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Wednesday Wind Down: BOOM

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.

And ain’t nothing wrong with that.

Peace & Love you, Sweetheart. Wind down safely.

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#bloglikecrazy: Day 27 – Gaze

“Twinkle, twinkle, little star…” 

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

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

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

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Van Gogh Photo courtesy of art.com

#bloglikecrazy: Day 22 – Roles

I think everyone should work retail during a holiday season one time in life. Just one time. That’s all it would take to digest humility, camaraderie, and self-control.

My first taste of retail was in college at a bible bookstore. I loved it. I worked with great people and it was normal to see an associate praying with a customer. My kind of environment. Whether I was on the sales floor or behind the register, I was comfortable.

saleFast forward a bit to working in the retail world after college. I wanted to make extra money to minimize my debt. Needless to say, my patience was shorter and my tolerance level had dropped dramatically. I couldn’t understand either side of the tomfoolery. Why wake up, get dressed, and drive through traffic to be lazy or cause havoc as an employee or a customer? Don’t get me wrong – quality service is important to me. I’ve worked retail on the management level as well, and I understand the value of meeting the needs of every customer and providing solutions that benefit both the company and the consumer. In those leadership positions, I also believed in protecting employees from abusive behavior and I did not tolerate the degradation of anyone on my team. Nevertheless, when the roles are reversed from humans-on-equal-terms to employee-consumer, something changed.

All of a sudden, I wasn’t an intelligent professional working to make extra cash to reach a financial goal. I was “she,” “her,” or “that girl over there.” Apparently, I was someone who didn’t warrant a “Hello, how are you?” before being thrown money on the counter at the end of the transaction. I was looked upon as inferior enough to hold bags of perfectly capable people shopped around the store and fetch items they didn’t want in the first place. I had an idea of what I was getting into, but I wasn’t prepared for it. Then, to take the cake, if the customer found out about my other titles (educator, choreographer, former caregiver, etc.) or that I’ve traveled extensively, then their eyes light up as if to say “Oh, you’re more than what I thought.”

The truth is I was an equal before they decided to see me as one. If the setting was a business mixer or at a concert, the interaction would potentially be positive and enriching. We would converse about psychological constructs, civic issues, and professional development. Since the stage was a retail store and I was playing the role of an employee, many people assumed they were superior.

It made me think of how many times we judge people based upon the role we see them in at a specific time – the janitor, the doctor, the restaurant server, the hair stylist, the single parent, the athlete… who often do we size up a person’s intelligence or capability based upon the role? Let’s try to do less of that during this holiday season and beyond.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo via youbabyandi.com

If Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number…

Flight Write: PVD -> BWI

…then family ain’t nothing but a word.

I started this trip a bit frustrated with some people that call themselves family. I had been holding in a tumultuous flow of words for a month. Unfortunately, people think that if you aren’t belligerent with colorful words spewing out of your mouth, that you aren’t capable of being such.

I am happy to inform you that this is a lie.

That quiet worker or positive colleague can be a verbal assassin with plenty of artillery to annihilate your heart, but s/he chooses to smile instead. This was me for a month. The term family almost seemed like a dirty word that left a foul taste in my mouth when I thought of certain people. My circle got smaller and some of it was involuntary. So, needless to say, I was a bit sour.

Then, my sorority sister lent her ear for what was a tsunami of “Why’s,” “That’s just stupid’s,” and “I just don’t get it’s.” My mother and aunt tag-teamed to ensure I caught my twilight bus. A sisterfriend checked for my travel safety. Another sisterfriend of 16 years transported me to bookstores to inquire about book signing opportunities before heading to the airport. One sorority sister extended herself with hospitality that could rival any 4-star hotel and another sorority sister hosted me with patience as I coordinated visits with DMV friends I had not seen in 10+ years. My big brother is always one call away when I’m in town and my mother always seals my travel with prayer.
God brought all of these things back to my remembrance and I am sitting on this plane marveled at how flimsy we view the f-word and how quickly we throw it away.

It doesn’t matter how many genetic or blended relatives you have,
God will give you the 
family to fill the need. 

Maslows-Hierarchy-of-Needs-1024x791Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs indicates that we have a need for connectedness, love, and belonging. I believe that wholeheartedly. After all, God created the ultimate adoption plan through His Son, so we were not designed to “do life” alone. Even a mean senior citizen has a plant, pet, or something they can care for!

You may have a sister you can’t stand or an uncle you don’t like, but for every ounce of foolishness and discord, there is someone spiritually-related for you to do life together.

I am so grateful for my family. I pray that God shines a spotlight on yours so you can see them when life gets dim, too. Don’t think that family just encompasses a group with the same last name. It just requires a circle of people connected by the same heartstrings.

Peace and thanks for listening.

#bloglikecrazy: Day 29 – Influence-a

From the root word fluent meaning  to flow

Influential people have a flow that pours in others. The fluency of their power easily transfers from one mind to the next, which in turn pours into surrounding minds. It’s a phenomenon, when it’s allowed to be. The act of being the influencer carries a great weight that one may not even know she is carrying, for instance, an apple carrying a disease. The outside may be beautiful, and the internal flesh may appear perfect, yet the invisible could harm you. Someone could have coughed on the sliced interior or touched it with infected hands, and now what was once beautiful to see, smell, and taste is now a biomedical weapon to slay the health of multiple people.

Keep walking with me and see if you can track where we’re going…

I begin each speech class with the same questions –

Are your words good enough to eat?
Do you share healthy words for others to ingest and digest or do you walk around throwing garbage on the plates of people’s souls?
Do you have good credit with your words?
Can someone take what you say and use it as an extension or “line of credit” of your character?

There are people in your neighborhood still struggling with words that flew into them as children. Hateful words. Hurtful words stating they were stupid, slow, and wouldn’t amount to anything in life. A flow that contaminated what was once beautiful into someone you can hardly stand to see. Their minds were a garden and their souls were fertile to receive the influence, the flow that poured in. But there’s a flip side to this epidemic – this spiritual influenza. If we can receive, we can also pour it within ourselves.

Let’s revisit that root word fluent. When someone is fluent in a language, it flows out of her/his mouth. It’s a river that knows its direction. It is not a second thought; it is part of the person’s internal make-up. It has been developed, strengthened and tested to be influential to the culture for which it was created. According to one of my favorite sites, the Online Etymology Dictionary, the Medieval Latin and Old French etymologies refer to influence was an astrological noun – “streaming ethereal power from the stars when in certain positions, acting upon character or destiny of men,” and “emanation from the stars that acts upon one’s character and destiny.” In other words, what you do and say – your flow – can directly affect the trajectory of someone’s character and destiny, including your own. Just as I’m sitting here with the flu, the trajectory of my week was changed. My goals were not met and my body was under the influence of someone else’s infection. I didn’t ask for it and I didn’t want it, but it happened. Their fluency of the virus flowed into me. I can only imagine that is how the power of our existence can be to others if we allow the river of Christ’s Love to flow within us. We can be the influence if we speak and live in His Love fluently.

You were created to be influential. You were designed to be influential to the culture in which you live. You were made to flow – to receive and to pour into others. You weren’t created to infect, but to inspire. Think of all the good seeds you could sow if you walked everyday with this in mind. You would circulate a positive river within your spirit that could block any influence you do not need. Furthermore, you could very well use the past negative experiences to create your own vaccine against spiritual influenza. Instead of being the diseased fruit, you could be the tree that spreads good health and allows the Flow the reach everyone around you.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo Courtesy of Salt Cave of Southlake

#bloglikecrazy: Day 24 – All in One

– Another short stop to help us along –

It takes all parts to make a whole.

Just think about it. The gears in a machine. The ingredients in a recipe. The parts of a car. Rarely does something stand alone exceptionally with the assistance of another.

When I was a communication student in  college, I learned about Systems Theory which includes the following: The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I never forgot it because it made so much sense to me. For some reason, humans forget this truth in times of trial or great joy.

For just a moment today, think of the pieces of you that built your thought patterns, behaviors, character, and skills. Now, take note of who is around you now that creates your current system. You’re in a prime place with people that can play pivotal roles in your life, even if it hurts. Unfortunately, if you get tunnel vision, you can get lost in your part without cherishing the whole. You can’t afford to do that.

You need each part of your body to create your unique human experience. One blood vessel, one cell, one muscle can throw everything out of sync. The body knows that it is a sum of parts and these parts are not greater than the purpose of the whole – to keep you functional. We need to see our interpersonal relationships with the same lenses.

1 Corinthians 12:11-26 discusses this concept of the body working together as an illustration of the body of Christ doing the same. It’s not a new idea. 😊

Here’s some tips to help you with this mode of thinking:

  1. Know your role and stick to it. It makes the system run better.
  2. Accept if you have more than one function. It’s OK. Some of your body parts do too.
  3. Be flexible. Remember that you’re all-in-one mindset may take a minute for others to get used to.
  4. Ask how you can help. You may be great at something that is simply not needed at that time. It doesn’t mean you’re dysfunctional; your skills just need to lay low for the moment. You have body parts that do that too, by the way.
  5. Be authentically well and unapologetically awesome. You can’t be a sick gear in the system. Check your pulse often. Seek opportunities to be the best in your role. Shine and pursue balance with the other parts.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

For more information on Systems Theory, visit the following link: https://courses.lumenlearning.com/introductiontocommunication/chapter/systems-theory-paradigm/

Photo courtesy of Clker.com

#bloglikecrazy: Day 20 – Proof of Life

A short stop for your day –

In a world where mutual human respect seems to be a dying artform, I needed proof after the presidential election. I needed resuscitation that all was not for naught and that there was good in the world to override the poison I had heard around me. I was also seeking the truth that I wasn’t just aimlessly helping people as they stomped on top of me on the way to their destination. I needed a beep on the heart monitor, a waveform on the EKG to give me some hope to press forward that day.

It came the night that my performing arts troupe was recording a creative piece. I’ve been on a kick lately of pushing us toward the unfamiliar and questioning our systemic practices. This particular evening, we would be taping in my church’s sanctuary and utilizing their colorful lighting amenities. It was exciting to see how it would look, but I was spiritually exhausted.

The blip that I needed arrived in the form of a White pastor of an ethnically diverse church saying yes to a predominately Black troupe and authentically caring about our creative goals. Not once was race a factor. Not once was time an issue. All we cared about was Jesus and making an excellent product to encourage others.

At one point of the 2-hour session, I was overwhelmed. I got so full that tears welled up in my eyes. The lighting, the sound, the attire, the laughter… it all hit me. Here we were, defying everything that society says we should hate about each other and working with sincerity and passion. Let me be clear – prejudice exists and I am not oblivious to it. But there was proof of life available and all I had to do was look around. Proof that the same blood pumps within us all and that everyone isn’t trampling over the other in shameless indignation. The heart of people are walking evidence that proof of God’s life exists. That beep was all I needed to keep going.

What has been your proof of life lately? Have you overlooked your blip?

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo courtesy of Open Clipart

#bloglikecrazy: Day 19 – No Place Here

Know your place and theirs too. 

People in your life come and go for various reasons. Not every entrance and exit can hold the same weight. Some were meant to teach us, reach us, expose us, ignite us… similar to the famous adage about people coming into your life for “a reason, a season, or a lifetime.” A few years ago in my quiet time, God gave me a visual of this people-flow and placement. It was plain as day and it made so much sense. His lesson was for me to learn where people need to be at certain points of my journey and that being offended about their placement (or mine in theirs) is not an option. What a harsh, but valuable classroom experience it has been.

Imagine a two story house in a suburban neighborhood with a beautiful front yard and fence. Now, let’s go to the scenario He showed me. Keep in mind that throughout your life, you may have the same person weave in and out of these areas. It doesn’t mean that if s/he is in the yard, s/he doesn’t love you. You have to look at all of the players on stage within the proper context of the story. Remember, you’re part of someone’s story and you have a place too. That’s why you can’t get offended. *whew*

The Street – minimal connection; not interested in engagement; “checking in” as they pass by; sees snapshot of the outside and creates a portrait; may include gossip about snapshot; primarily public interaction

The Sidewalk – stops by to check-in every once in awhile; satisfied with snapshot plus a peek into small details; keeps walking; may or may not smile as they continue toward their aspirations, so don’t revel in their responses; download the intentions and let them pass

The Yard – play and have a good time, small talk to catch up, still at a distance but closer than the street and sidewalk, within the fenced boundaries of respect to private life, permits sharing of life details at will; still open and free

The Steps – more intimate than the yard; small talk to catch up with more details included; cognizant of yard, sidewalk, and street people’s view of you; people on the fence of your heart tend to congregate here – maybe too afraid to get close, but too invested to go away; be careful of those that linger here with ill intent

The Porch – close, but not close enough to come inside; like the feel of outside, but enjoy the presence of you; insightful conversations can to spark here due to vulnerability

The Living Room – for the good times; communal; entrance and exit easily accessible; enjoy the moments and leave soon after; can relax around them; be careful here if you keep having to serve them and it is not reciprocated; meaningful conversations can grow here; bad interactions can be stopped here before they germinate

The Bedroom – usually located in the back or upstairs of the home; the inner sanctum of your heart; intimate conversations and moments are shared here; full disclosure and trust; not afraid of the ugly; good and bad interactions can thrive here, so be careful who has access; can spill into living room

My #LATSOL Lessons

  1. Everyone doesn’t belong everywhere, and that’s OK.

  2. Be mindful of where people want to be in your life. Respect that space.

  3. Be a vessel of love with a fence to protect it. Love doesn’t let us abuse it.

What about you? Have you had similar lessons about people placement? Can you add to the list above? Did you have to swallow this pill and/or implement your boundaries?

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo courtesy of Homeplans.com

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