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Wednesday Wind Down: Not It

Hi, Sweethearts!

You made it to another week. How are you? I’m glad you’re here.

I have a thought for you. Ready? Let’s go.

Once upon a time (in real life), there was a grocery store called Food World. In Food World, there was a bakery and in the bakery was a woman with confectionery superpowers — at least that’s how I saw her as an elementary-aged child. While my single mother meticulously made sure we were fed by scouring each aisle for the best deals, I was fascinated with the sugary symphony on the other side of the glass window.

First, her skin was brown like mine, so I saw my reflection. Her smile was wide and sweet. She always acknowledged my presence and didn’t seem to mind my wide eyes glued to her work as my mother shopped. Mind you, this was when you could somewhat safely leave your child at a small town grocery store bakery window and knew she would be there when you returned. Talk about visions of sugar plums… I didn’t have to wait until my dreams to see the magic. She would sprinkle powdered sugar like fresh snow. She might as well have been a samurai with the way she sliced cake rounds in half and waved frosting between each layer. Her wrists carefully swiveled as frosting oozed out of the piping bag forming flowers and leaves. I especially liked the pink frosting. It complimented her skin so well. As I’ve said before… I’ve always been an observer. Many trips later, I could guess the end result of her creations before she finished the process — a boy’s birthday, a wedding, a strawberry shortcake… they were all gorgeous to me, but maturity started to tap on my shoulder to remind me that they were intended for specific people. They were all beautiful, but they were not mine.

How often do we become enchanted with something or someone who does not belong to us? The perks of the job may be perfect or his smile may put you in a trance, but have you considered whether the design is for you? Sure, it is lovely, but is it yours? See, every cake had a name. Each dessert was crafted with a request in mind. Sometimes I would even see her place it in the box and put it in the commercial refrigerator. I could admire as much as I wanted, but there was no way those sweets were coming home with me.

Courtesy of my YouVersion Bible App

Sweethearts, God has crafted opportunities and relationships just for you. Every open door is not the perfect door for you. It could very well be the answered prayer for someone else. With that in mind, it is imperative that we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us through decisions. Yes, we have free will, but we also have a Guide. Who couldn’t use a Guide during times like this?

I’m praying for you out there. Keep staying safe and stay grounded in what you know. You are a beautiful creation and it’s OK to say “not it” if necessary.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: Stickers

Hello, Sweethearts!

Here’s a shortstop (a 500-words-or-less-post) for your week.

Ever since I was a child, I’ve loved stickers. They were expressive and comforting. They represented my voice when I didn’t want to talk. They ranged from Lisa Frank to historical landmarks.

The problem came when my mother wanted a clean surface or I wanted to change the look of my binder. Those stickers could be so difficult to remove. This same difficulty occurred with people placed labels on me growing up.

You’re too quiet.
You act like you’re better than us.
You think you’re smart.
You talk White.
You’re too dark.

You’re too tomboyish.
You’re so prissy.

You’re not aggressive enough.
Your panties must be dipped in holy water.
You stay to yourself too much.
You don’t smile enough.
You’re too sensitive.
You’re too nice.

Stickers. Labels. The ones you just read were stuck all over me from elementary school onward and I desperately tried to change every last one of them… trying to conform to the shape of the sticker just to please the person that put it on my body. It was exhausting to migrate between two polarized ends trying to find the center like the bubble on a level tool. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get it right. I was always too something. It took two decades to absorb God’s Truth about my existence and allow His Love to wash that residue off my spirit. I realized and accepted the fact — Labels do not dictate me. They describe one’s perception, but they do not determine my craftsmanship and my footsteps.

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

Over time, as I let the warmth of the Father’s Light shine on my soul, I embraced my “too” somethings. My sensitivity was my superpower to empathize with others and see pain past the smiles. My sweetness was my weapon to confuse instigators and diffuse volatile situations. My desire not to have casual sex brought me peace of mind when my cycle was late. My quietness enhanced my listening prowess and critical thinking skills. None of these things meant I was superior to anyone; I just knew at an early age the state in which my Peace liked to live.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I learned that the way God made me was not incorrect. I was not defective. My introversion was not a bad thing. Every attribute and every trait was carefully placed with His purpose in mind and I still walk in that Truth today.

Sweetheart, walk in the Craftsmanship in which you were made (Ephesians 2:10). You were created by a Master Builder. Don’t let the stickers overstay their welcome. You are way too extraordinary for that.

Peace, Thanks for listening, and stay well out there.

Wednesday Wind Down: Vitamin Boost

Hello, Sweethearts!

I wanted to share four verses that may help you get through this week or this season. Think of them as vitamins for your spiritual immune system. You may be taking a hit between current events, homeschooling your kids, caregiving for a loved one, or juggling work deadlines. Your spiritual armor may have a few dents in it and that’s OK. That means you’re fighting. That means you’re surviving. That means you’re winning. So, let’s power up a little. There’s nothing wrong with taking your vitamins.

  1. “But as for me, I will sing about your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love. For you have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress.” – Psalm 59:16 NLT

    When we drench ourselves in Love, He makes our hearts impenetrable to anything that looks otherwise. It’s a way to gear up with what’s true instead of the fiery darts melting away your joy. Clothe yourself in what’s true. Armor yourself with the Truth that you are loved. Reach out to someone that loves you to circulate that superpower.

2. “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

His bowels were hanging out. They had beaten him beyond recognition. He wasn’t as white and clean as we’ve seen in pious paintings. He was bloody and his hair was matted from to his scalp underneath the crown of thorns. After all, when blood dries, it isn’t glamorous. Jesus knew what it was like to be deemed inferior, yet He tells his disciples to take heart because He already overcame the world… before He is arrested to die for it (John 18). You have the right to take heart too. I promise.

3. “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” – Ephesians 6:12

It’s hard to look someone in the eyes and know s/he/they are lying to you. It’s frustrating to explain why you’re wearing your protective mask when it seems obvious. It can make you angry for someone refuse your help. Let me help you, Sweetheart. You’re fighting a spiritual battle. The quicker you remember that, the less those darts will hurt. Does this mean you’ll be invincible? No. It means you won’t let those darts stick because you’ll separate the person you love from the behavior you hate.

4. “Using a dull ax requires great strength, so sharpen the blade. That’s the value of wisdom; it helps you succeed.” – Ecclesiastes 10:10

Boost your spirit with wisdom. Now, in order to that, humility must come with you. To gain wisdom, you have to admit that you are not all-knowing. Pride damages armor. What a foolish decision for a soldier to run in front of a formidable straight line of opponents without protection. This is how we look when we leave wisdom behind to pursue items on our own accord. Like the Word says, sharpen your ax. When the ax is sharp, the skill is able to shine.

Well, Sweethearts, I hope these vitamins help you go a little further on your journey. I love each and every one of you, so if you ever feel like you’re drowning in your situation or that your suffocating under the “I’m fine” syndrome, call the number — 800-273-8255. Counselors are available 24/7.

Peace & Blessings! Thank you for listening and stay well out there!

Wednesday Wind Down: See The Proof

Well, Sweethearts, we made it to another week!

I’m glad you’re here and if no one has told you — you did a good job making it from last week to now.

With the news of ongoing injustice about our sister Breonna Taylor, it is easy to ask what more is needed beside the obvious to escort justice to the front row. It’s easy to feel the effects of gaslighting because that’s exactly what this is.

If you’ve never heard of gaslighting, let me tell of its evil doing. Have you ever been mistreated and the offender did not take responsibility for the offense? When you brought it up, s/he said you misunderstood the action. If you react or respond, they said you were wronging them. You begin to question whether you experienced what you did. The offender inadvertently tells you that you’re at fault or that your feelings are insignificant… that what they did is acceptable. Sound familiar? Congratulations — you’ve been gaslit.

Photo by suludan diliyaer on Pexels.com

It causes you to question your sanity and it creates a pipeline of exhaustion in the relationship. Then, as soon as you stand up for yourself, you’re the bad guy. You’re the one with the attitude. You’re the culprit. Well, you’re not alone, Sweetheart. I’ve been there.

What gets me through those moments of anguish is this new fact that I learned during the pandemic — I have the power to absorb the proof. Overall, I always ask God to show me what I need to see. This year, I had to learn to include gaslighters in that prayer. When they show you who they are, start thanking God for the proof.

Yes, be angry.
Yes, be annoyed.
Yes, be tired.
Yes, be confused.

Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant.

Galatians 6:7

After you’ve been all of that, tell God that you appreciate the truth in front of you. It truly is a present. That’s what I have had to do to keep from exploding during those moments. Remembering that Truth aerates freedom (John 8:32) and that gives me the authority to release the reins of manipulative powers. I no longer have to be inflamed by their invisible fumes. I don’t have to play the game. I see the proof and it’s all I need to make a healthy decision.

I pray that you find your proof during these unprecedented times, Sweetheart. It’s easy to get lost in the waves of despair, but the Truth stands between Breonna Taylor and her murderers. He stands between you and your offenders. He is Jehovah El GemuwalThe Lord God of Recompense – and justice is never pristinely wrapped. Don’t let current events sweep you away from the Truth. See the proof and move forward in your freedom.

I love you and pray that you are staying safe out there. Peace & Blessings!

Wednesday Wind Down: Give Some Grace

Hi, Sweethearts!

I have a reminder for you as we embark upon fall responsibilities.

As the school year is underway, there are so many puzzle pieces at work. So much grace to give out. So much love that’s needed.

I keep imagining the 60-year-old educator doing his best to teach with virtual tools he just learned from his daughter last month. I see a first-year teacher on revision #5 of her weekly lesson plan. I’m thinking of the administrator who is juggling conference calls, professional development meetings, paperwork, and emails then going home and doing it all over again tomorrow. The parent helping her child before heading to work. The grandparent trying to read the teacher’s instructions.

Photo by August de Richelieu on Pexels.com

Behind those screens, there’s a person. Behind that cell phone is a life. A human that may need a peek of Light to brighten up the day.

Sweethearts, be that Light. You have a responsibility to share the God in you. The goodness in you. The greatness in your heart. It’s easy to cop out and unload your frustration on the nearest soul, but it takes incredible substance to share grace instead.

Let’s remember that we’re in this together.

We’re not enemies. We’re a tribe.

A group of people, not individuals in silos.

We can do this. We can make it through this… with grace.

Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweethearts! Stay well out there!

Wednesday Wind Down: Shift

Hey, Sweethearts!

I have a shortstop for you this week.

Brace for the shift.

Yep, I said it. I know people want to cancel 2020, throw it in the trash, and light a match, but I believe we need to be preparing for a shift. A good one.

A shift toward a better version of ourselves.

A shift to drop the weights that easily veer us off the purpose path (Hebrews 12:1)

A shift to receive the love we deserve

A shift to throw away procrastination so we can level up our businesses

A shift to collaborate in uplifting families and communities

Photo by Gotta Be Worth It on Pexels.com

September is the perfect time to write down what you want to leave behind and notate what you want and who you want to become. Why? Because it’s before the holiday rat race when work and home tug at you on both ends. Take 5 minutes on your lunch break or pull over during your commute and write it down… unfiltered. Give yourself the grace to change. Grace to evolve. You do have the ability to shift into another gear.

I know I am… and it feels good. It feels right. It feels holy.

I’m praying for your shift, Sweethearts. I pray that you do not lose hope in whatever situation you are in. I pray that you continue to dream, build, and rest. I believe your shift is coming and it starts with you.

Peace & Thanks for listening. Stay well out there! I’m rooting for you!

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!

Wednesday Wind Down: Birthday Week 4

Hello, Sweethearts.

We’re in week 4 and I have to admit — it was rough. If we keep it authentic (which I always do with you), the whole month has been a fight to find my happy. I had valleys and mountains in clusters, but I meant what I said last week — you have the authority to do something you love every week. So, I did.

I got a legs/feet massage with my pedicure.

It costs a little extra, but it was so worth it. I’m used to getting 1-2 massages a month to maintain the physical demands of my work life. Well, COVID-19 has trashed that schedule, so when I saw the chance to upgrade my pedicure to include the massage, I snatched it. Unapologetically.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I spent quality time with one of my village kids.

She has a beautiful smile. She let me shampoo and detangle her hair. She cried a little. She let me hold her. We had a dance off. She won.

I caught up with my big sister.

The alumnae and undergraduate members of my sorority do our best to keep in touch. Sometimes, life events create some cracks in communication even though the bond is still there. I had a beautiful and hilarious conversation with one of my big sisters and it was epic.

I kept my hair appointment.

OK, this seems trivial to some, but I felt like a dirty Q-tip with a worn Brill-o pad sitting on top of it. Based upon those valleys and mountains, I had every reason to cancel it, but I didn’t. I stood up for myself and said “I deserve it.” It doesn’t hurt that Desiree Danielle turned my head into a masterpiece (yep, the same creative that took my blog branding photos).

Photo by Mateus Souza on Pexels.com

I let myself speak… and cry.

I’m pretty good at pushing through, but the morning of my birthday, I received difficult news. My default setting of “quiet” was wrestling with my need to emotionally vomit. I didn’t want to say anything, but I needed to say everything. So, when one of my friends called and asked “How’s your day going?” I gave myself permission to cry and untwist the pressure valve a bit. I needed it. You may be thinking — how does this fit in the birthday mantra? Because I allowed myself to do something that would usher relief and joy. It was totally worth it.

I provided someone a chance to relax.

Everything that could have caused a delay or cancellation tried to occur, but I was determined to provide time and space for her to exhale and regroup. It brought me joy to hear her appreciation and for me to say “No problem. You’re worth it.”

I drove over an hour in silence.

I have a worksite that is over an hour away and I usually listen to a sermon, something meditative, or pray. On this drive, I did neither. I let my mind breathe. Every time I wanted to think about something particular, I let it wander. It felt amazing.

Remember what I said, Sweethearts. Don’t get lost in the hamster wheel. People die there. I pray that you discover that you can do something you love every week. I was determined to do that no matter how many audibles I had to call.

Here’s to you having some positive moments of your own this month. I look forward to hearing about them soon. If you already started, drop one of them in the comments. Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out there!

Wednesday Wind Down: Birthday Weeks 2 + 3

Hey, Sweethearts!

I’ve had such sweet moments so far. If you’re just joining me, let me catch you up.

Each week in August, I do something that fills me with joy or I’ve been postponing, then I continue the celebration once per month until the end of the year. Just search “birthday” on my blog to see what I mean.

All caught up? Great! Let me share some of the good stuff I did during Weeks 2 and 3.

I treated myself to yummy treats!

Two foods that should marry — Five Guys french fries and Moe’s Southwest Grill Queso. So, I drove to two different cities to make sure they met. Then, I parked my car and savored every ooey gooey bite as I enjoyed a beautiful sunset on a hill. Can’t beat that kind of wedding. Oh yeah, I also had a large Strawberry Limeade from Sonic and a peach Chick-fil-A milkshake (on different days of course). For someone that eats vegetables like candy and hasn’t bought a loaf of bread in 3 years, I didn’t have a drop of guilt.

Photo by Madison Inouye on Pexels.com

I put my health to the front of the line.

I checked in with my therapist and finally made it to my doctor’s appointment. Yes, that appointment. The yearly one. Why is that on my birthday list? Because self-care also means acquiring insight about your health and I had postponed it long enough this year. So, happy birthday to my empowered self.

I chilled with my mother.

We took a nice Sunday drive, had great conversation and hearty laughs, and delicious food. Who couldn’t use that in her life? When was the last time you scooped up someone for an afternoon drive?

I participated in UAB Trivia Night!

OK, this was a lot of fun and a lot of learning! Fellow Alumni from the University of Alabama at Birmingham got together and Zoomed a trivia game about our alma mater. I thought I was ready. I wasn’t. I knew half the questions and landed 27th place. I enjoyed every single minute of it and met some cool people. Go Blazers!

I danced my tears out.

My knee issue from last year has resurfaced and my sentiments needed to escape, so I strapped on an ice pack and did what I normally do when I’m at a loss for words — I danced. It hurt inside and out, but I danced for four hours. From 10 PM to 2 AM, I released the pressure valve until I could breathe again. My leg was swollen, but it was well worth it.

I wrote new content for my book.

This is especially for The Morning After fans. The sequel cometh. Carving time to write has been one of the highlights of this month and it feels so good to have the bandwidth to do it. So, get ready for some good stuff.

I binge-watched Being Erica.

So, this show has been sitting in my Hulu Watch List for about a year. I finally saw the entire series and was sad there were only 4 seasons once I reached the finale. It was good. Better than I thought it would be and deeper than I assumed. You can see the trailer here.

I didn’t watch the news for 2 weeks.

Just the Word and soul-feeding music on rotation over here. Then I went to sleep to the sound of ocean waves. It felt so good. I know a lot is going on, but I was to the brim looking at tornadoes of tomfoolery. I had to press pause on current events. I checked online for any updated order to be sure I could keep my business open and that was it. It was (and still is) a nice sensory breather. You gotta pause so you can fight again, Sweethearts.

See? I told you. Sweet moments. I share my shenanigans to remind you that you don’t have to have an extravagant party to commemorate yourself. While that is nice, you have the authority to do something you love every week. You do have time to experience something you enjoy. Don’t get lost in the hamster wheel. People die there.

Here’s to you having some sweet moments of your own this month. I look forward to hearing about them soon. If you already started, drop one of them in the comments. Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out there!

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