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Wednesday Wind Down: “It’s the most wonderful time of the year…”

It’s October 31st… November’s Eve. Why am I excited? Because #bloglikecrazy begins tomorrow!

This is the 3rd year that I have participated in the See Jane Write challenge to post daily in November. Each time I do this, something wonderful comes out of me and I am shocked at the responses I receive. I was in the department store one day and I ran into a friend who said she was keeping up with my #bloglikecrazy posts and they were encouraging her to tackle her obstacles. She didn’t want to post a comment because she was shy and I had no idea she was reading, but her personal thank you was just as enriching.

So, in light of every difficult experience that transpired this year, I challenged myself to think of 30 good things that happened this year and share lessons I learned from them. It’s easy to see the lemonade after you’ve been squeezed like a lemon because hindsight is 20/20. On the other hand, there are jewels of wisdom in the good stuff too. Yes, we experience negative situations, tiring situations, degrading situations throughout the year, but that doesn’t make the whole year a bad one. As I flipped through my calendar, I smiled and remembered happy times, funny moments, and joyous occasions deserving of recognition (like the photo below).

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On a personal note, I do a version of this every year on a sheet of paper. I draw a circle in the middle and write the year inside of it, then I create a mind map (also called a circle thinking map) of all of the goodness that happened that year at whatever speed it pops into my mind. It’s fulfilling, encouraging, and a great reminder to stew on my blessings.

That’s what you’re going to get for the next 30 days. The good stuff. Little doses of happy and a lesson in the bottom of each half-full glass.

My prayer is that you dig a little deeper to find your 30 days too. You can jot them on a sticky note, in a big or mini-notebook (I frequent Dollar Tree, WalMart, and Michael’s for mine), or keep them in an online note-taking app such as Evernote (one of my favorites). Wherever you decide to store your happy, keep it for the rainy days in your life and prepare for more sunshine.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Wind down safely this Halloween night!

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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

Wednesday Wind Down: Dichotomic 

Recently, I felt the pain of a woman who’s only desire was to provide the best solution for her children at the expense of what she wished for them. She cried after we prayed together. I bought the items she needed and she agreed to a massage therapy session. I just wanted to help, wanted her to know that I see her. She was the 2nd person for I whom I prayed and to whom I had given. The first person was homeless and when I asked him for a prayer request, his response was to pray for his family. How selfless. These opportunities started hours after I received news that my income would decrease… again. Perfect timing, right? Exactly. That’s what I said too.

Now, I’m not monetarily rich. I’m not a superstar. I don’t have someone taking sensational photos of me at every turn so I can post them on the ‘gram. And I’m definitely not a selfie girl. I just… listen. I sincerely try to listen to God’s voice everyday and anywhere. That’s how this blog Listening at the Speed of Life was born. So, when those opportunities presented themselves, I had to be obedient. No questions asked. 

What have I learned about myself along this journey of obedience? 

  • I hug my students.
  • I even hug strangers. 
  • I pray for people I don’t know.
  • I say thank you. A lot.
  • I love big and I retreat quickly.
  • I boldly express my care.
  • I can speak up when I’m scared.
  • I can ask questions unapologetically. 
  • I seek to understand. 
  • I generally stay to myself, yet I have meaningful relationships.
  • I am a delicate, and resilient balance of mind, body, and spirit.
  • My introversion is beautiful, not a defect.
  • I don’t have to be loud if I don’t want to be.
  • I don’t have to be in the mix to feel included.
  • I like breathing and being, and sometimes these come at the cost of being misunderstood. That’s OK with me now. (It wasn’t when I started.)

So, back to the moment. She was grateful. I was humble. We connected.

The message?

It’s time that we slow down and feel the heartbeat of one another. We’re all humans trying to navigate through this life, and if you’re a Christian, then you’re trying to adhere to a certain compass as you travel on your path. It’s not easy, and we are all doing it… walking it out, journeying into the next dimension of ourselves, and feeling our way around in the darkness of tomorrow’s challenges. 

What would it hurt to wave to the service worker? Speak to the custodian? Give a thank you card to the teacher? Buy an extra meal for the hungry? Or simply hug your friend without it being an obligatory salutation? 

What happened to us orbiting together instead of spinning around each other, being afraid to bump into one another’s space? 

What happened to running the human race together and checking on others along the way?

Peace & Thanks for listening. 

Protect Your Merry!

Merry Christmas, Sweethearts! I know a photo of Serena may not be your thought of Christmas, but allow me to explain why it perfectly fits mine.

I had to protect my Merry yesterday (and for the last couple of weeks, for that matter.) I mean, I fiercely protected it like Serena Williams defending her side of the tennis court. A few people got clap-backs that they inadvertently signed up for. Rude shoppers, irresponsible drivers, and inconsiderate individuals/former friends in my circle could have sucked the happy right out of my bubble, but I swatted them like flies… and I have no remorse.

They didn’t know that I had to fight to gather my Merry.

I searched for its pieces while crawling through the barren forest of my spiritual winter. I scrounged. I foraged. I created little piles of joy around me, forming a 360-degree barrier between me and the world – me and the reality of my bank account, professional transition, and life changes. I replayed fond memories of my father instead of anticipating his absence on yet another holiday.  Four months later and I still patch the holes of my heart with thoughts of his smile to protect the cracks of my heart from the cold winds of grief. My piles of Merry were the only boundaries I had to keep the darkness from penetrating my oxygenated peace.

So, you had best believe, that I defended my happy with everything I had yesterday. To keep from crying sporadically in public places, I thought of his spirit dancing and I spoke to him.

“I love you.”
“I know.”
“I’m trying.”
“I miss you.”
“Thanks for everything.”

DP1745482_xmas_trees_Glass_OrnamentsTo keep from royally cussing someone clean out (as we say in the South), I retracted the sporty backhand that was perfectly poised under my tongue and said “Have a blessed day.” Friends that were jolly as long as I supported them have surprisingly fallen away like leaves from trees when reciprocity made sense. I stuffed a little happy there too so the wind couldn’t get in and make me bitter. I let the angels do their jobs. I summoned God the Father to comfort me and the Holy Spirit to keep aerating my Merry with reminders of Truth. I let a harvest of joy grow from seeds of gratefulness. As I stood in front of my heater, I thanked Him for warmth. As my feet hurt from working, I thanked Him for the opportunity. As I drove on lesser gas as I normally do, I thanked Him for my wheels. As I coughed and massaged my face from sinus pain, I thanked Him for life. When I ate leftovers, I thanked Him for provision. Upon receiving random messages from sweet friends, I released the expectation from hearing from certain ones and truly let the peace of God rule and wash the hurt away. These things fortified my Merry and I wasn’t letting anything rob me of it.

Maybe you’re like me. You’re holding onto your Merry with both hands and you’re trying to keep it alive in the midst of hardship, loss, or change. I pray that you protect it with everything you got – that you exhibit the grit needed to keep the light in your spirit on, that you regain the strength and courage to fight for your happy, fight for your joy, and fight for your right to live. Don’t be distracted by what you don’t have. Defend what you have and let God heal the cracks. Let the angels of protection do their jobs. Hold fiercely to the Truth that Jesus was born so you could live.

You are loved.
You are cared for.
You are the reason Christmas exists, and your Christmas is Merry because Merry is a state of mind.

I love you and Merry Christmas, Sweethearts! Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo of Serena Williams courtesy of Tennis.com
Photo of Christmas tree ornaments courtesy of Lowes.com

5 Things You Must Do On A Snow Day

Good Afternoon, Sweethearts!

Did you enjoy the snow? Is it still around? Here in Birmingham, Alabama, it’s starting to melt, but ice is still lurking on the roads. I hope you’re safe, warm, and smiling.

The snow day couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I just closed the fall quarter and I hibernate the day after finals to recuperate my mind, body, and soul. Even my mother tries not to call me the day after finals. Sweet Woman.

Since God blessed me with snow on my day off, I did 5 things that made me feel awesome. I think they make fine ingredients for any snow day to feel like the Son is shining on you. If you did anything that made your day, share it!

  1. SLEEP! SLUMBER! REST!
    • Confession – This is one thing I do not do well on a consistent basis. Running a performing arts troupe, writing your soul free, and educating Birmingham’s Finest can make make feel like I’m running on fumes at times. So when my friend texted me a snowy picture, I smiled. It was officially a rest day. I think getting a few winks in when you’ve missed a million is a great way to recharge!
  2. REFLECT.
    • There’s something about the stillness of snow that makes me just sit and watch. I don’t want to talk. I don’t want to drive. I want to reflect on how cool it is…. fluffy goodness floating from the sky. It quiets the world for a little bit. It makes me be careful. It forces me to gaze at the winter wonderland around me that I zoom past everyday. So, I took a few pictures to remind myself to do more of that when life gets busier in 2018.
  3. PLAY OUTSIDE!
    • After the spiritual battery has been charged, then I want to play. My footsteps make art as I look back at them in the snow, plus my miniature schnauzer had a blast trying to eat it. I laughed watching my aunt make snow angels. There’s just something about snow that makes the 5-year-old you feel safe to show out. Throwing snowballs and trying to make snow sculptures are what snow is made for, right? lol
  4. EAT!
    • When it’s cold outside, you simply must eat something warm inside. My vice of choice yesterday? #1 – PANCAKES! I was so hungry when from my self-care, that pancakes and hot tea were the only items on my menu. #2 – QUESO and tortilla chips. But, it’s not just any queso dip. I made my favorite recipe that I conjured up in college. Dorm living will make a chef out of anyone. lol It includes shrimp, ground turkey, cilantro, corn, and diced tomatoes (and sometimes a hint of bacon). The dip was oh so heavenly as I curled up to watch one of my favorite movies.
  5. WATCH A MOVIE.
    • Me, my bowl of queso, my sweatpants, and my fuzzy socks enjoyed one of my favorite movies – Something New (2006). If you’ve never seen it, get ready for some humor, some sensitive topics, and just good old-fashioned Rom-Com (romantic comedy) moments. Curling up on the couch after a long day of self-care was the perfect ending to my classroom duties and the perfect beginning of a well-deserved break.

What do you like to do during a snow day? Do you have favorite foods that taste better during winter weather? Are there movies that you must watch?

Peace, Thanks for listening, and Stay safe out there!

Photo of my awesome aunt and my super dog courtesy of moi.

#bloglikecrazy: Day 23 – Thanks

Thursday, November 23, 2017 = Thanksgiving. You know what that means. Football, Food, and Shopping were the menu for most people. Me? I was just glad to make it to the day.

I didn’t know what it would be like having the first family holiday without my father. Would I write about my feelings I dreaded to experience? Would I cry and sluggishly get dressed? Would I opt out of attending Thanksgiving dinner altogether? All three options were fair game.

I was used to monitoring his plate and cleaning his face. Massaging his neck as his head sunk into deep slumber. Holding his hand so his spirit knew I was there. Making sure he was positioned in the car just right so the seat belt would go over him properly. He wasn’t there, but I was making it. It was then, at the dinner table when I looked over at the chair where he would normally sit, that I said to myself – “Thanks for letting us have him.”

IMG_20131225_151833223
Pop

He was truly a gift, and the gift wasn’t taken away. He continues to live every time I think about him.

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving, Sweethearts. A special prayer went to heaven for those who are missing loved ones too. I got your back.

Peace & Thanks for listening. XOXO

Chair photo courtesy of Ethan Allen

Pop’s photo courtesy of me

#bloglikecrazy: Day 18 – Together

Three people. One day. All the feels.

It began with a tutoring appointment with a former student who is determined not to let anything stop her from graduating, including her English paper. I challenged her and she made me laugh. She stepped outside of her essay-writing comfort zone and I helped her see her thoughts on paper. She left the session equipped and excited to keep going. It reminded me of one of my favorite quotes and made me proud to be an educator.

Next, I had lunch with sweet friend from high school. She and I were in band together and I always thought her hair color and freckles were cool. She had a quiet strength that I admired and we became friends quickly. Now that we’re grown, we had grown-folk conversation and it was lovely. We vented, we cried, we laughed. I was proud to be a friend… and her freckles and hair color still rock.

Then, it was time for my cousin’s baby shower which, might I add, was a night time swag affair. Live music, baby shower games, good food and laughs made this shower worth the cold rainy drive. I’m well acquainted with both parents, so it was great to anticipate my new cousin’s arrival. As I helped clean up, the running theme was clear. I was proud to be family.

Afrer all three settings, the word that stuck out was TOGETHER. My former student’s essay challenge wasn’t so mountainous after we met for tutoring. My friend and I didn’t feel alone in our life lessons after lunch. My family’s shower was better because everyone could share the experience. On that day, life was better together. 

Sweethearts, I pray that if you’re feeling lonely and life’s bumps are giving you bruises, that you remember that you are not alone. Lonely and alone are not the same. You can feel lonely in a crowded room. I’ve been there, and wisdom has taught me that you have someone who wants to be better together with you. Be careful, but let her or him in your heart’s circle and watch the healing begin. We were not designed to do life alone. Your problems may not go away quicker, but you’ll be stronger together as the storm passes by.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

#bloglikecrazy: Day 16 – Forever 

Forever is a long time to grow. Are you willing to do it?

I mean it. Are you willing to a make a pact with God that you will grow as long as you live here on Earth? After all, we are the seeds of Adam and Eve and quite frankly, there’s still some growing to do. If plants can do it, why can’t we? Why can’t we do what seeds do – germinate and multiply? 

It seems hard to think about, but we are designed to break free from the shell of innocence and yield a life with more seeds to plant. With our words, deeds, and talents, we were created to expand and produce a harvest for others to courageously do the same. 

So, when I say “Forever is a long time to grow,” I intend to invoke conviction of every intrapersonal and interpersonal interaction you will have for the rest of your life. I want you to think about the seeds your fruit is producing for others to ingest. I want you to think about forever

Peace & Thanks for listening!

#bloglikecrazy: Day 15 – Inside-Out

In class on November 15th, we discussed correctional facilities and prison reform. I posed the following question to my students: Are correctional facilities designed to “correct” behavior or character? Most of them said “both,” but some said neither. What do you think? 

As we go about our holiday season, I think of those who are unable to have food, family, and fun – at the same time. Needless to say, there are individuals who have committed crimes unthinkable, yet there are some who have not. Are their lives being changed while on the inside of confinement? Are our lives being enhanced while we are captive to our vices? The truth is if we were caught in our everyday violations of malice, greed, and pride, we would be incarcerated right along side of our brothers and sisters. 

So, I pose these questions to you… What are you chained to? What mental or emotional prison are you in? Is your “facility” correcting or enabling the behavior that got you there? 

Perhaps, we all need reform from the inside, out. 

Peace & Thanks for listening. 

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