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Wednesday Wind Down: Shift

Hey, Sweethearts!

I have a shortstop for you this week.

Brace for the shift.

Yep, I said it. I know people want to cancel 2020, throw it in the trash, and light a match, but I believe we need to be preparing for a shift. A good one.

A shift toward a better version of ourselves.

A shift to drop the weights that easily veer us off the purpose path (Hebrews 12:1)

A shift to receive the love we deserve

A shift to throw away procrastination so we can level up our businesses

A shift to collaborate in uplifting families and communities

Photo by Gotta Be Worth It on Pexels.com

September is the perfect time to write down what you want to leave behind and notate what you want and who you want to become. Why? Because it’s before the holiday rat race when work and home tug at you on both ends. Take 5 minutes on your lunch break or pull over during your commute and write it down… unfiltered. Give yourself the grace to change. Grace to evolve. You do have the ability to shift into another gear.

I know I am… and it feels good. It feels right. It feels holy.

I’m praying for your shift, Sweethearts. I pray that you do not lose hope in whatever situation you are in. I pray that you continue to dream, build, and rest. I believe your shift is coming and it starts with you.

Peace & Thanks for listening. Stay well out there! I’m rooting for you!

Wednesday Wind Down: Birthday Weeks 2 + 3

Hey, Sweethearts!

I’ve had such sweet moments so far. If you’re just joining me, 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. Just search “birthday” on my blog to see what I mean.

All caught up? Great! Let me share some of the good stuff I did during Weeks 2 and 3.

I treated myself to yummy treats!

Two foods that should marry — Five Guys french fries and Moe’s Southwest Grill Queso. So, I drove to two different cities to make sure they met. Then, I parked my car and savored every ooey gooey bite as I enjoyed a beautiful sunset on a hill. Can’t beat that kind of wedding. Oh yeah, I also had a large Strawberry Limeade from Sonic and a peach Chick-fil-A milkshake (on different days of course). For someone that eats vegetables like candy and hasn’t bought a loaf of bread in 3 years, I didn’t have a drop of guilt.

Photo by Madison Inouye on Pexels.com

I put my health to the front of the line.

I checked in with my therapist and finally made it to my doctor’s appointment. Yes, that appointment. The yearly one. Why is that on my birthday list? Because self-care also means acquiring insight about your health and I had postponed it long enough this year. So, happy birthday to my empowered self.

I chilled with my mother.

We took a nice Sunday drive, had great conversation and hearty laughs, and delicious food. Who couldn’t use that in her life? When was the last time you scooped up someone for an afternoon drive?

I participated in UAB Trivia Night!

OK, this was a lot of fun and a lot of learning! Fellow Alumni from the University of Alabama at Birmingham got together and Zoomed a trivia game about our alma mater. I thought I was ready. I wasn’t. I knew half the questions and landed 27th place. I enjoyed every single minute of it and met some cool people. Go Blazers!

I danced my tears out.

My knee issue from last year has resurfaced and my sentiments needed to escape, so I strapped on an ice pack and did what I normally do when I’m at a loss for words — I danced. It hurt inside and out, but I danced for four hours. From 10 PM to 2 AM, I released the pressure valve until I could breathe again. My leg was swollen, but it was well worth it.

I wrote new content for my book.

This is especially for The Morning After fans. The sequel cometh. Carving time to write has been one of the highlights of this month and it feels so good to have the bandwidth to do it. So, get ready for some good stuff.

I binge-watched Being Erica.

So, this show has been sitting in my Hulu Watch List for about a year. I finally saw the entire series and was sad there were only 4 seasons once I reached the finale. It was good. Better than I thought it would be and deeper than I assumed. You can see the trailer here.

I didn’t watch the news for 2 weeks.

Just the Word and soul-feeding music on rotation over here. Then I went to sleep to the sound of ocean waves. It felt so good. I know a lot is going on, but I was to the brim looking at tornadoes of tomfoolery. I had to press pause on current events. I checked online for any updated order to be sure I could keep my business open and that was it. It was (and still is) a nice sensory breather. You gotta pause so you can fight again, Sweethearts.

See? I told you. Sweet moments. I share my shenanigans to remind you that you don’t have to have an extravagant party to commemorate yourself. While that is nice, you have the authority to do something you love every week. You do have time to experience something you enjoy. Don’t get lost in the hamster wheel. People die there.

Here’s to you having some sweet moments of your own this month. I look forward to hearing about them soon. If you already started, drop one of them in the comments. Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out there!

Wednesday Wind Down: Birthday Week 1

Hi, Sweethearts.

If you’re just joining the blog, it’s my birthday month and my yearly tradition is in full effect. Every week, I do something I love and once a month thereafter, I continue the celebration.

Last week, I spent a sweet rehearsal fellowship day with my Troupe. When I got home that evening, I thought of them and the sentiments below and smiled.

Leading a team can be isolating. 
Your brain is on while theirs are asleep. They seek the end while you’re combing through the knots of details.
The changes and adjustments — they are many.
They seek answers you’re still asking God for.
You create room for them to grow. You are grateful they do the same for each other and for you.
You laugh together. You cry together. 
You trust they can turn the vision from the pen to perfection.
You carry them in your spirit. You pray for their families. Their health. Their successes. Their hearts.
You ache when they do, even when they don’t know it.
So, why would I kick off my birthday month in this lane?

Simple. 

They also remind me to wear my knee brace.
They force me to be vulnerable when I don’t want to do so.
They balance grace for my mistakes with constructional feedback.
They dive into the Word of God with me.
They make me laugh within 1 minute of our meeting together.
They pray for me.
They trust me to lead the ship and they go where God leads us.
They are unapologetically sold out for Christ.
They are raw and tangible human beings.
They always seek to understand each other.
They allowed me to grow as a leader and as a friend.

To spend the beginning of August with my team instead of my original plans was a conscious decision to celebrate our connection. Our family. That growth journey. That opportunity to serve. As leader, I’ve learned to listen, be bare, be firm, and be observant. I’ve learned to be students of them. I’ve heard their inaudible voices of grief and anxiety and also memorized their laughters. I’ve learned that these are my people. My tribe. They are ready to pray at the drop of a dime and they are spiritually sound as a entity and as individuals. 

The best part – they can carry on without me and I trust them wholeheartedly. So, what better way to kick off August than to remember that I’m not alone? To break bread and drip sweat and exchange sharpness with my folks? To fortify that God gifted me with people that turned from strangers to family? 

To share life with others as you morph into versions of yourself is not for the faint of heart. But we do it anyway because of moments like this past weekend. Because Love is at the center. So…

Cheers to August. Cheers to us. Here we are — 
Still flapping these wings to heights unknown.
Still soaring above murky waters.
Still maneuvering through the challenges this season brought with it
Still here. Still making it.

And I celebrate that. I celebrate God in me. I celebrate the woman I have become with my Troupe. My tribe. My sisters.

Hello, August. I welcome you with open arms because I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweetheart. Open those arms wide and accept that you’re an amazing soul with potential above the heavens. And do something you love this week too. Put it on your calendar.

I love you all.

Wednesday Wind Down: Help Wanted

Hi, Sweethearts!

I have a quick stop for your week.

Help comes in different forms. The question is — do you want it?

Now, before you respond with hearty yes, take a minute a think about your answer.

Help sounds heroic, urgent, even sexy. We revel in being the helper. I’ve seen pre-Kindergarteners fight over who would help the teacher and adults battle in a boardroom to supply the solution. We like to help, at least most of us do. Sometimes this heroic (or altruistic) gesture comes with a price. We end up being horrible at accepting help when it’s our turn. I heard a preacher say once – everyone wants a miracle, but no one wants to be in need of one.

Fast forward to the next dot on this shortstop — What do you do when you need help? And I mean, you know you need it, but being in the mess feels good. It feels cozy. Comforting. Familiar. You may start to indulge in thoughts that keep you bound in the mess… recounting the past or imagining a future that may never arrive. Next thing you know, the thought clouds pass and there you are… still captive in the muddy mess. Let’s go practical.

Rom 13.14
Courtesy of YouVersion

In order to wrap yourself in the presence of Jesus instead of marinating in the warm, cozy mess, you have to accept help. Your heart has to be open enough to receive it. This sounds easy, but it can be difficult to release what feeds our monsters. When we do, the presence of Jesus creates a new blanket for us to curl up in. The downside? We can sometimes use our faith as an excuse not to seek help.

So, whether it is gluttony via extra trips to fridge or lack of self-control by mismanaging your funds, you need help and it’s up to you to accept it.

It’s mental health awareness month, so there are professionals available to help you through the rough patches. I have a shortlist of counselors/therapists I can share if you need a starting point; just private message or email me and I will send it to you. After all, God made therapists too. That’s a form of help you may be avoiding. That’s a healthy journey to receive the peace of Jesus’s presence in your life.

So, I’ll circle back to the beginning — Help comes in different forms. The question is — do you want it? What do you do when you need it? 

Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out there!

Wednesday Wind Down: Learning Again

Hi, Sweethearts!

Two years ago, I wrote a short stop entitled Learning to encourage you to be comfortable with your vulnerable process. What more of a reminder do we need than right now?

I’ve been keeping a running tab on all of the things I have done and learned during the quarantine. The items range from refreshing my French via Duolingo to shredding unnecessary paperwork. The list also includes life lessons. I’m going to share two of them with you and I look forward to hearing yours.

  1. I still have enough pride not to ask for help. So, I thought I got rid of all of my pride when I was unemployed during graduate school. I truly thought I passed that course, but apparently, a smidgen of it is still left and boy, did it get dealt with.
  2. I had a necessary and challenging conversation with a friend. A conversation I avoided for months because I was overly accommodating. It took more than one phone call, but the result was a friendship on the mend instead of another carcass in the desert of emotional dishonesty.

I know everyone isn’t staying at home, but I’m sure this season is giving us all another life lesson opportunity of some kind. Are you willing to learn again? Are you teachable? When it’s all said and done, we can’t say we didn’t have the chance. So, what is something you’ve learned so far?

I’m praying for you, Sweethearts! Keep shining!

Wednesday Wind Down: What It Takes

Hi, Sweethearts! I hope that you are well wherever you are.

Right now, it’s a double national appreciation week highlighting teachers and nurses. *insert confetti party here especially for my fellow educators!* Both superheroes spar in different arenas, but I believe they face the same dragons that we all deal with.

  1. They know what it’s like to prove themselves.

    Ask a teacher or a nurse to recall their first time in the field and they can describe it vividly. Perhaps their hands shook as they searched for the vein to administer medicine. Maybe they rocked the 1st period and the 2nd period was an epic fail. They were nervous. They encountered self-doubt. They had a challenging colleague or supervisor. At some point, schooling had to meet real life. The rubber had to meet the road. Along the same continuum, they had to dig deep and find their grit. In both careers, they are in direct contact with the ones who need them. That comes with a certain level of pressure to sink or swim.

    YOU MATTER Mondays (9)

    Next, think about the last time you were taught by a male teacher or had a male nurse… if you had one at all. In America, we are accustomed to seeing female teachers and nurses more often than male ones. Why? I believe it’s that both occupations are seen as nurturing. This can be discouraging for men who want to pursue those careers and their choice in career paths can oxygenate discrimination once they get there. For example, a friend of mine taught science but was often mistaken for a coach. He was often asked what sport he coached when he attended educational conferences and they were shocked when he said robotics. Another friend is an excellent elementary school teacher, but we both know that unless he is a principal, he always watched closer to be sure he isn’t inappropriate with his students or deemed “soft” among his friends.  So, he works harder not to be viewed as a pedophile or homosexual even though he is neither.

  2. They know what it’s like to press pause for the cause.

    I remember being on a 10-minute break between classes and crying my eyes out for 8 of those 10 minutes. Yes, eight. I was still processing my father’s death and something reminded me of him. I fought through the memory in class, but once that break came I calmly yet briskly walked down the hall and out the door. Sitting in my car felt cozy and safe for my tears to flow. I set my alarm so I wouldn’t lose track of time and let the air of humanity flow through that superwoman vest of mine. It felt tight all day and I needed a break from being the oracle in the room. The alarm punctured time and I was thrust back into the reality of students waiting for the 2nd half of class. So, like an athlete at after half-time, I wiped my face and geared up to go back in.  I drank my water, glossed my lips, popped a Ricola drop, and walked into the building like a rockstar model. Why? Because my students needed me more than I needed to cry and I had one minute to get to class. That was reality.

    YOU MATTER Mondays (8)

    What nurse or teacher hasn’t had that moment? We know there are students and patients that care, but they are not always positioned to be empathetic. So, we suck it up. We press pause and we continue. Continue to give. Continue to empower and encourage. Continue to listen. Continue to problem-solve. Continue to serve.

    We continue.

Nurses and teachers of all kinds and specialties, I see you and right now, I believe the world sees us all the more. Thank you for doing what it takes. We will get through this together.

Peace & Thanks for listening. Be kind to each other out there and stay well.

Wednesday Wind Down: Corners

Happy Thursday, Sweetheart.

Yesterday, I took a break for in-home self-care and went to sleep soon after. It was so relaxing… so much so that I missed our weekly Wednesday check-in. I apologize. I did think of you before the slumber though. Below were my short-stop sentiments. I hope they help you through the rest of this week.

During this quarantine, we have a valuable opportunity. Yes, me too. Along with my cleaning fits (the Marie Kondo method continues), I am also allowing God to sweep the corners of my heart. You know, those rooms that you close the door to when company comes over? Well, those are the doors I decided to open to my Father for the last 20 days and it has been liberating. A little raw, a little ugly, but liberating. There’s something about being completely vulnerable with nothing holding you hostage. It’s a comforting bar of safety that supersedes this world.

On Tuesday, my church hosted a virtual devotional via Facebook and I used Mark 6:31 as my foundation verse to lead the meeting. In this passage, Jesus says something so sweet. He knew his disciples were exhausted from ministry travel and what else would be perfect than stillness and food? Sounds like a nice “welcome back” homage to me.

I don’t struggle with balancing stillness and productivity. It was a lesson I learned a long time ago; however, I am using this season as an opportunity to open the doors and let some fresh air flow through those rooms.

Sitting in one of those corners was the fear of being finite. That I’m on this continuum that will not stop until I expire. That I am not able to rewind. It only moves forward and I only move with it. I gave that over to the Creator along with a couple of other dust bunnies that were found. That’s what the Word does… it helps you see yourself. The one that God created. The masterpiece He had in mind. It illuminates those corners and creates a desire to live free and clear.

In this season, I pray you will allow the same sweep to take place inside of you. Every time you reach for your broom (or the disinfectant wipes), I want you to think about your heart. Think about those rooms. Before quarantine, many of us were able to restrict those areas, but now we are probably finding it difficult to do so… and that’s OK. There’s nothing wrong with vulnerability. There’s nothing wrong with being open. You just have to do with the right One.

I’m praying for you, Sweetheart. Much love and hugs to you. We got this.

Wednesday Wind Down: Help and Hurt

Hi, Sweethearts!

Here’s a shortstop for your week. I hope it helps!

I work in two career paths that require interaction with people in vulnerable positions. As an educator, a student’s esteem can be elevated or obliterated in one assignment. During a massage therapy session, a disrobed client is trusting me to be knowledgeable, skillful, and respectful. In both seemingly non-related professions, I had to consider the same question: “How do you help them without hurting you?”

That’s the conundrum, right? In light of recent health precautions, many must consider this item for physical reasons, but I am challenging you to look at your relationships and pose the same question.

Familial: Do you have a social circle outside of your family? How do you refuel in order to pour out to them? Do you suffer from parental guilt when you’re not with your children?

Professional: Are you a workaholic? Do you need to reassess your work-life balance? Have you created an on/off switch for your work mode? (Trust me. There is one.  Celebrities and executives do it all the time.)

Personal: Do you have friends that only communicate with you when they need something? Are your bills behind because you keep loaning funds or playing taxi?

Be honest with God. Be honest with yourself. The lie is that if you don’t almost die in the process, then you didn’t give it your all. You didn’t truly sacrifice until you pass out trying. Let me help you, Sweetheart. Stop living (and almost dying) in that lie.

Every ounce of you does not need to be squeezed out before God honors your faith. There is rest. There is fun. There is help. Pour all of that into a beautiful mug of humanity and it will make the rewards of your relationships taste so much sweeter.

Here’s some Bible verses to guide you through those questions up there.

Stay balanced out there, Sweethearts. Remember… you should not be dying so others can live — Jesus already did that. I love you all!

 

Wednesday Wind Down: Background

Hi, Sweethearts!

Since we’re walking from the boulevard of Black History Month and onto the street of Women’s History Month, I couldn’t be happier about this blog post because it serves a dual purpose.

I have some dope Black women in my circle doing dope things like revolutionizing cancer treatment, encouraging community healing, progressing health equity, and changing the narrative of our senior neighbors. There are undoubtedly more sisters around me and I am simply honored that we are connected, but they are only shining in these pathways because darkness once drowned what was needed. Their voices were once in the background, but now they are at the forefront. And because they chose to narrow their focus and quiet the noise, a plethora of needs are being met and solutions are illuminated for all.

In that same vein, I thought of my cell phone battery when I thought of you. There are no games on my phone, most of my push notifications are disabled (including social media and email), and the number of applications running in the background is minimal. While I don’t practice this behavior simply to save my battery, it helps me to stay focused when I’m on my phone. I mute what I don’t need in order to maximize what I need to do. Now, if we can do that with our cell phones, what is stopping us from doing the same thing in life? What is unnecessarily running in the background that is draining the energy required to fulfill your purpose?

woman in black crew neck shirt wearing eyeglasses
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

For me, the “background app” is fear and I’ve been attacking it head-on. What’s yours? How are you creating room for maximum life efficiency? You’ve already read about my relationship with my communication device, but that’s just one step that eventually became my 15-year norm. Now it is time to step it up to mute the noise that could distract me from this newly shifted gear.

So, let’s talk about your awesomeness. Think of the spiritual cacophony in your life playing like a terrible marching band, the physical barriers, and the mental challenges. Now, think of what you want more than those hurdles. Lastly, mute the background, Sweetheart. Do what it takes so the brilliance of your soul shines through the cracks of life. I guarantee you that every last one of those women up there had opposition and “noise” that could have caused them to stop. The reason why you can read about them is that they decided the service was greater than that opposition. You, my dear, have the opportunity (see what I did there? *smile*)

Peace & Thanks for listening! Close those “apps!”

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