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#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #18

To my Church Families:

Lee’s Chapel Baptist Church in Brookside, AL
First Baptist Church Graysville East in Graysville, AL
St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church in Graysville, AL
Mason City A.O.H. Church of God in Birmingham, AL
First Baptist Church Carver in Bessemer, AL
Cathedral of the Cross in Birmingham, AL
Gateway Family Church in Trussville, AL
Zion Church in Landover, MD

In some way, shape, or form and at some point in time, you completely changed my life for the better. Each church listed up there hosts memories from my childhood to now and I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything.

Cold ankles in lacy socks at Sunday School. Red Baptist Hymnals. Your sense of community. The smell of wooden pews. The whir of the Leslie when I turned on the organ. Music bouncing off the walls. Sausage and biscuit breakfast before worship service and free lunches every summer. The smiles on your faces and the sternness of your voices. Sequins and pearls adorning your suits. Tie pins and cufflinks that could rival any corporate executive’s attire. I remember thinking that you were the smartest people in the world when you read verses aloud. You were walking art and I was your canvas.

Photo by Dan Whitfield on Pexels.com

I call you family. Whether you prayed for me at the altar or laughed with me in the church parking lot, you played a major part in the woman I am today. You taught me that community is more than a word, it is an action that is always in season. We fed the poor, tutored children, taught God’s Word, and consoled each other at funerals. We forgot about the troubles of the week together. We danced until we felt free. Our hands lifted up and so did our hearts. God met us both inside and outside of those buildings.

Thank you.

I appreciate your light and life lessons. I pray that you continue to shine just as brightly as you did in my life. Keep smiling. Keep saturating yourself in the Word. Keep being a light. Keep encouraging youth so they can grow up to be grateful like me.

Sincerely,

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #17

To my Homeless/Transient Brothers & Sisters:

I love you.

So many of you have stories that have never been told, let alone understood. As some of you told me — you were doing well before you got here. You moved down South to assist a family member get off drugs and lost your sustainability trying to help them. You lost your job and your home in the same year and couldn’t gather funds to recuperate. Instead of letting your whole family suffer the blow, you moved out so they could stay safe. You were a veteran who kept getting the runaround instead of a call back. You had a life… a whole life before being someone people ignore. You are someone’s son or daughter. You are important.

You aren’t lost causes, but your needs often get lost in a crowd of bureaucratic tomfoolery. I’m sorry about that. Instead of just throwing food to fix your hunger during the holidays, it would help if we talked with you about your skill sets and your health. Unfortunately, money makes things move, so that hinders you from getting what you truly need — a long-term solution.

When I see you, sometimes I stop to give you food or water, sometimes we pray together, and sometimes I pray for you as I drive by. One of the stereotypes is that you are mentally-ill drug addicts who are incompetent of taking care of yourself. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Your weathered skin wraps around your warm soul. You’re a survivor and I admire your grit.

As a sisterfriend schooled me once — most of you have a place you call home; it just doesn’t like ours. So, keep taking care of yourself. Keep taking care of each other. Make sure you save the coins you get so you can eat and ride the bus. If you have a child with you or you’re staying in your car, hold tight to the Truth that your current situation is temporary… hence the phrase “transient community.” You are moving toward the next chapter; just keep taking the next step. Please don’t give up,

I pray for your all the time, especially when the weather is cold, rainy, or both. If nothing else, remember that God definitely has you some angels out here.

Sincerely,

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #15

To My Amazing Massage Clients —

The first thing I want to say is that I’m proud of you. You took a step toward being a stress-less self. You said “I don’t have to live like this,” and made the call.

I know it wasn’t easy. You’re used to being on-the-go and at-the-helm. You’re the giver, the knower, the person that juggles all the things… but one day, you decided to book your appointment. The next month, you did it again. You kept making the decision to put yourself on your own calendar and making self-care a continuum instead of a dot. For some of you, it was a financial sacrifice and for others, it was an emotional one. It may have meant stepping away from the kids or caregiving duties to catch your breath or taking a break from work for 30 minutes to recharge for the next stint. Either way, I am grateful that you took a chance on me being your licensed massage therapist and kept me along for your wellness journey.

You already know my mantra and that it breathes in me. I believe everyone deserves a healthy version of themselves… everyone deserves that moment to remember they are not what they do — they are human. This includes all socio-economic statuses because massage is more than a spa day. It’s a conscious decision to press the pause button so you can continue to be a healthy you. It’s scientific and it’s spiritual and I never take it lightly that you extend your time and trust every time we meet. There are laughs, sometimes tears, and at other times, silent reflection or snores. It’s all a testament to your recuperation… your moment to refresh your mind, body, and spirit before you get back out there. That’s what fuels me to work with you each week and read all I can about your conditions before you arrive and after you leave. It’s the exchange of wellness and growth between us.

I pray that you always create room for yourself in a world of many demands. I pray that you always remember that YOU MATTER. It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle of life by being everything to everyone and answering every direct message, call, text, and email. Just remember the day you booked your first appointment. Recall that feeling of looking at your calendar and anticipating that you have a pause coming in a few days. Think about when the pain didn’t seem so great or you got quality sleep that evening. Then, do it again… as many times as you need to without any apology to anyone. After all, your name should be on your time too.

See you soon,

C. J. Wade, LMT

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #13

Dear Children That I May Have,

The first thing I want you to know is that I love you already. By this time in my life, I thought there would be two or three of you bugging me about our next family trip or having a dance-off in the living room. Since you’re not here (possibly yet or not at all), I’m having enough cool experiences to share plenty of memories with you.

Let me be clear — I didn’t wish for you when I was child playing with dolls. I didn’t pine for you to be here faster because I couldn’t live without you. There will never be a lie between us (that’s how my parents raised me, so, you’re stuck with that), so I won’t start with those. I did know that if you showed up that I would welcome you with an open heart and my love would pour all over the place. That’s just how I am and that’s probably how you will be too.

Thank you, Desiree Danielle Beauty & Photography. You always slay.

You have a dope mom. Yep, I said it. It’s OK… you’ll find out if you get here. I learned to be a strong woman in the midst of adversity yet soft enough to listen to your spirit. I learned to encourage myself when no one was around and I learned to lean on Jesus for my Peace of mind. I pray that is passed down to you as well. Your mother is a survivor and you will be too. I’ll do everything I can to help you, but I won’t coddle you one bit. I give you my word that I will laugh at you when it’s funny and hold you when it’s not. I’ll have your back and your front. No matter what gender you are, I’ll remind you it’s OK to have a sensitive heart and a strong will. Both of them can co-exist.

You’ll be amazing humans that will find your own way. You will grow up in a loving environment with plenty of culture and dialogue. It won’t be perfect, but it will be healthy… and I promise to let you and God have your own relationship. Period.

I hope you make it here, but if you don’t, your mom loves you and I’ll see you when I get up there.

Sincerely,

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #12

To my RHOyal SoRHOrs of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. –

Happy Founder’s Day and Happy RHOvember! I won’t be too mushy — promise. lol

Here we are celebrating 98 years since our Founders agreed to spread more service into the world.

It was a risk. Being women in college was an accomplishment alone. Being Black women on the predominately White campus of Butler University in the 1920s was a rarity. Organizing to uplift other women in times of suppression was deemed a sign of protest. I think about these factors often when facing hardship especially during times like these. The opposition was immense back then, but they did it anyway. They extended help for present needs while keeping the future in mind. They had us in mind.

I know the world gravitates toward the photo opps, but prior to social media and ready-to-snap cameras, all they had was each other, their word, and their actions. That’s it. If no one saw it, the impact was still made. They knew the fruit of their labor was real.

SoRHOrs, may we be encouraged to take that same spirit of tenacious scholarship, sisterhood, and service and multiply it everywhere. No service is too small. No act of sisterhood is too far. No scholarship is too great. Let’s continue to check on each other. Let’s support each other’s efforts and hug each other’s children. Let’s continue to be there for the wins and create a strength circle around the losses. Our seven Founders knew those sentiments all too well as they were called derogatory names and fought through obligatory and ridiculous red tape. They knew that every closed door meant another one had to open for another woman. They kept going and I’m so glad they did. I wouldn’t have met you.

Of course, we believe Sigma is the best and my God, are we diverse. lol I pray that the authentic spirit of our Founders causes a tidal wave of solidarity among all Black Greek Letter Organizations. We were founded on greatness — all of us were. I hope we pump lifeblood into every situation. I pray that we are breath of fresh air in our personal and professional arenas. I want every industry to have poodle prints all over it. It’s not up to our famous SoRHOrs to do it — every member has that power. That’s how we got here. We saw a Sigma and she made an impression on us enough to take a step toward doing the same thing for others. We decided to multiply.

Remember why you joined. Remember why you stayed. Remember why you’re here. I love you all.

On The Shield Always,

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #10

Dear Beautiful Black & Brown People,

I love us.

Our variance in skin color rivals the rainbow. The texture in our voices is unmistakable. We have seemingly endless creativity. Our stride over the last 50 years has been remarkable, let alone the last four hundred.

We are ridiculously resilient.

Repeatedly, we are broken and crushed beneath the heavy boots of injustice and stupidity, yet we soar past the smoke and wipe the mud off our glasses to see the future.

Repeatedly, we provide delectable food, incredible art, and exceptional existence. It amazes me that there is someone from our culture still breaking boundaries post-slavery. The First Black this and the First Black Woman to do that… it gets me every time.

Photo by Wherbson Rodrigues on Pexels.com

It should make us stand taller and put guns down more.
It should make us stand up for equity in public education more than standing in line for sneakers.
It should generate wealth for our children more than indebted sorrow.
It should make us remember that we come from kingdoms.
It should make us look at each other as kinfolk.
It should make us look at each other — period.

I love us; I just don’t understand us sometimes. To celebrate our magnificence seems easy, yet on the day-to-day we forget to uplift our neighborhoods. I’m not talking about a “I hate White people” mindset here. I’m referring to the unfortunate misdirection of some of our energy. If we took half of the potency we pack into the arts and food and circulated it into other channels of empowerment, it wouldn’t matter who is President (refer to the Greenwood district in Tulsa, Oklahoma circa 1920 or Wilkinson County near Toomsboro, Georgia in 2020) — we would still be fine.

Photo by August de Richelieu on Pexels.com

So, can we fix that? I love us too much to let it go. Even if it’s tutoring a student in your friend circle or attending a webinar together or supporting one another’s businesses (and stop wanting everything for free)… every stretch in our community’s arm will strengthen us. Yes, there are disadvantages and they are emphatically in place to mute our voices or press down our equity. I am aware of gerrymandering affecting our voting, schooling, and housing opportunities and so much more. Unfortunately, the best way to overturn these moldy practices are to change the system from the inside out. That’s where local government and Congressional elections come in. I know it’s disheartening, but whew, chile… if there’s one thing we know how to do, it’s how to rise from the ashes.

Photo by Nathan Martins on Pexels.com

I love us.

I love our brilliance in the midst of darkness. I love our cookouts and our confidence. I love that our fingerprints are on every genre of music and our footsteps are etched into every continent. It’s OK that others want to sanitize our watermarks. They will never go away because they live in everyone on this planet. So, drop that off your shoulders. Just keep doing what is in OUR control — monitoring our time, talent, and resources. Stay truthful. Stay well. In some cases, just stay. Stop criticizing. Start doing. Start living. Start protecting. Start being. Start loving. In most cases, just start. That’s what everyone before us did… that’s how we got here. That a Black Woman with Native American roots can live in a South that used to hunt and breed her like an animal and she is now using the World Wide Web in the same South to reach thousands is a miracle that had first steps.

Everything is just a matter of time and effort, my Loves. Everything. Let’s keep going so we can be the elders our children speak highly of.

I love you,

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #6

Hey, Sweeties!

You already know that I love you to the moon and beyond. I think all of you are absolutely exceptional. Your minds work so fast because you grew up in a world where it had to. Your creativity is so diverse that I’m just grateful to have a seat in the audience.

Unbeknownst to you, I loved you before I saw you. For real. In most cases, I was with your mother and/or father up to the final hours before you graced us with your presence. It was so cool to stroll down the memory lanes of our friendship as I held you for the first time or shared our first conversation. It was official — you were an addition to my village too. It’s difficult to fathom, but your parent(s) actually had a different life before you got here and I was in it, so by default, you’re part of a tribe. A loving tribe.

Let me tell you some things that you may forget later.

First, the world owes you nothing, so do not hold back who you are. Do exactly what you were born to do — no exceptions. If that’s being a mechanic, you better shine doing it and let me book a service appointment. If that’s being a fashion designer, you better throw your whole self in it and let me buy one of your pieces. Remember that you will always have access to me. Some of you already have proof of that as we’ve laughed, learned, or navigated difficult conversations. Others have yet to redeem that perpetual offer, but you know it’s there. Either way, you have a support system, Love… a whole tribe. Don’t let anyone or anything make you feel alone.

Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

Next, work smart and play hard. Laziness will get you nowhere and you know I will call you out on it, so don’t slip. I’m hard on you because I know what you can do. I know the stock you came from. I know how serious your parent(s) was about your health, safety, and education before you were a teenager. I know how hard they studied in school. I know how many times they picked themselves up after being knocked down, so I know what’s in you. I accept nothing less your best.

Lastly, I hope you soar beyond thunderstorms of negativity and that every word against you bounces off your Loving armor. Trust me — more clouds are coming but they don’t have to be gray. The lightning bolts of unexpected failures don’t have to take you out of the game. When you feel overwhelmed, remember that moment is just a blip on your life spectrum. It does not define you and it will pass. I promise.

I’m so proud of you already. You are exquisitely created to go beyond this generation into the deep waters of progress. Move forward and know that I will always have your back.

See you around,

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #1

Well, here we are.

One day, I was questioning Your existence and the next, You grew to be the most intimate Friend I could ever have.

I remember those confusing days. Going to church not knowing if You loved me the way You loved the people around me. Wondering if the sometimes-wild-yet-intriguing “Holy Ghost shout” would hit me next. I knew You were real; You just didn’t feel real to me. Then, I prayed earnestly with the fervent hope that You would answer in some way, shape, or form. I wondered… I waited… I wanted to experience what I heard every Sunday. I didn’t want to just read the stories, close the Book, and leave the faith between the pages.

I was hungry for it.

I was hungry for You.

I had questions and everyone kept saying You had answers. So, one prayer led to another… then another… and another…

Photo by Aslak Su00f8nderland on Pexels.com

Now, my faith encompasses everything I do. My identity, which once felt foreign, now is the super-suit in which I walk because I am confident in Your Creation. I am confident in You. My skin, my voice, my need to understand the world around me — all of it comes from You. They not only make me unique; they are proof that You exist. Who else could generate such biological genius that we have yet to discover? Who else could create underwater miracles that have yet to be named by scientists? No one. No thing.

So, my letter to You is one of Love, Gratitude, and Honor. I appreciate my mother for saturating our home with Your Word. I appreciate my father for allowing me to write down his sermon thoughts and outlines. Those were the best bible studies. Asking questions of my pastor and researching psalmic histories made me thirst for intimacy between us. No longer were You a long-distance love, but an everyday companion. The Greek. The Hebrew. The context. The maps. I found it all fascinating yet so expansive that I would get overwhelmed… but it left me wanting to know more. When I cried alone, I began to feel the warmth of Your comfort. When I was scared and needed a miracle, no explanation would fit except that You heard me.

Thank You for hearing me. Thank You for being with me. Thank You for being in me. I couldn’t do this life without You and thanks to our relationship, I never will.

Sincerely,

CJW

Wednesday Wind Down: Here We Go

Well, Sweetheart, it’s November. Whew!

If you’ve been with me for a couple of years, you already know what time it is — it’s #bloglikecrazy with See Jane Write. For 30 days in November, I’m going to share special content with you and I’m looking forward to it. This annual writing challenge is hosted by Javacia Harris Bowser, my official empowerment pusher and writers from everywhere join the opportunity to post on their blogs for 30 consecutive days or participate in NaNoWriMo by writing a novel by the end of November.

This is my fifth time in the boxing ring with my fall nemesis. That’s how I see #bloglikecrazy — a stealthy feminine boxer customized to make me better. She mean-mugs me and taps her pink gloves together in October so I remember she’s been training for me. Our matches began with me just keeping my head above the literary waves to developing themes to cracking open some of the most intimate areas of my soul. After all, bloggers write to share experiences. We write to connect with others who may be part of our tribe. I’m no different.

The first year I tried to beat my sparring partner, I lost. I underestimated her. I thought — I can do this. I write all the time. Pshht. Such hubris. I crawled past the 30-day finish line well past November.

In 2017, I stretched my skills and jumped back into the ring. This time, my goal was to expound the use of one word every day.

In 2018, my theme was 30 Days of Good. That year hosted such stress that I had to highlight 30 good things that happened to me to stay sane — from attending a dinner party in my sweaty performance clothes to volunteering at UTR to being taught by my colleague in massage therapy school.

In 2019, the theme was Peep My Prayers. I gave an inside look into 30 of my personal prayers to encourage you to peel back the layers and communicate authentically with God.

This year, I’m sharing Open Letters in hopes that you are inspired to speak authentically to yourself and to each other. We’re living in a world where there’s so much fire and ice — both being deadly. I find it urgent that we not only speak freely when it comes to opinionated political stances, but when it’s time to address pain, concern, and love.

Once again, God is stretching my comfort zone by going deeper and I hope it helps. Once again, I’m slightly nervous but excited about where this path will lead. Once again, I’m looking forward to kicking it with you in November.

See you Sunday, Sweethearts. Let’s do this together.

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