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Wednesday Wind Down: Remember When

Hey, Sweethearts!

This post is dedicated to the “survivor you.” You know — the part you tucked away because you thought you were done with that season? That you. Right there. We’re going to tap into that person again.

Which person was you?

  • College student with minimal income and a heavy semester course load
  • Single parent trying to stretch a minimum wage check
  • Homeless person avoiding an abusive home
  • Fresh out of school and figuring out how to budget expenses
  • Sick at home and not able to work
  • Laid off from work and working a lower paying job
  • Caregiving for a loved one and trying to balance work demands
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

If none of these fit you, fill in the blank with whatever lean state you’ve experienced in your lifetime. Now, let’s revisit some ways you can survive this season too. You can’t be too high and mighty to dig into the following three tips. Ready? Let’s take a quick trip down memory lane.


Survival Reminder Tips

  1. Stretch those meals.
    Remember those ramen noodles? I hope I didn’t make you gag. lol Essentially, you ate within your budget. You made one pizza last two days. You got creative with pasta. You could eat off of $10.00. You knew each restaurant’s deal days. This may be a different time, but you may need to dig into that mindset for a bit. There’s nothing wrong with that. If you have to feed that family on spaghetti, make it happen. When I was an RA in college, I created a study break for my residents by buying about six boxes of kiddie cereal and various types of milk and setting up a cereal bar. Do what you need to do, Sweethearts. Create that magic!
  2. Go outside.
    It’s no secret that when we were younger, we went outside more. Yes, there’s a pandemic out there, but there’s a reason why my grandparents would always tell us to play outside. Remember when you had to walk because you didn’t have a car or you took public transportation to the nearest stop? It expands the mind, strengthens the body, and uplifts the spirit. Take advantage of parks and hiking trails. Those are excellent places to create beautiful memories within social distancing and budgeting parameters. So, explore your city, county, and state!
  3. Sharing is caring.
    Back in the day, my college friends and I shared meals. Between three of us, we would conjure up a protein and some sides. This may be a little interesting with the virus, but it won’t hurt to buy a couple of frozen dinners or cans of soup for your neighbor. If you’re that neighbor, it won’t hurt to accept the kindness. The more we stay in silos, the more likely we are to die in them. Be careful? Yes. Be caring? Yes again.
Photo by Julia Volk on Pexels.com

I truly believe that COVID-19 has been a great equalizer and everyone has the opportunity to tap into the survival skills that got them through the tough times of yesteryear.

The pandemic won’t last forever. We just have to make it through this chapter. Don’t be afraid to dig deep to see it through. Don’t be afraid to let that “survivor you” float to the surface and do what s/he does best. Then look in the mirror without shame and smile at that awesomeness.

I’m rooting for you!

Peace & Thanks for listening!

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #27

To my Fantastic Frat Brothers of Kappa Kappa Psi National Honorary Band Fraternity:

First things first — Happy 101st Anniversary, Bruhs!

When I joined Tau Beta Sigma in 2001, my dean/big sister told me that if I ever need anything, find a Bruh. Not that my sisters wouldn’t have my back, but she wanted to establish that I had always had back-up. I was always covered.

She didn’t lie.

A Quick Note: Now this was before KKPsi became co-ed, so my primary memories involve male members and my points of references in this letter will reflect that experience. This doesn’t knock any member post the co-ed change. You know I love you all.

Whether I was on the road or down the street, a brother of KKPsi would sincerely ensure my well-being. Small things matter to me like walking to me to my car (which you always do) and the big things certainly can not be overlooked like letting me sleep peacefully in your room and making sure no one woke me up because you knew I had a long drive ahead. It was even a Bruh that provided a place to stay and transportation for my audition in DC. I’ll never forget that.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I love that you are exceptional musicians and no one can stroll like you — no one. One of my favorite memories is watching a small group of you recall the score of band music you played in college. Quarter notes and staccatos punctuated your voices like audible artwork and you gathered like the geniuses you were to make sure it was flawless. The musicianship it takes to be you in unparallel and that’s what I admire about you all year long.

I love that you support each other In The Bond. I’ve seen you hold each other up in hard times and correct each other at parties. You’re brothers and you act like it.

God bless you all for the rest of your years and beyond. Stick together — no matter what. Keep loving on each other during this time and keep showing Sorors that sibling love (not just Greek crushes) is indeed real — that those constitutions meant something when our founders bonded us together. Music and band are the ultimate examples of that because it takes every part of us to create the Masterpiece.

I love you. Keep striving for the highest. I tip 101 red carnations to you.

CJW
“Fine Tuned”
#1 – Eta Lambda – SPR01
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Eta Lambda Alumni Association

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #12

To my RHOyal SoRHOrs of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. –

Happy Founder’s Day and Happy RHOvember! I won’t be too mushy — promise. lol

Here we are celebrating 98 years since our Founders agreed to spread more service into the world.

It was a risk. Being women in college was an accomplishment alone. Being Black women on the predominately White campus of Butler University in the 1920s was a rarity. Organizing to uplift other women in times of suppression was deemed a sign of protest. I think about these factors often when facing hardship especially during times like these. The opposition was immense back then, but they did it anyway. They extended help for present needs while keeping the future in mind. They had us in mind.

I know the world gravitates toward the photo opps, but prior to social media and ready-to-snap cameras, all they had was each other, their word, and their actions. That’s it. If no one saw it, the impact was still made. They knew the fruit of their labor was real.

SoRHOrs, may we be encouraged to take that same spirit of tenacious scholarship, sisterhood, and service and multiply it everywhere. No service is too small. No act of sisterhood is too far. No scholarship is too great. Let’s continue to check on each other. Let’s support each other’s efforts and hug each other’s children. Let’s continue to be there for the wins and create a strength circle around the losses. Our seven Founders knew those sentiments all too well as they were called derogatory names and fought through obligatory and ridiculous red tape. They knew that every closed door meant another one had to open for another woman. They kept going and I’m so glad they did. I wouldn’t have met you.

Of course, we believe Sigma is the best and my God, are we diverse. lol I pray that the authentic spirit of our Founders causes a tidal wave of solidarity among all Black Greek Letter Organizations. We were founded on greatness — all of us were. I hope we pump lifeblood into every situation. I pray that we are breath of fresh air in our personal and professional arenas. I want every industry to have poodle prints all over it. It’s not up to our famous SoRHOrs to do it — every member has that power. That’s how we got here. We saw a Sigma and she made an impression on us enough to take a step toward doing the same thing for others. We decided to multiply.

Remember why you joined. Remember why you stayed. Remember why you’re here. I love you all.

On The Shield Always,

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Day 25 – There Is An End

The Good

#25 – I watched my students and my cousin graduate!

There are two things I bring to every graduation – water and cough drops. Why? Because I’m going to scream for my students! The joy that overwhelms my soul every time I see them step into the graduation day is the stuff that could make rockets fly. Their smiles light up every backstage corridor and when they walk across the stage, I yell like I birthed them myself. I teach adults, but at that moment, they’re my kids. I embarrass them with cheers, hugs, and words that express how proud I am of them.

The cherry on top of the day was cheering for my cousin. She had gone through hell and high water, but she kept a spirit of determination while balancing family, work, and school. I was so proud of her and all of my students that day. I was simply blessed to be present… and they knew I was coming for them with my camera. lol

The Lesson

The best feeling in the world for an educator is knowing that you’ve given them something that will grow with them forever. The homework, the discipline, the life skills, and the motivation all work together to create a beautiful moment of transition from the classroom to their respective professions. My former students are now business owners, healthcare professionals, administrators, managers, and students once again as they advance in their careers. All of those titles came to fruition because their class time with me came to an end. That’s not a sad thing… it’s a Good thing! That’s why I cheer for my students so hard and knock back those cough drops – because it’s the end of that part of the struggle. Single parenthood, unemployment, inconsistent childcare, undependable transportation, and non-supportive family members were not enough to stop them. And those smiles on that day… that’s the Good no negativity can take away.

So, maybe you think I was joking about the cheering part. Who cares if I was on stage as faculty? Not me. Just check out this clip of my cousin walking across the stage.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Cheer for someone this week! It may encourage them more than you know!

#bloglikecrazy: Day 12 – Here Comes The Judge

The Good

#12 – I judged the Camille Armstrong Memorial Scholarship Stepshow again!

For the UAB community, the Camille Armstrong Memorial Scholarship Stepshow is a Black Greek family reunion. The step routines, the strolls, and the passionate chants created memories that NPHC organizations will remember for years to come. But what really makes the alumni come outside on a cold February night is the chance to laugh and chat with old friends. Being a former participant in the step show and a former executive board member of the Black Student Awareness Committee (the hosts of the show), I am always honored and appreciative to serve as a judge for this beautiful event. Regardless of the banter shared across the organizational color line, we’re threads of a historical tapestry of academic and community excellence and nothing can tear that apart.

The Lesson

Legacy is everything. The relationships that formed as a result of being Greek in Birmingham, Alabama still vibrate with love and respect to this day. Being a judge means that I have the opportunity to keep the art form of stepping alive with integrity and excitement. As a choreographer, that means everything to me. As an alumna, it makes me proud. I went from attending the step show to assisting with it -> to being on the executive board -> to judging it. When I sat for a minute and thought about it, I appreciated the blessing to be involved in those ways.

For my collegiate Sweethearts, take note of your relationships. You don’t have to be a member of a sorority or fraternity to have meaningful interactions. When you’re in college, you have the opportunity to make friends that last a lifetime and the chance to leave a legacy. Serve where you can. Meet people you have nothing in common with. Attend events that you have no clue about. Be safe and explore where your legacy begins.

Peace, Thanks for listening, and Happy Founders’ Day, my SoRHOrs! EEE-YIP! #SigmaGammaRho #LastCreatedBestDesigned

TM Lesson #5: He Thought of Everything

Hello Sweethearts!

Last week, I mentioned that I’m in the final countdown of my therapeutic massage program (33 days to be exact, and I’m including weekends). While it is exciting to prepare for the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx), our study sessions have also made me nostalgic and full of wonder all over again about how intricate God made our bodies.

Did you know…

  • The biconcave shape of your blood cells increase its surface area for oxygen consumption, yet remains flexible enough to squeeze into tight spaces?
  • The sarcomeres in our muscles facilitate muscle contraction (and look like a subway system, if you ask me)?
  • Aromatherapy is an actual form of therapy because your brain and muscles create and recall memories as you inhale an essential oil?
  • Your sternocleidomastoid (SCM) has a clavicular and sternal head to stabilize your neck when you tilt it back (Remember that little tidbit the next time you doze off in class)?

    sternocleidomastoid-muscle
    Courtesy of Yoganatomy.com
  • Your body will always attempt to achieve homeostasis (balance), even at the expense of your free will?

The lymphatic system. Respiratory system. Cardiovascular system. Autonomic and Somatic Nervous Systems. There are many more collaborations that keep you alive and massage therapists can affect every last one of them through the power of touch. That’s how cool God is.

He touched us first. His fingerprint is on our hands. No matter how many people are born in the world, no one can duplicate you. Can you believe that such an incredible God thought enough of you to breathe into you and form your body Himself? All of those cells, muscles, and systems were fashioned with your purpose in mind. I am fascinated by that even more now that I am adding a new career industry to my journey.

Now, here’s the disclaimer. I don’t know why some of the systems malfunction or why parts of them are deformed or missing, but I know God still had every detail in mind when He made you. Everything else in creation was called to be, but you? You were customized with ocular muscles around your brown eyes. The zygomatic bones on your face are perfectly curved to create your cheekbones. You have the cradle of life sitting between your iliac crests. There is no mistake in you. I have had to remember that as I face health challenges myself. Even the parts of me that don’t function properly still exude His glory because I continue to fulfill my purpose on this Earth. I’m here to tell you… He thought of everything about you and you were designed with Love in mind.

Wind down safely, Dear. I have some reading to do before class in the morning, but don’t forget our chat, OK? *smile* Look in the mirror or check yourself out with a selfie to admire the greatness in you, on you, and shining through you.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: Start

Good Evening, Sweethearts!

According to my planner, 8/1/18 was supposed to be the launch of my 2nd book – sizzle reel and all. It was the perfect date for the perfect plan… at least in the land of my notebook.

Screenshot_20180802-000239_Chrome
Am I sad? Well, I was, but not anymore. Why? Because it is the first day of my birthday month and the last day of my fifth module out of six in order to complete my therapeutic massage program. I made A’s on my final exam, practical application, and overall module. I felt reflective and excited to be at the cusp of the end and the beginning simultaneously. Honestly, I felt like a 5-year-old sparked by the sound of the end-of-day school bell. Instead of running out of the front doors with a teacher’s note in my hand, I walked to the unsung heroes of financial aid and hugged each one that touched my journey. I appreciated their patience, diligence, and encouragement. Behind the scenes, they worked side by side with my admissions representative to ensure that I had a positive experience and I wanted them to share in the fruit of their labor.

I remembered when I started the program and September seemed so far away and now it is sitting right next to me, swinging its legs in the upcoming fall breeze. Now, that I’ve reached the end of this hill and staring up the next one, my spirit is so grateful that I started. Then, I thought about you.

What is it that you need to start? Time is one of those things that has kept its word ever since God placed it in motion. And guess what? It won’t wait on you. So, you have no choice but start now, start later, or start never. Either way, a starting point is waiting on you. As I left campus, I played my Andy Mineo album loudly and got lost in it. I smiled when I thought about Shawn bobbing his head with me along the drive. Blue sky, green hills, and open road… what a beautiful metaphor for how I felt inside. Like the world was wide open for me to keep starting. When I said as a teenager that I wanted to become a licensed massage therapist as part of my long-term goal plan, I didn’t realize that my starting line had 2018 spray painted on it. Perhaps this applies to you. What have you dreaded starting because it seems too big or out of your reach? Remember, your start can be at any time, but nothing’s better than knowing that a finish is coming. I live by the following mantra God gave me: Today will be yesterday. God lives outside of time and He has always had your start in mind.

Peace, thanks for listening, and wind down safely, Dear. I’m getting some much needed sleep in 5…4…3…2… zzzzzzz

Photo courtesy of Roux Creative

#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 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!

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