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Wednesday Wind Down: Birthday Behavior

Hello, Sweethearts!

As promised, I’m sharing this year’s birthday behavior with you. I altered my original plans a bit as my knee recouped, but I definitely did something I wanted to do every week. Just in case you’re unfamiliar with my annual ritual, 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. Catch last year’s behavior by reading Birthday & Beast: Part I and Part II. This year, I am full of gratefulness and blessed to be here again to share with you.

Week 1: Rest. Much needed rest.

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Photo by Kristin Vogt on Pexels.com

Week 2: Fun Rehearsal with my Troupe. Self-care Nails Day. Fun performance with my African dance company teammates. Rest again. Much needed rest.

Week 3: Great conversation with an old friend and a new friend. Online dinner date with my long-distance sister eating one of my favorite meals at Olive Garden. Recorded a back-to-school video clip with my Troupe. Attended the birthday party of my friends’ twins (that game of musical chairs was something serious) and ran into another member of our old Crew. Enjoyed my favorite milkshake – the limited time peach goodness from Chick-fil-A.



Week 4: Great food and conversation with my mother. A beautiful conversation over prime rib with my sister. Self-care Pedicure Day. High Tea at the lovely Smith-Byrd House with my favorite tea-drinking sister. Girls’ Night Out with lots of dancing and laughs.

Week 5: Facilitated an absolutely fun step dance class that almost didn’t happen but I’m so glad it did. Self-Care Massage Day. Shared an uncomfortable, yet necessary detail of my personal growth with my Troupe. Had a complete blast at my alma mater’s first football game of the season with my friend and sorors. Searched for new Bluetooth wireless earphones so when it’s in the budget next month, I’ll be ready.

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So, why do I share this list with you? Because I want to show you that it can be done. That joy can be visible when you’re willing to look. That you can and should live a life that is fulfilling from the inside out. Today, I encourage you to create your own personal law.  If you’re caught in the hamster wheel of work-sleep-repeat, you’re missing out on beautiful moments that won’t break the bank. Furthermore, when you’ve had near-death experiences (as many of us have), you should definitely invest in those moments on the regular. I engage in things I love all year, but during my birthday month and for the remainder of the year, I kick it up a notch to celebrate that I’m still here, reward myself for being on the grind, and refuel my spirit for what awaits me in the next year.

Lastly, I share this list with you because if my stretch marks make you feel more confident about yours, I’m for it. The older I get, the more I am compelled to peel back the layers of my soul. I’m OK with that. I’m at peace with the woman that continues to evolve inside of me. I love her and she appreciates the opportunity to stretch, learn, and breathe. Maybe your inner self has a message for you too. I hope that this post helps you to hear her/him and oblige accordingly.

Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweethearts. Here’s to your week!

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Wednesday Wind Down: Traffic Jam

Good Evening, Sweethearts! It’s a short stop for your week!

Here’s a fun fact – I don’t have road rage. Nope. None at all. I don’t care how much you honk or swerve, I don’t let your energy into my car. That’s my safe haven. My bubble. No one gets the right to invade my mobile sanctuary. It doesn’t mean that people don’t try… especially when your city center is under major construction.

Before I share further, let me also say that I love construction. I know it’s weird, but I truly do. It’s trying to figure out the biggest jigsaw puzzle and being able to drive through it all like a life-size Legoland and an Erector set working harmoniously together. *sigh* I love watching the vision come to life piece by piece. The inconvenience doesn’t bother me because the detours give me a chance to gain a closer look into the mind of the engineers. Try it sometime. You may be surprised by what you see… oh, and thank the nearest construction worker or police officer that is part of the teamwork.

Driving in congestion also makes you observant and attuned to what’s around you. I noticed so many people that were impatient, angry, distracted, and oblivious. While some days I drive in silence, I also jam in traffic. I mean a full out jam session… and I don’t care who’s watching. Try that sometimes too. Find that song that lights you up every time you hear it and have a mini-concert in your vehicle. Snap your fingers, raise ONE hand in the air, and if someone is in the car with you- have your very own lip sync battle.

Why should you do this? Because it boosts your endorphins and who couldn’t use a big dose of that before you reach your destination? Secondly, it’s a reminder that also works in life. Some parts of your story need building and there is nothing you can do to rush the journey. You have to live through it until completion. Being impatient, angry, distracted, and oblivious will cheat you out of insight, fortitude, growth, and gratitude. While you can’t control how fast you can go, you can control what’s in your spirit. Stay focused on what you need and protect your mental sanctuary… and rock out on that mobile stage.

Peace & Thanks for Listening!

#bloglikecrazy: Day 30 – Love It Up

The Good

#30 – I spent mother-daughter time at the beach!

These posts have not been published in the order of importance, but I definitely saved the best for last. It was desperately on my heart to enjoy the King & Prince Beach & Golf Resort with my mother during the Word of Faith Love Center‘s At The Table Women’s Ministry Retreat. This is not your stereotypical Christian retreat. You know the ones… you’re not super saved unless you wake up at 5:00 AM to pray with everybody, attend 5 breakout sessions with 10 different speakers, 2 prayer meetings, then snot-nose-cry on the floor well after 1 AM. Not that I have never been a broken piece of clay at a spiritual event (because I have), but if you tell me that I’m attending a retreat, that is what I expect. I shouldn’t need a vacation when I return home. That’s what I wanted for my mother. After the decade she has had, a time to refresh and replenish her spirit was not part of the calendar. So, that’s exactly what we did and it was the really Good stuff of this year.

The Lesson

Allow your love level up.

I had attended the retreat twice before, but this year was different. It seemed like everything in the world tried to prevent me from going (just like the previous years), but instead of focusing on the obstacles, I was relentless about the outcome. My mother was coming with me no matter what. And guess what? She felt the same way. We double-teamed our discomfort with faith and action. We declared and decreed that we would not only attend the retreat but that we were going to have a fabulous time together. There was a season in our relationship where that was not our warcry, so I was so full to be able to say those words.

Love overrides obstacles every time. The obstacles will be there, but they don’t have to shine. Don’t be afraid to let love surpass the pain, the frustration, the history, the cracks, and bruises. My mother is the most resilient person you will ever meet. She greets challenges with a smile and hammer ready to work. Every day. Since I’ve been born, she’s been on the grind and it healed my soul to see her singing in the ocean, trying new foods, embracing her natural hair and new makeup, and connecting with other phenomenal women – including me. I love her more now than I ever have. Because we decided to “level up” our love, I am able to witness the expansion of her courage in real time and be an active participant of her regeneration. Love breeds love, so all we have to do is let Him breathe between us.

Peace & Thanks for listening! I appreciate you hanging with me again this year during #bloglikecrazy. It’s been a blast. See you next week on our regular Wind Down Wednesday schedule. God bless you all and enjoy your weekend, Sweetheart. I love you too. *hug*

#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 5 – Sister Time

The Good

#5 – I spent much-needed sister time with Ashlee!

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.

The Lesson

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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.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

#bloglikecrazy: Day 2 – Do It Afraid

The Good

#2 – I danced and mimed at Dance Across Birmingham!

Why is this significant? Because I didn’t die doing it!

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Dance Across Birmingham is hosted by the Alabama Dance Council (ADC) and is a creative ritual for me. My adventurous self gets to frolic between any dance genre that tickles my fancy. For one Saturday out of the year, members of ADC provide free dance classes for the Birmingham community and beyond. You can learn everything from ballroom dancing to salsa to belly dancing to Bollywood. I love it! It gives me a chance to stretch my dance limits and be uninhibited with a group of strangers. No one judges your stumbling feet and flailing arms as you also learn with those who are classically trained. The instructors make sure that you have fun in all of your awkward glory and you meet some incredibly cool people in each class.

During lunchtime, the instructors become the performers and you watch them explode with excellence in their respective genres. Asian-inspired awesomeness, hip-hop glory… it’s a beautiful parade of talent, skill, and passion.. and I’ve always wanted to know what it would feel like to be on that stage.

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Dancing with Nathifa Dance Company & Outreach, LLC

Well, that dream became a reality this year thanks to Sistah LaVondia Smith, Founder and Artistic Director of Nathifa Dance Company & Outreach, LLC and Rosemary Johnson, Executive Director of the Alabama Dance Council. I was elated to dance with Sistah LaVondia and NDC because of their powerful and colorful African dancing and drumming. They are a sight to behold and a force to be felt! I had admired them since they began 25 years ago. If that wasn’t enough excitement, I performed a mime piece with my Troupe and was infused with strength! What an awesome 1-2 punch of goodness!

The Lesson

Fear is the only thing standing between you and Glory.

For decades I was scared of African dancing because of my respiratory issues. I was haunted by a fear of having an asthma attack mid-performance, so I cowardly never tried to learn it with full capacity of heart. Wow… to think of how much I was missing out! After that performance with NDC and a few others, I was offered the opportunity to join the Company. I was grateful and honored, to say the least.

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What can I say? We get down and dirty for the sake of the Message.

The other fear I had was that my Troupe wouldn’t appear good enough to perform on that stage. We are a comprehensive powerhouse, but I honestly wasn’t sure if we would be accepted as equals. We are a group of faith-based performing artists that come from various backgrounds and our puzzle pieces fit perfectly to create movement that touches the soul. We unapologetically seek to reach an audience of ONE, but I couldn’t help but think that our colleagues wouldn’t understand us. I was emphatically wrong. Not only did they get it, but they enjoyed it!

All it took was a resolve to stand in the face of fear, push it down and walk over it. Sounds easy, but it wasn’t. I just did it anyway. If I had not done so, I would have missed out on two beautiful milestones and someone could have have missed a moment they may have needed to experience.

What is one thing that scares you, but you want to do it more than you’re afraid of it? I stand with you and pray for our boldness to run right over it. Will you get the tingle of timidity every now and then? Maybe. That doesn’t mean that you can’t conquer it, again and again.

Peace & Thanks for listening and “see” you tomorrow for Day 3 of #bloglikecrazy!

Wednesday Wind Down: “It’s the most wonderful time of the year…”

It’s October 31st… November’s Eve. Why am I excited? Because #bloglikecrazy begins tomorrow!

This is the 3rd year that I have participated in the See Jane Write challenge to post daily in November. Each time I do this, something wonderful comes out of me and I am shocked at the responses I receive. I was in the department store one day and I ran into a friend who said she was keeping up with my #bloglikecrazy posts and they were encouraging her to tackle her obstacles. She didn’t want to post a comment because she was shy and I had no idea she was reading, but her personal thank you was just as enriching.

So, in light of every difficult experience that transpired this year, I challenged myself to think of 30 good things that happened this year and share lessons I learned from them. It’s easy to see the lemonade after you’ve been squeezed like a lemon because hindsight is 20/20. On the other hand, there are jewels of wisdom in the good stuff too. Yes, we experience negative situations, tiring situations, degrading situations throughout the year, but that doesn’t make the whole year a bad one. As I flipped through my calendar, I smiled and remembered happy times, funny moments, and joyous occasions deserving of recognition (like the photo below).

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On a personal note, I do a version of this every year on a sheet of paper. I draw a circle in the middle and write the year inside of it, then I create a mind map (also called a circle thinking map) of all of the goodness that happened that year at whatever speed it pops into my mind. It’s fulfilling, encouraging, and a great reminder to stew on my blessings.

That’s what you’re going to get for the next 30 days. The good stuff. Little doses of happy and a lesson in the bottom of each half-full glass.

My prayer is that you dig a little deeper to find your 30 days too. You can jot them on a sticky note, in a big or mini-notebook (I frequent Dollar Tree, WalMart, and Michael’s for mine), or keep them in an online note-taking app such as Evernote (one of my favorites). Wherever you decide to store your happy, keep it for the rainy days in your life and prepare for more sunshine.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Wind down safely this Halloween night!

5 Things You Must Do On A Snow Day

Good Afternoon, Sweethearts!

Did you enjoy the snow? Is it still around? Here in Birmingham, Alabama, it’s starting to melt, but ice is still lurking on the roads. I hope you’re safe, warm, and smiling.

The snow day couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I just closed the fall quarter and I hibernate the day after finals to recuperate my mind, body, and soul. Even my mother tries not to call me the day after finals. Sweet Woman.

Since God blessed me with snow on my day off, I did 5 things that made me feel awesome. I think they make fine ingredients for any snow day to feel like the Son is shining on you. If you did anything that made your day, share it!

  1. SLEEP! SLUMBER! REST!
    • Confession – This is one thing I do not do well on a consistent basis. Running a performing arts troupe, writing your soul free, and educating Birmingham’s Finest can make make feel like I’m running on fumes at times. So when my friend texted me a snowy picture, I smiled. It was officially a rest day. I think getting a few winks in when you’ve missed a million is a great way to recharge!
  2. REFLECT.
    • There’s something about the stillness of snow that makes me just sit and watch. I don’t want to talk. I don’t want to drive. I want to reflect on how cool it is…. fluffy goodness floating from the sky. It quiets the world for a little bit. It makes me be careful. It forces me to gaze at the winter wonderland around me that I zoom past everyday. So, I took a few pictures to remind myself to do more of that when life gets busier in 2018.
  3. PLAY OUTSIDE!
    • After the spiritual battery has been charged, then I want to play. My footsteps make art as I look back at them in the snow, plus my miniature schnauzer had a blast trying to eat it. I laughed watching my aunt make snow angels. There’s just something about snow that makes the 5-year-old you feel safe to show out. Throwing snowballs and trying to make snow sculptures are what snow is made for, right? lol
  4. EAT!
    • When it’s cold outside, you simply must eat something warm inside. My vice of choice yesterday? #1 – PANCAKES! I was so hungry when from my self-care, that pancakes and hot tea were the only items on my menu. #2 – QUESO and tortilla chips. But, it’s not just any queso dip. I made my favorite recipe that I conjured up in college. Dorm living will make a chef out of anyone. lol It includes shrimp, ground turkey, cilantro, corn, and diced tomatoes (and sometimes a hint of bacon). The dip was oh so heavenly as I curled up to watch one of my favorite movies.
  5. WATCH A MOVIE.
    • Me, my bowl of queso, my sweatpants, and my fuzzy socks enjoyed one of my favorite movies – Something New (2006). If you’ve never seen it, get ready for some humor, some sensitive topics, and just good old-fashioned Rom-Com (romantic comedy) moments. Curling up on the couch after a long day of self-care was the perfect ending to my classroom duties and the perfect beginning of a well-deserved break.

What do you like to do during a snow day? Do you have favorite foods that taste better during winter weather? Are there movies that you must watch?

Peace, Thanks for listening, and Stay safe out there!

Photo of my awesome aunt and my super dog courtesy of moi.

#bloglikecrazy: Day 26 – Dance

I have a confession to make. I dance around the house for no reason other than it makes me happy, and sometimes, I do it in heels. My dog looks at me funny from time to time, but I think he’s gotten use to my random bursts of movement.

I step, I salsa, I groove, and I do the running man when it hits me. I’m a dancer, through and through. No, I wasn’t classically trained in ballet. No, I didn’t participate in summer dance intensives. I hear music in my head and I move to it.

Growing up, I listened to jazz, gospel, rock, heavy metal, blues, R&B, hip-hop, country… you name it. Thanks to my family, I was exposed to some good stuff and that goodness would seep beneath my pores and I would be compelled to let it out. Any Man of Mine by Shania Twain would get a mix of hair swinging and stepping. Don’t Worry, Be Happy by Bobby McFerrin would get head bobs and horrible attempts at whistling. Going through my uncle’s cassette drawer was like eating at a musical candy factory. I was in heaven every time I could sneak a listen.

Now the cassette and headphones have been replaced with streaming queues and bluetooth speakers, but I dance just as hard. Music will always be in my DNA no matter how old I get. It makes me feel alive and healthy, running fine on all cylinders – even if but for 3:32. Diving into my audible ocean means everything to me and I always resurface better than before. I think the freedom makes me a better choreographer.

What do you do that gives you unadulterated happiness? Is it bike riding? Rollerskating? Painting? Cooking? Whatever it is, I pray that you get to do it before the year ends and whenever the mood strikes. Get some happy in your life!

Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweethearts!

Photo courtesy of consequenceofsound.net

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