We’re on the cusp of November, so you know what that means… #bloglikecrazy is here! She’s officially staring me down and I see her in all of her literary glory. Her challenging physique awaits me to step into the ring. This is my four-time sparring partner and she always transforms me a better version of myself at the end of our 30-day bout.
If you’re new to my community, #bloglikecrazy is an annual writing challenge hosted by Javacia Harris Bowser, founder of See Jane Write Birmingham and my official empowerment pusher. Each year, writers from everywhere join the opportunity to post on their blogs for 30 consecutive days or participate in NaNoWriMo by writing a novel in by the end of November.
So, why am I squaring up to #bloglikecrazy? Because I decided to share a deeper level of transparency this time around. Last year, I shared 30 Days of Good. This year, I’m allowing a peek into my most intimate relationship — my prayer life with God. I’m warning you now, Sweetheart. As with all other posts on this blog, it’s real communication. No sugar-coating. Raw snippets from written and verbal prayers I’ve expressed in both happy and horrid times. My hope is that by unveiling these lines, someone will be compelled to be authentic with God as well. To give Him every part of you and be confident that He can handle anything and everything.
Why is this a big deal? Because like any other relationship, sometimes the demands of life cause us to pass by each other like ships in an ocean of responsibilities. The good thing is that we’re transparent enough with each other to say Hey, I need some sister time and do something about it.
Ashlee and I met in college and now we creatively cross paths as members of two performing arts companies. She is the assistant director of one and I am the founder of the other and we easily weave in and out of each other’s leadership like Olympic skating partners. Mutual respect. Mutual trust. But at the end of the day, when I need my sister, I’m not afraid to tell her and she’s not afraid to tell me. We don’t mix buckets – work is work, us is us. The result? Laughing over pasta, sharing updates over tea sips, and dancing at random moments. This year, I got to spend some old-fashioned QT with one of my favorite humans and it was definitely fuel for the soul.
Notice the people in your life that you don’t have to entertain and be perfect for and be that person for them as well.
Ashlee and I enjoy being around each other because we accept each other for who we are no matter where we are in life. I love that we can just… be. With almost 20 years of friendship under our belts, we have learned to be emotionally honest and give each other room to grow. It reminds me that God wired us for unconditional Love and when we share that Love with other people, it leads to a pretty dope life.
For this year’s See Jane Write #bloglikecrazy challenge, I am sharing 30 Days of Good that happened this year despite the not-so-good. There’s no use in throwing a whole year away when 1) there were definitely happy moments in it and, 2) the year isn’t over yet! So, each day will have a brief synopsis of the experience (what I like to call the good) and the lesson that tagged along with it. Ready? Let’s go!
#1 – I was able to attend therapeutic massage school at my place of employment! Why is this a big deal? I’m glad you asked.
Unfortunately, soon after I was hired at my institution, the policy that allowed employees to attend classes on their campus was overturned and I would have to either pay higher tuition somewhere else or drive 1.5 hours to another campus every week day for 9 months. My father was sick at the time and being over an hour away Monday-Friday from 8:00 AM until 3:00 PM was not complementary to being a caregiver. I needed to be closer to my parents. After 5 years, I was convinced that the protocol had a permanent place in the books and I gave up on that dream. Then, the Holy Spirit nudged me to ask again to see if the rule had changed. It was a Monday afternoon and I was completely disobedient. I walked by my friend/ financial aid representative’s office (only 3 doors down from mine) without stopping. I didn’t want to be disappointed… again. See, my former supervisors and the therapeutic massage program director had pleaded on behalf many times for an exception and each time, we were denied. I didn’t see the point in asking, but truthfully, my attitude was “Fine. Whatever. I’ll ask her.”
So, Tuesday came. I picked up my little yellow notebook, walked toward her office, then turned the corner like I was an undercover spy. This time, the Nudge was more like a shove and I took a few backward steps and walked inside. I sat across from her desk and watched her face light up like the 4th of July. “Actually, they changed that yesterday!” she said, smiling at me. My face? Fallen and flabbergasted. I couldn’t believe what I heard, so I asked to her to repeat it. She said confirmed that I wasn’t being punk’d and I sat there speechless. I asked her when was the next class and she said January 3rd. The whole trajectory of my 2018 was about to change and I had no idea it was coming, but as we sat there and crunched some numbers, my dream-deferredwas becoming a plump and juicy reality and I got excited like it was harvest time.
Open doors are everywhere, but they have their own timing. So, don’t get discouraged by closed doors. Just be ready when it’s open season. I was reminded of the Shunammite woman in 2 Kings 4:8-37. If you’ve never read that chapter, do it. It’s dope. She had let her dream of having a son die over time and when it was time to believe again, she reminds prophet Elisha that she didn’t want to get her hopes up again (verse 17). All it took was one more ounce of belief + action to change the story.
What in your life needs a breath of fresh air? What is your dream-deferred? What action is needed to move it from conception to delivery? Pray about it and listen for the answer everywhere you go.
It’s October 31st… November’s Eve. Why am I excited? Because #bloglikecrazy begins tomorrow!
This is the 3rd year that I have participated in the See Jane Write challenge to post daily in November. Each time I do this, something wonderful comes out of me and I am shocked at the responses I receive. I was in the department store one day and I ran into a friend who said she was keeping up with my #bloglikecrazy posts and they were encouraging her to tackle her obstacles. She didn’t want to post a comment because she was shy and I had no idea she was reading, but her personal thank you was just as enriching.
So, in light of every difficult experience that transpired this year, I challenged myself to think of 30 good things that happened this year and share lessons I learned from them. It’s easy to see the lemonade after you’ve been squeezed like a lemon because hindsight is 20/20. On the other hand, there are jewels of wisdom in the good stuff too. Yes, we experience negative situations, tiring situations, degrading situations throughout the year, but that doesn’t make the whole year a bad one. As I flipped through my calendar, I smiled and remembered happy times, funny moments, and joyous occasions deserving of recognition (like the photo below).
On a personal note, I do a version of this every year on a sheet of paper. I draw a circle in the middle and write the year inside of it, then I create a mind map (also called a circle thinking map) of all of the goodness that happened that year at whatever speed it pops into my mind. It’s fulfilling, encouraging, and a great reminder to stew on my blessings.
That’s what you’re going to get for the next 30 days. The good stuff. Little doses of happy and a lesson in the bottom of each half-full glass.
My prayer is that you dig a little deeper to find your 30 days too. You can jot them on a sticky note, in a big or mini-notebook (I frequent Dollar Tree, WalMart, and Michael’s for mine), or keep them in an online note-taking app such as Evernote (one of my favorites). Wherever you decide to store your happy, keep it for the rainy days in your life and prepare for more sunshine.
Peace & Thanks for listening! Wind down safely this Halloween night!
It began with a tutoring appointment with a former student who is determined not to let anything stop her from graduating, including her English paper. I challenged her and she made me laugh. She stepped outside of her essay-writing comfort zone and I helped her see her thoughts on paper. She left the session equipped and excited to keep going. It reminded me of one of my favorite quotes and made me proud to be an educator.
Next, I had lunch with sweet friend from high school. She and I were in band together and I always thought her hair color and freckles were cool. She had a quiet strength that I admired and we became friends quickly. Now that we’re grown, we had grown-folk conversation and it was lovely. We vented, we cried, we laughed. I was proud to be a friend… and her freckles and hair color still rock.
Then, it was time for my cousin’s baby shower which, might I add, was a night time swag affair. Live music, baby shower games, good food and laughs made this shower worth the cold rainy drive. I’m well acquainted with both parents, so it was great to anticipate my new cousin’s arrival. As I helped clean up, the running theme was clear. I was proud to be family.
Afrer all three settings, the word that stuck out was TOGETHER. My former student’s essay challenge wasn’t so mountainous after we met for tutoring. My friend and I didn’t feel alone in our life lessons after lunch. My family’s shower was better because everyone could share the experience. On that day, life was better together.
Sweethearts, I pray that if you’re feeling lonely and life’s bumps are giving you bruises, that you remember that you are not alone. Lonely and alone are not the same. You can feel lonely in a crowded room. I’ve been there, and wisdom has taught me that you have someone who wants to be better together with you. Be careful, but let her or him in your heart’s circle and watch the healing begin. We were not designed to do life alone. Your problems may not go away quicker, but you’ll be stronger together as the storm passes by.
Forever is a long time to grow. Are you willing to do it?
I mean it. Are you willing to a make a pact with God that you will grow as long as you live here on Earth? After all, we are the seeds of Adam and Eve and quite frankly, there’s still some growing to do. If plants can do it, why can’t we? Why can’t we do what seeds do – germinate and multiply?
It seems hard to think about, but we are designed to break free from the shell of innocence and yield a life with more seeds to plant. With our words, deeds, and talents, we were created to expand and produce a harvest for others to courageously do the same.
So, when I say “Forever is a long time to grow,” I intend to invoke conviction of every intrapersonal and interpersonal interaction you will have for the rest of your life. I want you to think about the seeds your fruit is producing for others to ingest. I want you to think about forever.
In class on November 15th, we discussed correctional facilities and prison reform. I posed the following question to my students: Are correctional facilities designed to “correct” behavior or character? Most of them said “both,” but some said neither. What do you think?
As we go about our holiday season, I think of those who are unable to have food, family, and fun – at the same time. Needless to say, there are individuals who have committed crimes unthinkable, yet there are some who have not. Are their lives being changed while on the inside of confinement? Are our lives being enhanced while we are captive to our vices? The truth is if we were caught in our everyday violations of malice, greed, and pride, we would be incarcerated right along side of our brothers and sisters.
So, I pose these questions to you… What are you chained to? What mental or emotional prison are you in? Is your “facility” correcting or enabling the behavior that got you there?
Now that we’re tangoing with the new year, I’d like to dare you to do a few a things. Not the cheesy stuff, but the things you may not be thinking of… yet. Designate an envelope for each of the month’s listed below and include these instructions for your future self.
On February 14th, don’t wait for someone to shower you with love. Depending upon how they feel, you may not feel loved that day, so write a brief letter to yourself to open that day. Start commemorating by loving yourself.
When Easter approaches, spring colors will be everywhere and I pray you feel just as invigorated to spring into the goals you’ve set for the year. The truth is, you may not. As for me, every April, I become deeply reflective. Both of my late grandmothers’ birthdays are in that month and they played a significant role in raising me. So, I miss them all the more and I remind myself of lessons they taught me. Maybe spring marks a special event for you. Write an encouraging reminder to yourself for that season… that things change and blooming takes time and labor, both of which you possess to make your dreams grow.
Juneis the month for weddings. If those are not your favorite events to attend, consider writing your current or future significant other. Better yet, send a card to one of your favorite couples, you know, the one that makes you smile when you see or think of them. A card in their mailbox would be perfect.
Augustis back-to-school time. Instead of complaining about revving up the routine again, try writing an encouraging message to read to your future self or your children that month. Maybe it’s goals that you or your child(ren) want to accomplish that school year. Maybe it’s organizational tips to make semester better than the last. Maybe it’s a reminder to be patient with the Walmart checkout lines. Either way, your future self will be grateful for the fresh air.
Gratefulness spills over the month of Novemberand it’s also the home of Veteran’s Day. Go grab a box of greeting cards and give them veterans that you know and even those you don’t. Seek out your nearest VA facility and share the love. After all, they shared themselves for our sake. Do you know what else November hosts? Stress Awareness Day and Go for a Ride Day! Pick a place in your state that you’ve never seen and explore how beautiful it is. I have a few spots I love to randomly indulge throughout the year. It’s the perfect reminder that your troubles aren’t too big for God to handle.
When the cold air snaps, people bundle up and cuddle up. If you’re single during that time, you may not have “all the feels.” Pick 5 scriptures (one for each week) to meditate on during the month of December. Reflect freely (ugly cry included if you have to) and pray about your direction for the new year. Treat yourself to dessert and prepare to address one fear before midnight strikes.
“Spiritually cloudy days” can creep up at any time, so you have to think ahead. When the months roll around, take out the envelope with the month’s name written on the front and do or marinate on what it says. Your future self will smile and thank you for it.
Peace & Thanks for listening!
*Special shoutout to one of my favorite Instagram accounts It’s A Day Really. Check them out as often as you can. They remind that there is always something to celebrate. *smile*
I’ve accepted a challenge by my writer’s group guru Javacia to unblock my writing potential through this annual exercise. I’ve always wanted to do it, but I didn’t expect it to be here already. Day 1. *eek*
So, what have I heard in my spirit today? SLOW DOWN.
It’s not enough to be a machine, but people expect you to be an energizing, self-sufficient, non-emotional android while getting catapulted by life events at the speed of light. Not an easy feat if you ask me. So today, I slowed down. I have a lot to do this week, and I’m sure you do too. For once in a significant amount of time, I ate my lunch at work… comfortably. Not in a car while thinking about my next stop. Not while on a conference call. Not taking a bite then answering a request. But sitting in a chair… at my desk… with minimal noise. It felt good to taste my food instead of inhaling it. Furthermore, I could have easily postponed lunch until after my afternoon meeting (which is my normal), but I looked at the clock and said – I need to eat before I do anything else. It was as if my body and my spirit agreed and aligned in peaceful matrimony. I enjoyed every bite of my bell pepper and grilled chicken.
Have you ever been like that?Not hangry (hungry + angry), but resolved that the absence of food was no longer an option? That was me today. That was the guilt-free me standing up for herself. How often do we do the same with God’s Word and our relationship with Him?
“I need to pray/study/listen to God before I do anything else.”
What a difference that would make! Unsupported decisions would decrease and broken souls wouldn’t cry as often. We would think of our actions before they commence. Our canned responses would have more depth and loveliness woven between them. Perhaps your heart is aching in that place of resolve for you to ____ before you start whittling your to-do list.
I guarantee that you’ll have a better sense of direction after you’ve consulted the Compass.
Blog like crazy, huh? Well, I’m game. Let’s see what the Lord has to say, or better yet, what I’ll have to slow down to hear. lol