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#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #25

To Wanda Dear,

Once upon a time, I left my house with a prayer. I was a fresh out of grad school with boots on the ground trying to secure a teaching job. My phone had just been stolen as I was using pay phones to call schools and possible leads. I had gone to the library to print out directions because GPS was not an option. The summer heat was not my friend and I was beyond hot — inside and out. So on a day in June, I said “Lord, I need to work somewhere. Just tell me where to go.”

I drove straight to that store and took a deep breath before walking inside. It had been a couple of years since I had worked retail and frankly, I was not looking forward to it. “You’re allergies are going to freak out,” I muttered to myself as I walked through the store, “but you gotta do something.” Your frankness and your warmth sold me from the jump. I knew you were the real deal, but I didn’t imagine that you would become family.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

When my sweet friend Nancy passed away, you showed me empathy by letting me work in the backroom so my tears could flow at will. When my former husband’s diabetic skin needed suggestions, you always made sure to keep me updated on the best products to soothe its agitations. I appreciated your humanity. And while I appreciate every supervisor I’ve worked for, I have comprehensively learned more from you than any corporate experience I ever had. I learned more than how to run a store. I learned how to use discernment during the hiring process, how to mix grace with facts, how to manage personalities, how to work that calculator and know your products like you know your name, how to provide a positive customer experience, and how not to be pissed off everyday. I would tell myself after a long day or a hard shift, “If Wanda can do it, I can do it.” We made it through holiday rushes, limited staffing, late night inventories, and ridiculous floor sets. Every time, I would tell myself that same sentence.

You know my family because you’re woven into our tapestry. My mother respects you and when my father and former husband were alive, so did they. Your heart is bigger than most people I’ve met and I am so grateful you’re in my world. Like I tell anyone that acts sideways – “I’ll fight you over that red-head. She’s family.”

Wanda, I pray that every single seed you have sown in the lives of others will come back to you 100-fold. I have no worries about your future because you’ve planted so richly. You know I have your back no matter what and you know I’m not the only one that will say the same thing. All of us are so much better because of your awesomeness.

I love you big,

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #14

Shawn!

You would be having a complete field day right about now! For real!

Between the pandemic and pandering politics, we would be having the best conversations if you were still here. Seriously. Your wit would be making me laugh aloud and you would be amen-ing your frat brother Roland Martin’s commentary per usual. I can hear your quips as I type — coming at me like rapid fire.

Can you believe that people are making political stances about wearing facial coverings to slow the spread of a virus? I just heard you chuckle. lol

Science. That was your jam and I know you would have something sarcastic to say about all of this. We would probably chat around mid-afternoon and about the latest foolishness concerning our country and the world-at-large. Our conversation would undoubtedly include the current state of educational affairs be it that you were an exceptional educator. You were the physics half and I was the social half of our scientific duo, but we met in the middle when it came to distress of public education. *insert fist bump here*

Photo by Ann H on Pexels.com

Part of me is glad you’re not here to experience this mess and part of me wishes you were so we could decompress at length. You said I was the pontificator between the two of us, but seriously… that was you. You knew how to make a kid’s meal out of the most difficult math and physics problems. The context in which all of this craziness is floating is complex to say the least — the perfect ingredients for your beautiful mind.

We would be having some hilarious conversations right now, my friend. I believe that. We had finally reached that place before you left Earth and for that I am grateful.

Rest In Peace,

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!

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: I Say A Little Prayer

Hey there, Sweethearts!

We made it to Thursday (it’s after midnight here) and I’m proud of us. So proud. I hope you’re doing well. I’ve been praying for you.

Tonight, I want to share a few prayers that I’ve said to cover you over time.


“Father God, I pray their hearts are healed and whole.”

“Lord, please be with them wherever they are.”

“Lord, keep them safe.”

“God, I thank you for them all.”

“Hold them close.”

“Lord, give them everything they need and more.”

“Remind them that they’re beautiful today.”

“Help them hear Your voice.”

“Give them something to laugh about today.”

“Let them know that they are special to you.”

“Lord, wrap them in Your Love right now.”

“Please give them strength, in the Name of Jesus.”


I pray that you felt remembered, motivated, strengthened, or calmed at some point while visiting my writing home.

Just like I hoped one of these prayers reached your need, I encourage you to say yours to do the same for someone else. We need each other now more than ever and this is not the time to withhold a prayer of any size. All are welcome and necessary.

“Prayer is simply talking to God like a friend and should be the easiest thing we do each day.”

– Joyce Meyer

This week, try exhaling a line of prayer from your heart. Don’t tell yourself that it isn’t good enough to say aloud. Those are lies from the pit of hell. Breathe it. Speak it. Whisper it if you have to. Just don’t trap it inside because of the lie. It could be the very prayer someone is praying for.

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

#bloglikecrazy: Peep My Prayers #13

Prayer: “Lord, please help my friend.”

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!

Wednesday Wind Down: Full Circle

Good Evening, Sweethearts!

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.

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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.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

#bloglikecrazy: Day 13 – Sweet Treat

The Good

#13 – I spent much-needed sister time with Shannon + ate a random DQ Blizzard!

Snapseed.jpgMy 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.

The Lesson

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.

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It didn’t stand a chance.

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.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

#bloglikecrazy: Day 12 – Here Comes The Judge

The Good

#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.

The Lesson

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

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