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Wednesday Wind Down: Yes and No

Hey Sweethearts!

Tonight’s wind down is pretty simple because that’s how it hit me.

I was reading an article last night from Entrepreneur.com – 3 Rules I Use to Stay Productive and Not Overwhelmed. I read productivity articles often to find practices that best suit my purpose and vision. This one was particularly interesting because the guest writer Ted Serbinski engaged personal examples that created a comprehensive model of how he uses life-changing principles.

Over the last couple of years, I have adopted some of these rules and they have enriched me personally, academically, and professionally. I am a full-time student, educator, writer, and executive director of a performing arts troupe. On any given day, I have homework to grade, rehearsal to attend, and content to write. So, needless to say, I was eager to read Serbinski’s wisdom as a father of three under age three that has a portfolio of 40-plus startups that he has invested in and actively support – plus, he receives 1,000 emails and takes 15-30 meetings. WHAT THE WHAT?!

One section especially grabbed my attention – “Consider this: Each time you say yes to something, you are inadvertently saying no to something else. That “yes” takes up time in your life and when that next opportunity comes up, you don’t have the time to say yes.”

I incorporated this principle into my life some time ago and put it in overdrive 2 years ago, and I appreciated his wording of it.

So tonight, I’m asking you the same question I asked myself – Where are your yes’s going? Are you saying no enough to make room for the yes’s you’re supposed to say? 

Let that churn a bit and make it settle in your spirit. Have a great week and wind down safely, my Loves.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

Photo courtesy of Forfend.

 

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#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 22 – Roles

I think everyone should work retail during a holiday season one time in life. Just one time. That’s all it would take to digest humility, camaraderie, and self-control.

My first taste of retail was in college at a bible bookstore. I loved it. I worked with great people and it was normal to see an associate praying with a customer. My kind of environment. Whether I was on the sales floor or behind the register, I was comfortable.

saleFast forward a bit to working in the retail world after college. I wanted to make extra money to minimize my debt. Needless to say, my patience was shorter and my tolerance level had dropped dramatically. I couldn’t understand either side of the tomfoolery. Why wake up, get dressed, and drive through traffic to be lazy or cause havoc as an employee or a customer? Don’t get me wrong – quality service is important to me. I’ve worked retail on the management level as well, and I understand the value of meeting the needs of every customer and providing solutions that benefit both the company and the consumer. In those leadership positions, I also believed in protecting employees from abusive behavior and I did not tolerate the degradation of anyone on my team. Nevertheless, when the roles are reversed from humans-on-equal-terms to employee-consumer, something changed.

All of a sudden, I wasn’t an intelligent professional working to make extra cash to reach a financial goal. I was “she,” “her,” or “that girl over there.” Apparently, I was someone who didn’t warrant a “Hello, how are you?” before being thrown money on the counter at the end of the transaction. I was looked upon as inferior enough to hold bags of perfectly capable people shopped around the store and fetch items they didn’t want in the first place. I had an idea of what I was getting into, but I wasn’t prepared for it. Then, to take the cake, if the customer found out about my other titles (educator, choreographer, former caregiver, etc.) or that I’ve traveled extensively, then their eyes light up as if to say “Oh, you’re more than what I thought.”

The truth is I was an equal before they decided to see me as one. If the setting was a business mixer or at a concert, the interaction would potentially be positive and enriching. We would converse about psychological constructs, civic issues, and professional development. Since the stage was a retail store and I was playing the role of an employee, many people assumed they were superior.

It made me think of how many times we judge people based upon the role we see them in at a specific time – the janitor, the doctor, the restaurant server, the hair stylist, the single parent, the athlete… who often do we size up a person’s intelligence or capability based upon the role? Let’s try to do less of that during this holiday season and beyond.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo via youbabyandi.com

#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.

20171113_230015
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.

20171113_190825
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 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 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*

Kindness Costs

There’s a graciousness in silent kindness.

A simple act of assisting another person can be quickly the perfect rescue in a stressful situation. It can melt tension that stubbornly stands in the way of a peaceful transaction. There may be a cost to this grace – an act misinterpreted, confusion, inconvenience, rebellion – but, I’m here to tell you… it’s worth it.

SCENARIO 1

I watched a man extend himself to me with this gracious, silent kindness during a flight boarding. He was helping me put my bag in the overhead bin. When he adjusted the orientation of the unmarked adjacent bag so mine could fit, the flight attendant aggressively questioned him:

“What are you doing? What are you doing?”

As the man explained that he was helping me, the flight attendant talked over him:

“That is my bag…”

This repeated for about five seconds (which felt like forever as I watched it happen). I knew I had to interject with some cold-watered words.

“He was helping me. We did not know that it was your bag,” I said slowly and firmly, looking directly into his eyes.

The flight attendant calmed down a bit and the kind passenger removed his hands from my bag, then stepped away with his hands up. He apologized to the flight attendant as he took his seat. I agreed with the him that the flight attendant’s reaction was unnecessary as I sat in mine. Then, the flight attendant proceeded to explain himself to us.

“People have tried to take our luggage before. You wouldn’t believe it…”

But his words were floating lifelessly in our ocean of disgust, visible for him to retrieve. The damage had already been done. The transaction was complete, and there was still no apology bobbing around his explanation. I wasn’t interested in any further interaction with him. I prepared my 2nd carry-on bag for the overhead storage across the aisle (after retrieving my notebook and pen, of course). The same gentleman let me know of a quick empty spot and I stored it there.

I thought of how often we mistake kindness as obtrusive and reflected on a previous moment during my trip.

SCENARIO 2

A young boy (about 6-years-old) complimented our hair as he walked by our restaurant table Friday morning  and the woman that walked with him scorned him loudly for “disrupting our breakfast.” When I realized his sweet voice saying “I like your hair” was directed toward us, he had already been accompanied by a relative to their vehicle while another adult woman paid the cashier.

I saw the gap and seized the moment.

I walked outside to their car and asked if the boy was talking to us earlier. The non-scornful woman said yes, and I asked if I could properly accept his compliment and thank him for his sincerity. She agreed. When I opened the door (he was struggling with it a little… lol), there was a mixture of confusion and excitement on his face. He had a visitor! I hugged him so tight that I could feel him breathe and his little heart beat with joy. Then I thanked him for his sweet courage to say his compliment aloud. I encouraged him to keep respecting women and to keep being kind. I blessed him and spoke over his life to uproot the sting of the scorn from the woman paying the cashier. It may have appeared inconvenient or obtrusive to our mealtime, but kindness can be that way sometimes…

THE LESSON

Kindness is an extension of Love – and love is not convenient and obscure. It shows itself in more ways than one and those ways can be expensive. A sacrifice lies in there somewhere. Within every act of gracious kindness – whether loud or silent – there is a cost for it to be manifested. For the flight passenger, it was public conflict. For the boy, it was public shaming. Either way, love was extended and the cost was paid… Just like Jesus’ life. He extended Himself with the biggest cost of all – His blood. (*humming* Oh, what Love He has for me…) So, if you’re ever in a situation where Love opportunities lie in wait, don’t be afraid to pay the cost and accept the receipt. Jump in the gap and let Love flow.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

I held it in my open-faced hands like gold from a Pharaoh’s tomb. It was here. Finally. And I was touching it with my soul.

The connection I felt when I slid my fingers across the slick cover… it was an intimate moment. I had done it. I had published a book. My book. The one that I started nine years ago after being laid off, wondering what I was going to do next. I thought I had found my dream job, but the garden in which it was located could no longer provide financial fruit. The book was my private little project. For awhile, no one even knew that I was writing. It was preciously scary. I didn’t want to contaminate the imaginative outcome I steadily played out in my head – girl writes book, book does well, girl gets paid, girl travels the world and girl works for herself. It was a ludicrous movie that replayed over and over again and I didn’t want it stop, so I didn’t tell anyone. I kept the tickets to myself and attended my cerebral theater alone throughout graduate school, until she came. Nancy. A she-fox that would rock my planet with the belief that my little secret movie could be realized. Here she was in Birmingham, Alabama with a publishing company, books, paintings, jewelry, music… and all I could think was “How?” and “Can I do it too?” She forced me to see beyond my sight and work toward my vision. I let her in and she got a front row seat to my secret movie and didn’t flinch. She smiled and I felt safe. She began to share with me and I with her. I had a gained a friend and Shero.

I’ll never forget the thorns and rocks along this road, the people I’ve gained and lost, the tears I cried in angst, the prayers I repeated, the fear hovering  nearby in trees of doubt, and the joy I felt when I typed END on the manuscript. The breath I held the first time I gave it to her seemed to last forever, just like it did when I heard she died. I stopped walking along the road and let the vines grow into my secret theater. I didn’t want to write and it pained me to think about it. Spiritual cobwebs caught my words every time someone asked “So, how’s your book going?” I dreaded the answer. It was deathly to think of cracking the doors open and letting sunshine in the wounded halls of my heart… but I did. Now, my book, the fruit of hands, was sitting in my lap and it was seducing me. I wanted to open it up and enjoy the exterior all at the same time. After holding it next to my heart for a few minutes, I laughed at the rear view of the road to fruition. I couldn’t believe how faithful God had been. When He said that He would bless the work of my hands, I didn’t fathom that some days my hands would feel empty and barren. That materializing my thoughts wasn’t a lie I kept feeding myself. I was a writer. Always had been. In the back of my grandmother’s car was always a writing stick and some paper. I even found out along the road that my biological father wrote poetry. So, my secret movie wasn’t so secret after all.

We can all be discouraged as we peer down the road ahead and see the shadows of the unknown. But we have to keep going. We have cling to the truth that we are seeds and seeds have to buried and/or watered in order to fulfill their purpose. The dirt will be isolating and the water will make us feel like we’re drowning, but we are made from both elements, so we will not die. We will grow. We will thrive. We will live out loud. After all, someone needs the fruit that we are destined to produce. Keep dreaming, keep walking, and keep working, my friend. You’re on a road, not in a box.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

*By the way, I found this daffodil beauty along my walk this morning. Sweet.

#bloglikecrazy: Day 25 – Opposite Day

After reading Genesis 41:41-57 –

What if we did the opposite of what is expected? In times of opulence where more is more, what if we exercised the wisdom of restraint? Instead of gluttony and racing toward a fabricated finish line, what if our actions were governed by the Truth?

Joseph envisioned a day when years of plenty would run out, so he stored accordingly. Isn’t it interesting that the famine still occurred (it was predicated on his preparation), but Egypt wasn’t affected (which was predicated upon preparation)? The world was in the middle of the same timeline, but not experiencing the same thing. They were having opposite day because wisdom had her way for seven years. Then, to top everything else that was “a-plenty”, he was blessed with two sons. God must have known they would not lack as well because of Joseph’s track record of obedience. The truth was, if you read Joseph’s story, he had a lifetime of opposites and lived with flying colors (pun intended).

I love that last part – verse 54 – “but in all the land of Egypt, there was bread.” Even though times were shiny and bountiful, Joseph acted upon what He was shown… and stayed true to it. This resulted in a series of events that affected others positively. There was harvest in famine and all benefited…the economy, the families, and the leadership.

God keeps walking me down this “we’re all connected” trip. One act, one word, one person affects another. What we do now has a trickle down effect on the present and the future. Our obedience and disobedience makes pathways before us and others. I pray that I make a positive road as my obedience grows stronger. Then, I can be well on opposite day. When things aren’t lovely and plentiful, I can still smile.

What about you? Have you experienced moments of plenty and didn’t prepare for opposite day? What do you do differently now?

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo Courtesy of Bigstockphoto.com/Orla via timeanddate.com

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