupped hands of expectation
That it will save them from their contemplated sins
That my mistakes will be their textbooks
To review and expend

I pray
When I get old
That my words will find homes in the future
Serve as nightlights for those lost in the night
Reside in the hearts of passersby
Cling to the souls of forever learners
Grow in the soil of tomorrow’s harvest

History of joy and tears will be punctuated by crow’s feet
Proof of humanity
Resilience
The fragility of my fingers
The winding roads of wrinkles atop my hands
Will be a testament of loving
Living
Praying
Touching all this journey had to teach me
I trace them end to end
Every curve
Every bend
I embrace them.

I pray
When I get old
I won’t be thrown away
Wisdom withering among white walls
Visiting the distant lands of my memories
Recalling history broken and rebuilt
Again and again
Just like me
Sipping on feelings felt within the softness of my chest like a cup of hot tea
Breasts, once the flagship of my womanhood, returning to where they began
Heart beating in reverent rhythm
Feet wiggling to a song in my head

When I get old
I pray
I bathe in the cleanliness of a child’s laughter
The beauty of a sunset
Kissing Water’s edge
Reminding me of my lover’s lips
I smile, and touch my own
Savoring sweetness of moments untold
I pray I lace my sneakers and walk on the devil’s head at dawn
Fervently placing my feet as a reckoning of faith
I pray I see the wonder of Earth’s bounty
Lush and green
Excitingly enticing me to commune and frolic
To soak in freely in her majesty.

And as my eyes illuminate at heaven’s beck and call
I’ll look back at it all
All I saw
All I felt
All I poured
All I accepted
All the branches that grew within me
All the leaves around my feet
I’ll breathe in
Smile again
And I will exhale out of this life
Into the next chapter of my spirit…
When I get old,
I pray… when I get old.

Inspired by sounds from jazz genius Abdullah Ibrahim

For more information about NPM, click their logo below.

So, how do you feel about aging? Is it something you fear or look forward to experiencing? What does “old” mean to you? Let me know in the comments. I’m looking forward to reading what you think.

Peace & Thanks for listening! I love y’all!

Wednesday Wind Down: Appreciate the Break

Hi, Family!

I have a shortstop for your week, so let’s jump into it!

Break.

When you hear that word, what do you think? What do you do?

In my mind, I see two things when I hear “break” – a bridge and a beach vacation. They seem like they don’t match, but both host a gap in time and/or space. Space from a hectic schedule. Space from a physical location. Time away to recuperate. Time to cry between pain and wholeness. A gap between two points.

A break.

When someone’s at the pinnacle of stress, a break is usually the answer. But when we are unable to control the details of that space in time, the uncertainty and frustration can create even more stress on our weary spirits. Our fragility seeks security in the gap and when we don’t obtain it, we can also break… in sanity.

Photo by Leif Bergerson on Pexels.com

In some of my darkest moments, the break didn’t feel welcoming. It didn’t feel like a garden for my best self to bloom, but I did. In other gaps between life events, I received enlightenment and strength. The break always worked in my favor to connect my former mistakes to my future wisdom. And as for those dark moments, there always came a break in the clouds to let the sun pour on my soul. The airy depth before rock bottom was rich in nutrients for me to grow in every way. It broke what could no longer travel with me and allowed me the opportunity to release it in the valley.

The break doesn’t have to break you, Family.

My prayer for you is that you appreciate it. Everything it brings will create a better you.

Breathe through it. Pray through it. Dance through it. Rest through it. Do what it takes to get from one side to the next because where you are is not the end.

I’m proud of you for making it this far. Keep going. 🙂

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: Appreciate the Mess

Hi, Family!

I hope you’re doing OK out there. There’s a lot going on, so keep praying for each other. Like how you want someone to pray for you. 🙂 Here’s a short stop for your week.

There’s two things about messes that can make us better –

It’s in the mess that we realize what matters.

It’s the mess that makes us remember.

Whether we’ve made it or whether it happened to us, a mess in any stage in life is inevitable. A mistake at work, a car crash, a financial fiasco, a rough relationship… whatever it is, I bet it taught you something. I bet it gave you a clearer picture of what you want and what you don’t want. It created an opportunity to regroup and realign after you remember how you felt in it.

Photo by Lucas Pezeta on Pexels.com

That’s because messes teach us lessons we need for the next chapter. They can cleanse impurities from our spirits and prepare us for the road ahead. They can extract what could destroy our futures. As terrible as they are, they make us better… if we allow them.

Ask the Lord about the messes. Pray for guidance to not repeat the mistakes. Engrave the lessons learned on your heart’s tablet. Allow the Peace of God to pour over the wound and set your eyes to being a better version of yourself.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out there and you are loved!

Sunday Special: Processing

Happy Sunday, Family!

I hope you had the weekend you needed!

Christmas is my favorite holiday, but I’ll be honest with you (because we keep it authentic around here), I was unsure how it would go this year. There was a nervousness attached to it because this has been a season of processing a pendulum swing of intensities.

I gained wisdom.
I lost 8 loved ones due to death.
I acquired insight.
I lost a dream.
I gained stronger relationships.
I lost ties I thought I had.
I developed a deeper love for myself.

Sweet and bitter. That was the mix I couldn’t bypass. I tried, but it didn’t work. I screamed in both victory and in anguish this year and frankly, the velocity of the pendulum swing was nauseating. As we speak, I cried tears of appreciation and grief in less than 5 minutes. So, I paused, prayed, made some hot tea, and returned to writing this post. A post for processing smiles and frowns and to let you know you are not alone.

It’s OK to be excited about a new home, new family member, or new career venture, and yet be nervous your stewardship of it. I’m crazy enough to believe that God can handle that dichotomy of emotions.

Processing on a work day…
…and on a rest day.

You may not be finished processing everything, and that’s OK too. It truly is. Don’t let anyone stamp an expiration date on your journey; only God knows when and how. The Holy Spirit can walk you through a season until it is digested and He’ll even give you certain hands to hold along the way.

I also want to stand with you and say “You made it.” You made it through one of the most intimate holidays of the year! Keep breathing through the rough patches and celebrating the good parts. That’s what Christianity truly is. It’s giving God our broken pieces instead of hiding them and it’s appreciating His divine communion as we take one step at a time.

Process it, Family. Everything doesn’t bounce off you and everything shouldn’t stick to you either. Digest as you need it so you won’t be imprisoned by it. That’s what I’m doing… and it’s working.

Peace & Thanks for listening. I love y’all and stay well out there!

Written in honor of Alana, Kevin, Courtney, George, Mrs. Packer, Brian, Aunt Janice, Mr. Larry, Deacon Welch, Daddy Wade. I am so grateful to have experienced this life with you. You will forever be missed.

Wednesday Wind Down: I Love Me Some You!

Hi, Family!

While I do “love me some you,” I wrote that phrase as an example of how you should talk to yourself. Here’s a short stop for your week.

When was the last time you spoke kind words to yourself?

If it’s been a while, try these truths.

  1. I am a masterpiece.
  2. I am a blessing.
  3. My breath has meaning.

Tonight’s post is a quick reminder that being kind to yourself is vital to your health. Like a relaxing shower, speaking love over yourself is what you need after defending your worth in various arenas. It’s the medicine you can’t depend on anyone else to give you except God.

Maybe you’re wondering why I said “some.”

The colloquialism “I love me some you” is expressed when you can’t get enough of someone and you love to swim in their presence. The truth is most folks need a little time to love all of themselves. All of the ugly parts. The unfinished places. The scrapes and bruises. The dark corners. It takes the unmatched Love of God to love all of that and multiply that Love among others. Until that time comes, I encourage you to look in the mirror and say positive things. Start with one sentence if you have to – one word even. Say sweet words your soul can eat. It doesn’t have to be cheesy, but it needs to be real. A real step in forming a healthy habit.

Look at yourself and speak the Truth to you. That you were made by an incredible Love this universe can not contain but left undeniable proof in the form of your awesomeness.

Here’s to you smiling at you. Sooner than later.

Peace & Thanks for listening. I love you and stay well out there. Inside and out. 🙂

What’s a truth that you can or would like to speak to yourself?

Thursday Love: Serve It Up

Hi, Family!

Yesterday was full, so I’m checking in with you today. I’m getting better at this Girl-go-to-bed thing. That’s what I tell myself when I’m trying to complete something in a half-sleepy stupor. Progress is happening, Folks. lol

Now to this short stop (under 500 words) –

Imagine yourself planning a delicious dinner for someone. As you stroll through the grocery store aisles to create their favorite meal, sheer excitement kicks in. The recipe is at the apex of your mind. You can’t wait to see the person’s face as they explore and experience the fruit of your labor. When you arrive at home, you immediately prepare the ingredients. A dash of spice here. A pinch of pepper there. Stir, stir, stir. It’s a creation to behold with both the eyes and the nose. The smell arrests your attention as you set the table and plate the food without flaw. Those TV chefs have nothing on you. The doorbell rings and you greet your guest with a smile. Pure endorphins rush through you with anticipation; then, your guest says “I don’t want it.”

The gall!

I don’t know about you, but that would deflate my smile in less than a second. I’d pack it up and eat it myself later, but the sting of my guest not wanting their favorite meal after I’ve put forth such effort would last a bit longer than a minute.

That’s how some of us feel when we show Love and they block it like a basketball pro. It hurts when your heart extends its hands and the person retracts in response. Let’s be real – it makes you not want to try anymore.

Today, I encourage you to serve the Love of Jesus anyway. Like those ingredients created a favorite meal, Loving certain people in certain situations takes planning, patience, and sincere effort. That’s the only way the person can experience the supernatural sweetness His Love can bring.

Courtesy of my Bible app. Thanks, YouVersion.

The “taste and see” part of Psalm 34:8 always gets me. You can’t taste anything until it is produced. Notice I didn’t say until it is cooked. Food is a production… a derivative of a process. Once we allow Love to germinate in our hearts, it has to be shared. The fruit of the Spirit produces more fruit. One of my favorite quotes carries this point further –

“If you always love one another, if you always uphold one another,
you will be capable of working wonders!”

-St. Mary Euphrasia Pelletier

Wonders. That’s the power of the Love beating in your chest. It has the potency to create miracles. It is capable of reproducing goodness and wonder in others.

Taste and see… revelation comes after Love is expressed. As much as you want to withhold it from those deemed unworthy, you can’t. How else will they see?

Don’t keep Love to yourself. Let it produce. Even if they don’t want it, they’ll know that Love was behind it.

I’m praying for you all. Always! You got this!

Peace & Thanks for listening!

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