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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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Wednesday Wind Down: End of Day

Happy Wednesday, Sweethearts.

Imagine this scenario:

It’s been a long day at the workplace and the only thing you want to do is envelope yourself in the warmth of pure affection. On the ride home, you anticipate the kiss of your beloved and an embrace that would melt the day away. So, you smile as you unlock the door and call out the sweetest name your lips have ever known. Before changing clothes, cooking dinner, or unloading the car, you desire nothing more than to fall into the arms of spiritual, emotional, and physical safety. You call out once more, but no response. As you search the house, your anticipation morphs into disappointment; then, you hear a knock. Finally! When you open the door, your love on the other side. Your arms fling open and you are ready to enjoy the moment you’ve been waiting for all day, but s/he says that you have to wait until you hug each other. You ask how long and the reply is “I don’t know.” Your heart is crushed as the door closes and you hear your person drive away.

Can you imagine your arms being open all day long waiting for the one you love to run into them? Me either. The sheer thought of it makes my heart ache. So, you now understand how I felt when I read Romans 10:21 this week – “But regarding Israel, God said, ‘All day long, I have stretched out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.'”

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I immediately thought of the prodigal son and his loving father. I thought of Hosea and Gomer, his promiscuous wife (check it out – he has his own book in the Bible). I thought of someone waiting for days, years, even decades in hopes that a love would return. To the extreme, how heartbreaking it would be for a Father-Creator to see disloyalty from afar and leave His arms open anyway.

So, what does your end of day look like? Are you tired of something of running from something? Are you exhausted from fighting with your demons? Are you angry at the person who hurt you? The Father’s arms are open. Right now. Tonight. Every night. No matter how stubborn you are and how much you think you can figure it all out yourself, His arms are open all day long. Watching. Waiting. Anticipating. Searching for you in the darkness and hoping that you’re on your way.

My, what a beautiful God we serve.

Peace, thanks for listening, and wind down safely, my Loves. Oh yeah, and don’t forget to exhale in His arms tonight.

Wednesday Wind Down: Yes and No

Hey Sweethearts!

Tonight’s wind down is pretty simple because that’s how it hit me.

I was reading an article last night from Entrepreneur.com – 3 Rules I Use to Stay Productive and Not Overwhelmed. I read productivity articles often to find practices that best suit my purpose and vision. This one was particularly interesting because the guest writer Ted Serbinski engaged personal examples that created a comprehensive model of how he uses life-changing principles.

Over the last couple of years, I have adopted some of these rules and they have enriched me personally, academically, and professionally. I am a full-time student, educator, writer, and executive director of a performing arts troupe. On any given day, I have homework to grade, rehearsal to attend, and content to write. So, needless to say, I was eager to read Serbinski’s wisdom as a father of three under age three that has a portfolio of 40-plus startups that he has invested in and actively support – plus, he receives 1,000 emails and takes 15-30 meetings. WHAT THE WHAT?!

One section especially grabbed my attention – “Consider this: Each time you say yes to something, you are inadvertently saying no to something else. That “yes” takes up time in your life and when that next opportunity comes up, you don’t have the time to say yes.”

I incorporated this principle into my life some time ago and put it in overdrive 2 years ago, and I appreciated his wording of it.

So tonight, I’m asking you the same question I asked myself – Where are your yes’s going? Are you saying no enough to make room for the yes’s you’re supposed to say? 

Let that churn a bit and make it settle in your spirit. Have a great week and wind down safely, my Loves.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

Photo courtesy of Forfend.

 

Wednesday Wind Down/TM Lesson #3: End Feel

In therapeutic massage, there’s a term to describe the perception of a joint being at the limit of its range of motion. It’s called end feel. When a therapist detects a client’s end feel, s/he uses it as a gauge to see if certain techniques can assist or whether to leave the joint alone to prevent damage. A silent call is made. Either there’s more work to do right then or you move on to the next area of focus.

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Honor student and veteran

That’s how I felt this past Friday when my former students (soon-to-be graduates) shared their excitement about graduating next month. It was the end feel every educator anticipates. Not in the perspective of being at the end of my teaching career, but it was the end of their collegiate journey and I had done everything I was called to do for that season of their lives. What a blessing to see their faces lit with the brightness of a thousand suns, knowing that they didn’t give up when they had the chance… they kept studying when their grades weren’t favorable… they networked across programs of study and found friends for a lifetime… And to know that I had a small fingerprint in that experience was a grateful moment. They thanked me, hugged me, told me their plans, and honestly, I was just happy to be in their presence. To be in the wake of their future selves. The selves we talked about so many times during and after class.

What is your end feel? Do you have an experience that has reached the limit of its range of motion in your life? It can be sad to admit, yet it can be so liberating. That’s the beauty of the end feel. It’s confirmation. Either way, you’ve reached the maximum amount for the moment.

Tonight, I pray that God gives you insight on the end feel. Where it is, why it is, and how to digest it. It can be a heavy burden to let go and a large pill to swallow, but it’s a necessary space in time. For our lives, it marks anticipated progress or goals fulfilled.

Have a great night, my Dear. Peace, Thanks for listening, and wind down safely.

 

TM Lesson #2: With ALL My Heart?

So, the Holy Spirit connected some things for me recently while we were learning about the muscular system in therapeutic massage school. Do you know what that means for you? We’re playing connect-the-dots today! Are you ready? lol

DOT #1
“Love the LORD your God with all your heart and
with all of your soul and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6:5)

1517368961654_imageHave you ever heard of this verse?  It first appears in Deuteronomy 6:5 after as part of Moses’ reiteration of God’s laws (The Ten Commandments) to the Israelites. It’s also sprinkled throughout the rest of the book and is referenced again by Jesus in the three of the four major gospels – Matthew, Mark, and Luke. So, I guess you could say it’s pretty important. After all, that’s how God loves us, by the way. It is only befitting that He requests reciprocity. Don’t you have the same request of someone you love?

DOT #2
“…out of the heart flow the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

One of my favorite translations of this verse is the Hebrew Names Version (HNV) which reads “Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it is the wellspring of life.” Wow, a wellspring… source, originator, supply. Since it is so vital of a source, I should allow Peace to keep watch of it instead of relieving Him of His duties. Let’s go to next dot, then we’ll connect them all.

DOT #3
Heart: The Organ

The heart is designed to pump blood, nutrients, and waste products in and out of it. Yes, circulatory waste. Your heart muscles have a beautiful rhythm that consists of an involuntary symphony of contractions and relaxations… all to ensure that you stay alive. A myocardial infarction (heart attack) occurs when there is blockage in your arteries and the heart is deprived of oxygen. The beautiful rhythm is disrupted and muscle tissue can die.

NOW, FOR THE LINES…

If we are to love the LORD with all of our heart (DOT #1) and out of the heart flows the source of our physical and spiritual lives (DOT #2), then what issues are blocking you rhythm of love toward Him and others (DOT #3)? Are we not supposed to love our neighbors as ourselves? What if we ignored the effects of a spiritual myocardial infarction? Is there dead heart tissue causing disruptions in our relationships?

Your heart is truly the seat of your decisions, not your head. It holds your emotions and your brain creates circuitry to remember what you felt within positive and traumatizing experiences. Have you ever had your heart broken and actually felt a heaviness or tightness in your chest? It wasn’t just stress, but also the essence of you aching. The experience created a blockage in your spiritual circulatory system.

So, that’s the connection that made me pause. There are damaged parts of me that are hard to pump the Love of God through. Those cells have lacked oxygen for quite some time. And there’s supposed to be an exchange – in and out, arteries and veins, circulation – that keeps me alive and flourishing. In Deuteronomy, the heart is listed first. I believe it is listed before soul and might purposefully. I can’t see myself loving God or anyone on Earth without my heart being in the front seat.

1517369020834_image-1Next, am I truly keeping my heart guarded diligently? Am I letting Peace do His job? This doesn’t apply to just romantic relationships; it covers every communicative intercourse. Most think that it is a primarily reference to being in love with the right person, but I believe that Peace needs to guard your heart in every transaction – familial, professional, romantic, and platonic. Out of each of those interactions can flow the essence of you. And I wonder how well our heart pumps and receives the Love of God for our well-being and for the lifeblood of those around us.

To love the LORD with all my heart is a tall order, but I am on a mission to give it to him, even the diseased parts, the angry parts, the fractured parts, the confused parts… In the words of my mother, ALL means ALL. I don’t get to pick and choose when it comes to Him. If I can accept all of His Love (which was a cool experience I should add), I have to complete the cycle so my heart can be healthy.

Peace & Thanks for Listening! Keep rocking your week!

You’re the Agent

A short stop for your week

Hey Sweethearts!

I’m on my lunch break and decided to give you some #MondayMotivation. God gave this illustration to me a couple of years ago and just recently, I’ve had friends that needed to hear it, so hopefully, it helps you too.

Imagine a washing machine full of dirty clothes. You put the laundry detergent inside as the basin fills with water and close the lid. You expect those dirty clothes to be restored to their rightful identity of being clean after the wash cycle, correct? The clothes should be clean after the detergent has done its job. Well, that’s what God expects of His agents.

Bottomline – you’re the agent of change. You have to accept that assignment if everything and everyone is agitating you. Laundry detergent is also known as a cleaning agent. Upset about systemic dysfunction? You are the agent that is supposed to infuse into the environment, not the other way around. Don’t let discord and chaos make you change your identifiable characteristics of excellence and positivity. You may rub people the wrong way with it – after all, I’m sure the clothes are not happy with all of that friction, but they have to change. Your co-workers or cousins may get on your nerves, but you are the agent. Everything around you has to subject itself to the power of God in you.

Peace & Thanks for listening. You got this. Go have a great week! *fist bump*

Photo courtesy of Mother Earth News

TM Lesson #1: Balance That Care

In case you missed the sidebar announcement on Instagram, I began therapeutic massage school this month and it has been eye-opening and fun every single day – sincerely one of the most enlightening learning experiences I’ve ever had. Along with notes of history and technique, self-care instructions flutter throughout the chapters.

One of the first things my instructor said was that our hands were our tools and we should protect them at all costs. Furthermore, our bodies are our tools, so it’s imperative to keep them healthy. I wrote a special LATSOL message in my  notebook that day because the Holy Spirit’s voice was so clear. 

“You’re the channel for healing others. You can’t heal others if you’re sick.”

That was so loud to me. I have spent the majority of my life giving until I pass out or run out. Have you? You run yourself ragged believing that the more you squeeze out of your time, talent, and treasure, the more Christ-like you are. The more Jesus you’re showing other people. The more glory God gets. Well, Sweetheart, I am happy – no, absolutely ecstatic – to inform you that this is a lie! There is no more work you can do that will justify you sacrificing yourself to death. Now, I’m not talking about people that are modern martyrs for the gospel of Jesus Christ. I’m talking about you lying in a hospital bed because you have spent your life to death thinking that it was for the best, that no one else could do it, or that your ego told you it was the only option. The truth is, only Jesus was the perfect martyr, so you don’t have to die trying to move the bar.

God wants you to love Him and His Love circulates back to you as he enjoys loving on His Creations – which includes you! You can’t heal people if you’re sick, Love. Your hands are the tools God have you to give generously and wildly to the one who needs it; not to work feverishly into a stressful ball of frenzy, anguish, or remorse. Your entire body is needed to be the conduit through which Love flows. Words of healing turn into gestures of wholeness and you can’t do that when you’re dead from stretching yourself too thin and overworking your body for the sake of the cause. Even while I’m administering massage techniques, I am required to practice proper posture so I don’t damage myself in the process of client therapy.

Check this out…  even Jesus said “Let’s slow down for a minute.” in Mark 6:31 NLT

Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.”


He said this because there were so many people coming and going that
Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.

Balance the care – input and output. Maybe your self-care is a day of fishing or a road trip to your favorite hiking spot. Maybe it’s a relaxing spa experience or an expression of community service. Whatever it is, do it. There is nothing sinful in balancing God’s Love in you and through you. He is a never-ending supply. You, my Dear, are not.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Balance that care!

#bloglikecrazy: Day 14 – Thinkers

A short stop for your evening

When you come to my class, you’ll learn one thing… I love to have fun, but I don’t play. I want students to change the game of their future professions. I don’t train robots; I train thinkers. Critical, comprehensive thinkers. I mentally condition my students to problem-solve, not memorize. It’s a superpower, I guess… to train the mind. So, you could say that Tuesday, November 14th was training day.

The scientific method was on deck for psychology and public issues were on the menu for speech. Their brains were squeezed a little bit, but they left the room with more elasticity than they arrived with.

In both classes, I assisted students in solving problems in their future career field. After all, shouldn’t that be the goal? I don’t want them to graduate and simply fall into the status quo of complaining about everything around them. I want them to think of solutions and be daring enough to try them. That’s how the game changes; that’s how progress is made. It’s made by people saying “What about this?” and “Let’s try it this way.” Enough of sitting down and waiting on someone to magically fix all of our problems in the industries we love. We are the fixers. We are the thinkers.

I call them Birmingham’s Finest every day for a reason – because I truly believe they are. They can do anything the world needs.

So can you.

Peace & Thanks for listening, Thinkers!

Photo courtesy of NOVA – PBS.

#bloglikecrazy: Day 13 – Bittersweet

The funny thing about tasting something that is bittersweet is you never get the bitter and the sweet at the same time. According to the word, you would think the bitter comes first, but it doesn’t.

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Friend, Mentor, & Founding Director Kevin P. Turner

On November 13th, I anticipated the bitter. The sweet was there, sprinkled throughout the day, but the closer time moved toward 7:00 PM, bitter’s presence drew near. It was a performance filled with firsts and lasts – first time my performing arts troupe was featured at the Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center by way of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Gospel Choir, first time one of my teammates would sing with the choir, last time I would perform under Director Kevin Turner with the choir, and the last time Monday night would be sacred in this capacity. Being connected to a living thing for 16 years will make you expect the bitter when it ends.

The sweet came in capsules of backstage silliness, team shenanigans, chats with college friends-turned-colleagues, and hugs all around. It was a family reunion, to say the least. Sound check exposed the bones of the operation as we all prepared our respective crafts to be displayed on stage in a few hours. Musicians, dancers, singers, production, lights, ushers… it was all at the ready to provide a great concert for attendants and participants alike.

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Such sweet spirits

And that, we did.

The audience enjoyed the set list, artists performances from their hearts, scholarships were awarded, and commemorative speeches were made.

The ASC had been a 2nd home to many UABGC members over the years and the bellows of the building were our training grounds. Now, they were cozy places of professional preparation. Everyone was in their elements, drinking the nectar of memories that would be still swirling around in our cups the next day. Me? I was waiting for the bitter.

My Crew, Workmanship Incorporated 

It may sound pessimistic, but I was trying to brace myself. I didn’t want to be caught off guard and wail 8 counts before my first step. So, I waited for it… the bitter aftertaste of a such sweet experience. Surprisingly, it came right before the first dance, wisped around my shoulder after the last dance, and walked me to my car after we left the dressing rooms. I didn’t cry. I welcomed it in the car and drove home. It was OK to have the company. I actually smiled at it along the open road because it was even better to have the sweet first. I was one blessed woman.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

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