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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: Touch

Hi, Sweethearts! *waving through the screen*

So, we’re in a season of social distancing to decrease the spread of COVID-19. As a performing/teaching artist and licensed massage therapist, I depend upon social interaction for income generation, so this self-quarantine is not amazing for business. *shrugs* Facts are facts.

While I’m using this time wisely, I can’t help but fantasize about teaching a communication, psychology, sociology, or economics class during this time. A field day would be had, I tell you. A deliciously nerdy field day with activities, discussions, and all.

On the flip side of this universe, I am equally excited to chat with you about the power of touch and its significance to our well-being. Right now, there are individuals working through anxiety and depression. Parents are re-arranging their schedules to stay at home with their children who are temporarily displaced from school. Healthcare professionals are desperately trying to douse a fire and save the world — simultaneously. The mandate of minimizing physical contact sounded easy until we realized how often we do it… and need it.

hands in front of white and black background
Photo by Matheus Viana on Pexels.com

Every day we touch each other’s lives — both inside and out. Our hearts are connected whether we want them to be or not. Those are the facts too. It’s how we were created. We were created to work as an organism not as disjointed and aimless beings. More like interdependent parts that need each other to survive. The spread of the flu and COVID-19 can’t stop us from reaching out in the name of Love. Food runners are delivering groceries to community members. Social media is actually being used as it was intended. People are socializing with members of their own homes instead of being daily ships passing by one another. Touch has so many forms that stopping the physical component isn’t enough to plug its power. It’s like trying to stop a leaky dam with a piece of chewing gum. Love is that water and He releases infinite power in the midst of impossible odds. Somehow, someway we leak and we can’t help it. I pray that we never stop.

Sincere prayers for my fellow entrepreneurs, creatives, and LMTs out there. We’re going to make it. Peace and Thanks for listening. I love y’all and stay well.

Wednesday Wind Down: Parallel

Good Evening, Sweethearts!

Cosmetologists. Cardiologists. Oncologists. Orthodontists.

We seek specialists for areas that need attention. We take medications for what ails our bodies and encourage others to do the same. Prescriptions are filled and routines are formed. Adults become child-like as they read carefully and follow instructions; we become child-like as we look for signs if we’re getting better and worse.

Here’s the question.

Why are we are willing to carefully tend to our tangible diseases and not our invisible ones? I have a newsflash for you. Your invisible wounds bleed out too. They fester beneath the surface and seep through your pores. They manifest themselves through the words of your lips. Your body movements tattle-tell on you like a kindergartener. Your eyes are gateways to things your soul can vocalize to others. You’re hurting and as much as you try to suppress it, you’re leaking.

This post is to encourage you to see a specialist for the innermost part of you. Pray and seek the face of God, your Maker, then seek a counselor or therapist. I’ll let you in on another secret, Sweetheart. God made them too. If every good and perfect gift comes from Him, we must believe the gift of counseling and therapy were created by Him as well. So, why shy away from those gifts helping you?

James 1.17 visual
Courtesy of YouVersion – The Bible App

Cosmetologists. Cardiologists. Oncologists. Orthodontists. Every one of these professions requires a level of trust between the person in need and the person of skill. Perhaps it’s time to allow yourself to build that trust with God and with one of his gifted servants designed to help you heal.

Don’t be a hypocritical Christian… willing to take 10 prescriptions yet speaking ill of those who seek mental and spiritual wellness.  Maybe you should stand in the truth that you need to schedule an appointment with a therapist to work through some of that pain you’re sitting in. There’s nothing degrading about that reality. There is nothing degrading about you. Ask for help. Reach for help. Accept the help. Be parallel in your faith. Be parallel in your healing. Let God help you through specialists ready to sit with you.

If you need a starting point, contact me. I have a short list of licensed professional counselors and therapists that have proven to be trustworthy referrals and I am willing to share this list with you. After I refer someone, I never hear of their interaction and that’s what you want. Sincerity and confidentiality.

Peace & Thanks for listening. I’m proud of you and I love you. Your next step is going to create a better version of yourself. Take it.

#bloglikecrazy: Day 26 – Finally

The Good

#26 – I found a new primary care physician.

Now, this may seem like a small accomplishment, but it definitely was not. When my insurance changed last year, that meant I could no longer see my beloved primary care physician… that one I boasted about for years, the one who discovered issues that had ailed me for a long time. So, when I had to go on a hunt for a new medical relationship, I was not excited. There was a mass on my neck of which I needed to know the status. After being transferred multiple times, I finally reached an office that accepted new patients and got an appointment scheduled. Then, I received a referral to obtain a diagnosis about the mass, which resulted in the safe surgery of benign tumor. Whew!

The Lesson

There’s nothing wrong with fighting just a little bit longer for what you need. I know it is tiresome to keep getting what you should easily receive, but when it comes to your health (of all kinds), you are worth fighting for. It was difficult; I cried. In the car. In a Waffle House parking lot. It was bad. I was so frustrated and I felt isolated amidst the surrounding traffic. After the tears, I made more calls until I got to the right person to help me navigate through the muddy waters of medical insurance. The fight was necessary to get what I needed and I don’t regret a minute of it. It made me a stronger patient and an overcomer.

If you’re a patient, I encourage you to be an active participant in your health. Ask questions. Get opinions. Do the work. This is YOU we’re talking about.

Peace, thanks for listening, and keep fighting. You’re worth it.

#bloglikecrazy: Day 20 – Happy Feelings

The Good

#20 – My mother got a great doctor’s report!

I was able to attend my mother’s check-up visit and her doctor gave her rave reviews. Mind you, my mother only schedules early morning appointments. No, really… if they opened up at 5:00 AM, she would be the first patient. So, I was grateful to go with her before my morning class and hear that her numbers were good. She has been working hard to be a healthier version of herself and I was so proud of her in that exam room.

The Lesson

It’s OK to switch places for a bit. As I sat there with my mother, I thought of how many times she was in my position – at the doctor’s office waiting for the all-clear. Now, here I was doing the same thing. Yeah, my prayers and expectations were up, but it didn’t stop the wait and wonder. When I got in the car, I was overwhelmed with gratefulness that I could be there with my mother like she was there for me. I was appreciative for a caring mother that I could care about that day and every day.

Peace & Thanks for listening! “See” you tomorrow!

 

Wednesday Wind Down/TM Lesson #7: The Muscles Don’t Lie

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

TM Lesson #6: Do The Math

Fun Fact: Red bloods don’t divide.

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 all things, 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!

Photo courtesy of Giant Microbes

TM Lesson #5: He Thought of Everything

Hello 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)?

    sternocleidomastoid-muscle
    Courtesy of Yoganatomy.com
  • 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.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down/TM Lesson #4: Arrhythmia

Happy Wednesday, Sweethearts!

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.

Image:
Venzella “Joy the Drummer” Williams

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)

CJW and Sheila E.
The legend herself, Sheila E.

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

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