Listening at the Speed of Life

– by C. J. Wade –



The Feet of My Character

Last week, I learned a valuable lesson.

I control my character.
I can not control where it goes.

Two situations occurred that drained my positive energy. I came into the workplace as a champion reentering the ring to help people and slay giants, but I left the building with a soreness of spirit. I started the day with a plan. There was the morning talk. You know… the “you’re going to have a great day” mini-pep rally you conduct in the bathroom mirror or in your car. On some days, you would think I was about to play in the Super Bowl because in the world of education, everyday is a championship game. The esteem and futures of my students are at stake and I can positively or negatively affect them with every word and deed. Though I’m light-hearted in my profession, I don’t take that responsibility lightly.

While the details of the situations are irrelevant, the aftermath was that I was offended that an attribute of my character was in question. Questioning my integrity or loyalty is one of few things that can send me from 0 mph to 90 mph in 0.01 second. As I walked to my car, I heard the following in my heart:

Your character should stand on its own.

I literally paused in my tracks. My character has feet. It should stand when I’m not around. It can walk before me and plead my case through the mouths of others based upon what I exhibit daily. I can’t control what is said about me, especially in my absence. What I can control is my character. Am I showcasing sincerity, love, integrity, purpose, and respect? At the grocery store, at the gas station, toward my family… is my character loud enough to speak on my behalf? Does my character walk around others long after I’m gone? I know I make mistakes daily, but there is something to be said if the legs of our integrity are stronger than our mouths. If by chance you were unable to speak for yourself, could your character be on trial and win the case?

I realized last week that I can’t control what is said about me, but I can control what is said of me. Only those that know you can speak of you. Those that create a perception of you can talk about you. When individuals say something that doesn’t match the shoe size of your character, those that know of you can stand in your absence and speak the truth. I control the truth. When I am diligent, caring, honest, and authentic to one or many, I am strengthening that truth like it’s “leg day” at the gym. My character has feet, so I need to focus on its mileage, and not on the mouths of others.

Here’s a verse to help with your “workout” –

“Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.” – Colossians 4:6 NASB

I know some days you (and I) want to sprinkle cayenne pepper on your words instead of salt, but let’s make a pact to have less of those moments, OK? OK. *smile*

Peace & Thanks for listening.

Be Great or Go Home.


Before I ever thought of becoming a University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Blazer, I was a University of Tennessee Volunteer… well, in my mind I was.

I saw powerful images of a Warrior and knew that UT was the place where I could shine. I couldn’t play a lick of basketball, but you couldn’t tell me that I wasn’t going to meet Pat Summitt on campus while walking to class one day. Try denying it, and I would emphatically defend that fantasy until you were a believer.

The Big Orange glow lured me into the graduate school application process years later when I decided to become an educator. I applied to both UAB and Tennessee. My grandmother was sick and I decided to stay in Birmingham. My letter from Tennessee came a few days after I confirmed my graduate journey as a Blazer. Somehow, I knew it would happen that way.

wp-1467171384091.jpgNevertheless, I felt a strong connection to Knoxville because of one person. An unapologetic Shero that seemed to radiate from my TV screen each time I saw her. I could feel her fire and touch her tenacity. She was a lifter of those around her and you could see it in the eyes of her Lady Vols.  For me, “The Summit” (as I called her in my mind), was a cataclysmic collision with athletic machismo. Her hand claps sent shockwaves into decades of prejudice and discrimination toward women and her stare would make any referee, coach, or player rethink their behavior.

In light of the news of her passing, what did I learn? What did I hear before bed last night? One lesson.

You can’t argue with excellence.

In the beginning it was a factor, but later… after sowing sweat and sincerity, it didn’t matter that she was female. Her excellence superseded her gender. In the end, she understood that either you be great or you go home and come back ready to be great. That’s all you have to choose from. You do the work behind the scenes and you eliminate the opportunity for inferiority and self-doubt to halt your drive. Sure, I could go down the statistics and accolades, but I’d like to point out the less-than-shiny ones.

  1. Washing uniforms
  2. Driving the team van
  3. $250.00 per month of earnings

This is greatness. This is excellence at its finest. It starts at the bottom; it starts with service. With every perceived act of smallness, she exuded exponential positivity with a side of moxie. She was a powerhouse before anyone acknowledged that she had the juice… and she didn’t wait for them to figure it out. Her consistent investment in others yielded residual dividends.

  1. 100% graduation rate of her players
  2. First women’s coach to earn more than $1 million in a season (2008-2009 season), trailblazing a path for other women to earn competitive coaching pay
  3. Inspiring thousands of women to play like a girl and be proud of it


The Summit” yelled. She passionately pressed her players without apology. She paced across the attic of America’s glass ceiling with her 5’11” frame and dared anyone to say she couldn’t back up every seed she had sown. Her brand was excellence, and she trusted the product she poured into others. Whether or not the sexists acknowledge her equity, she was definitely not outworked. Her determination put more wind in my feminist cape to keep flying above gender stereotypes. Now, she has gone in the same fullness in which she was came.


I’m grateful that she was great before she went home.



Peace & Thanks for listening.

The Drug of Choice

Flight Write

Do you know my most prized possession of learned content from this weekend? Here it is…

You have to choose to live.

You must decide to let life enter your situations and experiences.  You have to go to the door of your life, your “house,” and promptly let death out. He can come in many forms… defeat, illness, strife, anger, frustration, or despair.  They all have the same result — death.

Furthermore, death in mind is worse than death of body.  Your mind can be fresh and agile while your body is weak.  People have overcome life-threatening situations by the power of their mind.  Trying to override a matter of reality through the mystery of mental prowess can be a daunting challenge.  Everything outside of you says to quit, roll over in anguish, pull the covers over your head and don’t even try to fight.  You have to choose, right then, that your life is worth fighting for — regardless of who is in it, around it, or absent from it.

Choice is a powerful drug. 

It can cause you to accomplish great things and to clear hurdles taller than you or it can bring the onset of your demise.  It, like any other prescription, can be taken at will.  Even medicine forced through the veins must have consent.  Well, let me tell you something.  God gave you the prescription of making decisions… choices… also known as free will.  He could have pumped you up with a lot of bondage, especially when the decisions you made were not in your best interest.  Truth is, choice is potent and He knew that if you chose the negative for yourself, you would most likely remember not to do it again.  In the positive realm, that’s how life is.  When you choose life once, you will most likely choose it again because you liked the way it made you feel alive and present.  You’ll like the energizing warmth that brings you to smile and mean it from the depths of your being.  You’ll love the sound of your own laughter when it echoes through the halls of your soul.  You’ll enjoy soaking it all in with no gates in between.

When you kick death out of your residence, you make the decision to live in your “house.”  You utilize the keys and access the deadbolts on your potential.  Who wants to be a prisoner in the confines of themselves? No, you will not curl up and disintegrate in the dark corners of your mind.  You will go in your medicine cabinet and reach for CHOICE.  Pop a few affirmations, scriptures, community service, or local kindness (where you assist the person nearest you).  It may be hard to swallow because your reflexes say to gag and remain sour or lackadaisical, but ingest the choice to breathe in life.  Feel it in your lungs as you’re grateful for the air.  Feel it around  your waist as your hug yourself and on your hips as your hands confidently rest there.

You matter and you deserve to live EVERYDAY, not just on vacation.

You deserve to feel radiant whether you’re in a mansion or a halfway house. 

Let the choice of living digest and before you know it, you’re in the moment.  You’re dancing, smiling, reading, exercising, driving, and loving yourself in the decision you made.  You evicted death and he no longer roams freely about the rooms of your obligations such as mom, dad, caregiver, friend, etc.  He’ll try to get in, but you’ll be ready with your medicinal weapon… DECISION.

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