#15 – I had sister time with my sisterfriend Carrie!
When you’re in high school, the days seem to fly by as you approach graduation. Some people you will remember you’re whole life because you just… connect. My sisterfriend Carrie. We were marching bandmates and stayed connected, but decided to set a date to catch up on each other’s lives. She’s soft-spoken, kind, powerful in standards, and mighty in faith. Then, to top it off, she’s an audiology doctor, exceptional in pediatrics, always has a cool hair color. I’m amazed by her on a regular basis. Seriously.
There’s nothing wrong with catching up. Sometimes we feel pressured to be involved in every little detail of people’s lives, and while that is ideal, it simply doesn’t happen. Life events continue, you smash goals, change cities, etc. You can stay connected, but it takes effort. I learned that even though I had not taken part in her graduations and career accomplishments, I was still proud of her and she felt the same. And on that lunch date, we simply enjoyed each other’s company and caught up. Ther’es nothing wrong with that.
Is there someone that you need to catch up with before the year ends? Make the effort and do your best to keep the date like you would a doctor’s appointment. The dividends are priceless laughs with your friend that can’t be erased.
#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.
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
#10 – I had a movie night with my pRHOphyte Cindy… and won!
So, there’s this game that my pRHOphyte and I play and I finally won… after 17 years. She’s one of the founding members of my sorority’s chapter at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and a serious movie buff. I try to stump her by picking a movie that she’s never seen and until this year, I would lose… horribly. This is usually how it goes:
ME: “Oooooo, Cindy, I got one for you this time! It’s a good one!”
CINDY: *giggles* “OK. What’s the name of it?”
ME: *insert movie title here*
CINDY: “Oh, yeah, that’s the one where she *insert scene description here*. That is a good one.”
ME: *face palm*
See my plight? See why I’m excited? You try going through that year after year and see where your cinematic self-esteem goes. Well, this time, I picked one she had never seen and she loved it. Woohoo!
Find something to enjoy with people you care about and set a date! It’s fun to share something different with different people in your circle and there’s a way to uniquely connect with each of your friends.
Ruby Tuesday may not be their thing and they may hate hiking, but they may love bowling and get excited about NASCAR or history. Whatever it is, find it and share it with them. You may love it, hate it, or truthfully, you may enjoy the same sports team but hate watching the game together. lol! At the end of the day, extend yourself a bit and enjoy something together. You may be surprised by how strong your bond can truly be.
Peace, Thanks for listening, and Happy Veteran’s Day to all military service personnel and their families! Fellow civilians, have you paid your vet-debt-a today?
#7 – I get to do life with a group of women that are hundreds of miles away!
Distance does not win if Love is in the middle and the ladies in my life group are proof. The group I am referring to is the Zion Queens iCampus Life Group based out of Zion Church in Landover, MD. Twice a month for 1.5 hours, we see each other’s beautiful faces and whenever we get ready, we check in to laugh and encourage one another. Gotta love technology. When I visited the church in 2013, I didn’t know I would connect with people that love me like a sister and pray for me like they’ve known me their whole lives. That’s definitely the good stuff!
Real relationships take exposing of the soul, and it takes courage to do it no matter what age you are.
These women have been vital to my spiritual growth. They’re authentic and exceptional. I am so blessed to have them in my life and you probably have the same opportunity at your place of worship, in your community organization, or in your neighborhood. The hundreds of miles that separate us do not diminish the intensity of intimacy we have among each other. The special ingredient? Trust. That’s the magic sauce.
Who are you willing to expose your soul to? Guess what. Someone else wants to do that with you too. And even though you’re scared, you’ll find your safe space and your tribe will be there with open arms.
Peace & Thanks for listening! “See” you tomorrow, Sweethearts!
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.
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.
#4 – I get to do life with Workmanship Incorporated!
No matter how tired I am after a long day at work, rehearsing with my Troupe always energizes me. It fills me up. Workmanship Incorporated is an exceptional hodgepodge of spiritual, intelligent, quirky artists that love God, love people, and go hard in the paint every day. In January, we kicked off a rebranding campaign and geared up for a new performance season. While rehearsing with them, I often ask God how I could be so blessed to know them, let alone work with them. Being around them blesses me inside and out. We laugh, cry, and serve together. We can be transparent with each other without judgment, accepting the messy version of each other at the drop of a dime and uplifting each other. I may be the founder/leader, but this fantastic group of humans has stuck with me through the most difficult seasons in my life and I am humbled to be a page in their life story. They are definitely some Good!
At one point, everyone in these photos was a stranger. What made us family is that we took a chance on becoming friends. Can you imagine how many family members you’re missing out on because you won’t get out of your comfort zone? Let’s take it a step further – are you around people that bless you internally? Do you refill them as well?
What makes my Crew amazing is that they’re tangible, not perfect. You may not have a group of people to be perfectly imperfect with, but there’s at least one person that fits the description in this world. She or he just may be a stranger right now. Don’t be afraid to fill and be filled.
Those are the three words that have been sitting in my spirit since September. I even got three lotus leaves shaved in the nape of my new ‘do to represent each word for the special occasion. Who is “we?”
“We” includes my late father, who chose to love and encourage an angry, confused 12-year-old until she melted in his arms and trusted him with all of her heart.
My former husband, who carried the bills while I finished graduate school and mentored me in the education profession which created a segue for me to teach at my newly-added alma mater.
My family and my very much alive and awesome mother, who was my cheerleader and the perfect example of love, loyalty, strength, courage, wisdom, and fight.
My performing arts troupe, also known as my tribe, that kept my creative lifeblood flowing, balance out the academic grind, and navigated the ship when I was weak.
My pastor and church family that, with open arms, understood every worship rehearsal night I missed due to working and studying and always had a prayer in their pocket.
My beautiful small group of strong and Godly women, which created a spiritual safety net for all of my hills and valleys.
My incomparable instructors who collectively created a safe space to learn, grow, and heal with insurmountable passion and sincerity.
My friends that texted jokes, encouraging words, and random “I’m checking on you” messages to ensure that I knew that my goal of being a licensed massage therapist was well within my reach.
My complimentary massage clients that trusted me with their physical and spiritual well-being.
Twas the Wednesday before graduation weekend and I am one blessed creature. Why? Because I had a “we,” and truth be told, you have/had a “we” somewhere in your life too. Think about one person that was supportive and inhale that gratefulness, then exhale that truth into a message to let them know. If they are no longer on Earth, smile and support someone else in their honor.
Peace, blessings, thanks for listening, and wind down safely, my loves!
I am so grateful that last week’s post reached your heart. You told me in person, on Facebook, and through direct message how much it helped you and that you are keeping me and my family in your prayers. You are why I take the time to write each week. (((HUGS))) to all of you and thank you again for your support.
Below is a post I wrote in August 2017 and I’m ready to share it. Oddly enough, these lessons still apply. Hope it helps. If it does, let me know. – CJW
It seems like life slowed down a lot after my father passed away. I’ve been on auto-pilot, getting things done on the list, but vitality is a visitor. And no, this isn’t a sad soliloquy about how much I’ve lamented over the last three weeks. This post is actually a summary of how much I have learned experienced in the month of August and some of the lessons completely surprised me.
I listened to a few friends who felt like they have lost themselves in their parental and marital roles. I realized I don’t know how to do that. I think no matter what I do, how full my schedule may be, I always have a sense of self. I may not like her sometimes, but I always know who she is. That may repel some and draw others, and I am at peace with that.
When someone loves you, s/he will show it. Maybe not the way you want them to, but they’ll respect you enough to try. I am so grateful for people that do. I get distracted by those that don’t, but I’m working on shutting those blinds and pulling those curtains for good.
Pull people closer if they are worth the intimacy and don’t be afraid to say how you feel. If you’re hurt, say it. If you’re happy, say that too. Don’t just welp when you’re wounded. Say something when your soul is happy.
Allow friends to “see” you… in all of your messy glory. The best friendships I have are because of this rule. They’re the grittiest, most beautiful kaleidoscope of experiences I could never describe with justice. I share moments with people. That’s my gift and my desire. But, some moments multiply exponentially into priceless relationships. Keep watering those and they will refresh you too.
No matter what you do, someone’s lie will always be the truth to her/him. And there’s nothing you can do about it. Save your energy. Literally and spiritually. Let them live with the lie.
Honor is an big word. You have to open your heart wide to do it. Some flies get it in, but that’s part of the price. To honor is to open yourself and be humble toward someone’s esteem. And it doesn’t end after death.
Family is anywhere Love lives. What a sweet feeling to be counted as a family member by the blood of Love alone. You are born into one, and there’s something special about being adopted into another.
Legacy is everything and we are building it everyday… good and bad. My sisterfriend shared the legacy of her family and I was excited to see the fruit of her family’s labor. What a beautiful aftermath bore in the midst of segregation, heartbreak, economic development, and old-fashioned hard work. What legacy are we leaving? Bullet holes? Student loans? Shattered hearts?
Seek your insecurities and stare them down. Talk directly to them and don’t let them wiggle out of your sight. Don’t let them shade the truth with a different color.
God knows where you live. You don’t have to hide in your dark hours. You have a Father that knows your name and each star in the sky and each animal on the planet. You don’t have to fear your humanity; just know that you are clothed in divinity through the blood of Jesus and He gets it.
It’s OK to retreat. You need to refuel and recharge sometime, just like a car and a cell phone. No one has the right to make you feel guilty about doing so. Instead of fighting from fumes, choose to regroup so you can live more efficiently. Now, don’t randomly disappear where your loved ones think you’re unsafe. You are loved and will be missed, OK? OK. So, at least tell one person that you’re taking some time.
Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweethearts. Keep shining, keep breathing, and wind down safely. I’m praying for you!
It’s been two weeks since I’ve blogged because my reservoir of words was empty. Now, I can connect again, so here goes. As always, I hope my transparency can help you as it is helping me heal and grieve.
Peace & Thanks for listening in advance.
I’ve only had two boyfriends in my life and the second gentleman became my husband. That should tell you how stringent I am when it comes to making decisions. My forever made it a point to let me know that he was intentional about me and what can I say? He passed my tests and I said yes.
So, when the best friend of my former husband called on Father’s Day and said “It’s not looking good and…,” my answer was the same. I knew I had to be there. No matter what. I immediately adjusted my route and was at the hospital in about 25 minutes. It was the least I could do. The least I could be for the man I vowed to love forever, regardless of what those papers said.
We had a beautiful beginning, a sweet middle, an amicable denouement, and a beautiful friendship all over again. It’s not what normally happens, I know, but it was us.
Was everything perfect? Of course not, but we had a love and respect for each other that wouldn’t disintegrate. And I appreciate that part of God’s plan. The fragments of questions that float around in my mind, I will never understand and I try to not to marinate on too much. It was devastating to say the least, watching him fight and knowing he was going to let go. As I walked into his hospital room, my heart began to throb in pain. I felt like someone had loosely stitched it together in light of my father’s passing less than a year ago, but the inner part of me was about to make it burst. We had gone through this before, he and I… the undulation of health. Like a Pavlovian subject, I switched into “wife mode” – talk to God, talk to him, touch him gently, kiss his face, rub his head, listen to the nurses, watch the monitors, ask questions, remember names the medical team, notate medicines given, nap during sponge bath, keep up with anything he needs to know when he wakes up… Something was different this time. Every beep echoed sadness in the hallways of my soul and the tears just wouldn’t stop stampeded down my face.
Being a Christian, of course I was hoping for a miracle of any kind, but I could feel that prayer request being removed from my fingers every time the medical team told me differently. I took a picture of me holding his hand so I could show him when he woke up. We were supposed to have lunch that week and I thought it would be a great topic of discussion. A part of me wanted to ask him over shrimp and grits to describe what he saw, felt, and heard as he lay in that bed. Did he hear us? Could he see angels? Was he talking to God Himself? Silly, I know, but I wanted to chat all about it as we laughed about another school year down in the books. Singing and praying and crying and meditating, I held his hand along with Mark and his wife. The lower the blood pressure, the less strength in those stitches that held my heart together. At the last beep, they couldn’t hold any longer and my heart bled mercilessly.
Needless to say, I’m letting myself feel everything now and staying soaked in prayer along the way. I couldn’t start grieving for my father until months after he passed away and this time, I am allowing myself to just be. If tears fall at school, so be it. Just the other night, I screamed and cried out in anguish on my way home from work. The outpour of support has been amazing, but some fail to realize my spirit has an open wound that resembles more of a widow than an ex-wife. And that’s OK. It had only been a little over a year since we divorced and we weren’t bitter. We weren’t angry. We were simply us and I now understand what he was trying to do. I hate the pain, but I get it. Before, during, and after our marriage, the most important title was Friend. Such a rarity it is to come full circle with someone. I couldn’t have asked for a greater honor in this life.
It was a pleasure to love you, Shawn, and that love extends beyond the grave. My heart cries into the heavens as you enjoy your new home, but I’m so happy for your relief. The world may have lost your beautiful mind, body, and spirit, but your legacy will live in us all. Always and forever grateful.
I share this not as a lament, but to encourage anyone who is grieving a loved one anywhere in your soul. Be present. Be human. Be tender. It doesn’t mean you’re not a “good Christian” (whatever that means anyway) and that you just need to “get over it” (insert same sentiment here). Jesus cried too and He understood what it meant to grieve the inevitable. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. Yes, joy comes in the morning, but there is a new morning everyday, so it’s OK if you have to get a refill on that joy more than once. He has plenty and will never run dry. That’s what I’m leaning on right now.
I love you and I’m praying for you. Keep me in prayer too, please. In the words of my mother, God’s got a whole world out here, so let’s make the best use of our time while we’re here, OK?