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Listening at the Speed of Life

– by C. J. Wade –

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dance

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #30

To My Fellow Creatives:


I sincerely applaud us! Like immigrants, we get the job done! (see what I did there?)

We robe ourselves with the stories of others and output exceptional interpretations. It takes a brilliant mind to do such acrobatics. It takes a certain level of emotional skill to tap into the dark recesses of the world to tell an authentic story and come out of the cave without permanent scarring. I marvel at our community’s ability to do this often and sometimes across multiple projects. We are AH-MAY-ZING!

If I had to remind us of something, it would be to remember that we are valuable beyond what we do. Yes, our skills pay the bills, but we are more than what comes out of us. We are more than our masks. We are more than the stage.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Pexels.com

The truth is if we die tomorrow, the show of society would commemorate us for a bit and continue with another cast of characters. So, take care of yourselves, Loves. Our minds, bodies, and souls are more than worth it. I know we lie ourselves down for the sake of the craft, but for a lifetime of creative expulsion, I don’t like seeing us falling victim to the vice of overexertion. Some of us therapeutically deal with our issues through the arts and some of us die physically and spiritually because of them. The cycle in our community has to stop. WE MATTER.

Photo by Edgar Colomba on Pexels.com

When we sing, notes fly out of our souls like beautifully-winged freedom. When we dance, movement creates waves that disrupt unseen demons. When we act, emotion pours out of us and onto a canvas called life so others can see themselves. Yet… when I see another one of us die by suicide, drugs, crime, and various manners caused by reckless living, I am saddened because it was so preventable and the world is dimmer. Such a beautiful Icarus. Another creative we must love from afar because they got too close to the sun.

Please take care of you and look out for one another. It can be a lonely career although it is dependent upon so many people. Once you give yourself so well and you return to your hotel room or the job is over and you’re back home until the next call, the pause can be rejuvenating or deafening. Let’s be sure that we’re OK. Let’s be sure we don’t get lost in the sauce. Let’s remember that we are people first and we are loved.

Keep rocking EVERYTHING, Co-Stars!

CJW

Wednesday Wind Down: Birthday Week 5 + 6

September is here, Sweethearts!

I pray that your month has had a good start and if not, an insightful one. Allow me to share some happy and wrap up my August with you.

I grooved with my Crew.

Workmanship Incorporated was at it again and I was right there soaking it up. There’s just something about being in a dance studio that gives me beautiful vibes and creative electricity. It’s my second sanctuary (first is the beach). Being there with my sisters in movement ministry made it all the better.

I had a sweet chat with my Sorors.

In the midst of a meeting, a loving wind of sisterhood resuscitated us all as we shared why we joined the alumni association. It was so beautiful to be vulnerable together.

I saw Coach Bill Clark.

OK. I saw him on my screen during the UAB Alumni Association‘s 2020 Annual Meeting. In a land of social distancing, this is probably the closest I will get to meeting him for a while, so I was grateful for the moment. He addressed the upcoming football season and shared great information about the team’s diligence against the spread of COVID-19 and their annual outreach efforts.

I had hearty laughs with the Janes.

Every week, Founder Javacia Harris Bowser of See Jane Write, LLC carves time and energy out of her schedule to host a virtual writing session with her writing tribe. I’ve been joining in as a personal commitment to not only complete my 2nd book but to also bond with others that want to slay their goals. I love the time we set aside to check in with each other, write in silence, then check in again. It’s so nice.

Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com

My sister and I sharpened our iron swords.

In case you missed it, I co-host a real talk faith-based podcast called QueensBeLike with The Jasmine T. Before the month was out, God dropped an incredible Word that fit both of our seasons. We rooted for each other. We sharpened each other’s spirits. We laughed uncontrollably. Get you a sisterfriend that you can win with and as you’re waiting on the “W,” you fix each other’s crowns and walk uphill together.

Last, but not least —

I had wonderful sister time with Ashlee
(click the link to see why she’s dope).

I shared an open letter to my younger self and a photo with my Facebook friends (this open letter and more coming in November for #bloglikecrazy so stay tuned).

Yep. Hair, Make-up, & Photo by Desiree Danielle again.

Wherever you are, I pray that you are well in mind, body, and spirit. It takes work, but it is well worth it. This month taught me how to appreciate the journey I’ve had so far and the balance I’ve obtained to hold it in the road. I do all I can to keep it and I thank God that He reminds me of His Love in every way. A supportive mother, a ride-and-live family, a tight circle that I don’t have to second-guess, career paths that are purpose-filled, and peace of mind that makes a mighty fine pillow. No, everything isn’t perfect (actually I had a stream of bad news this month), but it sure isn’t diabolical. Remember, you do have time to enjoy something you love every week — no matter what.

Here’s to your September being exactly what you need it to be — the good, bad, or the ugly. Whatever comes to you, you are equipped to handle it and you are not alone. I love you all!

Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out there!

#bloglikecrazy: Day 2 – Do It Afraid

The Good

#2 – I danced and mimed at Dance Across Birmingham!

Why is this significant? Because I didn’t die doing it!

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Dance Across Birmingham is hosted by the Alabama Dance Council (ADC) and is a creative ritual for me. My adventurous self gets to frolic between any dance genre that tickles my fancy. For one Saturday out of the year, members of ADC provide free dance classes for the Birmingham community and beyond. You can learn everything from ballroom dancing to salsa to belly dancing to Bollywood. I love it! It gives me a chance to stretch my dance limits and be uninhibited with a group of strangers. No one judges your stumbling feet and flailing arms as you also learn with those who are classically trained. The instructors make sure that you have fun in all of your awkward glory and you meet some incredibly cool people in each class.

During lunchtime, the instructors become the performers and you watch them explode with excellence in their respective genres. Asian-inspired awesomeness, hip-hop glory… it’s a beautiful parade of talent, skill, and passion.. and I’ve always wanted to know what it would feel like to be on that stage.

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Dancing with Nathifa Dance Company & Outreach, LLC

Well, that dream became a reality this year thanks to Sistah LaVondia Smith, Founder and Artistic Director of Nathifa Dance Company & Outreach, LLC and Rosemary Johnson, Executive Director of the Alabama Dance Council. I was elated to dance with Sistah LaVondia and NDC because of their powerful and colorful African dancing and drumming. They are a sight to behold and a force to be felt! I had admired them since they began 25 years ago. If that wasn’t enough excitement, I performed a mime piece with my Troupe and was infused with strength! What an awesome 1-2 punch of goodness!

The Lesson

Fear is the only thing standing between you and Glory.

For decades I was scared of African dancing because of my respiratory issues. I was haunted by a fear of having an asthma attack mid-performance, so I cowardly never tried to learn it with full capacity of heart. Wow… to think of how much I was missing out! After that performance with NDC and a few others, I was offered the opportunity to join the Company. I was grateful and honored, to say the least.

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What can I say? We get down and dirty for the sake of the Message.

The other fear I had was that my Troupe wouldn’t appear good enough to perform on that stage. We are a comprehensive powerhouse, but I honestly wasn’t sure if we would be accepted as equals. We are a group of faith-based performing artists that come from various backgrounds and our puzzle pieces fit perfectly to create movement that touches the soul. We unapologetically seek to reach an audience of ONE, but I couldn’t help but think that our colleagues wouldn’t understand us. I was emphatically wrong. Not only did they get it, but they enjoyed it!

All it took was a resolve to stand in the face of fear, push it down and walk over it. Sounds easy, but it wasn’t. I just did it anyway. If I had not done so, I would have missed out on two beautiful milestones and someone could have have missed a moment they may have needed to experience.

What is one thing that scares you, but you want to do it more than you’re afraid of it? I stand with you and pray for our boldness to run right over it. Will you get the tingle of timidity every now and then? Maybe. That doesn’t mean that you can’t conquer it, again and again.

Peace & Thanks for listening and “see” you tomorrow for Day 3 of #bloglikecrazy!

Wednesday Wind Down: On the 6

Good Evening, Sweethearts!

Tonight, I’m sharing an open letter to my performing arts troupe. As you read it, think of how you can inhale and exhale more efficiently with your squad. If you don’t have one, you got me. Here we go…

ON THE 6: an open letter to Workmanship Incorporated

The number 6 represents the imperfections of man, labor, and is often used to indicate symmetry.

There were 6 days of creation and the Creator made man on the 6th day.

A family table often hosts 6 chairs.

What a unpopular, yet fitting number to celebrate.

In 6 years, we have disrobed and unmasked before each other, revealing the vulnerability of ministry – raw, beautiful, and free. Our paths were forged long before we formed a crew, and so were our tears. The struggles, the laughter, the prayers, the outpour of anointing… all of which encompasses the journey we chose to take together 6 years ago. I wouldn’t trade anything for June 5, 2012, when my hands shook with nervousness before each call to request your time and energy.

Now, we breathe as a family of imperfect people on fire for God’s Love and Creative Expression. We are His Workmanship and it’s an honor to serve with you.

Let’s keep going.

XO, Christina

Peace & Thanks for listening. 

#bloglikecrazy: Day 26 – Dance

I have a confession to make. I dance around the house for no reason other than it makes me happy, and sometimes, I do it in heels. My dog looks at me funny from time to time, but I think he’s gotten use to my random bursts of movement.

I step, I salsa, I groove, and I do the running man when it hits me. I’m a dancer, through and through. No, I wasn’t classically trained in ballet. No, I didn’t participate in summer dance intensives. I hear music in my head and I move to it.

Growing up, I listened to jazz, gospel, rock, heavy metal, blues, R&B, hip-hop, country… you name it. Thanks to my family, I was exposed to some good stuff and that goodness would seep beneath my pores and I would be compelled to let it out. Any Man of Mine by Shania Twain would get a mix of hair swinging and stepping. Don’t Worry, Be Happy by Bobby McFerrin would get head bobs and horrible attempts at whistling. Going through my uncle’s cassette drawer was like eating at a musical candy factory. I was in heaven every time I could sneak a listen.

Now the cassette and headphones have been replaced with streaming queues and bluetooth speakers, but I dance just as hard. Music will always be in my DNA no matter how old I get. It makes me feel alive and healthy, running fine on all cylinders – even if but for 3:32. Diving into my audible ocean means everything to me and I always resurface better than before. I think the freedom makes me a better choreographer.

What do you do that gives you unadulterated happiness? Is it bike riding? Rollerskating? Painting? Cooking? Whatever it is, I pray that you get to do it before the year ends and whenever the mood strikes. Get some happy in your life!

Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweethearts!

Photo courtesy of consequenceofsound.net

#bloglikecrazy: Day 5 – Grit

I have the best creative team in the world. Give us space and time and we do extraordinary things, like create moving water, tumultuous trees, and a visual Bible story in seconds.

On last Sunday afternoon and into late that evening, my performing arts troupe, Workmanship Incorporated, rehearsed for our upcoming performance at the UAB Gospel Choir Reunion Concert to be held at the Alys Stephens Center on Monday, November 13, 2017. I was torn between physical pain and supernatural will, but I made it. One of my teammates lives in another state and she drove into town to join us. Other teammates came from church, work, and family duties to give their sacrifice of dance as well. To check out a short clip of the rehearsal, click here.

At one point in the rehearsal, I stepped back and just marveled at how fantastic they were. Willing and diligent to get it right so God could have complete control on performance day. No one complained. No one was belittled. No one was anxious to leave. We were on one accord. Everyone was pressing toward the mark and it was beautiful. I loved beholding the glory of God working in them behind-the-scenes. 


In a bigger perspective, many will never see what we go through at home in order to produce the fruit on our limbs in life. We have structured areas and danger zones where we get our lives together before heading out into the world. In the performing arts arena, the audience may see 10 minutes of creativity for 10 hours of preparation. It’s a labor of love and a gritty process, but well worth it in the end. That’s the essence of your life, your relationships, your dreams, your responsibilities. If you do it right, grit becomes part of your daily diet. It’s good for you and for those around you. It doesn’t let you quit or whine. It pulls you over the humps and having others with you that chew on the same stuff makes all the difference.

So, there I was… with a front row seat looking at a dream realized from my 14-year-old self. Rehearsing with all of the energy we could muster. Laughing through trials and sharing our victories. And I realized then,the aftertaste of grit tastes good.

Peace & Thanks for listening! 

And to my Troupe, Workmanship Incorporated, thank you for being my muse. I love y’all. Xoxo

#bloglikecrazy: Day 18 – A Beautiful Surprise

The following events happened within a 8-hour time span. Crazy.

Lunch with a beautiful twist

I had lunch with someone that I didn’t know as well. She had experienced a death in her family and I had given her some time before encroaching upon her grief. I was in mourning as well and we discussed our journeys toward the sunlight. We left the lunch spot laughing and vowing to meet again before the year ends.

What I heard: You never know who’s in it with you. Somebody gets it.

Somehow, with our nightlights, we found each other and embraced the space we were stumbling in because we knew there was a way out. That day, lunch was so much more than a meal.

Tutoring with a beautiful story

I left the lunch with a beautiful twist to tutor a pre-teen. He had a book report due in a few days and his father asked for my assistance. He and his father were frustrated in the process of creating a rough draft. I love those kinds of challenges. As we talked about the book, the student revealed the storyline in a way that made me want to check it out. Then, I asked him about a part of the story that I didn’t understand. His response? “Well, memories don’t die with the person.” Not knowing anything about my state of heart, this young one pierced it with an arrow of truth. I am so grateful that memories don’t die with the person’s body. I can feel sad forever, but I have memories. I can’t say the same about my biological father as I only have two memories of him, but he lives in the stories I’ve heard from those with whom he spent time. Memories have a funny way of sneaking up on you and grabbing you out of your current world. Sometimes good, sometimes in a bad way. For me, that tutoring session was a good moment… a reminder that I can enjoy the recollections gifted by the person well after the lifetime expires. We finished the rough draft, I consulted with the client, and all was well in their world… and in mine.

Rehearsal with a beautiful message

So, now it was time to be creative. It was time to put flesh and bones to a song that my performing arts troupe would record and post online. It was inevitable that this would be a joint effort and as the leader of the team, I was determined to let their minds run free with ideas as I did during the brainstorming session. Rehearsal can get gritty and your mind and body can take a beating, but it’s all for a good outcome.

There was a part of the song where we are on our knees in humility, but spiritually, it depicted where I had been for the past couple of weeks. I felt helpless and pressure-squeezed like fruit in a winepress. I knew something sweet and refined would come out of everything, but I couldn’t see it and all I could do is say “Whatever You want to do, just give me the strength to do it.” Instead of leaving rehearsal drained, I left encouraged. Encouraged to minister the piece to myself and anyone else who needs a thy will be done in their spirit.

Sometimes we think that beauty comes upon instantly beholding something, not realizing what it took for the artist to create what we see. It’s beautiful because it was first messy. Cloudy. Muddy. Confusing. It was beautiful after the work and the darkness.

I experienced a beautiful surprise that began as not-so-pretty moments. All with a similar theme. Who knew?

He did. *smile*

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo courtesy of Williams-Sonoma

 

 

#bloglikecrazy: Day 2 – I Don’t Wanna

Guess what I heard today. *sigh*

“At some point, you gotta suck it up.”

If you’re like me, you’re used to being strong even when you don’t feel like it. Requests fulfilled, electronically attached, and problem-solving skills at the ready. But, ocassionally, the bough breaks and I feel like a 5-year-old. A pouty little human that doesn’t want to carry out her grown up duties for a few minutes. There’s no sugarcoating it when I get that way. I just don’t wanna do it right then.

You may have moments when you just feel a strong toddler “no” in your spirit…but it’s not holy. It’s human. I have them often.

They may be small spurts of time, but they can be lethal to your mission.

At some point, you gotta just suck it up. Whatever it is. Just think: What would happen if we let our immaturity show like a satin white slip during a southern church service on a regular basis? Nothing would get done in its necessary timing and other’s lives could be affected.

So, I have a formula for the “I Don’t Wanna” moments you secretly experience. When faced with a responsibility that isn’t attractive or enjoyable, give yourself no more than 5 minutes of toddler time. Calculate how much time it will take to carry out the it. Set a timer for 5 minutes. Before you get started on the it, let the kid out. Whine, pout, growl, doodle, jump around, do whatever you need to release the kid you are inside. Go hard in paint. Scream if you need to. Run around in your undies (in your private residence, not at work please). Let it out. After 5 minutes, give yourself the boxing ring pep talk, throw on your cape, and suck it up. You’ve got a life that will eventually turn into history. Plant your feet and make a resolve that you’re the best person for the job. You’re the only one that can do it like you and you must be awesome enough to do it. God built you as a Masterpiece. That task has nothing on your beautiful mind. You’re going to smash that to-do item and celebrate with a high-five, happy dance under and a smile to yourself.

The case of the “I Don’t Wanna” is a plot from your inner child, but it doesn’t have to deplete your productivity. Let her out then put her to work. You’ll be better for it.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

I have 5-minute dance parties to fight back. Photo courtesy of Desiree Danielle Photography.

Dance Your Heart IN: Part 2 – We Got SOLed

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You need a session. Trust me.

After an invigorating dance-in-the-dark party in February, I was all about having my private party on the night before my August 20th birthday. What better way to celebrate my fresh wind of feminism than with other Wonder Women? I hand-picked a few close friends that I thought would appreciate the unique experience and invited them to dance their heart in with me. When the dust settled, seven ladies were confirmed and I was elated to rock with them.

Related Sidebar: I’m an Olympics fanatic. Seriously. I try to watch everything. You know how the U. S. Women’s Gymnastics Team is usually earmarked with a nickname? We’ve witnessed the Magnificent Seven (Atlanta 1996), the Fierce Five (London 2012), and recently in Rio, the Final Five to commemorate the retirement of legendary gymnastics coach Martha Karolyi. Epic.

I decided to jump on board and nickname these seven sisters + our beautiful host Shannon. They were the Exceptional Eight and this new band of supersheroes were about to embark my birthday SOL ship voyage. Sidebar complete.

I’m a thinker, so I reviewed the dynamics. Three of the attendees were my sorority sisters. Two of the eight ladies I knew since grade school. The remaining two women, I met in college. And Shannon? She was a sister on-site. Our kindred spirits kindled a positive energy that burned over emails and spilled over into our face-to-face encounter. I loved how she fit right into our type of crazy. I even had an icebreaker planned just in case my multiple circles needed some communicative coaxing, but as Shannon pointed out, they already had something in common…me. Each one of them represented a part of me that identified with them, so why wouldn’t they blend? I must admit. I was nervous because I wasn’t sure how the session would turnout for them, but it resulted in an explosion of laughter mixed with bursting sounds of pure joy and freedom. I couldn’t have asked for more. It was a beautiful blend.

Soon, it was lights out and we danced the night away to a perfect mix of my favorite jams (Did I mention perfect?). We ate until our sweet tooths were satisfied. We shared words of love and humor and you could see the strings of sisterhood weaving among us. We were SOL-tied, a band of professional women that had worked hard during the day, but needed the unique forge of fortitude that night. One of my sisters even had to get up for work at 3:00 AM the next day, but was still energized when she woke up. It was that electric. I saw their faces relax and for a moment, we weren’t wives, mothers, students, caregivers…we were an assembly of queens drinking from the pool of cooling strength and being fitted in new armor for the world that awaited us. The shattered stress from our daily roles lie on pieces of pink paper around us and no one walked out in the same manner in which they entered. Everyone returned to the lobby a little taller, brighter, and ready to obliterate any obstacle in her path.

We were walking with sunlight in our pockets and positivity in our hearts.
Our steps had rays of sunshine beaming underneath as we matriculated to our night-kissed cars.

To say that those dance steps charged our feminine energy packs would be an understatement. We may have put on the same shoes, but they didn’t feel the same.

We got SOLed.

So can you.
Sole definition google Thank you, Google.

Peace, thanks for listening, and Happy Birthday to all of the August babies! We ROCK!

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