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Wednesday Wind Down: Full Circle

Good Evening, Sweethearts!

So, a beautiful thing happened this month and there were 3 messages that were so clear to me. I chewed on them a bit before sharing them with you and now I’m ready. But first, the context.

On Saturday, February 16th, the Birmingham Committee for Truth and Reconciliation hosted A Conversation with Dr. Angela Davis at the historic Boutwell Auditorium in Birmingham, Alabama. I had the honor of performing Glory (from the Selma movie soundtrack) with my childhood friend G.I. Magus in front of Dr. Davis and a potpourri of historical and political pillars. I was appreciative just be a piece of the puzzle and I couldn’t have written a better chapter in my life story. Besides the obvious prestige, let me tell you why this was a jewel of a moment.

In elementary school, I saw a photo of Dr. Davis and was entranced. She was a beautiful mix of political prowess, academic excellence, and natural beauty. I loved the way she wore her freedom like a long technicolor cape. Her hair, her voice, and her facial expressions screamed confidence. It was official – she was a shero. The more I read about her, the more fire I felt and I was proud to know that she was a native daughter. I was convinced that I would have an afro just like her when I found the courage to do so. For over 10 years, I did and still do.

Seeing her this month was the culmination of multiple dots connecting to create a beautiful experience, which leads me to the first message – your past can touch your future at any moment, so spend your present well. You never know how hello’s can turn into a double helix of lifetime connections. The people I met in 7th grade, high school, and college would become creative geniuses, community organizers, academic powerhouses, and prolific speakers. Any way you slice it, the fingerprints of my past were all over my future and I was in awe of the masterpiece.

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It’s a blessing to genuinely develop relationships over time, which leads to the 2nd message I heard that week –  your character will follow you wherever you go. This past weekend was a reminder that how you treat people goes far beyond the present moment. I’m not perfect, but I am so grateful that my rapport was strong enough to last a decade or two and some awesome individuals thought positive of my footsteps. That is a gift I will never take lightly… as long as I live. I hate it when people size me up based upon what I can do for them. That’s why I love learning about the spirit behind the job title and socioeconomic status.  In the end, we all appreciate being seen as a person. We appreciate a chance to disrobe our character and let it walk freely ahead of us.

The third message was just as loud – your help is waiting on you. I couldn’t have performed with confidence without the support of my tribe. The prayers from my mother, the love from my small group, the perfect track from my friends, the training from my mentors… there were familiar faces in every facet of this opportunity, each of them believing in God’s gift in me. I am forever grateful. Forever appreciative that when I asked for help, many hands opened wide. Pride keeps a lot of people in the jail cell of their souls’ contempt. I was once a prisoner of that warden and never will be again. This experience was a reiteration that some are still held captive.

Sweethearts, you are exceptional. Stop trying to be perfect. See everyone around you as an individual, not as a marketing tool. Try to be a better version of yourself than the day before. Whether you know it or not, everything will come full circle if you let it. I am so glad I did.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

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#bloglikecrazy: Day 24 – UTR

The Good

#24 – I volunteered for Upon This Rock Passion Play!

This. Was. Amazing. I’ve worked on productions before, but this was an experience. The people worked together like a well-oiled machine, but with strong family ties that oiled each gear. As it approaches its 35th year in 2019, Upon This Rock: The Passion Play is an Indianapolis, Indiana production that includes over 300 cast and volunteer members that makes the Bible come to life in a unique way. Spoken word, live animals, authentic songwriting, the live choir, and band – individuals come from all over the country to be part of UTR and with the great help of my sister, I was able to finally make the trek to experience it for myself.

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My big sister Moe as Martha

The Lesson

When God gives you something, you have an obligation to inhale it and run with it. There’s no time to waste because there are lives that are waiting to be changed by the glory that God gave you. It’s going to take some work, OK… who am I kidding, it’s going to take a lot of work, so it’s not for the faint of heart. You have the ability to complete it and do it well. The biggest obstacle in front of you is YOU. I can’t imagine not experiencing the wealth of creativity, skill, professionalism, and camaraderie that day. So, I am so grateful to Playwright & Executive Director Sharon Thompson-Hill and Co- & Managing Director Pastor A. Thomas Hill for not only hearing the Voice of God, but inhaling the Promise and Direction, and running with the Vision.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

By the way: Show dates are April 19-20, 2019 and tickets go on sale January 1, 2019. Go ahead and put it on your calendar. You won’t regret it.

#bloglikecrazy: Day 4 – Who’s Your Crew?

The Good

#4 – I get to do life with Workmanship Incorporated!

20171217_162133.jpgNo matter how tired I am after a long day at work, rehearsing with my Troupe always energizes me. It fills me up. Workmanship Incorporated is an exceptional hodgepodge of spiritual, intelligent, quirky artists that love God, love people, and go hard in the paint every day. In January, we kicked off a rebranding campaign and geared up for a new performance season. While rehearsing with them, I often ask God how I could be so blessed to know them, let alone work with them. Being around them blesses me inside and out. We laugh, cry, and serve together. We can be transparent with each other without judgment, accepting the messy version of each other at the drop of a dime and uplifting each other. I may be the founder/leader, but this fantastic group of humans has stuck with me through the most difficult seasons in my life and I am humbled to be a page in their life story. They are definitely some Good!

The Lesson

 

At one point, everyone in these photos was a stranger. What made us family is that we took a chance on becoming friends. Can you imagine how many family members you’re missing out on because you won’t get out of your comfort zone? Let’s take it a step further – are you around people that bless you internally? Do you refill them as well?

What makes my Crew amazing is that they’re tangible, not perfect. You may not have a group of people to be perfectly imperfect with, but there’s at least one person that fits the description in this world. She or he just may be a stranger right now. Don’t be afraid to fill and be filled.

Peace & Thanks for listening! “See” you tomorrow!

Wednesday Wind Down: On the 6

Good Evening, Sweethearts!

Tonight, I’m sharing an open letter to my performing arts troupe. As you read it, think of how you can inhale and exhale more efficiently with your squad. If you don’t have one, you got me. Here we go…

ON THE 6: an open letter to Workmanship Incorporated

The number 6 represents the imperfections of man, labor, and is often used to indicate symmetry.

There were 6 days of creation and the Creator made man on the 6th day.

A family table often hosts 6 chairs.

What a unpopular, yet fitting number to celebrate.

In 6 years, we have disrobed and unmasked before each other, revealing the vulnerability of ministry – raw, beautiful, and free. Our paths were forged long before we formed a crew, and so were our tears. The struggles, the laughter, the prayers, the outpour of anointing… all of which encompasses the journey we chose to take together 6 years ago. I wouldn’t trade anything for June 5, 2012, when my hands shook with nervousness before each call to request your time and energy.

Now, we breathe as a family of imperfect people on fire for God’s Love and Creative Expression. We are His Workmanship and it’s an honor to serve with you.

Let’s keep going.

XO, Christina

Peace & Thanks for listening. 

#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 13 – Bittersweet

The funny thing about tasting something that is bittersweet is you never get the bitter and the sweet at the same time. According to the word, you would think the bitter comes first, but it doesn’t.

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Friend, Mentor, & Founding Director Kevin P. Turner

On November 13th, I anticipated the bitter. The sweet was there, sprinkled throughout the day, but the closer time moved toward 7:00 PM, bitter’s presence drew near. It was a performance filled with firsts and lasts – first time my performing arts troupe was featured at the Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center by way of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Gospel Choir, first time one of my teammates would sing with the choir, last time I would perform under Director Kevin Turner with the choir, and the last time Monday night would be sacred in this capacity. Being connected to a living thing for 16 years will make you expect the bitter when it ends.

The sweet came in capsules of backstage silliness, team shenanigans, chats with college friends-turned-colleagues, and hugs all around. It was a family reunion, to say the least. Sound check exposed the bones of the operation as we all prepared our respective crafts to be displayed on stage in a few hours. Musicians, dancers, singers, production, lights, ushers… it was all at the ready to provide a great concert for attendants and participants alike.

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Such sweet spirits

And that, we did.

The audience enjoyed the set list, artists performances from their hearts, scholarships were awarded, and commemorative speeches were made.

The ASC had been a 2nd home to many UABGC members over the years and the bellows of the building were our training grounds. Now, they were cozy places of professional preparation. Everyone was in their elements, drinking the nectar of memories that would be still swirling around in our cups the next day. Me? I was waiting for the bitter.

My Crew, Workmanship Incorporated 

It may sound pessimistic, but I was trying to brace myself. I didn’t want to be caught off guard and wail 8 counts before my first step. So, I waited for it… the bitter aftertaste of a such sweet experience. Surprisingly, it came right before the first dance, wisped around my shoulder after the last dance, and walked me to my car after we left the dressing rooms. I didn’t cry. I welcomed it in the car and drove home. It was OK to have the company. I actually smiled at it along the open road because it was even better to have the sweet first. I was one blessed woman.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

#bloglikecrazy: Day 6 – Reunited

My last Monday night rehearsal with UAB Gospel Choir was last week. Due to my work schedule, I couldn’t soak in all of the goodness of the director’s farewell semester, and honestly, I was sad and sentimental about it every Monday night for 3 months.

You see, for a period time when I wasn’t going to church, Monday was my Sunday. It was my exhale of the week and my musical family reunion ritual. We learned music and history, but most importantly, we learned friendship and camaraderie. Students were treated like professionals in training, not underlings. It was rigorous, but respectful. The Class called UAB Gospel Choir turned from a mere repeatable credit hour to my saving grace and I was missing out on forging the last moments of it. 

So, last Monday, I soaked in the truth that for 16 years of my life, I was connected to this choir’s legacy as a student and an alumna. My heart poured there. My tears ran freely. My skills were sharpened. I was made into a better version of myself. That Monday night, I saw people I had not seen in years and laughed until my face hurt. It was beautiful. I guess you can say, I was reunited, although my heart never broke away. 

What or who are connected to spiritually that you can’t reach physically? Does the distance hurt? Do you feel inadequate without interaction? It’s OK. I get it. 

Set a date and reunite. Feed your soul with the goodness of fellowship. Invite the intimacy of connectivity. I don’t care of it’s a phone date, video chat, or grocery store run… reunite. Whatever the sacrifice, the result is priceless.

Thank you, Bishop Kevin P. Turner, for providing a safe place for us to grow and develop into the purposeful people we were designed to be. The harvest of your academic and musical seeds will multiply forever.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

#bloglikecrazy: Day 5 – Grit

I have the best creative team in the world. Give us space and time and we do extraordinary things, like create moving water, tumultuous trees, and a visual Bible story in seconds.

On last Sunday afternoon and into late that evening, my performing arts troupe, Workmanship Incorporated, rehearsed for our upcoming performance at the UAB Gospel Choir Reunion Concert to be held at the Alys Stephens Center on Monday, November 13, 2017. I was torn between physical pain and supernatural will, but I made it. One of my teammates lives in another state and she drove into town to join us. Other teammates came from church, work, and family duties to give their sacrifice of dance as well. To check out a short clip of the rehearsal, click here.

At one point in the rehearsal, I stepped back and just marveled at how fantastic they were. Willing and diligent to get it right so God could have complete control on performance day. No one complained. No one was belittled. No one was anxious to leave. We were on one accord. Everyone was pressing toward the mark and it was beautiful. I loved beholding the glory of God working in them behind-the-scenes. 


In a bigger perspective, many will never see what we go through at home in order to produce the fruit on our limbs in life. We have structured areas and danger zones where we get our lives together before heading out into the world. In the performing arts arena, the audience may see 10 minutes of creativity for 10 hours of preparation. It’s a labor of love and a gritty process, but well worth it in the end. That’s the essence of your life, your relationships, your dreams, your responsibilities. If you do it right, grit becomes part of your daily diet. It’s good for you and for those around you. It doesn’t let you quit or whine. It pulls you over the humps and having others with you that chew on the same stuff makes all the difference.

So, there I was… with a front row seat looking at a dream realized from my 14-year-old self. Rehearsing with all of the energy we could muster. Laughing through trials and sharing our victories. And I realized then,the aftertaste of grit tastes good.

Peace & Thanks for listening! 

And to my Troupe, Workmanship Incorporated, thank you for being my muse. I love y’all. Xoxo

50 Shades of Fight

Businessman with boxing gloves
Businessman with boxing gloves. Courtesy of California Ticket Masters

There are boxing gloves that can fit every hand for the fight against injustice.

Without the tempered pen of Phillis Wheatley and Ida B. Wells-Barnett… the beautiful creative prowess of Katherine Dunham and Debbie Allen… the cat eyeglasses and church shoes worn by civil rights activists, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do each day. So, I started thinking… if everyone fought the same way, something would go untouched. A collection of varied punches is the only human force that can defeat an enemy of this magnitude. The slobbering rabid dog that it is.

With the crimes that have transpired in the last 2 years (shootings and bombings and murders, oh my…), I decided to challenge myself by compiling a kaleidoscope of ways that people are fighting injustice on a regular basis.  Could I do it? Could I come up with 50 persons that swing in the ring as differently as their fingerprints? Whew! What a challenge!

Though their gloves look different to the naked eye, their fight against what’s wrong in the world sends ripples through history. I made a point to also include people that you may not know, and some I didn’t know until this post.  Their work isn’t always glamourous and may be overshadowed by their fame or “Clark Kent” 9-to-5 identity, but this list is comprised of some heavyweight champions… some, I am honored to know personally. They came to the forefront of my mind and I’ve included their method of fighting as a link within their name. If someone that you admire isn’t on the list, respectfully add it in the comment section below along with a link to provide details about their fighting strategy as it wasn’t meant to be exclusive. Just a segway for conversation and inspiration.

Wouldn’t it be cool if these names were in the history books

so the future can inhale their greatness?

Thank God for alphabetical order. *smile*

  1. Al Elliott – Educator, Rapper
  2. Alicia Keys – Musician, Songwriter
  3. All Military Branches & Law Enforcement – Service
  4. Arise Citizens Policy Project – Non-Profit, Advocacy
  5. Bertram Young – Non-Profit Unit Director
  6. Bill & Melinda Gates – Philanthropists
  7. Birmingham Bar Volunteer Lawyers Program – Legal Counsel
  8. Brian “Voice Porter” Hawkins – Entrepreneur, Poet, Activist
  9. Calvin Littlejohn – Non-Profit Regional Manager
  10. Carmelo Anthony – Olympic Athlete, Basketball
  11. Clint Smith – Educator, Researcher, Writer
  12. Clinton Green – Educator, Musician, Producer, Songwriter
  13. Debbie Allen – Actor, Author, Choreographer, Dancer, Director
  14. Denzel Washington – Actor, Director
  15. Gabby Douglas – Olympic Athlete, Gymnast
  16. Gateway Family Church Leaders – Pastors
  17. G. I. Magus – Rapper, Songwriter
  18. Griena H. K. Davis, Ph.D. – Counselor, Educator, Non-Profit, Advocate
  19. Hadiyah-Nicole Green – Educator, Physicist
  20. Hedwige “Didi” Saint-Louis, M.D., MPH – Educator, OB/GYN, Advocate
  21. Javacia H. Bowser – Educator, Writer
  22. Jay-Z – Rapper, Producer, Entrepreneur
  23. Jarvis Escott – Entrepreneur, Marketing Professional
  24. Jim & Rose McChesney – Birmingham Homeless Ministry Leaders
  25. John Hall – Restaurateur
  26. Kevin P. Turner – Educator, Pastor, Producer, Songwriter
  27. Kimberly Bryant – Technology Education Advocate
  28. Lisa Price – Entrepreneur, Hair & Body Care
  29. Magic Johnson – Athlete, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist
  30. Malala Yousafzai – Non Profit, Activist
  31. Mark Bustos – Hairstylist
  32. Maya Penn – Entrepreneur
  33. Mellody Hobson – Investments Firm President
  34. Minority Owned Banks – Financial Service Providers
  35. Nadia Richardson, Ph.D. – Educator, Mental Health Advocate
  36. Patrick Packer – Advocate, Consultant, Entrepreneur
  37. Rosemary Amposah – Welder
  38. Ruby Wax – Comedian, Mental Health Advocate
  39. Serena Williams – Olympic Athlete, Tennis
  40. Shawn Wade, Ph.D. – Educator, Consultant
  41. Sherman L. Young – Author, Pastor
  42. Sherry Shine – Entrepreneur, Hair Care
  43. Shonda Rhimes – Director, Producer, Writer
  44. Steven K. Webb, Ph.D. – Educator, Investment Broker
  45. Tarra Wilson – Law Enforcement
  46. T. D. Jakes – Author, Movie Producer, Pastor
  47. T. Marie King – Community & Youth Advocate
  48. Tyler Perry – Actor, Director, Playwright, Producer
  49. Uawanna J. Day – Administrative Assistant, Sunday School Teacher
  50. Warren Buffett – Entrepreneur, Investor
  51. Will & Jada Smith – Actors, Directors, Producers, Musicians
  52. WNBA  – Athletes, Administrators

So, I thought of 52… who knew?!

10 Ways You Can Fight Too

  1. Be a youth/young adult mentor. Don’t freak them out by smothering them. Just love on them. Speak life into them. Mention their interests every now and then. Show up. Support goes a long way.
  2. Go outside and be cordial to your neighbors. You can’t criticize who you don’t know. Also, if all eyes are watching for crime, the community creates a line of defense.
  3. Learn the names of the officers that police your community. They’re people. Humans live behind that badge. All law enforcement are not bad, just like all vegetables don’t taste gross. Don’t let anything shade your perspective.
  4. Read a book. Besides reading God’s Word, I love reading various materials. It helps to maintain healthy conversation when you know what you’re talking about.
  5. Discuss a book with others. See #4. Can you imagine what this would do for us all?
  6. Be excellent in your craft. Don’t be mediocre because of a paycheck. Be the best. You being your best will make someone else’s life so much better.
  7. Excel at the small things. Little things count. Smile. Offer help. Call instead of text. Even if you’re sweeping the floor, remember the corners.
  8. Give a compliment to a stranger. Lighten up someone’s load by giving them a smile.
  9. Love the unlovable. I know they can be weird and mean. Love them anyway.
  10. Bathe yourself in goodness before you go to work. It’s a jungle out there. Be prepared before you walk in. Clothe yourself in righteousness and be ready for whatever. That’s how you don’t flip out.

I hope those names inspire you as much as they did me. Some of them do not receive nearly enough accolades and appreciation, but they fight anyway. Everyday.  Driving their best race in the passionate lane of their career path.

Click on every name. Explore them. If you can, reach out to them… honk your virtual horn and say “Hey. Thanks for fighting.” You may be just the boxer’s corner they need to keep regroup, clean up, and keep going.

Peace & Thanks for listening. *runs to ice fingers from typing*

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