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#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #27

To my Fantastic Frat Brothers of Kappa Kappa Psi National Honorary Band Fraternity:

First things first — Happy 101st Anniversary, Bruhs!

When I joined Tau Beta Sigma in 2001, my dean/big sister told me that if I ever need anything, find a Bruh. Not that my sisters wouldn’t have my back, but she wanted to establish that I had always had back-up. I was always covered.

She didn’t lie.

A Quick Note: Now this was before KKPsi became co-ed, so my primary memories involve male members and my points of references in this letter will reflect that experience. This doesn’t knock any member post the co-ed change. You know I love you all.

Whether I was on the road or down the street, a brother of KKPsi would sincerely ensure my well-being. Small things matter to me like walking to me to my car (which you always do) and the big things certainly can not be overlooked like letting me sleep peacefully in your room and making sure no one woke me up because you knew I had a long drive ahead. It was even a Bruh that provided a place to stay and transportation for my audition in DC. I’ll never forget that.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I love that you are exceptional musicians and no one can stroll like you — no one. One of my favorite memories is watching a small group of you recall the score of band music you played in college. Quarter notes and staccatos punctuated your voices like audible artwork and you gathered like the geniuses you were to make sure it was flawless. The musicianship it takes to be you in unparallel and that’s what I admire about you all year long.

I love that you support each other In The Bond. I’ve seen you hold each other up in hard times and correct each other at parties. You’re brothers and you act like it.

God bless you all for the rest of your years and beyond. Stick together — no matter what. Keep loving on each other during this time and keep showing Sorors that sibling love (not just Greek crushes) is indeed real — that those constitutions meant something when our founders bonded us together. Music and band are the ultimate examples of that because it takes every part of us to create the Masterpiece.

I love you. Keep striving for the highest. I tip 101 red carnations to you.

CJW
“Fine Tuned”
#1 – Eta Lambda – SPR01
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Eta Lambda Alumni Association

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #26

To my United States of America:

Don’t worry — this isn’t a bash letter. I can’t truthfully say that all parts of you are horrible. There are some beautiful moments between us and your landscapes are breathtaking to say the least. The way your camaraderie comes through in times of tragedy is amazing. When an actor or a farmer can become president, you know there’s something magical here. I love you; otherwise, I wouldn’t be here.

It’s because of that love that we need to have this conversation. Our garden has some weeds in it that we can not ignore. Some could say there’s full-fledged forestry. In this domestic relationship, my face has bruises that you don’t want to see. You’d rather I be silent and keep smiling for the pictures than for Truth to stand in the middle of our living room.

When corporations can make unlimited donations to control their candidate’s voice and society is celebrated for working on fumes, we have a problem.
When gerrymandering is normal and public health doesn’t serve the public without some bureaucratic blowback, we still have a problem.
When it’s 2020 and women are still paid less for the same caliber of work and indigenous persons must protest for the sanctity of their land, we definitely have a problem.
An age old problem.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Just because there are great opportunities doesn’t mean there aren’t great opportunities for growth. Progress takes time, I know, but you can’t keep wining and dining me thinking that I’m going to forget the repeated black eyes of injustice and the dismissive nature of our union. The truth is we were unraveling way before this year began. Our jaded bubbles of reality were actually being held together by tattered strings and I kept saying that I wanted us to work out, but I don’t feel like you hear me… that you want to hear me.

Photo by Josh Hild on Pexels.com

From the bottom of my heart, I love you. I hate the mess and I know we aren’t perfect, so all we have to do is acknowledge and adjust. You have to be willing to do that before anything gets better. The land we built wasn’t ours to do so. It’s been watered by the blood of so many. Our home needs the beautiful truss of Truth. I believe we can get there. I have to believe we can get there, but I won’t stand to be a victim in these four walls.

Can we work on this? I want better for us. Our inception didn’t start out so fair, but we have control over our future. Do you want us to work? Do you want us to live together? Do you want us to live?

I hope so. Let me know.

Sincerely,

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #25

To Wanda Dear,

Once upon a time, I left my house with a prayer. I was a fresh out of grad school with boots on the ground trying to secure a teaching job. My phone had just been stolen as I was using pay phones to call schools and possible leads. I had gone to the library to print out directions because GPS was not an option. The summer heat was not my friend and I was beyond hot — inside and out. So on a day in June, I said “Lord, I need to work somewhere. Just tell me where to go.”

I drove straight to that store and took a deep breath before walking inside. It had been a couple of years since I had worked retail and frankly, I was not looking forward to it. “You’re allergies are going to freak out,” I muttered to myself as I walked through the store, “but you gotta do something.” Your frankness and your warmth sold me from the jump. I knew you were the real deal, but I didn’t imagine that you would become family.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

When my sweet friend Nancy passed away, you showed me empathy by letting me work in the backroom so my tears could flow at will. When my former husband’s diabetic skin needed suggestions, you always made sure to keep me updated on the best products to soothe its agitations. I appreciated your humanity. And while I appreciate every supervisor I’ve worked for, I have comprehensively learned more from you than any corporate experience I ever had. I learned more than how to run a store. I learned how to use discernment during the hiring process, how to mix grace with facts, how to manage personalities, how to work that calculator and know your products like you know your name, how to provide a positive customer experience, and how not to be pissed off everyday. I would tell myself after a long day or a hard shift, “If Wanda can do it, I can do it.” We made it through holiday rushes, limited staffing, late night inventories, and ridiculous floor sets. Every time, I would tell myself that same sentence.

You know my family because you’re woven into our tapestry. My mother respects you and when my father and former husband were alive, so did they. Your heart is bigger than most people I’ve met and I am so grateful you’re in my world. Like I tell anyone that acts sideways – “I’ll fight you over that red-head. She’s family.”

Wanda, I pray that every single seed you have sown in the lives of others will come back to you 100-fold. I have no worries about your future because you’ve planted so richly. You know I have your back no matter what and you know I’m not the only one that will say the same thing. All of us are so much better because of your awesomeness.

I love you big,

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #21

To my Cousin BJ:

I love you so much — and not because of what you do. I could go on and on about that, but your actions are an extension of who you are and who you are is amazing.

I could mention plenty of things about you that make me smile within – like how you make sure I get in the house safely. No matter how late it is, if I’m outside, you’re outside to be sure everything’s copasetic. If I need help, your hand and heart are available. And I love that we love the same music but I won’t digress.

I appreciate the protector in you and the warmth of your soul. When Pop and Shawn died, I came home after a long day and you hugged me with the best words I had heard — “You’re doing a great job.” That sweet sentence brought tears to my eyes that night as we stood there. You don’t know how much that soothed my spirit. I needed it. I was truly doing my best but I was running on fumes — barely-there fumes. Your encouragement that evening went such a long way and I thank you for letting me exhale a bit.

Photo by Helena Lopes on Pexels.com

You always make sure that I’m OK. Our “I love you’s” are not scarce and we got each other’s back. From being handyman to dog walker, you help me with skill and a smile.

When we were growing up together, I always admired your eyes and your smile. Both of them were so bright. Your laugh would make me laugh without either of us saying a word. I remember when you burned your arm. I wanted to hug you so badly. Somehow, I thought that would make it all better. Playing Nintendo was the highlight of our day and whenever we weren’t together, it felt like a piece of sunshine was missing.

You’re so smart and you have done so much in your years on Earth. I’m proud of you, BJ. You don’t let anything stop you from doing what needs to be done and God knows, you are the absolutely fearless.

My prayer for you is that you continue to grow as a man of God. I pray that you receive every great seed that you’ve sown into others. You do so much behind the scenes and God takes care of you well. In Jesus’ Name, you will be protected as fiercely as you protect us and you will prosper as your soul prospers. I got your back, B. Always.

Sincerely,

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #20

Dear Big Sister Hannah,

We were divinely brought together and I’m so glad about it.

You look just him, ya know…. the warmth in your eyes and the high-rise of your cheeks when you smile… and your laughter lights up my planet, Big Sis. On top of all of that, you and Pop are so similar in spirit. The parallel is uncanny both inside and out.

What I appreciate about you is that you instantly treated me like family. Your loving arms wrapped about my teenage self and said “Hey, Lil Sister!” The sentiment was foreign and I loved it. I could tell you meant those words with every fiber of your being. Age wasn’t a factor. Distance wasn’t a distraction. Bloodline couldn’t block it. You loved me and I could feel the warmth of your heart.

Photo by Kartik Gupta on Pexels.com

Thank you so much for being my sister. I didn’t see you coming! Sound wisdom via God’s Word always drips from your words. Delicious food is always on the stove. Hugs are always available. I couldn’t ask for a better compilation.

Hannah, you are such a blessing to the world. The kindness you show me is your normal setting for everyone. You mind your business and mind the needs of others simultaneously. You have stern direction and a quick sense of humor. You’re easy like Sunday morning and any time I’m in your presence, I’m at home.

My prayer for you is that you continue to overflow in peace and joy for the rest of your years… that Fruit from the Spirit will overtake you and it will make your heart leap at any moment. I pray that you will continue to reap every beautiful seed you sown; they are many.

I love you so much and I look forward to seeing you soon.

Sincerely,

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #19

Dear Mentors,

Our God definitely takes care of you well and I’m so glad He does.

I appreciate your everlasting giving tree. Your leaves take on the storms of life and still remain shiny enough for us to see. The fruit of your labor feeds everyone around you.

No matter what state I was in, you always seemed to have more to pour, more to share, more to inspire my heart with.

Thank you.

Just one phone call would yield a lifetime of wisdom I would chew on for years to come. Plenty of times, I just knew that I wasn’t making sense as my emotions tumbled out of my mouth, but you allowed me to be vulnerable and scarred without judgment. After laying my confusing all out on the table, you infused strength in my legs so I could stand on my own and keep walking forward toward my destiny.

Thank you.

Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com

Seeing you soar in business and the arts has been one of the most beautiful highlights in my life. You have superpowers the world has yet to honor and for a big chunk of it, I had a front row seat. It was a treat every time with no chance of overdose. I could watch you shine forever and those memories will stay in my soul’s locket.

What a blessing. What a privilege.

Thank you so much for everything you’ve been in my life. I learn a plethora of lessons with every encounter and our laughs echo in the hallways of my heart. The following verse comes to mind when I think of you – “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you…” – Philippians 1:3. It was not by chance that Our Father crossed our pathways so I could be a better version of myself. For that baseline, I am grateful ten times over.

I pray every seed you sowed into me and others will germinate in your lives as well. I also pray that you continue to be showered with gratitude for changing lives and touching the future. May God richly bless the soil around your feet and lift any clouds around your head. I love you all and thank you again for being in my life.

Sincerely,

CJW

#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 #16

Dear Aunts & Uncles,

This may sound elementary, but I mean it — I think you’re cool!

I know I wrote about you before, but I just had to say it again. You’re so diverse and wise. I soak up your spirit when you’re around.

Thank you for never telling me I can’t do something. Whether it was nailing shingles on the roof or planting seeds, you always said “Go ‘head. You can do it.”

Uncles, you always made me feel safe — safe in your wisdom and your presence alone. No matter where we were, I knew I was good hands. I knew that you would fight for me as fiercely as my mother would if anything happened. I trusted that you had my back. You had a way of treating me like a strong soul instead of a fragile princess. Thank you for that. It made my feminism formidable.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Aunts, you always taught me something. Both of you are so creatively crafty. You can literally take something ordinary and make something beautiful. It’s amazing to watch your mind work fast and your hands work even faster. And let’s not forget our talks… they were and still are epic. If I felt misunderstood, you listened and spoke my language. Lastly, you’ve lived through so much that it seeps from your pores. I am so appreciative that you share yourself with me.

I reflect on my childhood often and see flickers of your sweetness everywhere. I am so grateful for you. My mother had a tribe to help her raise me. She had a support system that cared so deeply. The fruit of your love sprinkles to those around me, especially to my village kids. My prayer is that I can show them at least half of the awesomeness that you showed me… that they feel empowered and enchanted. Thank you so much for being in my tribe. I forever love you.

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

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