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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!

Wednesday Wind Down: We Did It

We did it.

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!

Wednesday Wind Down: Dichotomic 

Recently, I felt the pain of a woman who’s only desire was to provide the best solution for her children at the expense of what she wished for them. She cried after we prayed together. I bought the items she needed and she agreed to a massage therapy session. I just wanted to help, wanted her to know that I see her. She was the 2nd person for I whom I prayed and to whom I had given. The first person was homeless and when I asked him for a prayer request, his response was to pray for his family. How selfless. These opportunities started hours after I received news that my income would decrease… again. Perfect timing, right? Exactly. That’s what I said too.

Now, I’m not monetarily rich. I’m not a superstar. I don’t have someone taking sensational photos of me at every turn so I can post them on the ‘gram. And I’m definitely not a selfie girl. I just… listen. I sincerely try to listen to God’s voice everyday and anywhere. That’s how this blog Listening at the Speed of Life was born. So, when those opportunities presented themselves, I had to be obedient. No questions asked. 

What have I learned about myself along this journey of obedience? 

  • I hug my students.
  • I even hug strangers. 
  • I pray for people I don’t know.
  • I say thank you. A lot.
  • I love big and I retreat quickly.
  • I boldly express my care.
  • I can speak up when I’m scared.
  • I can ask questions unapologetically. 
  • I seek to understand. 
  • I generally stay to myself, yet I have meaningful relationships.
  • I am a delicate, and resilient balance of mind, body, and spirit.
  • My introversion is beautiful, not a defect.
  • I don’t have to be loud if I don’t want to be.
  • I don’t have to be in the mix to feel included.
  • I like breathing and being, and sometimes these come at the cost of being misunderstood. That’s OK with me now. (It wasn’t when I started.)

So, back to the moment. She was grateful. I was humble. We connected.

The message?

It’s time that we slow down and feel the heartbeat of one another. We’re all humans trying to navigate through this life, and if you’re a Christian, then you’re trying to adhere to a certain compass as you travel on your path. It’s not easy, and we are all doing it… walking it out, journeying into the next dimension of ourselves, and feeling our way around in the darkness of tomorrow’s challenges. 

What would it hurt to wave to the service worker? Speak to the custodian? Give a thank you card to the teacher? Buy an extra meal for the hungry? Or simply hug your friend without it being an obligatory salutation? 

What happened to us orbiting together instead of spinning around each other, being afraid to bump into one another’s space? 

What happened to running the human race together and checking on others along the way?

Peace & Thanks for listening. 

The Introvert’s Dilemma: Happy Birthday, LATSOL!

Guess what?! My blog turned 2 today!

On a late Tuesday night (almost midnight), January 26, 2016, I was sitting on my couch with my tablet on my lap and my hand nervously hovering over the mouse pad. I knew that once I clicked that PUBLISH button, it would be over. My anonymity would dissolve and the different roles of my life would somehow merge as I shared my words online. It would a point of no return. And I was ready, but afraid.

You may be wondering “What’s the big deal?” Well, for an introvert, exposure is the worst nightmare. Solitary comfort and the natural desire for connectivity are always battling each other while the introvert watches, holding her breath. That was me.

I didn’t publicly publish my first blog about 15 years ago because of that battle. I stood on the sideline with my words in private view, only letting a few people into the arena to listen to my literary heartstrings play. I prayed over the blog, took a deep breath, and clicked PUBLISH. Then I put my hand over my mouth and squealed. “There it is. It’s done. It’s out there,” I said to myself. I remember that moment so clearly.

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Over time, I compared my blog and content to others to see if it was good enough for public consumption. I didn’t write about fashion, music, or food, so I felt out of place at most networking events. I switched host sites, struggled to write when I didn’t feel like it, humbled myself to hear to God more, and prayed that each post would help someone. Anyone. The one.

Two years later, Listening At The Speed of Life has touched readers all over the world and encouraged people to listen for God’s voice in daily, not just on a special occasion or in desperation. It has provided motivation and inspiration for everyday life – which was my sincere prayer that night on the couch. I just wanted people to feel hope in knowing that they were not alone learning how to walk out this Christian journey in the real world. I wanted people to know that I was human enough to share what I hear instead of hoarding His whispers in my notebooks.

So, today, I had to pause and say THANK YOU. You’ve been rocking with me in all of my quirkiness and a-ha moments. Whether it was from Day 1 or on Day 730, you’re here with me today and I appreciate your time and your relationship. If I could share one more thing with you that may also apply to your life space right now, it would be – DO IT ANYWAY. You may be scared to launch out into the deep and bare the soul of your passion, but DO IT ANYWAY. Someone needs you to be excellent in your lane. This living, breathing Organism called The Body of Christ needs you.

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To see a blast from the past (that is still relevant actually), take a look at my first public post – No More Muddy Tracks. I hope it blesses you wherever you are. It blessed me when I re-read it today.

Have an awesome weekend, Sweethearts! And as always, Peace & Thanks for listening!

 

#bloglikecrazy: Day 27 – Gaze

“Twinkle, twinkle, little star…” 

When we see something awesome, we gaze. We don’t stare as if we’re trying to figure it out. We behold it. We soak it in. That’s what I did this week on my way home.

I gazed at twinkling stars for about 5 minutes at a desolate exit ramp. Don’t worry; I was safe. But boy did it feel good to just sit and watch.

When is the last time you star gazed? What about gazing at the Stars in your life? Those special people are worthy of beholding. They are amazing creations fashioned with the amazing hands of an amazing God. What would it cost you to acknowledge their greatness for a few minutes?

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Van Gogh Photo courtesy of art.com

#bloglikecrazy: Day 23 – Thanks

Thursday, November 23, 2017 = Thanksgiving. You know what that means. Football, Food, and Shopping were the menu for most people. Me? I was just glad to make it to the day.

I didn’t know what it would be like having the first family holiday without my father. Would I write about my feelings I dreaded to experience? Would I cry and sluggishly get dressed? Would I opt out of attending Thanksgiving dinner altogether? All three options were fair game.

I was used to monitoring his plate and cleaning his face. Massaging his neck as his head sunk into deep slumber. Holding his hand so his spirit knew I was there. Making sure he was positioned in the car just right so the seat belt would go over him properly. He wasn’t there, but I was making it. It was then, at the dinner table when I looked over at the chair where he would normally sit, that I said to myself – “Thanks for letting us have him.”

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Pop

He was truly a gift, and the gift wasn’t taken away. He continues to live every time I think about him.

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving, Sweethearts. A special prayer went to heaven for those who are missing loved ones too. I got your back.

Peace & Thanks for listening. XOXO

Chair photo courtesy of Ethan Allen

Pop’s photo courtesy of me

#bloglikecrazy: Day 12 – Full

In one day, I felt loved, supportive, proud, sad, exhausted and grateful. On, Sunday, November 12th, I was full.

  1. My agenda consisted of waking up to a smile from being enveloped with Love from God Himself. I was daughter that felt safe in the arms of her Father. It was good to be alive. It was good to be loved.
  2. I went to church with my teammate/sorority sister. It was her last Sunday due to a move and I promised that I would attend with her and it was nice to be in her world and nice to see people I knew that attended the same place of worship. I love it when someone finds their fellowship home and I love being supportive.

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    Beauties.
  3. Next, I drove to my late grandparents’ church for their 85th Church Anniversary Program. My grandmother was a pillar in her community and at her church. One of the members invited me to attend and I was so glad to be able to make it, even for an hour. I sat on the back pew and listened to the guest minister preach with heart and conviction. I kept glancing over the pews in the front right wing seeing my grandmother’s presence sitting proudly at the progress of the church’s history. I was proud right along with her. Proud of her legacy and her investment in me. That was the piano and organ that I learned to play… the choir stand my elementary school friends sang in… the fellowship hall I where I ate with cousins. It made me proud to just be in the building. It made me proud to represent my family.

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    Legacy.
  4. My father’s hospice service memorial program was the next stop. A sweet friend gave me all the giggles and endorphins I needed before I approached the door where the service was held. The company that helped our family had been more than gracious during the last few weeks of my father’s life and I was happy to support my mother in person. But my mind wasn’t ready to travel down memory lane. My glass of emotions was getting full and I didn’t know it. My mother asked me to light the candle when his name was called, and I felt the loss of his presence. I wanted him, not the sound of his name. It was odd to be in that space, in this sweet mourning society, for someone that seemed so super human. I didn’t feel that being sad was a transparent option at the moment, so I tucked it away and saved it for later.
  5. Next up was dress rehearsal for my Troupe’s performance. Wow. What a change of pace. Music, laughter, people… it was a barrage of sensation and I was in the middle of it. Final touches, band run-throughs, and technical notes were in full effect. I was exhausted by the end of the night, but I sure was grateful. My team was ready and in sync with each other. I was doing what I loved in the place I wanted to be with the people I wanted to be with – not to mention, it was the Founders’ Day of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. (#EEYIP). Yeah, I was full.

Have you ever had one of those full days? I compartmentalize pretty well so the residue doesn’t transfer to the next place, but it doesn’t come without some pause buttons along the way. How do you handle multiple emotional states in a day?

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

No Matter What 

Flight Write: ATL -> DCA -> PVD

No matter what, God is good. 

His goodness is not contingent upon my feelings,  reactions, or justifications. He is good. Period. And His mercy endureth forever (Psalm 136:1) – which means whatever I’m going through, whenever I’m going through,  wherever I’m going through it, He is still good. He transcends time and situation. There is nothing too far where God’s mercy can’t reach; He’s already tHEre. There is nothing too hard for Him where His goodness will not reign.Psalm 136.1 YouVersion

I have a list of things that went wrong in the last 7 days, but I also have a list of what went right. They combat each other, and then they balance each other out.

How can you laugh when your license plate was stolen off of your car in broad daylight? You get grateful that your car wasn’t missing too.

How do you not be upset that you have to work on your day off? You become grateful for employment. 

How do you breathe when someone leaves your life? You begin to thank God for the time you had, knowing that s/he could have been born on the other side of the world and you would have missed out on her/his awesomeness.

I’ve grown in this area, this No Matter What territory. Life’s challenges continue to improve my agility. I’d like to think that I came straight from heaven with it, but it was forged in me through my parents and mentors that served as night lights along the way. 

CAUTION: This No Matter What mentality is not for the faint of heart. It comes with distractions sprinkled like glitter on a carpeted floor, luring your focus away from your purpose as you attempt to walk forward. It has splashes of anger as you recall the sacrifices you made while fighting your demons… alone. It requires you to acknowledge the bad stuff, square up, and say that all things work together for the good of those that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28)… and believe it. It means crying tears of courage that leak from your broken heart.

No Matter What takes practice. Expect bruises. Check for sores. They’ll be there, but keep walking, keep praying, and keep fasting from the feast of your fears.

Believe, no matter what.

Give, no matter what.

Go, no matter what.

Love, no matter what.

And while you’re standing there braving the winds or bent over wounded from the blows, remember that Jesus is Immanuel. He is with you… all the time…

no matter what.

Peace and thanks for listening!

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