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Wednesday Wind Down: Listen Up

Hi, Sweethearts!

Before I get into the inspiration/motivation for this week, I wanted to shoutout my readers… that’s right, you. 🙂

Every time I sign into WordPress, I smile. People from all over the world visit this blog. Singapore, Romania, Iceland, Brazil, India, South Africa, The Philippines, Morrocco… just to name a few. People in my personal circles read this blog too and I sincerely appreciate their support. I will never take your visit lightly and I am so grateful for every heart that reads mine through this site. Thank you and I pray for you all.

Secondly, here’s a quick word of encouragement — don’t forget to listen up. I understand the severity of COVID-19 and how important it is to listen out for facts over rumors. Quick sidebar: For accurate updates and well-explained information, check out Dr. Bertha Hidalgo at Chic in Academia. She’s a scientist and a fellow See Jane Write member. I love reading her Science Says posts.

One of the traps we can fall into is listening out for information without listening up for spiritual guidance. When I say “listen up,” I’m referring to infusing your spirit with God’s Word. Here are a few ways to do that –

  1. Go outside for a walk (while maintaining social distance, of course). Take a notebook with you or use the voice recorder on your phone to capture what God whispers to you.
  2. Since we’re in quarantine, utilize this time to digest one verse a day (I suggest YouVersion – The Bible App). If it won’t overwhelm you, read a chapter and chew on it for a week. I like to research historical and geographical information surrounding the passage I’m reading to gain context and expand understanding.
  3. Meditate for 5 minutes. Meditation comes in various forms, so don’t be intimidated by that word. One of my favorites is from AmaZen Yoga by Kimberly Snell. She combines scripture with yoga to create a spiritual meditation. It’s great for beginners. If you’re working during this time, here’s a post called work time yoga (it’s less than 10 minutes).
  4. Pray words of gratitude and authenticity. If you’ve been with me for a while, you know that I’m an advocate for real prayers. Being grateful for what you have and being honest with God about how you feel are therapeutic for the soul. It’s a way of releasing what is inside of you

Listening up keeps me refueled when I’m submerged in times that can tap me out of the game. It looks like we may be virtually stuck together for a while, so I pray that you are forged into a stronger and healthier you during this time — inside and out. That’s my mission. How’s yours going?

Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweetheart!

Wednesday Wind Down: Touch

Hi, Sweethearts! *waving through the screen*

So, we’re in a season of social distancing to decrease the spread of COVID-19. As a performing/teaching artist and licensed massage therapist, I depend upon social interaction for income generation, so this self-quarantine is not amazing for business. *shrugs* Facts are facts.

While I’m using this time wisely, I can’t help but fantasize about teaching a communication, psychology, sociology, or economics class during this time. A field day would be had, I tell you. A deliciously nerdy field day with activities, discussions, and all.

On the flip side of this universe, I am equally excited to chat with you about the power of touch and its significance to our well-being. Right now, there are individuals working through anxiety and depression. Parents are re-arranging their schedules to stay at home with their children who are temporarily displaced from school. Healthcare professionals are desperately trying to douse a fire and save the world — simultaneously. The mandate of minimizing physical contact sounded easy until we realized how often we do it… and need it.

hands in front of white and black background
Photo by Matheus Viana on Pexels.com

Every day we touch each other’s lives — both inside and out. Our hearts are connected whether we want them to be or not. Those are the facts too. It’s how we were created. We were created to work as an organism not as disjointed and aimless beings. More like interdependent parts that need each other to survive. The spread of the flu and COVID-19 can’t stop us from reaching out in the name of Love. Food runners are delivering groceries to community members. Social media is actually being used as it was intended. People are socializing with members of their own homes instead of being daily ships passing by one another. Touch has so many forms that stopping the physical component isn’t enough to plug its power. It’s like trying to stop a leaky dam with a piece of chewing gum. Love is that water and He releases infinite power in the midst of impossible odds. Somehow, someway we leak and we can’t help it. I pray that we never stop.

Sincere prayers for my fellow entrepreneurs, creatives, and LMTs out there. We’re going to make it. Peace and Thanks for listening. I love y’all and stay well.

Wednesday Wind Down: Bypass

Happy Wednesday, Sweethearts.

I have a little example for us, but it will still be a shortstop (500 words or less). Are you ready? Great!

Imagine a neighborhood where Love walks around like a 6-foot model wearing a floor-length silk robe. Every step is like art walking. She’s majesty in human form. She smiles with the warmth of a soft spring sun, and as she walks down each street, life spreads. Grass is green. Flowers are in bloom. She’s beautiful and free. Her light flows into every house, on every block, and into every heart.

Now, let’s talk about the heart, more specifically a damaged one. If a heart’s function is impaired and a person’s life is at risk, a doctor may suggest coronary bypass surgery. This requires a healthy blood vessel to be taken from one part of the body and transplanted to the heart in order to create an alternate (and more efficient) route for blood to flow. If this is difficult for you to visualize, just think of your nearest interstate. The bypass was created to alleviate traffic congestion. Not sure if your commute includes one? Here’s a clue: it usually has 3 digits.

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Photo courtesy of AARoads

One of the realities about the heart is that a damaged one can only be repaired to a certain extent; otherwise, it must be replaced. A bypass is designed to create a new pathway for blood to bring life to the rest of the body, but it is not a transplant.

With that said, let’s tie up the loose ends.

Right now, there are formerly covert ideologies that are showing like a woman’s white slip at a country church. Why? Because there is toxic congestion where the Blood of Jesus should be flowing. Everyone might as well be honking each other during rush hour. You may hear racist comments at the store or made to feel that you are incompetent at work. Perhaps you even heard some of those comments at church. No place seems to be safe except the heart and it’s difficult to love people who view you as inferior. Here’s a reminder that I have to constantly tell myself; they aren’t the problem — their hearts are. I know it seems they will forever be saturated in ignorant privilege, but trust me. It’s a heart thing. Wherever Blood flows, there is Life.

So, wouldn’t it be great to create a bypass for Love to walk freely like that model up there? For Life to grow and bloom wherever she goes? Guess what… you can. Every time you arm yourself with facts instead of sensationalism, you create a bypass. When you perform in excellence, that’s a bypass.

It is imperative that keep your vessel as clear as possible. Create a bypass. Make it a quadruple one if you have to. The down lookers will get over it.

Peace & Thanks for listening! By the way — yes, this post made it in the shortstop category. 🙂

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Photo courtesy of YouVersion – The Bible App

Wednesday Wind Down: DNA

Hi, Sweethearts!

I had a thought this week and I hope it encourages you as it did me. I always say that what’s in you will come out of you. Let’s look at that from a biological perspective.

The famous double-helix of deoxyribonucleic acid. It’s a pretty cool construction of genetic material. Some genes are prominent while others seemingly appear out of nowhere such as eye and hair colors. Genes can also remain recessive and others express themselves loudly and proudly. Remember that Punnett square from biology class? That was one of my favorites in school.

punnett square khan academy
Courtesy of Khan Academy

Speaking of dominant vs. recessive, I recall times in class when I knew the answer but was discouraged to share it. You know how it is… it is easier to blend into academic cultures if you don’t seem like a know-it-all. How unfortunate that I was coerced to snuff my intellect to make my classmates and teachers feel more comfortable. I was ridiculously shy and my comfort in learning was never intended to create a shadow on those who I hoped to be friends with at some point in childhood. I felt that I studied the content, did the homework, and came prepared to share it with others. I just didn’t understand why they were so reluctant to share their thoughts too. What they didn’t know was that I was always nervous. Always afraid that I would be misunderstood. I also didn’t like the teacher standing there wanting someone to just show some effort and looking disappointed at the silence. Then came math class — my nemesis. I wasn’t so excited to share in that arena. I felt dumb and inadequate, but I still tried to express my desire to learn. After all, I still studied the content and still did the homework; I just wasn’t good at it, but I wanted the teacher to see that I tried. The life lesson I gleaned from my childhood was that dousing my abilities cost me peace. The less I allowed God to simply shine through who He made me to be, the more unrest and insecurity I experienced.

This week, God brought that back to my remembrance. The heaviness of hiding is such a difficult cloak to wear. God made us so beautifully different that it would be a discredit to his creativity to be anything else than yourself. Taking it a step further — my faith is part of my spiritual DNA. When Jesus died for me, His blood provided all the divine genetic material I need to walk confidently in faith. Sweethearts, allow your spiritual DNA to shine through just as strong as your natural one. Whether you’re a science wiz, nail polish lover, or welding enthusiast… be that. Own that. Flourish in that. If your spiritual gifts include hospitality, prayer, or influence… walk in that. Flourish in that too. Time’s up for decreasing what makes you exceptional.

I believe God’s grace is in my DNA. His loving fingerprints are all over my soul and I am unapologetic about that Truth. My chocolate skin can’t hide herself. My tone and texture are distinctive to my vocal cords. My faith has expressive DNA as well. I’ve been through the rounds and my scars have created a battle cry that I can’t suppress. So, oh well, if it makes others uncomfortable. I can not sit quietly when I know the Answer… and His name is Jesus.

Peace & Thanks for listening. I’m praying for you during this holiday season.

Wednesday Wind Down: Bricklayer

Hi, Sweethearts!

OK, I am still on a high from watching Boss: The Black Experience in Business – a documentary about African-American history in entrepreneurship and business industries. If you haven’t seen it, please do. Definitely a must-see. Here’s a play-by-play of how it all went down in my world. Special Shoutout to Carmen Mays, Founder of Elevators on 4th, and my alma mater UAB for hosting this event and reminding Birmingham of the juggernaut of Black entrepreneurship she was and will continue to be.

boss film uab

BEFORE THE FILM

20190716_175221.jpgI have a confession to make. Networking events are not at the top of my social list. It’s where my introversion leaps out to block my smile and I have to overshadow her by scanning the room for people I know and introducing myself to people I don’t. In all that I do that involves others (blogging, dancing, and massage therapy), solitude is where I am cozy.

So, what did I do? I made my introverted nemesis attend the pre-film reception. I’m also recovering from a knee injury and walking from my car to the event space was the longest distance I had accomplished without using my crutches. Needless to say, I was ready to sit down. While familiar faces wove in and out of their elements, I shared sincere laughs with another great businesswoman in my state and we decided to sit together during the film.

Me – 1
Nemesis – 0

DURING THE FILM

I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. I tried to capture a few notes, but only if the visual stayed the same. As soon as it changed, I looked up fast like a little kid with a bad case of FOMO before bed. Throughout the film, I was infused with strength. It would have been easy to be angry at the injustice, but I was undoubtedly empowered. Fortified. The stories of my ancestral heroes sealed the natural cracks in my entrepreneurial foundation. Some of the stories, I knew and taught my students. Others, I learned for the first time. I sat forward with my hands clasped at times and in other moments I smiled in awe.

What a beautiful rocky road of Black determination, I thought. Seriously. We were given manure and we made it grow – over, and over, and over again. Our money was stolen and we generated more like a prosthetic limb. We pumped the life-blood into ourselves after being left for dead. Agriculture. Banking. Hair. Clothing. We are a force to be reckoned with no matter which decade you decide to slice. I recalled my first time reading Ebony, Jet, Black Enterprise, and Essence as their humble beginnings were told in front of me. To see bursts of Color in a monochromatic printed world was lifechanging. Seeds of cultural self-esteem were planted within me at an early age and watching these gladiators of vision and ingenuity reminded me of their fruits manifested through today’s industry moguls. I sighed and smiled again to see such relentless prowess right before my eyes.

AFTER THE FILM

20190716_195315.jpgI sat up straighter. My back was stronger and my neck held my chin a bit higher. My hearty handclaps might as well have been among a sea of applause at Carnegie-Hall.  I felt so proud. So tall. As an African-American Woman Entrepreneur, I am walking on the bricks of hard labor and I get the immutable opportunity to place my own brick along that historical trail.

Black business owners have proven that skin color should never override intelligence and passion. We are beyond capable of building a present and a future for ourselves and others – nationally and internationally. Regardless of the opposition of ignorance, we continue to showcase dexterity and incredible resilience. Can you imagine the escalating levels of repeated faith it takes to accomplish such feats? I can’t imagine. To create decades of legacies without an Ellis Island is an irrefutable honor that should never be undermined or forgotten. 

Lastly, I also realized that I am exactly where I should be. To be reminded that those pillars of strength began with pennies in their pockets was just the juice I needed keep my energy going. Six months ago, I plunged into full-time entrepreneurship after my school closed, and it has been an exceptional journey. I have no complaints, but people often romanticize the life of owning a business and I couldn’t help but smile to know that my grit was in good company. My scars were in the right place. My tired eyes could still see my ancestors rooting for me. My hands were still capable of facilitating my dreams just like their cotton-picking fingers repeatedly reached for hope. My heart was still able to incubate their fire for economic freedom. My spirit was still synonymous with theirs and my feet could still walk forward on the bricks of their backs — one day, allowing someone to step on mine. Let’s keep building, America.

You don’t have to lose who you are to be successful.
Cathy Hughes, Founder of Radio One –

Peace & Thanks for listening! Keep shining!

boss film pbs

Wednesday Wind Down: Let ‘Em Talk

Good Evening, Sweethearts!

As you wind down for the day, I pray this message reaches you with good health in mind, body, and spirit. I can’t wait to share what I heard this week.

One of my favorite athletes is Manny Pacquiao. No, I am not a boxer, but I admire the profession and Manny has earned my respect over the years.

On FOX Sports PBC FACE TO FACE, I watched undefeated Welterweight Keith “One Time” Thurman talk about how excited he will be when he defeats Filipino Senator and Legendary Champion Manny “Pac-man” Pacquiao. Frankly, he was talking a lot of trash with shots of cockiness. Thurman spoke jovially of Pacquiao’s age and career statistics. He said that he studied Manny’s fighting style and described ways he could penetrate his speed. I shook my head at the television while my athlete remained unphased on the screen.

The reason why Pacquiao is on my respect list is that he keeps his priorities straight — no matter what. I love how cool he is under pressure. I love how he keeps the main thing, the main thing – faith, family, then the fight. I appreciate his ability to train hard and serve his country equally hard. I admire his work-life balance. So, as I continued to watch the dialogue, I couldn’t help but notice the dichotomy in demeanor. In the midst of this observation, I heard 3 things that can help us prepare for battles in our lives.

pacquiao-thurman (1)
Courtesy of BoxingScene.com

1. There’s a difference between training to obtain and training to maintain.

Looking at sizzle reels of their training sessions revealed how different they trained.  Thurman’s clip was grizzly. His workouts were aggressive. He explained his rise to fame and his teenage decision to choose boxing over academics. I loved it actually. So much passion at such a young age and still tenacious as ever. Pacquiao’s clip was seasoned and strategic. He looked like wisdom in motion, and I’m not just saying that because he’s my favorite. Their attitudes during exercises were visibly different as well. Thurman kept repeating his goal of being a history maker for bringing down his opponent. Pacquiao never mentioned him. It was like watching a car in the acceleration lane versus on the open road.

2. Let your fight talk for you.

The moderator asked for pre-, during, and post-fight predictions. Pacquiao had little say. His words were light, short, and clear. “I respect every opponent,” he said. When asked how the fight would end, he said that both fighters worked hard and made the fans happy. Thurman? In his best announcer voice, he claimed himself as the champion. Pacquiao smiled.

3. Let your enemy keep talking.

Throughout the entire session, there were opportunities for Pacquiao to retaliate with a fiery response. He let Thurman talk as much as he wanted and only spoke when asked a question by the moderator. His face didn’t flinch. He didn’t smirk. He didn’t grimace. His eyebrows didn’t furrow. He was calm. Even his instinctive blinks were undisturbed. I study communication like coaches study plays. I can’t deny my sentiments — I loved it. I couldn’t tell what he was thinking, but he definitely wasn’t moved.

So, on July 20, 2019, we’ll see words and training in action. Of course, I am #TeamPacquiao all day and regardless of the prediction, his character is a winner in my book. My prayer for us is that we take his lead when faced with situations underneath our royalty. Enemies always have a lot to say. Let your character be just as loud. Now, I’m not saying Thurman doesn’t have good character; I do not know him. What I am saying is stop engaging in every conversation as if you have something to prove. You don’t. Let your work speak for you.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: You Better

Hi, Sweethearts!

It’s graduation season for various age groups. Watching people reach this milestone is such a blessing!

Recently, I witnessed a high school class of approximately 80 students with the following awesomeness (see photo):

  • 100% graduation rate
  • 100% college acceptance
  • Over $30 million in scholarship offers

I was in awe, but I shouldn’t have been. I should have been looking at the norm, but instead, I welled with pride at the thought of these unique powerhouses entering their next stage of life. Apparently, they had a determination that could fuel 1,000 ships and it made me wonder…

What happens when the milestones go away? When there’s no diploma, no scholarship, no pomp-and-circumstance to indicate that you’ve accomplished a goal, how can we create that grit? I had to pleasure of speaking to a group of 8th-grade graduates during their promotion ceremony this week and I wanted them to realize there were many more memories to create after they relished in this one.

Tonight, I’m telling you the same thing. It’s easy to fall into the rut of a daily grind because there is no graduation ceremony on the horizon. After the big hurdles, there seems to be pending doom of monotony. I’m here to encourage you to smash that farce. You can create your own milestones. Play your own theme music before walking into work. Pick a date on your calendar to celebrate that you’ve lived through hell for the last 6 months. Choose a date in the future to reach a goal you’ve let sit on the backburner.

Don’t allow yourself to be stagnant. Create reminders that you’re a survivor. Celebrate your humanity and your superpowers. You were designed by a supernatural God that has planted greatness inside of you. It’s about time to wake that up with everything you touch.

Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweethearts!

Wednesday Wind Down: There’s More of You

Good Evening, Sweethearts!

I was reminded of something recently that may help you out this week. When you think you have nothing left, there is more of you to give. I know it doesn’t seem like it (trust me, I feel you), but there truly is. Here’s how –

Every fruit has a seed and that seed has potential fruit in it. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I experience a situation that is a total energy zapper. In real life, I shake my head sometimes like a cartoon character that just hit a brick wall. It’s a quick punch to the face and if you’re not careful, it will buzz-kill your natural high on life. What do I do when this happens? The following 3 things help me cope:

  1. I tell myself “OK” as many times as it takes. Sounds simple, but it’s my way to accepting the reality without overwhelming myself. It’s also my verbal confirmation to God that we’re in it together.
  2. I ask myself “What can I do now?” I immediately prioritize to what I can control at that moment. The truth is that I can’t change the situation, but I usually can do something to relieve the pressure and lower my stress level… even if it doesn’t relate to the situation at hand.
  3. I tell myself “It’s just temporary.” For me, there’s peace in the Truth. Jesus is my Peace and He stands in the chaos with me. When I tell myself the Truth, it reminds me that the situation won’t last forever.

So, when you feel like you’re squeezed out in a matter of seconds, minutes, or months, I pray that these three things can help you deal with the reality. It truly helps me to manage every day. You’re not squeezed out because you have an Everlasting Source. Trust me… He will give you more to handle what is thrown at you. You are the fruit with potential seeds inside and we have a Master Gardener that knows His field.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Keep rocking your January!

Walking out of 2018 like…

My performing arts troupe has a saying “No scratch, no burn, no nothin’.” It references the Bible’s account of  3 Hebrew boys that were delivered from death by fire (Book of Daniel – Chapters 1-6). It’s our battle cry when we go through tough situations.

That’s where my mindset has been since December 5, 2018, when all of my employer’s campuses received word that we were permanently closing before the year’s end. Unless you were teaching a class or part of the skeleton crew designated to carry out closing duties, your last day on the job was the same day you got the news. It was horrible.

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Motivation visuals of my “why.”

Sprouts of fiery frustration, confusion, and anguish spread like wildfire among employees and students alike. It was an ugly, messy, inconsiderate break-up and there weren’t enough gauze in the world to cover the wounds. My heart bled for my work family and numerous students affected by the mud of bureaucracy. I was emotionally full and saddened that our academic and professional journey had to end in such a way.

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My office bulletin board above my desk. Before & After.

December also hosted multiple milestones that reminded me of my late former husband. So, I took the time to digest it all. To let healing have her perfect work. To let the process continue instead of stifling what I didn’t want to feel. And like my #bloglikecrazy posts expressed, all of 2018 was not bad. There were some exceptional moments in there that I will never forget.

 

So, going back to December 5th aftermath – the million dollar questions floating in the hallways were “So, what are you going to do?” “Do you have another job lined up?”

woman in peach color and red floral sweatshirt holding gray jacket
Photo by Godisable Jacob on Pexels.com

I had planned to proceed full-time in my entrepreneurial lanes in March, but upon receipt of the closing news, I heard in my spirit “It’s time.” Time to trust and do exactly what I was called to do, but was too afraid to do in the past. To everything, there is a season, and apparently, this was mine. I was so sad that the ending was so abrupt and widespread, but honestly, I was at peace and filled with unparalleled determination. This wasn’t my first rodeo in dealing with layoffs, but it was my first experience of this kind. I said to myself, “I’m done. I won’t lay me off.”

I’m launching out into the deep. Full emersion into the fullness of my workmanship. I don’t have all of the answers, but I have the orders and I’m not afraid to keep building on my dreams.

What are you willing to end in order to begin? Are you walking tall into your God-given gifts or slumping over in defeat? To all of my students, use the blunt news as the jolt you need to assess your passions, write down your dream steps, and catapult you into the very thing you’ve been talking about doing all these years. I know the way it happened sucked rotten eggs, but I’m looking forward to celebrating your new reality. I’m definitely moving into mine. All I needed was a YES from God and I got it.

Peace & Happy New Year, Sweethearts! I love you!

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