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Listening at the Speed of Life

– by C. J. Wade –

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Wednesday Wind Down: Post-Op

Hi, Family!

I hope you had an enriching day. If not, I hope these words give you some solace.

Let me start by saying that today was a hard one. As I claw my way out of depressive waters (thank you Jesus and Therapy) and realign my life, there are days like today that make me wander down a rabbit hole of “why’s” and “what if’s.” I know what you may be thinking… “Why would you wander down a road of why’s? What good does it do?” It’s not a place I wanted to be, but somehow I ended up there today and whew… talk about a headspin. Next thing I know, I was sitting in my car with a pen in my hand trying to write my way out of a dark hole of loneliness. While that’s not the cool thing to say in Christianity, we keep it real around here.

So, what happened next was a beautiful reminder in the form of a whisper. Pen still in hand with about a half-page of spillage, I heard “You’re in post-op.”

It made perfect sense… instantly. In 2019, I told a friend that I felt like I was in spiritual surgery – like God wanted to rearrange some things in my life and all He wanted was my yes. I remember saying “OK, let’s go. Whatever You want to do, I’m in.” I had just transitioned into full-time entrepreneurship and felt like I was already skywalking on faith anyway. So in 2020, when depressive waves crashed into my soul, I remember saying “OK, so isn’t it over? Is the surgery incomplete? Am I still going through it? This is rough.”

*insert radio silence here*

Me and my frustration cried and yelled feeling like a used discarded sweater. Meanwhile, my body felt limp and expended. What in the world was happening? Was this the second phase or something? Whatever it was, I wasn’t a fan and it was lasting too long.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

*insert timelapse here to present day*

I sat in my car, lamenting on paper, then I heard that whisper and I saw it clearly. Me + hospital gown + hospital bed + tubes + monitors + four sterile walls. I knew the scenary all too well. There I was, lying there, eyes closed. I took a deep breath and realized what the Holy Spirit was telling me.

Occasionally in the vision, a nurse came in to check on me. A doctor had already spoken to my family. Limited visitors, one or two persons. I slept mostly. Limited words left my lips because my throat was still sore from anesthesia and/or the surgery itself.

After surgery, I think I should be up and running like a car after a tune-up. I always think that even though I know better. Once a procedure is completed, there’s a place called post-op and there are post-op instructions. Even same-day surgery has a post-op period. Nevertheless, what do I do? A slight tip over too much. *SMH* Why? Because I think it’s over. It’s done. It’s time to move on.

Well, Family, that’s how depression hit me like a freight train last year. I had a series of “it’s time to move on” lies in my head that lasted over a decade. Each compounded over the other. I still had joy. I still had divine anointing over my life. I still used my gifts in church, and yes, I still inspired others. And I did it well. And I meant it. But when I gave God permission to rearrange and extract as needed, I tried to apply the same lie – “OK. It’s over. It’s done. It’s time to move on.” Meanwhile, in the batcaves of reality and against my desire, I’m in post-operation recovery. Some friends have been removed. Some boundaries have been implanted. Some desires were shifted underneath others. Some thought patterns have been rewired. Stitching of redefined faith is in place and my insides are learning to work with them. I don’t feel like talking much because it hurts as it heals. I’m relearning my voice and its abilities. I’m raw, fragile, and strong at the same time.

I’m healing.

I’m healing.

I am healing.

And I can’t rush the post-op. “Change my heart, God!” “I want to be like You!” “Make me over!” Sounds great, doesn’t it? Well, if you want it, this transition can not be skipped. There are instructions that must be followed so the healing can continue past the operating room.

Photo by Nguyu1ec5n Thanh Ngu1ecdc on Pexels.com

Tonight, I want to share some grace with you in the form of this reminder – make peace with the post-op period. It’s uncomfortable, I know because you want to jump into the swing of normal, but truthfully, your normal is different after you ask God to change it. After you want to level up inside. After you say yes. When I said “OK, let’s go,” that meant that some people, things, thoughts, and habits could not go with me… and I didn’t get to decipher which ones stayed. I won’t lie to you, Family. It’s been the rawest experience of my life to date but the best decision I’ve ever made. If you’ve been here for a while, you know attention is not my cozy place, but with this experience, I’ve had to speak up more and share my heart past the uncomfortable part of me. Every time I do, someone says “Me too.”

Hence the entire reason for this blog. I don’t want anyone to be afraid of the process of Jesus’ Love. I don’t anyone to be ashamed to say “I need a therapist.” I don’t want anyone to feel alone in their walk of faith. If no one has told you lately, you are not alone. You have value and you have purpose on this Earth. You also have a right to be the best version of yourself… the version God had in mind when He fashioned you with His hands.

My prayer is that you embrace the discomfort of recuperation knowing that healing is a process and wholeness is on the other side of it.

I love you. Peace & Thanks for listening. Stay well out there and reach out if you need to.

Wednesday Wind Down: The Invisibles

Hi, Family!

I hope you had a good day. If not, it just got better. I prayed for you this week and here’s the shortstop Word I was given to share.

One of my consistent prayers is to see the heart of people. To peer past the surface and listen to the heartbeat God placed within these bodies. Let me warn you – this is one of those real prayers. It’s not an easy feat to penetrate a heavy armor of hatred and seek the root of a person. Honestly, it takes practice (but doesn’t all of this thing call faith take practice?).

After praying that request some years ago, my natural empathy boosted 10 times over. It felt like an overload some days. I walked by a woman one day and realized her retail therapy was an attempt to hush her grief-stricken heart. I spoke to her and she cried. Moments like that began to multiply and I found myself praying the following: “Lord, how many of us are there? How many of us are walking with invisible scars, aches, and pains? How many of us do we not see?” The answer I heard – “Everywhere.”

Every day, the Invisibles are among us. They work with us, shop with us, and even live with us. Some are strangers we love and some are family we despise. Some hold stark opinions that can make your blood boil. Newsflash: Our faith calls us to Love them too.

Now, I’m not telling you to act like a licensed professional and diagnose everyone you meet. I am challenging you to see beyond. Since we do not know what a person is experiencing, it would behoove us to act like Jesus and show compassion to all. Since some battles are invisible, it would be wise not to pass judgment to anyone. Since we do not live in each other’s skin, we should watch our mouths. Our words alone could repel someone from seeing the essence of our beliefs. So, since we don’t know, we should be quiet. Be still. Check in with the Holy Spirit and check our circles of influence. Be for real and ask God to illuminate and eliminate our blind spots . We should show that overwhelming Love that was shown to us.

It doesn’t take much. It just takes kindness. An extra tip to your server. An open door for a person who is carrying a load. An encouraging text to someone you admire. A listening ear to someone who feels unheard. A sincere compliment. It takes an extension of yourself past that prayer.

So let’s make grace contagious. Let’s move past the familiar and into the invisible. Let’s see the fingerprint of God in people and Love them as we are commanded to do.

Stay well out there and, in case you haven’t heard it recently, I love you and I’m proud of you. You’re still here and you made it this far.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #5

Hello There, Thinker.

There are so many avenues in you. I do so much without your permission. From creative to correlative, I stretch you more than Elastigirl’s arms.

One of my fears is that you will forget everything. I’ve seen it happen to my loved ones and it was detrimental to the spirit of their existence. They forgot who I was. Their temperament changed at the drop of a dime. Sometimes they would stare off in the distance and I longed for them to return. So, I stretch you — daily. I weave the needles of my to-do lists in and out of you like a skilled seamstress. I hope it works in our favor.

Remember when you couldn’t grasp the concept of negative numbers, but you easily understood neurological transmitters? I was so frustrated with you and I thought you were defective. I didn’t know that I was gifted. I simply felt weird and out of place.

Photo by Ololade Masud on Pexels.com

Remember when I prayed that God would make you normal so I would stop being teased? It took awhile, but I learned to embrace the way you work. You compute situations in futuristic tense yet turn off before you overload. How exceptional is that?

Remember the first time I envisioned choreography while my eyes were open? Wow, did it take my breath away. It felt like I was teleported into a creative universe. You tried to process so many pictures at once, so much movement in a moment. I pray we never forget it. I pray we never forget anything.

Store my memories well.
Hide them safely.
Let them roam free if the dark times are coming.

I don’t speak the worst over myself, but neither did my loved ones. It just happened. So, when no one is watching or while everyone sleeps, tiptoe to the file cabinets and pull out whatever tickles your fancy. You hold great things in the folds of my humanity and I have experienced incredible moments.

Here’s to you remembering them all. Here’s to recalling names, places, and things. Here’s to laughing at old jokes and dancing to my favorite tunes. We’ve got a ways to go, I believe, so I’m asking God to keep you safe and sound. In the meantime, thanks for all you do. Thank you for processing critical thoughts. Thank you for digesting everything I slam on your plate. The various mental tabs that open throughout the day. The big ideas. The little details. You do great things because a great God created you. For that, I will always believe that He will take care of us.

Sincerely,

CJW

Wednesday Wind Down: Here We Go

Well, Sweetheart, it’s November. Whew!

If you’ve been with me for a couple of years, you already know what time it is — it’s #bloglikecrazy with See Jane Write. For 30 days in November, I’m going to share special content with you and I’m looking forward to it. This annual writing challenge is hosted by Javacia Harris Bowser, my official empowerment pusher and writers from everywhere join the opportunity to post on their blogs for 30 consecutive days or participate in NaNoWriMo by writing a novel by the end of November.

This is my fifth time in the boxing ring with my fall nemesis. That’s how I see #bloglikecrazy — a stealthy feminine boxer customized to make me better. She mean-mugs me and taps her pink gloves together in October so I remember she’s been training for me. Our matches began with me just keeping my head above the literary waves to developing themes to cracking open some of the most intimate areas of my soul. After all, bloggers write to share experiences. We write to connect with others who may be part of our tribe. I’m no different.

The first year I tried to beat my sparring partner, I lost. I underestimated her. I thought — I can do this. I write all the time. Pshht. Such hubris. I crawled past the 30-day finish line well past November.

In 2017, I stretched my skills and jumped back into the ring. This time, my goal was to expound the use of one word every day.

In 2018, my theme was 30 Days of Good. That year hosted such stress that I had to highlight 30 good things that happened to me to stay sane — from attending a dinner party in my sweaty performance clothes to volunteering at UTR to being taught by my colleague in massage therapy school.

In 2019, the theme was Peep My Prayers. I gave an inside look into 30 of my personal prayers to encourage you to peel back the layers and communicate authentically with God.

This year, I’m sharing Open Letters in hopes that you are inspired to speak authentically to yourself and to each other. We’re living in a world where there’s so much fire and ice — both being deadly. I find it urgent that we not only speak freely when it comes to opinionated political stances, but when it’s time to address pain, concern, and love.

Once again, God is stretching my comfort zone by going deeper and I hope it helps. Once again, I’m slightly nervous but excited about where this path will lead. Once again, I’m looking forward to kicking it with you in November.

See you Sunday, Sweethearts. Let’s do this together.

Wednesday Wind Down: Four-peat

*sips hot tea and stretches*

Good Evening, Sweethearts!

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.

Are you ready? I am. *stretches one more time*

See you Friday, November 1. 🙂

Peace & Thanks for listening!

#bloglikecrazy: Day 5 – Sister Time

The Good

#5 – I spent much-needed sister time with Ashlee!

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.

The Lesson

IMAG0035.jpg

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.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

#bloglikecrazy: Day 1 – Open Season

Hi Sweethearts! It’s that time again!

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!

The Good

#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.”

20181031_204332.jpg
the little (taped up) notebook that changed the game. Photo courtesy of moi

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-deferred was becoming a plump and juicy reality and I got excited like it was harvest time.

The Lesson

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.

Peace & Thanks for listening to mine!

 

Wednesday Wind Down: “It’s the most wonderful time of the year…”

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).

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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!

#bloglikecrazy: Day 18 – Together

Three people. One day. All the feels.

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.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

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