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#bloglikecrazy: Day 14 – Thinkers

A short stop for your evening

When you come to my class, you’ll learn one thing… I love to have fun, but I don’t play. I want students to change the game of their future professions. I don’t train robots; I train thinkers. Critical, comprehensive thinkers. I mentally condition my students to problem-solve, not memorize. It’s a superpower, I guess… to train the mind. So, you could say that Tuesday, November 14th was training day.

The scientific method was on deck for psychology and public issues were on the menu for speech. Their brains were squeezed a little bit, but they left the room with more elasticity than they arrived with.

In both classes, I assisted students in solving problems in their future career field. After all, shouldn’t that be the goal? I don’t want them to graduate and simply fall into the status quo of complaining about everything around them. I want them to think of solutions and be daring enough to try them out. That’s how the game changes; that’s how progress is made. It’s made by people saying “What about this?” and “Let’s try it this way.” Enough of sitting down and waiting on someone to magically fix all of our problems in the industries we love. We are the fixers. We are the thinkers.

I call them Birmingham’s Finest every day for a reason – because I truly believe they are. They can do anything the world needs.

So can you.

Peace & Thanks for listening, Thinkers!

Photo courtesy of NOVA – PBS.

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#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.

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 12 – Full

In one day, I felt loved, supportive, proud, sad, exhausted and grateful. On, Sunday, November 12th, I was full.

  1. My agenda consisted of waking up to a smile from being enveloped with Love from God Himself. I was daughter that felt safe in the arms of her Father. It was good to be alive. It was good to be loved.
  2. I went to church with my teammate/sorority sister. It was her last Sunday due to a move and I promised that I would attend with her and it was nice to be in her world and nice to see people I knew that attended the same place of worship. I love it when someone finds their fellowship home and I love being supportive.

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    Beauties.
  3. Next, I drove to my late grandparents’ church for their 85th Church Anniversary Program. My grandmother was a pillar in her community and at her church. One of the members invited me to attend and I was so glad to be able to make it, even for an hour. I sat on the back pew and listened to the guest minister preach with heart and conviction. I kept glancing over the pews in the front right wing seeing my grandmother’s presence sitting proudly at the progress of the church’s history. I was proud right along with her. Proud of her legacy and her investment in me. That was the piano and organ that I learned to play… the choir stand my elementary school friends sang in… the fellowship hall I where I ate with cousins. It made me proud to just be in the building. It made me proud to represent my family.

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    Legacy.
  4. My father’s hospice service memorial program was the next stop. A sweet friend gave me all the giggles and endorphins I needed before I approached the door where the service was held. The company that helped our family had been more than gracious during the last few weeks of my father’s life and I was happy to support my mother in person. But my mind wasn’t ready to travel down memory lane. My glass of emotions was getting full and I didn’t know it. My mother asked me to light the candle when his name was called, and I felt the loss of his presence. I wanted him, not the sound of his name. It was odd to be in that space, in this sweet mourning society, for someone that seemed so super human. I didn’t feel that being sad was a transparent option at the moment, so I tucked it away and saved it for later.
  5. Next up was dress rehearsal for my Troupe’s performance. Wow. What a change of pace. Music, laughter, people… it was a barrage of sensation and I was in the middle of it. Final touches, band run-throughs, and technical notes were in full effect. I was exhausted by the end of the night, but I sure was grateful. My team was ready and in sync with each other. I was doing what I loved in the place I wanted to be with the people I wanted to be with – not to mention, it was the Founders’ Day of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. (#EEYIP). Yeah, I was full.

Have you ever had one of those full days? I compartmentalize pretty well so the residue doesn’t transfer to the next place, but it doesn’t come without some pause buttons along the way. How do you handle multiple emotional states in a day?

Peace & Thanks for listening!

#bloglikecrazy: Day 8 – Cost

On Wednesday, November 8th, the topic in my communication class was relationships. I always ask my students how they can improve their interpersonal communication. This  is one of my favorite topics to discuss because no matter how introverted some students may be, this chapter always gets head nods and contemplative facial responses.

Social-Exchange-TheoryOne of the chapter concepts was social exchange theory, which I truly enjoy demonstrating.  To introduce it, I use banking as an example. One student has an imaginary balance in her/his account and as the scenario continues, each student has borrowed money from the account holder for various reasons. Somewhere between these transactions, the account holder experiences a couple of “pay days” and receives a direct deposit into their account. We calculate the total of the withdrawals and the deposits – what was lent to friends/family and the balance we could have had if little to no lending took place. Usually, students have voiced their opinions by this point about how the account holder shouldn’t have been so giving and how in “real life,” they would never lend out so much money. Then, I pose the following –

“If we are so careful with our money to monitor what is coming and going, why aren’t we just as careful with our relationships? You can give of your time, energy, and resources, but if that person does something you like, it’s like a pay day and all’s right with the world and you forget about their offenses. What if the deposits and withdrawals don’t balance out relationally? How do we determine whether the cost is worth paying? Before we are offended, how do we communicate our needs to the people we love?”

It’s generally quiet in the room after that spill with a grunt or two. I love it. It means they are thinking.

One of the corollaries of social exchange theory is that if the perceived cost is higher than the perceived reward, we will continue to remain in the relationship. It doesn’t matter if it is familial, platonic, professional, or romantic – we will stay if the cost of leaving seems too high. So, I am asking you, Sweetheart, what are the costs of your relationships? Do you do anything that perpetuates low benefits and high costs? Relationships will never be equitable at all times, but are we monitoring the costs of our exchanges like we monitor our money?

When the cost is worth it, it is called an investment. Let’s try to keep the costs low and the investments high.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Featured image courtesy of ClipArtBarn.com
In-text image courtesy of Sam Owen, Relationship Coach

#bloglikecrazy: Day 7 – Best

I just wanted to tell you that the best is yet to come. And it doesn’t just float your way and chase you down. It stands in front of you and challenges you to reach and experience it.

On Tuesday, November 7th, I felt my best coming through. I was excited to teach and even more excited to empower. My body didn’t want to cooperate that morning and I was nauseous from sinus drainage. My face felt like someone had blown up a balloon under behind my eyes and nose. Nevertheless, I slayed the day. Learning took place. Tough love ensued. Encouragement flowed. Anyone can tell you that I rarely miss teaching class. The thought of staying home in bed that morning sounded sexy (as it does on most days), yet the best of me beckoned and I rose to meet her.

That day, I thought of you, my Sweetheart Reader. What is the best part or version of yourself? Have you seen her/him in a while? Where does her/him reside? What is s/he doing when the passion finds its jet stream of purpose? 

When you don’t feel at your best, remind yourself that the best is yet to come… if you go meet it. You can do it. I believe in your best. I believe in you. 

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

#bloglikecrazy: Day 3 – rewind

Backing up and starting from the beginning are two different things.

When we want to get something over with, we tend to start over from the beginning to create a clean slate. On the contrary, rewinding means that we go backward toward the direction of a starting point – which can be difficult to locate at times. Looking back, the weeds of bitterness or sorrow may have grown around the sidewalk edges. Cracks of time have gotten wider between some relationships and behind you, it looks like a lonely journey of self-discovery.

How often do we skip the steps of searching backward because it looks scary?

Most say that going backward will stagnate your forward movement. I agree, to an extent; however, the likelihood of repeating the same mistake is inevitable if you don’t travel back to find the glitch. Imagine you are lost while driving on a two-lane road at night. The trees create a dark canopy that causes you to change your mind about continuing forward. You are tempted to stop, but you’re too afraid to turn around. Only two things can happen at this point… A) you can go forward, or B) you can rewind. Both directions have risks, so it’s just a matter of which one you’re going to take.

Discovering why you are a compulsive liar, why you lash out at the people who love you most, why you’re an alcoholic, why you’re a hoarder, or why you’re repulsed by your spouse will not host the sweetest back steps, but it can help move you forward… for good. When I listen to music or watch a movie, sometimes I’m afraid that I’ll miss the part I need to see or hear again. So, I rewind instead of skipping the seconds. It wouldn’t be so bad if we did the same thing in our lives. Starting over is a beautiful thing, but it doesn’t mean rewinding is a bad one. It may get ugly as those cobwebs are cleared out to reveal the part you need. THAT’S OK. You’ll be able to “wind” again if you start the process now.

Don’t be afraid to rewind. Don’t be afraid to find the glitch. Don’t be afraid to press play… again.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

#bloglikecrazy: Day 2 – power

Power.

That word alone gives me chills. Always has.

It can be clothed in danger or fitted with finesse as it walks into the room. It has a resonance that stops the steps of all that surround it. You can detect it, feel it… even the its pheromones smell different. Power stands out, or does it?

What if power was a fragrance that pride liked to wear? Spraying it on before walking out of a house of insecurity and riding in a car full of guilt. High-stepping into a boardroom or a networking event and waiting for onlookers to stare. Humor me for a minute as I go deeper.

What if the fragrance we were attracted to when that person walks in the room wasn’t their power, but their hubris, confidence, or even humility? Then, what does that say about us and our spiritual receptors? What if the scent of power masks the ambition underneath? We see someone who looks wealthy and our eyes can’t stop gazing. We see an expensive car speeding down the interstate and we can recall the make, model, and customization in seconds. We admire the influence of an industry leader and hang on their every word to grab crumbs of wisdom to take back home with us. Did we absorb their power or what was underneath it?

I’ve learned over time that power can be quiet and strong, simultaneously. As a performing artist, I’ve also learned that power can be explosive and exuberant. Whatever the type, power is an expression of what is underneath the surface, not what you see. It’s an emittance, not a cover-up.

Check out Thayer’s Greek Lexicon for the word. It may surprise you. My favorites were –  a) the moral power and excellence of soul,
b) the power and influence which belong to riches, and
c) power consisting in or resting upon armies, forces, hosts.

Imagine which one you have and which one you’re most attracted to. I believe we are a fan of all of them in some capacity, even if our definitions of “riches” are different. Somehow, we can manage to exude power from within our soul and from the confidence of God’s might.

So, check your power this week. I’m definitely checking mine. Let’s be sure we’re radiating the Real Thing.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

If you want to #bloglikecrazy with See Jane Write Birmingham, click here and join the fun!

Photo courtesy of Amazon.com. DISCLAIMER: I’m not the spokesperson for the brand in the featured photo, but feel free to shop for your power blazer here. I found a few that I liked… A LOT. *lol*

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