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Wednesday Wind Down: Bricklayer

Hi, Sweethearts!

OK, I am still on a high from watching Boss: The Black Experience in Business – a documentary about African-American history in entrepreneurship and business industries. If you haven’t seen it, please do. Definitely a must-see. Here’s a play-by-play of how it all went down in my world. Special Shoutout to Carmen Mays, Founder of Elevators on 4th, and my alma mater UAB for hosting this event and reminding Birmingham of the juggernaut of Black entrepreneurship she was and will continue to be.

boss film uab

BEFORE THE FILM

20190716_175221.jpgI have a confession to make. Networking events are not at the top of my social list. It’s where my introversion leaps out to block my smile and I have to overshadow her by scanning the room for people I know and introducing myself to people I don’t. In all that I do that involves others (blogging, dancing, and massage therapy), solitude is where I am cozy.

So, what did I do? I made my introverted nemesis attend the pre-film reception. I’m also recovering from a knee injury and walking from my car to the event space was the longest distance I had accomplished without using my crutches. Needless to say, I was ready to sit down. While familiar faces wove in and out of their elements, I shared sincere laughs with another great businesswoman in my state and we decided to sit together during the film.

Me – 1
Nemesis – 0

DURING THE FILM

I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. I tried to capture a few notes, but only if the visual stayed the same. As soon as it changed, I looked up fast like a little kid with a bad case of FOMO before bed. Throughout the film, I was infused with strength. It would have been easy to be angry at the injustice, but I was undoubtedly empowered. Fortified. The stories of my ancestral heroes sealed the natural cracks in my entrepreneurial foundation. Some of the stories, I knew and taught my students. Others, I learned for the first time. I sat forward with my hands clasped at times and in other moments I smiled in awe.

What a beautiful rocky road of Black determination, I thought. Seriously. We were given manure and we made it grow – over, and over, and over again. Our money was stolen and we generated more like a prosthetic limb. We pumped the life-blood into ourselves after being left for dead. Agriculture. Banking. Hair. Clothing. We are a force to be reckoned with no matter which decade you decide to slice. I recalled my first time reading Ebony, Jet, Black Enterprise, and Essence as their humble beginnings were told in front of me. To see bursts of Color in a monochromatic printed world was lifechanging. Seeds of cultural self-esteem were planted within me at an early age and watching these gladiators of vision and ingenuity reminded me of their fruits manifested through today’s industry moguls. I sighed and smiled again to see such relentless prowess right before my eyes.

AFTER THE FILM

20190716_195315.jpgI sat up straighter. My back was stronger and my neck held my chin a bit higher. My hearty handclaps might as well have been among a sea of applause at Carnegie-Hall.  I felt so proud. So tall. As an African-American Woman Entrepreneur, I am walking on the bricks of hard labor and I get the immutable opportunity to place my own brick along that historical trail.

Black business owners have proven that skin color should never override intelligence and passion. We are beyond capable of building a present and a future for ourselves and others – nationally and internationally. Regardless of the opposition of ignorance, we continue to showcase dexterity and incredible resilience. Can you imagine the escalating levels of repeated faith it takes to accomplish such feats? I can’t imagine. To create decades of legacies without an Ellis Island is an irrefutable honor that should never be undermined or forgotten. 

Lastly, I also realized that I am exactly where I should be. To be reminded that those pillars of strength began with pennies in their pockets was just the juice I needed keep my energy going. Six months ago, I plunged into full-time entrepreneurship after my school closed, and it has been an exceptional journey. I have no complaints, but people often romanticize the life of owning a business and I couldn’t help but smile to know that my grit was in good company. My scars were in the right place. My tired eyes could still see my ancestors rooting for me. My hands were still capable of facilitating my dreams just like their cotton-picking fingers repeatedly reached for hope. My heart was still able to incubate their fire for economic freedom. My spirit was still synonymous with theirs and my feet could still walk forward on the bricks of their backs — one day, allowing someone to step on mine. Let’s keep building, America.

You don’t have to lose who you are to be successful.
Cathy Hughes, Founder of Radio One –

Peace & Thanks for listening! Keep shining!

boss film pbs

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Wednesday Wind Down: Pick Up The Pieces

Hello, Sweethearts! Here’s a shortstop for your week!

You know how you feel when you’ve broken something you love? I have some jewelry that makes me happy, but they are broken. Beads. Shells. Charms. Seeing them disjointed makes me sad and I can’t bring myself to throw them away. Somehow, I believe I can put them back together or at least manifest a new creation out of their brokenness.

As I thought about this concept, I can’t help but include us humans in the scenario. Some of us believe we are too broken for God’s Love. Life hurled unwanted surprises and left cracks in our hearts. Just like my jewelry, our minds, bodies, and spirits are not as put-together as our social media allows. I am convinced that the more we try to pick up our own pieces to fix ourselves the more those pieces slip through our fingers.

This week, I was reminded of something and I heard His voice so clearly. If God can make a person out of pieces, certainly He can put the pieces back together. All of you is valuable. All of you deserves the opportunity to exceed expectations. All of you deserves to be whole. Pick up the pieces and hold them in your hands. Admit that you can not fix yourself. Acknowledge that you’re broken and allow the Creator to repair His Masterpiece.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

photo of woman throwing her hat
Photo by Idy Tanndy on Pexels.com

Wednesday Wind Down: Thank You

Good Evening, Sweethearts! How are you? I hope you’re doing well. Here’s a thought for your week just in case.

I find myself saying “thank you” for the oddest things. Just this week, the wind wrapped Himself around me and it felt like a supernatural hug. I was overwhelmed with gratefulness, so I looked up and smiled at the sky. To someone else, that doesn’t make sense, but to me, it’s how I choose to live.

The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. – Psalm 28:7

It’s easy to thank God for the good stuff. The stuff that feels warm and fuzzy. The good stuff that you don’t see coming. It takes skill to be grateful for the stuff that feels awful and unexpectedly hits you. You read correctly — I said skill, as in something you learn and hone over time and experience. Now, I don’t believe that God plays chess with our lives; some things we bring upon ourselves. It’s called volition and it can be a help and a hindrance.

The ability to make decisions is what saved my mouth from going into overdrive while I was paying a bill over the phone. I could have invoked the Earth-given privilege of speaking my mind, but in actuality, it would have been speaking my emotions. It would have been sharp, egregious, and unapologetic. In the mix of the moment, I chose to be grateful instead of spiteful. I thanked God that the payment amount was at the level I needed it to be and that my account was current. I also thanked the Lord that I had the money in which to pay it this month. It was a split-second decision (with a dash of reluctant maturity) to be grateful for the Truth and not distracted by the disrespect. It made me think of how quickly things can escalate at the drop of a word and how gratefulness saved the future chain of events.

person holding cactus on a stick
Photo by Designecologist on Pexels.com

This week, my prayer is that you find gratefulness in the little things that are truly big things to someone else. I pray that you say thank you to all of the “sandpaper” people in your office because they are making you smoother for your future. Find the moment. Dig for it if you have to. You don’t have to like it, but you may need to hold that “thank you item” in your hand to keep from crying or doing something destructive.

Have an awesome week out there. No stoking the fires, OK?

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: Try Again

Good Evening, Sweethearts. Here’s a shortstop for your week.

What do you do when you’ve messed up? How do you handle it? Guilt and shame usually wait at the door of any misstep. It’s easy to think that you’re invincible and if others think the same, the fall can feel fatal. So, what do you do next? Where do you start?

One of the first things I do is remember to whom I belong. I remember that God sees me as His daughter because I allowed His Love to envelop my heart. Here are some Bible verses that can help you get back on your feet. They have helped me over the years and have never lost their flavors.

Psalm 34:18

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Wherever you are, I pray that you remember that you are loved and that you are never too broken to be valuable. You are worth another try. So, give yourself a dose of God’s grace and smile at your fresh start.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

Bible Verse photos courtesy of my Free YouVersion Bible App

Sunday Special: Just For You, Too

Happy Sunday, Sweethearts!

Today is Father’s Day in America and since I had already written an homage to my late father and to my friends who are fathers, I decided to post a special message to men everywhere.

Men: Generally speaking, you get a bad rap when it comes to the family circuit. You thrive in the business and economics (hence the glass ceilings that still exist), but when it comes to matters of the heart, you don’t receive your spotlight when you do well. If you have received shade all day, all month, all year — let me be the first to tell you, thank you.

A deeper look: You may be discouraged to extend your love for fear of being rejected or emasculated. Perhaps you were dismissed when you tried to hug your parents as a child or attempted to kiss your significant other. When affection is rejected, it can cause men to shut down and not feel emotionally safe. The result can be an adult male who does not know how to adequately express his feelings. This can manifest itself in destructive or distant behaviors and your family suffers the most from those inaudible blows. Furthermore, you may have a positive father reference to model, let alone a positive friendship with other men to keep you lifted. I encourage you to not to shrink into the shadows. No matter what you think, it won’t make things better.

person on a bridge near a lake
Photo by Simon Migaj on Pexels.com

From a daughter who experienced an estranged father and later an involved one, please consider the following for your future:

  1. Never underestimate the power of your presence. Whether your reputation is tarnished or squeaky clean, your love will shine through anything when you decide to show it. Let them say no, but don’t let them say that you didn’t try. I believe my biological father did the best he could within his capacity. The father who raised me simply had a deeper well from which to draw.

  2. You’re the blueprint. I’m a firm believer that a man’s interaction with his child(ren) can create a customized definition of provision and protection. Sons and daughters tend to use their fatherly relationships as reference points for platonic and romantic relationships. You’re more than a sperm donor. Your fingerprint is part of their growth. You’re a life-giver and women grow what you plant. We nurture what you give, so remember that as you interact with your family.

  3. You need a team. In the name of sports, be humble enough to be a team player. If you have friends who are also fathers or men that you will take you seriously when it’s time to confide, let them know what you need in order to stay on track. Whether it is an addiction, temptation, or a knot of anger you can’t comb through, talk to your tribe. Just like on the court/field, everyone plays a role to win the game. Let your friends play their roles.
photo of men having conversation
Photo by nappy on Pexels.com

I encourage you to breathe through each attempt to be better and if you are already doing those items listed, offer to be a safe space for another man as he grows into a better version of himself. Mentor a neighborhood child who could use a father figure. Offer to make amends with a family member. Just don’t stop trying. Let them say no. You can live with the peace of knowing that you extended the opportunity for them to meet the new you.

I love you all. Keep standing strong. I see you.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Happy Father’s Day!

Wednesday Wind Down: ED

Hello, Sweethearts! I know it’s Thursday, but this one took some simmering… and you may be wondering where I’m going with those two letters. I’m going exactly where you think I am.

In the world of social sciences, there’s a term called emotional dishonesty. Various definitions exist for it, but in essence, it is when someone does not own up to their feelings or needs, yet s/he holds the other person accountable for the offense. This can manifest itself as passive, aggressive, or passive-aggressive behavior.

When I taught adult education communication courses, we would always engage in authentic and lively dialogue about relationships (platonic, professional, romantic, familial, and social). Every quarter, someone would attribute a lack of intimacy to dysfunctional communication. Every quarter, someone would tell me how lack of trust was the undercurrent in their relationship deterioration. After my first year of teaching, I learned to carve out two days in my lesson plan to discuss the conflict chapter because it always birthed the fruition of self-discovery among my students.  The chapter also landed in the middle of the textbook, so by that point in the course, they usually displayed sharpened self-awareness and reframing skills. They were not only able to professionally assess and verbalize the conflict but also express ownership of its escalation which was often via emotional dishonesty. You can bet that made me one happy educator. 🙂

two man and two woman standing on green grass field
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

To listen to a man say “I see it now. I’m not helping the situation.” To hear a woman say “Yeah, I don’t really listen to my kids. I need to do that more.” That was what kept the blood flowing in my teaching career. That is what produced life within those four walls and fortified adults to engage in healthy relationships of all kinds.

Speaking of blood flow… let’s talk about that ED.

When a man experiences erectile dysfunction, it can be emotionally crippling. He may not be able to communicate how emasculated he feels and his behavior can be misunderstood and misdirected toward his partner. Multiple factors can cause ED and one of them is decreased blood flow.

How interesting it is that a lack of life in one area can be the cause of death in another? If blood is not allowed to flow and recycle through our bodies, we experience death. Then again, there are two types of death… two organs that are vital comrades in the cessation of life – the brain and the heart. I believe the effects of dysfunctional communication resemble the intimacy breakdown that can occur from ED. Emotional Dishonesty can lead to Emotional Dysfunction. One deters the physical production of life while the other deters the flow of spiritual exchange. In both instances, there’s a broken piece – trust.

person holding pen
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

And let’s be real… What good is a relationship without trust? How can a relationship survive without the trust that all valves are open… that the flow is free and clear? After all, there are 4 valves in your heart – two for incoming blood and two for outgoing blood, so obviously God knew that circulation and regeneration were vital in keeping you alive in both your head and in your heart. Why don’t we give it a try in the spiritual realm as well? Why not gift that freedom to each other and to ourselves? Be emotionally honest with yourself and with those you love. When you don’t, it hurts yourself because you’re blocking healthy intrapersonal communication, and it hurts the other person because it creates a disconnect from the intimacy you desire from her/him. As I mentioned to some friends this year – I’m in the business of having real conversations with real people that want real relationships. Sweetheart, can you say the same thing?

Disclaimer:
This doesn’t mean that you need to bleed your heart 24/7 to everyone you meet. As in physiology, that could leave you spiritually drained 
and unable to function effectively.

Ask God to balance this spiritual flow as you learn to communicate truthfully in HIs Love from one person to another. It can be done; I promise. I have witnessed and experienced it.  You may have to be gentle or set some ground rules, but allow truthful communication to flow between your lips. Cherish those in your circle who provide opportunities for that to happen. No matter how messy or how awkward it may be, it is worth the trust structure. Letting communication flow between two hearts creates freedom amidst two people… and that’s the pinnacle of God’s Love toward us and Christ’s sacrifice for us. Freedom in mind, body, and spirit. The kind that can only come from the Prince of Peace and the Author of Love.

For more information about emotional dishonesty, check out this article. It’s one of my favorite classroom references.

Peace & Thanks for listening. Have an awesome week and I love you all!

 

 

Wednesday Wind Down: You Better

Hi, Sweethearts!

It’s graduation season for various age groups. Watching people reach this milestone is such a blessing!

Recently, I witnessed a high school class of approximately 80 students with the following awesomeness (see photo):

  • 100% graduation rate
  • 100% college acceptance
  • Over $30 million in scholarship offers

I was in awe, but I shouldn’t have been. I should have been looking at the norm, but instead, I welled with pride at the thought of these unique powerhouses entering their next stage of life. Apparently, they had a determination that could fuel 1,000 ships and it made me wonder…

What happens when the milestones go away? When there’s no diploma, no scholarship, no pomp-and-circumstance to indicate that you’ve accomplished a goal, how can we create that grit? I had to pleasure of speaking to a group of 8th-grade graduates during their promotion ceremony this week and I wanted them to realize there were many more memories to create after they relished in this one.

Tonight, I’m telling you the same thing. It’s easy to fall into the rut of a daily grind because there is no graduation ceremony on the horizon. After the big hurdles, there seems to be pending doom of monotony. I’m here to encourage you to smash that farce. You can create your own milestones. Play your own theme music before walking into work. Pick a date on your calendar to celebrate that you’ve lived through hell for the last 6 months. Choose a date in the future to reach a goal you’ve let sit on the backburner.

Don’t allow yourself to be stagnant. Create reminders that you’re a survivor. Celebrate your humanity and your superpowers. You were designed by a supernatural God that has planted greatness inside of you. It’s about time to wake that up with everything you touch.

Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweethearts!

Wednesday Wind Down: The Trickle-Down Effect

Hi, Sweethearts.

This post is dedicated to my aunts and uncles. How many of you can attribute something you do to a family member, better yet, a family member older than you? I can. The older I get, the more I realize how much of my behavioral traits can be directly traced to my family and I’m proud of that truth.

Aunt Janice – She’s so creative and resourceful. I have fond memories of helping her create flower arrangements and searching for just the right item to make it perfect.

Uncle Buck – Supa fly. Had style and swag like no other. Military veteran, strong confidence, and a breezy disposition. We could talk about anything.

Uncle Mack – Passionate and resilient. It is what it is. When I broke my arm as a child, he was limping but carried me down about 15 steps. When I rode in his car, we always listened to R&B classics, and I fell in love with them.

Uncle Bo – Any question you have, he has a wise answer. Practical, a well of knowledge, and can get along with just about anybody. Taught me how to change my brake pads too.

Uncle Greg – The life of the party, daring, and devout in his faith. Always smiling and laughing. When I was a kid, I remember wanting to be fearless like him.

Aunt Lisa – Full of joy, intuitive, and a garden goddess. Pure horticulture athlete. I get my playful side from her. She always looks at the bright side and helps people along the way.

Uncle Ed – The debater. The intellectual. The Bible scholar. His drawer full of cassettes compelled me to dive in and listen to everything, then try to put all of them back before he came home.

Uncle Ced – Courageous. My first superhero besides my mother. Military veteran and family man. My fondest memory was him returning from deployment and me acting like he had just come from the moon.

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My uncle’s tapes. *sigh* All the feels.

My musical love affair comes from my family. My fierce ride-and-live (I don’t say ride-or-die) loyal spirit comes from my family. My insatiable appetite for learning, desire to enjoy life and relentless drive comes from my family. My grandfather and grandmother empowered their children with life-long skills that have reached throughout generational branches. I am so blessed to be part of this family tree and I encourage you to dive into yours and explore yourself. You may be surprised by what you find. More importantly, I encourage you to pour into the fruit around you. Don’t leave a person in your home in the dark about something that you’ve learned from your elders. That water needs to be pulled through the roots in order to drip from the leaves. It’s valuable. It’s what make you rich. It’s what makes you live forever.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: Parallel

Good Evening, Sweethearts!

Cosmetologists. Cardiologists. Oncologists. Orthodontists.

We seek specialists for areas that need attention. We take medications for what ails our bodies and encourage others to do the same. Prescriptions are filled and routines are formed. Adults become child-like as they read carefully and follow instructions; we become child-like as we look for signs if we’re getting better and worse.

Here’s the question.

Why are we are willing to carefully tend to our tangible diseases and not our invisible ones? I have a newsflash for you. Your invisible wounds bleed out too. They fester beneath the surface and seep through your pores. They manifest themselves through the words of your lips. Your body movements tattle-tell on you like a kindergartener. Your eyes are gateways to things your soul can vocalize to others. You’re hurting and as much as you try to suppress it, you’re leaking.

This post is to encourage you to see a specialist for the innermost part of you. Pray and seek the face of God, your Maker, then seek a counselor or therapist. I’ll let you in on another secret, Sweetheart. God made them too. If every good and perfect gift comes from Him, we must believe the gift of counseling and therapy were created by Him as well. So, why shy away from those gifts helping you?

James 1.17 visual
Courtesy of YouVersion – The Bible App

Cosmetologists. Cardiologists. Oncologists. Orthodontists. Every one of these professions requires a level of trust between the person in need and the person of skill. Perhaps it’s time to allow yourself to build that trust with God and with one of his gifted servants designed to help you heal.

Don’t be a hypocritical Christian… willing to take 10 prescriptions yet speaking ill of those who seek mental and spiritual wellness.  Maybe you should stand in the truth that you need to schedule an appointment with a therapist to work through some of that pain you’re sitting in. There’s nothing degrading about that reality. There is nothing degrading about you. Ask for help. Reach for help. Accept the help. Be parallel in your faith. Be parallel in your healing. Let God help you through specialists ready to sit with you.

If you need a starting point, contact me. I have a short list of licensed professional counselors and therapists that have proven to be trustworthy referrals and I am willing to share this list with you. After I refer someone, I never hear of their interaction and that’s what you want. Sincerity and confidentiality.

Peace & Thanks for listening. I’m proud of you and I love you. Your next step is going to create a better version of yourself. Take it.

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