#8 – I actually rested on an inclement weather day.
See that lioness? Well, she is me and when I got the chance to rest on an Alabama snow day, I took it. Guilt-free. Yes, the semester had just begun, but that didn’t matter. I was determined to do absolutely nothing with a pinch of homework. Just a pinch… nothing more. Usually, I fill surprise off days with as much work as they can hold. Why? Because there’s always something to do! Well, not this time. Nature called for no traffic, no hustle-and-bustle, no excessive noise… just a day of rest and whatever I wanted to do. *smh* It was great.
Stillness is a precious gift, and what a gift it was to be still for a day. Definitely introvert approved. More importantly, I realized that I could do so much by doing “nothing.” My “nothing” was actually “everything” I needed to do “something” the next day. I needed to regroup and gear up for the journey ahead. My mind, body, and spirit thanked me for it, too. Stillness doesn’t have to carry guilty baggage. It can simply sit with you as you binge watch episodes of the favorite primetime TV show that you always miss. It can also lull you into a nap while the sun is still shining. Stillness can even accompany you as you read a magazine, not online, but in your hands.
I pray that you find your Peace, Be Still Day before the end of the year. If not, plan it for January and stick to it. Doing nothing can be your everything.
Good Evening, Sweethearts! I hope you’re winding down well from the day.
Let me share a secret with you that your massage therapist already knows. Your muscles rat you out. That’s right. They tell on you. Every step, every act, and every move is recorded in your muscle groups and when they are upset, they speak… loudly. Even muscles that you think are “fine” may be compensating for other muscles that are overworked. That’s why the massage table is a sacred no-judgment zone. It isn’t our job to cast an opinion on your behavior, just to help your body heal itself.
So, your right arm is hurting and your massage therapist begins to work on the left side of your neck. Why? Because muscles work together to make you function as a human being every day. Walking, by itself, is inadvertently a miracle when you break down each action that takes place within the body. The neurons, the eyes, the depth perception, the bones… walking is an amazing feat.
God made the body to help you when you can’t help yourself. It memorizes movements on your behalf and tries to take care of idiosyncrasies before they disable you. Its job is to perform effectively and efficiently at all times through the maintenance of homeostasis. When the balance is thrown off, the whole system kicks into gear to keep the machine (you) functioning. This means that when your massage therapist attempts to lengthen a shortened muscle, it may feel uncomfortable, but not because the therapy is incorrect, but because the muscle has learned to live in an abnormal position. The adjacent muscles have learned to protect the traumatic area. The muscle group has recorded the sway of your hips. No matter what you do, the muscles don’t lie. They react the way God designed them to and there’s nothing you can do about that process.
I like to believe that we have spiritual muscles, too… muscles that record beautiful and horrific experiences that we relive on occasion. Knowingly and unknowingly, we perpetuate the movements of our spiritual muscles and when they are triggered, we may laugh, cry, scream, smile, or shut down.
So, what are you recording? What spiritual manifestations are you ignoring until something “big” happens? Are you willing to see the miracles in everything around you? Are there some areas in your life that are abnormally normal and need resetting? Take note and pay attention to your spiritual sounds.
Peace & Thanks for listening… and stretch those muscles a little before you go to bed. lol
Have you ever thought you had dealt with something and then it reared its ugly head at the most inopportune time? *hand up* Well, it’s time for the Beast, and this one has two heads which makes it quite a monster. Allow me to expose them and share how I won.
Let’s start with #1 tonight – DEPRESSION.
In February 2016, I had a terrible car accident that could have easily been fatal. I blacked out while driving to an out-of-state funeral and all I remember is seeing something like stripped rubber in the road, being 8 minutes from my hotel, declining my mother’s phone call because I needed to focus on the interstate junctions, and seeing the black and yellow end of a guardrail fastly approaching my face. The car was totaled. I was so shaken up and confused at God’s allowance of such an event. Then, I had a former friend act horribly and say that it was a sign that I was in the wrong place and should not have come. I knew in the Spirit that she was talking outside of hers. On the same day, my husband called to tell me that a family friend passed away. So, let’s recap… I was on my way to a funeral, surprised to hear about the transition of a sweet soul, and almost lost my life.
What made matters worse was that besides my family, none of the individuals that knew I was traveling 8-hours alone checked to see if I had made it there or had returned home safely. I wasn’t just hurt at that point. I was heartbroken and swirled into a pit of depression. Not the stereotypical visual we have of someone in their bathrobe eating ice-cream for days, but in addition to being withdrawn, I was on strict auto-pilot. One week passed by. I didn’t even tell anyone that I had returned to town besides my parents and husband because I didn’t see the point. After all, if I had died, they would have found out through a 3rd party if they cared, right? Well, things came to a head when I was driving and my hands started to slip from the wheel. I was in head-to-head-to-head combat with the Beast and it was winning. I didn’t want to kill myself, but I felt strength leave my body. I had never felt such physical and spiritual weakness simultaneously. A few seconds passed and I could feel the vibration of the emergency lane grooves. It jolted my senses and I immediately called my sisterfriend to say that I wasn’t OK and needed to pull over or meet her somewhere ASAP. She agreed and we met at a KFC. Slowly, but sincerely, she allowed me to drip my soul in front of her like water seeping through the cracks of a concrete wall. She apologized for not checking on me and told me how much she cared that I was alive.
For the next 5 months, my life was a blur of deadlines, rehearsals, and canned responses. I prayed sporadically, but on most days God and I weren’t “friends.” Auto-pilot was the only survival mode I knew and it kept me from crashing and burning every day, but it was undoubtedly unhealthy.
Needless to say, the person-to-person admittance alone was a strong swift kick in the chest of the Beast and I kept crawling until I could stand up using the Truth as a daily set of crutches. I stabbed one of its eyes by concentrating on who loves me and that apparently my purpose was unfulfilled because I was still here; then, I allowed people to show they cared instead of shutting out their sincerity. That year, with the thanks of my parents, I also celebrated being alive by keeping my self-care law and basically shifted some individuals to the outer court of my relationship house to release the energy struggle. After all, a tug-of-war takes two. In Matthew 7:16, Jesus says that you will know a tree by the fruit it bears. I believe this was later woven into the poetic tapestry of the late Dr. Maya Angelou – When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time. That year, I learned that it is just as healthy and Christ-like to preserve your energy and expend it wisely.
Below is a glimpse into my mind that year in my attempt to deal with the Beast after my birthday. It’s raw and unfiltered. I hope it helps by letting you know that you’re not alone either.
Written September 2016
I got so angry one day that I refused to pray. I didn’t see the point. I wanted to believe that somehow my whole life would turn around and I would stop getting screwed over, but that belief wasn’t even a glimmer of hope anymore. The wait and the want? It’s insatiable. It never gets full enough to stop feeding on your emotions. That’s why you have to cast it aside and speak the TRUTH. I literally had to start fighting that Beast before it dragged me into its lair. Philippians Chapter 4 became a daily meal of nutrients I had originally refuse to ingest. I literally made myself chew on it every day. The despair is real. It’s a monster. It breathes in all the joyous moments you locked away in storage for a rainy day and exhales death. I hate it if I can be so frank. Sometimes, you have to just release it and fight for your life.
Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweetheart. I’m praying for you. Keep fighting. You’re not done yet!
Have you ever felt full, like you were about to pop? Well, me, my Converse sneakers, and my school uniform made a break for it this week.
It was Monday and I was full of everything – grief, fatigue, anticipation, excitement, concern, questions, tension, gratefulness… I was just full. After all, it was my birthday and that came with a cacophony of spiritual noise. I had been fighting to stay afloat in the midst of recent rip tides and I was doing a pretty good job, but when you wake up on your birthday and wish you could just sleep in, that’s when you know the jig is up. I couldn’t do most of what I wanted due to surgery recuperation and two financial surprises, so I had to make some adjustments to keep my annual self-care ritual.
Each week in August, I do something that fills me with joy, then I continue the celebration once per month until the end of the year. It’s like my body and spirit know it’s August as soon as July ends. Well, with a few modifications, I still managed to uphold my law.
Week 1:Weekend road trip with Mommy. Music, laughs, and priceless convo. Week 2:Ate pancakes the night before surgery. Binge-watched Blue Bloods and The Resident from the beginning. Man, I love those shows. Week 3:Sister Time with sisterfriends. Ate half of a Ribeye from the Hickory Chip. Week 4:Drove to Noccalula Falls (Gadsden, Alabama)
Now, about this drive… it was a serious mission. I almost didn’t make it in time due to my car repair, but I’m so glad I kept going. When I arrived, I had 25 minutes to make my birthday wish come true, then when I got there, I didn’t follow the map correctly and got set back 6 minutes. Noccalula Falls is special to me because it is one of two places in the world (so far) where I can breathe without respiratory rudeness. Something about that Gorge Trail makes me giddy like a school girl waiting on a glance from a crush. I don’t have to scale or climb, but a fall can easily be in anyone’s future along those jagged rocks. It had been years since I stood beneath the falls, but I never forgot the way I felt taking that deep breath in without clearing my throat for the first time. (A picture of it is on my About Me page.)
I know God is everywhere, but it seems like that is our sweet spot. I just have to push beyond the tough part. On the way to the cave beneath the fall’s cliff, it was difficult to breathe and believe me, there were plenty of opportunities to give up and turn around having had surgery 10 days prior. The impending thunderstorm, the 5-minute grace before getting a ticket, the throbbing headache and sore muscles, my ill-prepared attire… I could have easily said forget it. Not to mention that I kept hearing a loop of negativity in my head along the way. But with every step, I felt the reverberation of my soul making a judgment call to not accept no as an answer to my prayer request. Needless to say, I hustled in all of my sweaty glory to reach the cave by 5:00 PM and made it on the dot. When I finally reached the spot, I took that deep breath and teared up. Everything that filled me up finally had a place to go and I could empty it out before His perfect blend of peace and power. There I was, looking up at God’s natural wonder, and once again His Word met me there. Here’s what I heard. I hope it helps you too.
Pride, like a tumor, must be removed – not ignored.
Like a tumor, pride metastasizes and blocks your divine purpose.
You can’t ask God for miracles and control how they arrive.
You have to go low to be lifted high. You can’t start at the top.
God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. If you never admit your weakness, there is no room for His strength to take over.
Water smooths the rough edges. So do life’s challenges shape you.
No, there was no surprise party waiting for me when I got home and just 10 years ago, I was celebrating my birthday with my fiancé. I had plenty to swirl in as I recalled my battle scars, but standing there made everything feel small and made me feel safe enough to receive His strength. The exchange was available, just like air, and all I had to do was let it happen.
You know that exhale you do after ripping and running all day or removing an overcoat after a long day outside? That’s where I was. Pure relief.
And what was that overcoat? Pure Pride.
I hate asking for help to carry my bags during recuperation, accepting kindness in resources and deeds, or saying “OK” to a surprise provision that I prayed for…. how ridiculous is that? So, just like the benign tumor that was removed from my neck recently, it was imperative that God was still working on me and my foreign-body attachments.
Now, check out an excerpt of what I journaled in September 2016.
“My mantra in August was to unleash the beast.
Each birthday month, I vow to do something I enjoy and spread it out across each week. Sometimes, it’s small like a milkshake or a little bigger like a solo road trip. Well, this year I decided to embrace something that I don’t like…and it hurt like hell.”
Isn’t that crazy? Well, Sweetheart, that’s where Part II comes in. It’s great to celebrate and it’s beautiful to exhale, but we must deal with the Beast within us in order to be healthy.
Peace, see you next time on the blog, and thanks for making it to the end of this post. lol I love y’all. Let’s keep walking. If you have a birthday ritual, let me know. If you don’t, make a pact with yourself to start one. It will bless you more than you can imagine. XO
Most likely, you’re not walking around with a bag of blood with you in case you run out.
So, how do we have enough blood to live if those cells don’t divide? Let’s do the math.
Red blood cells live approximately 120 days (4 months), then they are engulfed by macrophages (the clean-up crew of the cellular world). Don’t fret – new ones are created in your bone marrow daily and massage therapy affects the body all the way down to the chemical level, so we definitely must be knowledgeable in your cellular function. Blood flow can tell us a lot while we are administering modalities to assist your well-being – inflammation, blockage, tissue damage, etc. Blood carries life and in 120 days, there’s a lot of life to live.
I was driving to work recently and the Holy Spirit reminded me that we were charged to be fruitful and multiply in allthings, especially in the purpose in which we were born. When God the Father said “Be fruitful and multiply,” it didn’t just mean to populate the Earth. Whatever awesomeness that is transcribed into your DNA is designed to multiply in the lives of others. If you have a passion for fashion, that natural ability was destined to be fruitful by increasing the self-image and body positivity of everyone you serve. If you enjoy cooking, your love of culinary arts was designed to multiply by sharing the work of your hands. This doesn’t mean that everything you love to do that you should run a business in that area. Truthfully, that same food lover could be a horrible restaurant owner and terrible entrepreneur; yet, that thing that makes you smile and power-up… it’s worth exploring when you see lives being changed by it.
Ask God to open your eyes to the ways in which you can multiply.You don’t have to divide yourself and be thinly spread among various responsibilities. The directions were clear. Be fruitful and multiply, not divide. It’s not efficient to sprinkle slivers of yourself everywhere, but you can plant seeds with each client, student, and family member. Seek wisdom on how to grow your gifts and passions so others can bear the same fruit. Most likely, someone is hungry for what you were born to grow. The law of the harvest is real and you will be held accountable for everything you don’t use. That’s why I’m on a quest to die empty. I’m using everything God planted in me to multiply on this Earth so the harvest can outlive me.
Fruit trees don’t divide themselves in half; they bear fruit of the same seed. After all, isn’t that how we know the tree’s identity (Matthew 7:16)?
Red blood cells don’t divide, yet we function well on their 4-month run. What are you going to do for the next 4 months? How will you circulate? Let’s do the math and live. Need some help getting started? Check out this throwback post.
Peace, thanks for listening, and wind down safely, Sweethearts!
Last week, I mentioned that I’m in the final countdown of my therapeutic massage program (33 days to be exact, and I’m including weekends). While it is exciting to prepare for the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx), our study sessions have also made me nostalgic and full of wonder all over again about how intricate God made our bodies.
Did you know…
The biconcave shape of your blood cells increase its surface area for oxygen consumption, yet remains flexible enough to squeeze into tight spaces?
The sarcomeres in our muscles facilitate muscle contraction (and look like a subway system, if you ask me)?
Aromatherapy is an actual form of therapy because your brain and muscles create and recall memories as you inhale an essential oil?
Your sternocleidomastoid (SCM) has a clavicular and sternal head to stabilize your neck when you tilt it back (Remember that little tidbit the next time you doze off in class)?
Your body will always attempt to achieve homeostasis (balance), even at the expense of your free will?
The lymphatic system. Respiratory system. Cardiovascular system. Autonomic and Somatic Nervous Systems. There are many more collaborations that keep you alive and massage therapists can affect every last one of them through the power of touch. That’s how cool God is.
He touched us first. His fingerprint is on our hands. No matter how many people are born in the world, no one can duplicate you. Can you believe that such an incredible God thought enough of you to breathe into you and form your body Himself? All of those cells, muscles, and systems were fashioned with your purpose in mind. I am fascinated by that even more now that I am adding a new career industry to my journey.
Now, here’s the disclaimer. I don’t know why some of the systems malfunction or why parts of them are deformed or missing, but I know God still had every detail in mind when He made you. Everything else in creation was called to be, but you? You were customized with ocular muscles around your brown eyes. The zygomatic bones on your face are perfectly curved to create your cheekbones. You have the cradle of life sitting between your iliac crests. There is no mistake in you.I have had to remember that as I face health challenges myself. Even the parts of me that don’t function properly still exude His glory because I continue to fulfill my purpose on this Earth. I’m here to tell you… He thought of everything about you and you were designed with Love in mind.
Wind down safely, Dear. I have some reading to do before class in the morning, but don’t forget our chat, OK? *smile* Look in the mirror or check yourself out with a selfie to admire the greatness in you, on you, and shining through 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?
I’m winding down after administering final exams to my students and I kept asking God what to share with you tonight. Nothing seemed to fit, so on my way home yesterday, I asked again and I got the answer. Simple, but ruthless.
It cut me to the core because I’m an intimate relationship person. I have an outer court and an inner court, but sometimes I want everyone on the court. (lol) And I’m sure God looks down from heaven, shaking His head wondering why His daughter keeps roping people into such a sanctimonious space, but I forget at times. Then my heart gets hurt, I feel disrespected, or I get angry when all I had to do was remember the first lesson.
So, tonight, this is your reminder too. Let your friends flow in different orbits. You’re still in the same universe. You’re not required to rope everyone in. Do what you can, but keep the courts separate. That’s not being mean, bitter, or rude. It’s being wise, healthy, and purposeful.
We learned something cool in therapeutic massage class about the heart and I underlined it in my book as a reminder to share it with you. I remember learning it in college, but something about this time around was louder.
Did you know that the heart has its own rhythm? As in, every organ is co-dependent except the heart, which can beat (for a short time) outside of the body. It has a natural pacemaker (the sinoatrial or SA node) that initiates the electrical sequence for the heart beat, and that the blood turbulence in the atria and ventricles create your heart sounds. Neat, right?! So the SA node kicks off the rhythm of your heart like a drummer giving the band 4 counts to start a song and your valves keep the sound flowing in the right direction – in, out, up, down, arms, legs, lungs, head… it’s all coordinated with the heart’s rhythm. And if the beat is off, well… that’s not good.
What I extracted from that lesson was God made us with our own rhythm. We walk around with this customized drum set in our chests at all times. Never do we say “Hold on, let me check my pulse. It may have stopped today.” No, we just keep going through life – talking, laughing, living. We trust the rhythm and it keeps the rest of our body on beat. So, what happens when the rhythm changes? Then, my friends, there is arrhythmia. Not all rhythmic changes are fatal, but some warrant close attention.
Some arrhythmias are so brief (for example, a temporary pause or premature beat) that the overall heart rate or rhythm isn’t greatly affected. But if arrhythmias last longer, they may cause the heart rate to be too slow or too fast or the heart rhythm to be erratic – so the heart pumps less effectively. (American Heart Association)
In life, the very same thing happens. We can be on a path that feels so good and then something small can throw us off. On the other hand, that steady pulse of life can be disrupted by something large and it can feel like the entire band needs to walk off stage and go home. Whatever the sound, you’ll feel the rhythm of life change. Maybe it changes your daily routine at home or your financial distribution. Maybe it skews your speech or the way you see someone. I believe we experience spiritual arrhythmia and I am convinced that we either learn to adjust or, like the heart, we simply stop. We wander through life on autopilot and wonder why we don’t feel anything. Maybe it’s because our heart is offbeat and we need a pacemaker to jump it off. Well, God is the ultimate heart regulator. I know this from personal experience. When I felt like the walking dead, he resurrected me to see life through different lenses and I haven’t forgotten that gift, even if my heart skips a beat or two along the way.
You don’t have to die from arrhythmia of the mind, body, or spirit. If you find yourself reading this and you are in need a heart check as you wind down tonight, I am praying with you. Contact me and I’ll pray with you via email. Just don’t live off beat and by all means, don’t stop. You are needed in the symphony.
Want to learn more about the heart? Check out this link from the American Heart Association. It has explanations, videos, and downloadables. A nerd’s dream come true!
Sheila E. photos courtesy of moi at the Sheila E. Concert (epic.) Joy photo courtesy of: NBC News