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#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

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #14

Shawn!

You would be having a complete field day right about now! For real!

Between the pandemic and pandering politics, we would be having the best conversations if you were still here. Seriously. Your wit would be making me laugh aloud and you would be amen-ing your frat brother Roland Martin’s commentary per usual. I can hear your quips as I type — coming at me like rapid fire.

Can you believe that people are making political stances about wearing facial coverings to slow the spread of a virus? I just heard you chuckle. lol

Science. That was your jam and I know you would have something sarcastic to say about all of this. We would probably chat around mid-afternoon and about the latest foolishness concerning our country and the world-at-large. Our conversation would undoubtedly include the current state of educational affairs be it that you were an exceptional educator. You were the physics half and I was the social half of our scientific duo, but we met in the middle when it came to distress of public education. *insert fist bump here*

Photo by Ann H on Pexels.com

Part of me is glad you’re not here to experience this mess and part of me wishes you were so we could decompress at length. You said I was the pontificator between the two of us, but seriously… that was you. You knew how to make a kid’s meal out of the most difficult math and physics problems. The context in which all of this craziness is floating is complex to say the least — the perfect ingredients for your beautiful mind.

We would be having some hilarious conversations right now, my friend. I believe that. We had finally reached that place before you left Earth and for that I am grateful.

Rest In Peace,

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #11

Hi, Military Family.

This letter is going to sound so random, but I guarantee it will host everything I want to say without the whole thing sounding sad. OK? OK.

Many people say thank you (me included), but I want to be specific in my gratitude. I appreciate your ability to say “yes,” when most of us would say “no way in hell.” Your yes provides us the opportunity to sleep well at night because we know you’re on 3rd watch. I know you hear it all the time, but it truly is a sacrifice and I never take that lightly.

The sacrifice you made/make causes me to pause at every soldier I meet and say “thank you for serving,” but I often pray that we continue to serve you and your family once your assignment is over. It angers me that some retire well and some end up homeless. When I taught veterans at a career college, it infuriated me to hear of the repeated runarounds of their simple requests at the VA or that their mental health wasn’t being taken seriously.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels.com

That’s another thing… your state of mind. It takes a lot to do what you do — to be trained to be a machine on demand. I appreciate your ability to do that too. Undoubtedly, it is necessary. It’s the 2nd half of this call-to-action is the aftermath. I’m sorry that you have to experience PTSD in various forms. Yeah, I know… don’t feel sorry for you, it was an honor to serve, and you love your country. I’ve heard it all. My family tree and friend circle are full of Armed Forces and I’ve seen the effects. Your honorable nature doesn’t detangle the mess it can leave behind.

So, I pray for you often. I pray for your safety and for your fight. I pray your skills stay sharp and your family bonds stay tight. I hope that you never forget to tell corny jokes as necessary and to remember that you matter. Remember funny stories about basic training and don’t forget to help others thread memories together so they can stay warm out there too.

I appreciate you all. I love you big. Thank you for being you.

Sincerely,

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #9

To my awesome Grandparents:

I must say… *sigh* I am soooooo glad that you were my grandparents. You did an excellent job! Ahhhh!!!!!

I am the daughter of so much coolness. Military and entrepreneurial blood move through my veins. Intellectual stealth crowns my head. The relentless pursuit for better fuels my tank and that’s because of you.

My observational skills were on point whenever you were around. I loved your laughter and your wit. They worked seamlessly together every time. Watching you cook, listening to you dissect newspaper articles (giving me the comics, of course), and rummaging through your music collections were the highlights of my day… and when we “went to town,” I was in heaven. That backseat of the Cadillac was my cozy little makeshift office with paper and books strewn across it. You never bothered me about until it was time to go inside the house, then you would say “All right now, clean up your little house.” That’s how you all were — teaching me lessons along the way for my tiny feet to follow. I remember competing with you in wordsearch battles to see who could finish the book first. I was fascinated with your mathematical wizardry; you could count anything in your head. You knew phone numbers of almost everyone in the neighborhood. And let’s not talk about the way you dressed… Whew, you could put a runway to shame. You only bought quality. Period.

Photo by Raphael Brasileiro on Pexels.com

Because of you, I’ve never been afraid to take public transportation. You taught me how to read the bus schedule and highway signs so I wouldn’t get lost. We walked the streets of Downtown Birmingham like it was Times Square. I watched the cobbler fix your shoes. I noticed how you spoke to the pharmacist. I saw you mourn with friends and feed the poor. You taught me loyalty, integrity, and how to be part of a community. Those sentiments still run deep in me.

I truly believe you were undoubtedly made for me. All of my quirkiness didn’t scare you. My shyness was your friend. You knew how to tap into my heart when I wanted to keep it closed for safekeeping. Somewhere between time and love, our souls met in the middle and my life is richer because of that sweet collision.

On many days, I wish you were here, then on others, I’m glad you’re not. You would probably hate being here right now, but the selfish me would love having you near. As grown as I am, I would most likely be at your houses every week talking smack, listening to wisdom, and cooking on your stoves. We would play cards or board games as usual and I still wouldn’t mind helping you with anything.

I miss you so much, but I’m glad you’re safe. I’m glad your souls are at rest and I can’t wait to enjoy heaven with you. I love you forever.

Sincerely,

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #8

Hello, Beautiful Couple.

Below is what I wrote during one of flights as I quietly admired your interaction. Your love was so sweetly expressed that I have it in etched into my memory with a smile. I hope you are still loving each other as I virtually speak. – CJW

I returned to my reading material but I couldn’t stop glancing every now and then. Truth be told, it was more than “now and then.” They were adorable and I admired the love and care radiating from their atmosphere.

Salt and pepper hair and aged to sweet perfection. A beautifully seasoned pair. My guess is they traveled often… together.

This time, she was tired. As she leaned on his chest for a short time, she eventually laid her head in his lap. He was still and careful to read his book without disturbing her. You could tell she was at peace in his arms. And when it was time to awaken, instead of her being jolted by our descent, he gently caressed her shoulder to let her know it was time to return to the world. And she did, slowly rising up like a nubian Queen on her throne. I should have felt badly for being an observer but I didn’t. I was in awe. In front of me, I witnessed something sweeter than molasses, louder than a sonic boom, and enchantingly obvious. This was Love over time and it was immaculate, authentic, and my attention wouldn’t let it go.

I said to myself “Now, that’s what you want.” You want someone that you can sleep in peace with… where your heart is at home no matter where you are.

So. Dear Sweet Couple on the Plane, you inspired me though we never spoke. Thank you for showing me what God’s Love looks like on Earth as we flew high above those clouds. You were simply being yourselves and that was dessert for my soul.

Sincerely,

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #6

Hey, Sweeties!

You already know that I love you to the moon and beyond. I think all of you are absolutely exceptional. Your minds work so fast because you grew up in a world where it had to. Your creativity is so diverse that I’m just grateful to have a seat in the audience.

Unbeknownst to you, I loved you before I saw you. For real. In most cases, I was with your mother and/or father up to the final hours before you graced us with your presence. It was so cool to stroll down the memory lanes of our friendship as I held you for the first time or shared our first conversation. It was official — you were an addition to my village too. It’s difficult to fathom, but your parent(s) actually had a different life before you got here and I was in it, so by default, you’re part of a tribe. A loving tribe.

Let me tell you some things that you may forget later.

First, the world owes you nothing, so do not hold back who you are. Do exactly what you were born to do — no exceptions. If that’s being a mechanic, you better shine doing it and let me book a service appointment. If that’s being a fashion designer, you better throw your whole self in it and let me buy one of your pieces. Remember that you will always have access to me. Some of you already have proof of that as we’ve laughed, learned, or navigated difficult conversations. Others have yet to redeem that perpetual offer, but you know it’s there. Either way, you have a support system, Love… a whole tribe. Don’t let anyone or anything make you feel alone.

Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

Next, work smart and play hard. Laziness will get you nowhere and you know I will call you out on it, so don’t slip. I’m hard on you because I know what you can do. I know the stock you came from. I know how serious your parent(s) was about your health, safety, and education before you were a teenager. I know how hard they studied in school. I know how many times they picked themselves up after being knocked down, so I know what’s in you. I accept nothing less your best.

Lastly, I hope you soar beyond thunderstorms of negativity and that every word against you bounces off your Loving armor. Trust me — more clouds are coming but they don’t have to be gray. The lightning bolts of unexpected failures don’t have to take you out of the game. When you feel overwhelmed, remember that moment is just a blip on your life spectrum. It does not define you and it will pass. I promise.

I’m so proud of you already. You are exquisitely created to go beyond this generation into the deep waters of progress. Move forward and know that I will always have your back.

See you around,

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #3

Mommy, you’re a real one.

No, seriously… you are. I can’t think of many people that have endured what you have and still laugh as heartily as you do. You created opportunities for me and others to flourish at your expense and those decisions must have been difficult to digest at times. The reality is that your plans had to be altered because of a little one that looked like you and I appreciate every decision you made.

I know you say that I wasn’t a burden and that I was a gift from God. You’re so kind. I can’t help but think of the moment you found out and just be grateful that I’m here.

Although I’ve told you numerous times, I want to tell you again — there is so much to admire about you and you are blessing to my world.

First, you’re the best cheerleader anyone could have. Period. In all of my creative endeavors, academic achievements, professional frustrations, I stand tall because I know you’re in my corner. No matter where I am in life, I hear you in my heart. Your voice stands out like Love in the darkness. I appreciate that about you… that your arms are always there, straight up and victorious. And you not only do this for me, you uplift others just as high. One phone call from you and that person can’t help but feel like a champion. You hold no love back from anyone who needs it. I get that from you indeed.

Photo by Luke Webb on Pexels.com

Next, I am so proud of the woman you have become. The Holy Spirit once said to me, “She was a woman before she was your mother.” That sentence enlightened me. It carried so much truth. Before your title included another, you were a young lady navigating through life and now, as time brings about changes, you are a woman still. How you’ve learned to embrace your natural hair again, understand your body, and improve your health… it’s all fascinating and inspiring. Watching you take care of Pop was like watching Jesus in action. You went from pastor’s wife to devoted caregiver in less than 2 years. On many days, I was simply awestruck. I can’t wait to see how you evolve even further into your seasoned self. You still get excited when you learn something new and it brightens my spirit to see you elated. You’re exceptional in my eyes already, but I know you are nowhere near your peak season.

Lastly, thank you for always thinking of me. That may seem weird to say since you’re my mother, but all mothers do not think of their children. I do not take that for granted. You always say “We help each other.” We’ve had our communication challenges, but we did the work and look at us… on the other side of all that mess. When we decided to listen to each other’s heart and put God in the middle, fresh wind resuscitated our relationship and I’m so grateful for it. We know when each other needs a break. We ask for clarification. We catch each other’s tones. We check each other when we’re wrong. We accept one another’s personality types. You don’t try to make me like you and I don’t set you upon unrealistic pedestals. We learned how to grow together without infiltrating each other’s gardens. You trust God’s Word in me. I trust Him in you. Just like our twilight conversations, it’s a beautiful exchange between kindred souls.

Mommy, I appreciate the powerhouse you are. I always ask God to give me even richer experiences with you for as long as possible. There’s so much more that I want us to share. More travels. More laughs. While I know death is inevitable for either of us, I know heaven is too. That’s the best gift you could have given me — Christ. I will always be grateful for that decision too.

I love you/Talk to you soon,

CJW

Wednesday Wind Down: Stickers

Hello, Sweethearts!

Here’s a shortstop (a 500-words-or-less-post) for your week.

Ever since I was a child, I’ve loved stickers. They were expressive and comforting. They represented my voice when I didn’t want to talk. They ranged from Lisa Frank to historical landmarks.

The problem came when my mother wanted a clean surface or I wanted to change the look of my binder. Those stickers could be so difficult to remove. This same difficulty occurred with people placed labels on me growing up.

You’re too quiet.
You act like you’re better than us.
You think you’re smart.
You talk White.
You’re too dark.

You’re too tomboyish.
You’re so prissy.

You’re not aggressive enough.
Your panties must be dipped in holy water.
You stay to yourself too much.
You don’t smile enough.
You’re too sensitive.
You’re too nice.

Stickers. Labels. The ones you just read were stuck all over me from elementary school onward and I desperately tried to change every last one of them… trying to conform to the shape of the sticker just to please the person that put it on my body. It was exhausting to migrate between two polarized ends trying to find the center like the bubble on a level tool. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get it right. I was always too something. It took two decades to absorb God’s Truth about my existence and allow His Love to wash that residue off my spirit. I realized and accepted the fact — Labels do not dictate me. They describe one’s perception, but they do not determine my craftsmanship and my footsteps.

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

Over time, as I let the warmth of the Father’s Light shine on my soul, I embraced my “too” somethings. My sensitivity was my superpower to empathize with others and see pain past the smiles. My sweetness was my weapon to confuse instigators and diffuse volatile situations. My desire not to have casual sex brought me peace of mind when my cycle was late. My quietness enhanced my listening prowess and critical thinking skills. None of these things meant I was superior to anyone; I just knew at an early age the state in which my Peace liked to live.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I learned that the way God made me was not incorrect. I was not defective. My introversion was not a bad thing. Every attribute and every trait was carefully placed with His purpose in mind and I still walk in that Truth today.

Sweetheart, walk in the Craftsmanship in which you were made (Ephesians 2:10). You were created by a Master Builder. Don’t let the stickers overstay their welcome. You are way too extraordinary for that.

Peace, Thanks for listening, and stay well out there.

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