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Listening at the Speed of Life

– by C. J. Wade –

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#bloglikecrazy: Day 15 – Inside-Out

In class on November 15th, we discussed correctional facilities and prison reform. I posed the following question to my students: Are correctional facilities designed to “correct” behavior or character? Most of them said “both,” but some said neither. What do you think? 

As we go about our holiday season, I think of those who are unable to have food, family, and fun – at the same time. Needless to say, there are individuals who have committed crimes unthinkable, yet there are some who have not. Are their lives being changed while on the inside of confinement? Are our lives being enhanced while we are captive to our vices? The truth is if we were caught in our everyday violations of malice, greed, and pride, we would be incarcerated right along side of our brothers and sisters. 

So, I pose these questions to you… What are you chained to? What mental or emotional prison are you in? Is your “facility” correcting or enabling the behavior that got you there? 

Perhaps, we all need reform from the inside, out. 

Peace & Thanks for listening. 

#bloglikecrazy: Day 13 – Bittersweet

The funny thing about tasting something that is bittersweet is you never get the bitter and the sweet at the same time. According to the word, you would think the bitter comes first, but it doesn’t.

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Friend, Mentor, & Founding Director Kevin P. Turner

On November 13th, I anticipated the bitter. The sweet was there, sprinkled throughout the day, but the closer time moved toward 7:00 PM, bitter’s presence drew near. It was a performance filled with firsts and lasts – first time my performing arts troupe was featured at the Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center by way of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Gospel Choir, first time one of my teammates would sing with the choir, last time I would perform under Director Kevin Turner with the choir, and the last time Monday night would be sacred in this capacity. Being connected to a living thing for 16 years will make you expect the bitter when it ends.

The sweet came in capsules of backstage silliness, team shenanigans, chats with college friends-turned-colleagues, and hugs all around. It was a family reunion, to say the least. Sound check exposed the bones of the operation as we all prepared our respective crafts to be displayed on stage in a few hours. Musicians, dancers, singers, production, lights, ushers… it was all at the ready to provide a great concert for attendants and participants alike.

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Such sweet spirits

And that, we did.

The audience enjoyed the set list, artists performances from their hearts, scholarships were awarded, and commemorative speeches were made.

The ASC had been a 2nd home to many UABGC members over the years and the bellows of the building were our training grounds. Now, they were cozy places of professional preparation. Everyone was in their elements, drinking the nectar of memories that would be still swirling around in our cups the next day. Me? I was waiting for the bitter.

My Crew, Workmanship Incorporated 

It may sound pessimistic, but I was trying to brace myself. I didn’t want to be caught off guard and wail 8 counts before my first step. So, I waited for it… the bitter aftertaste of a such sweet experience. Surprisingly, it came right before the first dance, wisped around my shoulder after the last dance, and walked me to my car after we left the dressing rooms. I didn’t cry. I welcomed it in the car and drove home. It was OK to have the company. I actually smiled at it along the open road because it was even better to have the sweet first. I was one blessed woman.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

#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

If Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number…

Flight Write: PVD -> BWI

…then family ain’t nothing but a word.

I started this trip a bit frustrated with some people that call themselves family. I had been holding in a tumultuous flow of words for a month. Unfortunately, people think that if you aren’t belligerent with colorful words spewing out of your mouth, that you aren’t capable of being such.

I am happy to inform you that this is a lie.

That quiet worker or positive colleague can be a verbal assassin with plenty of artillery to annihilate your heart, but s/he chooses to smile instead. This was me for a month. The term family almost seemed like a dirty word that left a foul taste in my mouth when I thought of certain people. My circle got smaller and some of it was involuntary. So, needless to say, I was a bit sour.

Then, my sorority sister lent her ear for what was a tsunami of “Why’s,” “That’s just stupid’s,” and “I just don’t get it’s.” My mother and aunt tag-teamed to ensure I caught my twilight bus. A sisterfriend checked for my travel safety. Another sisterfriend of 16 years transported me to bookstores to inquire about book signing opportunities before heading to the airport. One sorority sister extended herself with hospitality that could rival any 4-star hotel and another sorority sister hosted me with patience as I coordinated visits with DMV friends I had not seen in 10+ years. My big brother is always one call away when I’m in town and my mother always seals my travel with prayer.
God brought all of these things back to my remembrance and I am sitting on this plane marveled at how flimsy we view the f-word and how quickly we throw it away.

It doesn’t matter how many genetic or blended relatives you have,
God will give you the 
family to fill the need. 

Maslows-Hierarchy-of-Needs-1024x791Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs indicates that we have a need for connectedness, love, and belonging. I believe that wholeheartedly. After all, God created the ultimate adoption plan through His Son, so we were not designed to “do life” alone. Even a mean senior citizen has a plant, pet, or something they can care for!

You may have a sister you can’t stand or an uncle you don’t like, but for every ounce of foolishness and discord, there is someone spiritually-related for you to do life together.

I am so grateful for my family. I pray that God shines a spotlight on yours so you can see them when life gets dim, too. Don’t think that family just encompasses a group with the same last name. It just requires a circle of people connected by the same heartstrings.

Peace and thanks for listening.

#bloglikecrazy: Day 19 – No Place Here

Know your place and theirs too. 

People in your life come and go for various reasons. Not every entrance and exit can hold the same weight. Some were meant to teach us, reach us, expose us, ignite us… similar to the famous adage about people coming into your life for “a reason, a season, or a lifetime.” A few years ago in my quiet time, God gave me a visual of this people-flow and placement. It was plain as day and it made so much sense. His lesson was for me to learn where people need to be at certain points of my journey and that being offended about their placement (or mine in theirs) is not an option. What a harsh, but valuable classroom experience it has been.

Imagine a two story house in a suburban neighborhood with a beautiful front yard and fence. Now, let’s go to the scenario He showed me. Keep in mind that throughout your life, you may have the same person weave in and out of these areas. It doesn’t mean that if s/he is in the yard, s/he doesn’t love you. You have to look at all of the players on stage within the proper context of the story. Remember, you’re part of someone’s story and you have a place too. That’s why you can’t get offended. *whew*

The Street – minimal connection; not interested in engagement; “checking in” as they pass by; sees snapshot of the outside and creates a portrait; may include gossip about snapshot; primarily public interaction

The Sidewalk – stops by to check-in every once in awhile; satisfied with snapshot plus a peek into small details; keeps walking; may or may not smile as they continue toward their aspirations, so don’t revel in their responses; download the intentions and let them pass

The Yard – play and have a good time, small talk to catch up, still at a distance but closer than the street and sidewalk, within the fenced boundaries of respect to private life, permits sharing of life details at will; still open and free

The Steps – more intimate than the yard; small talk to catch up with more details included; cognizant of yard, sidewalk, and street people’s view of you; people on the fence of your heart tend to congregate here – maybe too afraid to get close, but too invested to go away; be careful of those that linger here with ill intent

The Porch – close, but not close enough to come inside; like the feel of outside, but enjoy the presence of you; insightful conversations can to spark here due to vulnerability

The Living Room – for the good times; communal; entrance and exit easily accessible; enjoy the moments and leave soon after; can relax around them; be careful here if you keep having to serve them and it is not reciprocated; meaningful conversations can grow here; bad interactions can be stopped here before they germinate

The Bedroom – usually located in the back or upstairs of the home; the inner sanctum of your heart; intimate conversations and moments are shared here; full disclosure and trust; not afraid of the ugly; good and bad interactions can thrive here, so be careful who has access; can spill into living room

My #LATSOL Lessons

  1. Everyone doesn’t belong everywhere, and that’s OK.

  2. Be mindful of where people want to be in your life. Respect that space.

  3. Be a vessel of love with a fence to protect it. Love doesn’t let us abuse it.

What about you? Have you had similar lessons about people placement? Can you add to the list above? Did you have to swallow this pill and/or implement your boundaries?

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo courtesy of Homeplans.com

#bloglikecrazy: Day 14 – Honor Roll

It’s easy to convince yourself that they will be around forever. The truth is too ugly to face, but it’s not leaving. When it involves losing someone you love, truth’s invisibility materializes. If the loss is in the news, somehow it’s a foreign reality. But when death walks down your street, the chill is undeniable.

On Monday, November 14th, I watched the honor of others and beamed. It was a beautiful thing to behold. Smiles. Love. Respect. Humility. Priceless jewels that anyone would be proud to wear.

That night, I wondered how often people leave this world without knowing how pivotal they are to the lives they’ve touched. Not to sound sad or morbid, but why wait until a memorial to cry out words that could have saved a life? Created a blanket of joy? Soothed a scared spirit?

On a day like today, thanksgiving is in the air and it would behoove us to be grateful for each other and everything that brings. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Honor anyone you deem important and cherish the memories of those that are no longer in your life. Delaying your love expression inadvertently says that you take them for granted and that their presence does not take precedence in your life. That’s not what you want to say… repeatedly. Extend honor. Extend your voice. Extend your hand. Extend yourself. Today.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo courtesy of craighollomanx.wordpress.com

#bloglikecrazy: Day 13 – The SisterGood

Maybe it’s the holiday spirit, but I’ve been in my feelings lately…the good ones.

Sisters come in so many shades of goodness. Some enter our lives through the crossing of life paths and others by the blood in our veins.

Recently, I’ve been recharged through some amazing women. Scoping out the different types of goodness that I have the honor of experiencing. The sheer fact that our energies can buzz around each other and create new perspectives is a phenomenon science can not touch.

Politics. Culture. Music. Relationships. Work. Passion. You name it, we’ve talked about it. We’ve gotten angry together and laughed until we’ve cried. We’ve danced together in the joy of hip-hop classics and prayed together in mind-altering faith. We have overcome tragedies and digested injustice while holding hands. Feeling each other’s pain is normal. Hearing each other’s cries from miles away is a regular occurrence. We are bonded.

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Photo Courtesy of Medical News Today

It reminds me of something I tell my students – We weren’t designed to do life alone. I’m not talking about marriage; I’m talking about spiritually. You need a tribe. A confidant. A plant. A dog. Something. Even the meanest person can experience solace through a fish tank. It’s a part of our DNA. We were designed to reach out, be heard, and love fiercely. That’s why it hurts physically when our hearts our broken. We were not created for eternal solitude, but for perpetual connection.

So this leads me back to my sistergood. Do you have people of the same gender that you can be verbally naked with? I’m not talking about acquaintances, associates, or even friends. I’m talking about family that may or may not include blood lines. Sisters or brothers that you have unadulterated honesty with and no one leaves permanently angry. People that you don’t have to worry about being manipulative with your words or deeds. It’s rare, but possible. My sistergood is a small circle, but fiercely loyal and safe. My sisterly connections span a little larger, but are just as awesome. I love them all, and I’m grateful for them too. The older I get, the more I realize how important this goodness is to my soul. Starting with my mother and going outward, I am blessed beyond measure to have the opportunity to love and be loved by them.

I pray that you find your sisters and brothers in this world. My world is definitely better with them in it. Yours will be too. Don’t be afraid to do life together.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

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