The worst feeling for me is wanting to provide assistance but something is blocking me from doing so. I’ve experienced blockages of both distance and spiritual directives when it came to those situations. There were times when I truly wanted to extend myself and God told me no. That hurt just as bad as not being physically present in their time of need. Now, my friends (and I don’t take that term lightly) know they can call me at any time. If I can, I will — they know that too, but what do you when your hands are tied? When you know that this is a lesson they have to learn on their own? When you want to do it for them, but you know it will handicap them instead? When you’re hundreds of miles away? I had to learn to release that control freak to God too.
I say this often — I’m not Jesus, but I do listen to Him. I can’t be everywhere for everybody. I can’t make every baby shower, wedding shower, bridal party, funeral, birthday party, retirement party, hospital stay, court hearing, church event… you get the point. Trust me, I tried and it was an exhausting lesson of my finite abilities. I had to make peace with that unfortunate truth and send prayers where my hands couldn’t reach. Sometimes, I’ve sent prayers and a PayPal blessing where my pockets permitted. Other times, I stopped what I was doing, tucked away in an empty classroom or closed the door to my office and interceded on their behalf. Whether through my hands or my lips, through a text message or through a hug, my friends are always on my prayer list and I have learned to let God move through me however he wishes in order to confirm His Love in their situation. I’ve gone through some doozies with my tribes, but they always appreciate prayer… and so do I.
Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweethearts! Keep praying for your friends and listening for your next steps! I love y’all!
So, a beautiful thing happened this month and there were 3 messages that were so clear to me. I chewed on them a bit before sharing them with you and now I’m ready. But first, the context.
On Saturday, February 16th, the Birmingham Committee for Truth and Reconciliation hosted A Conversation with Dr. Angela Davis at the historic Boutwell Auditorium in Birmingham, Alabama. I had the honor of performing Glory (from the Selma movie soundtrack) with my childhood friend G.I. Magus in front of Dr. Davis and a potpourri of historical and political pillars. I was appreciative just be a piece of the puzzle and I couldn’t have written a better chapter in my life story. Besides the obvious prestige, let me tell you why this was a jewel of a moment.
In elementary school, I saw a photo of Dr. Davis and was entranced. She was a beautiful mix of political prowess, academic excellence, and natural beauty. I loved the way she wore her freedom like a long technicolor cape. Her hair, her voice, and her facial expressions screamed confidence. It was official – she was a shero. The more I read about her, the more fire I felt and I was proud to know that she was a native daughter. I was convinced that I would have an afro just like her when I found the courage to do so. For over 10 years, I did and still do.
Seeing her this month was the culmination of multiple dots connecting to create a beautiful experience, which leads me to the first message – your past can touch your future at any moment, so spend your present well. You never know how hello’s can turn into a double helix of lifetime connections. The people I met in 7th grade, high school, and college would become creative geniuses, community organizers, academic powerhouses, and prolific speakers. Any way you slice it, the fingerprints of my past were all over my future and I was in awe of the masterpiece.
It’s a blessing to genuinely develop relationships over time, which leads to the 2nd message I heard that week – your character will follow you wherever you go. This past weekend was a reminder that how you treat people goes far beyond the present moment. I’m not perfect, but I am so grateful that my rapport was strong enough to last a decade or two and some awesome individuals thought positive of my footsteps. That is a gift I will never take lightly… as long as I live. I hate it when people size me up based upon what I can do for them. That’s why I love learning about the spirit behind the job title and socioeconomic status. In the end, we all appreciate being seen as a person. We appreciate a chance to disrobe our character and let it walk freely ahead of us.
The third message was just as loud – your help is waiting on you. I couldn’t have performed with confidence without the support of my tribe. The prayers from my mother, the love from my small group, the perfect track from my friends, the training from my mentors… there were familiar faces in every facet of this opportunity, each of them believing in God’s gift in me. I am forever grateful. Forever appreciative that when I asked for help, many hands opened wide. Pride keeps a lot of people in the jail cell of their souls’ contempt. I was once a prisoner of that warden and never will be again. This experience was a reiteration that some are still held captive.
Sweethearts, you are exceptional. Stop trying to be perfect. See everyone around you as an individual, not as a marketing tool. Try to be a better version of yourself than the day before. Whether you know it or not, everything will come full circle if you let it. I am so glad I did.
#13 – I spent much-needed sister time with Shannon + ate a random DQ Blizzard!
My sweet sisterfriend Shannon is a force to be reckoned with. Not only is she an E-RYT (Experienced-Registered Yoga Teacher) and graphic designer, but she’s a wife, mom, and perfect pizza date. She rocks everything she touches and her spirit is as authentic as they come. So, imagine our silly selves eating wood-fired brick oven pizza at Post Office Pies on our lunch breaks. Smiles and laughs everywhere. There might as well have been confetti thrown over our heads. The server was blessed by our joy and we were enriched by her bright and shining heart. We encouraged each other and caught up on the haps.
Then, as if it couldn’t get any better, she and her daughter surprised me with a Dairy Queen Blizzard at work the following month. *smh* I had not had a Blizzard in years and was going to treat myself to one in a week or two, but when your sister asks what kind you want, you don’t procrastinate! It was the perfect pick-me-up for an intense week.
There’s nothing like a sweet conversation and a surprise. One planned lunch and one drive-by dessert made me a happy soul. I love surprising people, but I must admit, they got me good on the Blizzard day. It wasn’t the lunch or the dessert; it was the Love. Love always expresses Himself and since God is Love, we share God when we express Love toward each other. The hugs we shared on both days were rich and life-giving and we could all use a bit more of that any day. That’s where living really thrives.
When was the last time you surprised someone you cared about? Maybe it’s ice cream, a blanket, gift card, or my favorite – a drive-by hug – that can make their day better. Pick a person this month and 2 people next month to surprise with Love and let the confetti shower begin.
#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
#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.
Well, Sweethearts, I hope that last week’s transparency helped you as much as it helped me to share it. Whew! Talk about emasculating the Beast. I must admit; it felt good…. really good, but I’m putting the last part of Birthday and Beast on hold until next week. Why? Because I have good news!
Remember my board exam from my therapeutic massage posts? On September 1, 2018, I passed my Massage and Bodywork Licensing Exam (MBLEx) and in a few days, I’ll be able to call myself an LMT! *insert a boatload of confetti here* Let me share something with you about why this victory is sweet.
When I was 14, God gave me a vision of my purpose. I have been pursuing it ever since piece by piece, knowingly and unknowingly. One of the parts of the plan was to obtain my massage therapy license. I could swear that this was an easy path to follow, but I would lying if I did. According to my perfect-turned-hilarious calendar, this accomplishment was supposed to happen 5 years ago. Leave it to God’s itinerary to say nope, not yet. A series of challenges made it seem impossible to reach my goal. Nevertheless, the door opened for me to apply and I walked right in, knowing that it would be financially uncomfortable and seriously inconveniencing. Honestly, uncomfortable and inconvenient doesn’t even scratch the surface, but with God’s strength, wisdom, and plain old grit, I am now posting this good news. *smile*
There’s nothing wrong with being transparent with those you trust, and who says the only thing you can trust them with is something bad or melancholy? I don’t share my victories enough. After all, that’s what will keep me going when I meet another challenge farther down the road of life. I’m learning that there are some genuine souls that wish to celebrate with you and that it’s OK to let them in. Isn’t that a lesson worth receiving… that one can share a cup of joy and a couple of tears with individuals perfectly capable of handling both? I think so, too.
So, now that we’ve talked about something good, what can you share with me? What can you share with someone you love? Where’s the good news in a day full of bad moments? Find some. They are there. I promise.
Feel free to share a piece of your happy in the comments. I’ll celebrate with you if no one else will. Peace & Thanks for listening.
Photos courtesy of moi. By the looks of it, my dog is happy that I’m finished with this program, too. lol
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?