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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

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Wednesday Wind Down: Distract Me

Hello, Sweetheart!

Does out of sight, out of mind apply to you? Let’s see.

Do you know why babies are easy to distract? They have not built the knowledge base to know what is important. They know what they feel, know what they want, but they don’t know where their focus should reside. All it takes is something shiny, noisy, cuddly, or yummy, and it’s a wrap. You can even hide something behind your back until they have a sense of object permanence (Thanks, Piaget). Try fooling them then. You will epically fail.

You know I’m a word nerd, so when I heard the whisper of God turn into a loud assertion about distractions two weeks ago, I had to dig deeper into the word distract. It derives from a Latin word distrahere, meaning to “draw in different directions.” That’s exactly the goal of any deceptive being. Horrible customer service, mistreatment at work, an argument with your loved one, a kiss from an unwise crush… there are distractions everywhere and they can appear at any time. Trust me, I know them all too well.

There is nothing that the enemy of your life wants more than to distract you from what is important. Just like babies, we can be easily distracted… if we allow ourselves to be. There are plenty of Bible verses I could throw at you, but let’s be realistic. Distractions don’t stop; you have to stop giving attention to them. This is where my prayers started to change recently… Lord, distract me. Distract me from the opportunities to feel sorry for myself. Draw my focus away from shiny temptations in life and draw me into your Word for guidance and strength. Enchant me with your Love so that I can’t sprinkle my attention on things that simply do not matter. Distract me from my wayward thoughts and what isn’t going right. Let daily miracles keep me focused on Your Grace every day. I want to be drawn in a thousand directions in how awesome You are. I want to remain amazed and dazzled by You and You alone. I do not want another. You are my focus. You are most important and I follow You.

Perhaps this is a prayer you can adapt to your life as well. I’m learning what to gravitate toward and what to lay aside. Everything simply doesn’t garner your attention. Beware of the distractions and let the Father lead. He always has the best in mind.

Peace, blessings, and wind down safely!

Birthday & The Beast: Part I

Have you ever felt full, like you were about to pop? Well, me, my Converse sneakers, and my school uniform made a break for it this week.

20180820_143936
Gotta love my therapeutic massage family. That cake… *hands up*

 

It was Monday and I was full of everything – grief, fatigue, anticipation, excitement, concern, questions, tension, gratefulness… I was just full. After all, it was my birthday and that came with a cacophony of spiritual noise. I had been fighting to stay afloat in the midst of recent rip tides and I was doing a pretty good job, but when you wake up on your birthday and wish you could just sleep in, that’s when you know the jig is up. I couldn’t do most of what I wanted due to surgery recuperation and two financial surprises, so I had to make some adjustments to keep my annual self-care ritual.

Each week in August, I do something that fills me with joy, then I continue the celebration once per month until the end of the year. It’s like my body and spirit know it’s August as soon as July ends. Well, with a few modifications, I still managed to uphold my law.

Week 1: Weekend road trip with Mommy. Music, laughs, and priceless convo.
Week 2: Ate pancakes the night before surgery. Binge-watched Blue Bloods and The Resident from the beginning. Man, I love those shows.
Week 3: Sister Time with sisterfriends. Ate half of a Ribeye from the Hickory Chip.
Week 4: Drove to Noccalula Falls (Gadsden, Alabama)

Now, about this drive… it was a serious mission. I almost didn’t make it in time due to my car repair, but I’m so glad I kept going. When I arrived, I had 25 minutes to make my birthday wish come true, then when I got there, I didn’t follow the map correctly and got set back 6 minutes. Noccalula Falls is special to me because it is one of two places in the world (so far) where I can breathe without respiratory rudeness. Something about that Gorge Trail makes me giddy like a school girl waiting on a glance from a crush. I don’t have to scale or climb, but a fall can easily be in anyone’s future along those jagged rocks. It had been years since I stood beneath the falls, but I never forgot the way I felt taking that deep breath in without clearing my throat for the first time. (A picture of it is on my About Me page.)

I know God is everywhere, but it seems like that is our sweet spot. I just have to push beyond the tough part. On the way to the cave beneath the fall’s cliff, it was difficult to breathe and believe me, there were plenty of opportunities to give up and turn around having had surgery 10 days prior. The impending thunderstorm, the 5-minute grace before getting a ticket, the throbbing headache and sore muscles, my ill-prepared attire… I could have easily said forget it. Not to mention that I kept hearing a loop of negativity in my head along the way. But with every step, I felt the reverberation of my soul making a judgment call to not accept no as an answer to my prayer request. Needless to say, I hustled in all of my sweaty glory to reach the cave by 5:00 PM and made it on the dot. When I finally reached the spot, I took that deep breath and teared up. 20180820_170342Everything that filled me up finally had a place to go and I could empty it out before His perfect blend of peace and power. There I was, looking up at God’s natural wonder, and once again His Word met me there. Here’s what I heard. I hope it helps you too.

  1. Pride, like a tumor, must be removed – not ignored.

  2. Like a tumor, pride metastasizes and blocks your divine purpose.

  3. You can’t ask God for miracles and control how they arrive.

  4. You have to go low to be lifted high. You can’t start at the top.

  5. God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. If you never admit your weakness, there is no room for His strength to take over.

  6. Nothing can stop water and nothing can stop God’s grace and Love toward you. Just let it flow.

  7. Water smooths the rough edges. So do life’s challenges shape you.

No, there was no surprise party waiting for me when I got home and just 10 years ago, I was celebrating my birthday with my fiancé. I had plenty to swirl in as I recalled my battle scars, but standing there made everything feel small and made me feel safe enough to receive His strength. The exchange was available, just like air, and all I had to do was let it happen.

You know that exhale you do after ripping and running all day or removing an overcoat after a long day outside? That’s where I was. Pure relief.

And what was that overcoat? Pure Pride.

I hate asking for help to carry my bags during recuperation, accepting kindness in resources and deeds, or saying “OK” to a surprise provision that I prayed for…. how ridiculous is that? So, just like the benign tumor that was removed from my neck recently, it was imperative that God was still working on me and my foreign-body attachments.

Now, check out an excerpt of what I journaled in September 2016.

“My mantra in August was to unleash the beast.

Each birthday month, I vow to do something I enjoy and spread it out across each week. Sometimes, it’s small like a milkshake or a little bigger like a solo road trip. Well, this year I decided to embrace something that I don’t like…and it hurt like hell.”

Isn’t that crazy? Well, Sweetheart, that’s where Part II comes in. It’s great to celebrate and it’s beautiful to exhale, but we must deal with the Beast within us in order to be healthy.

Peace, see you next time on the blog, and thanks for making it to the end of this post. lol I love y’all. Let’s keep walking. If you have a birthday ritual, let me know. If you don’t, make a pact with yourself to start one. It will bless you more than you can imagine. XO

TM Lesson #6: Do The Math

Fun Fact: Red bloods don’t divide.

Most likely, you’re not walking around with a bag of blood with you in case you run out.
So, how do we have enough blood to live if those cells don’t divide? Let’s do the math.

Red blood cells live approximately 120 days (4 months), then they are engulfed by macrophages (the clean-up crew of the cellular world). Don’t fret – new ones are created in your bone marrow daily and massage therapy affects the body all the way down to the chemical level, so we definitely must be knowledgeable in your cellular function. Blood flow can tell us a lot while we are administering modalities to assist your well-being – inflammation, blockage, tissue damage, etc. Blood carries life and in 120 days, there’s a lot of life to live.

I was driving to work recently and the Holy Spirit reminded me that we were charged to be fruitful and multiply in all things, especially in the purpose in which we were born. When God the Father said “Be fruitful and multiply,” it didn’t just mean to populate the Earth. Whatever awesomeness that is transcribed into your DNA is designed to multiply in the lives of others. If you have a passion for fashion, that natural ability was destined to be fruitful by increasing the self-image and body positivity of everyone you serve. If you enjoy cooking, your love of culinary arts was designed to multiply by sharing the work of your hands. This doesn’t mean that everything you love to do that you should run a business in that area. Truthfully, that same food lover could be a horrible restaurant owner and terrible entrepreneur; yet, that thing that makes you smile and power-up… it’s worth exploring when you see lives being changed by it.

Ask God to open your eyes to the ways in which you can multiply. You don’t have to divide yourself and be thinly spread among various responsibilities. The directions were clear. Be fruitful and multiply, not divide. It’s not efficient to sprinkle slivers of yourself everywhere, but you can plant seeds with each client, student, and family member. Seek wisdom on how to grow your gifts and passions so others can bear the same fruit. Most likely, someone is hungry for what you were born to grow. The law of the harvest is real and you will be held accountable for everything you don’t use. That’s why I’m on a quest to die empty. I’m using everything God planted in me to multiply on this Earth so the harvest can outlive me.

Fruit trees don’t divide themselves in half; they bear fruit of the same seed. After all, isn’t that how we know the tree’s identity (Matthew 7:16)?

Red blood cells don’t divide, yet we function well on their 4-month run. What are you going to do for the next 4 months? How will you circulate? Let’s do the math and live. Need some help getting started? Check out this throwback post.

Peace, thanks for listening, and wind down safely, Sweethearts!

Photo courtesy of Giant Microbes

TM Lesson #5: He Thought of Everything

Hello Sweethearts!

Last week, I mentioned that I’m in the final countdown of my therapeutic massage program (33 days to be exact, and I’m including weekends). While it is exciting to prepare for the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx), our study sessions have also made me nostalgic and full of wonder all over again about how intricate God made our bodies.

Did you know…

  • The biconcave shape of your blood cells increase its surface area for oxygen consumption, yet remains flexible enough to squeeze into tight spaces?
  • The sarcomeres in our muscles facilitate muscle contraction (and look like a subway system, if you ask me)?
  • Aromatherapy is an actual form of therapy because your brain and muscles create and recall memories as you inhale an essential oils?
  • Your sternocleidomastoid (SCM) has a clavicular and sternal head to stabilize your neck when you tilt it back. Remember that little tidbit the next time you doze off in class?

    sternocleidomastoid-muscle
    Courtesy of Yoganatomy.com
  • Your body will always attempt to achieve homeostasis (balance), even at the expense of your free will?

The lymphatic system. Respiratory system. Cardiovascular system. Autonomic and Somatic Nervous Systems. There are many more collaborations that keep you alive and massage therapists can affect every last one of them through the power of touch. That’s how cool God is.

He touched us first. His fingerprint is on our hands. No matter how many people are born in the world, no one can duplicate you. Can you believe that such an incredible God thought enough of you to breathe into you and form your body Himself? All of those cells, muscles, and systems were fashioned with your purpose in mind. I am fascinated by that even more now that I am adding a new career industry to my journey.

Now, here’s the disclaimer. I don’t know why some of the systems malfunction or why parts of them are deformed or missing, but I know God still had every detail in mind when He made you. Everything else in creation was called to be, but you? You were customized with ocular muscles around your brown eyes. The zygomatic bones on your face are perfectly curved to create your cheekbones. You have the cradle of life sitting between your iliac crests. There is no mistake in you. I have had to remember that as I face health challenges myself. Even the parts of me that don’t function properly still exude His glory because I continue to fulfill my purpose on this Earth. I’m here to tell you… He thought of everything about you and you were designed with Love in mind.

Wind down safely, Dear. I have some reading to do before class in the morning, but don’t forget our chat, OK? *smile* Look in the mirror or check yourself out with a selfie to admire the greatness in you, on you, and shining through you.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

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

Monday Motivation: Bounce

Happy Monday (or is it?)!

One thing is true – no matter how sweet you are, how much kindness you give, you’re still going to catch some hell. Not to be pessimistic, but it’s simply inevitable. You’re going to experience some good stuff as well as some bad stuff (and especially on Mondays apparently). The spiritual law of seedtime and harvest is tried and true, and so are evildoers.

So, what do you do when you’ve given all you got and you keep finding yourself getting hit with crap? Good question.

That was me this past weekend. Sure, I knew what the Word of God said and I had faith for days, but that didn’t stop my Super Woman vest from feeling a little tight. I jumped in the shower to wash the funk away, but my vest was still suffocating me. Then, God gave me a visual. A basketball. It slammed to the asphalt as hard as possible, then it bounced upward. It bounced again. And again. Each time, straight up in the air.

Going back to the question at hand – what do you do when you’re slammed? You bounce. Does it hurt? YES! But you don’t have live on the ground. You’ve got the power of the bounce to lift you up. Feel the pain, but don’t stay there. Let the physics do the work. The harder the surface, the higher the bounce.

So, I tell you the truth again – you can bounce upward from whatever you’re up against. The worse it is, the higher your potential altitude. After all, physics doesn’t lie. Neither does God.

Trust the bounce, Dear. That’s what I’m doing. In the meantime, if you want a little more surface science in your life, check out this sweet article.

Peace, Thanks for listening, and stay up… one bounce at a time!

#bloglikecrazy: Day 25 – Open

CAUTION: Sexual-spiritual theory ahead.

A thought came to me while watching a kissing scene in Frankie and Johnny (1991; starring Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer). What can I say? I like 90s movies.

Have you ever wondered why mouth-to-mouth kissing is deemed so intimate? I have. And I think I’ve finally able to put it into words. Try to keep your mind open as we ride together in my train of thought. It’s going somewhere. Promise.

STOP #1: The Mouth

Our mouths are powerful instruments. They can receive and give. You may have heard that life and death are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21) and I believe this is true. When I was growing up and would say something negative, my mother always respond with “You have what you say.” The tongue is an extension of the soul. As I tell my students, “Who you are will come out of your mouth.” So, since the mouth can reveal the thoughts and feelings of a person and we are subject to eat the fruit of what we say, we often (or we should) choose to use it carefully. Something happens when we taste our food and we taste others. It is an intimate connection. That’s why people choose not to kiss mouth-to-mouth until they are comfortable in doing so, or they wish to kiss on the first date to detect chemistry. Taking it a step further, when we speak, we are in the beginning stages of intimacy.

STOP #2: The Hands

Our hands are the second extension of the soul. We reach out when we’re in want of something or someone. Hugs are essential to emotional development in children and quite frankly, adults need them too. Why else would it be a hello, goodbye, miss you, love you, it’s okay form of contact? Our hands touch so much throughout the day, but during sex, they explore the body of our partner. We glide our hands to understand what is in front of us, and we essentially talk with our fingertips. What we can’t say with our mouths, we communicate through our touch.

STOP #3: Below the Belt

Open mouths correlate with other open areas ready for sexual pleasure. Here is where the circle of intimacy that began with the mouth ends. Sexual intercourse provides a language that expresses the soul’s deepest desire – to be connected. Genital openings of both parties are ready to give and receive from each other – just as the mouth in STOP #1. And in the case of genitalia (and ear canals), meatus refers to the same thing – a passage or opening leading to the interior of the body. So, in other words, intercouse gives us a glimpse into the inner sanctum of the person we choose to sexually enjoy. The decrease of inhibition, reasoning, and muscle control provide the neuroscientific proof that one is the raw version of her- or himself during the orgasmic phase of sexual response cycle. The receipt of pleasure and the giving of bodily fluids constitute as a spiritual exchange as well.

The Junction

Let’s go back to where we started – the intimacy of kissing. If you look at each “stop,” you could see a yearning of two spirits trying to connect past their humanity. When we kiss, we touch. When we touch, we feel. When we feel, we merge. Kissing one’s lips is deemed intimate because every opening we have is a portal to our spirit – the inner core of who we are. We have receptor cells all over our bodies to tell our brains that we are sensing stimuli; therefore, what we nonverbally say through a kiss, communicates through our hands and our sexual drive follows suit. It’s a spiritual circle trying to connect through human form – from top (mouth) to bottom (below the belt). That’s why oral sex falls along my same theory of the mouth being a powerful spiritual instrument. The connectivity is still there.

STOP #4: The Terminal

We have a need, a drive even, to be loved intimately. That’s the kind of God that made us, after all. Having someone that spiritually completes your circle is intimacy at its best. So, when people ask why you’re celibate or why you’re a virgin, you can tell them that you’re not open for business; you’re closed for intimacy. *smile*

I chose this topic because I believe the more we discuss issues that have been made taboo, the better we can walk out this thing called Christianity. Sex was ordained by God to be a beautiful interaction, not a dirty word.

Thanks for riding in my train of thought. You’ve gotten a glimpse into my take on things… what’s yours?

Peace & Thanks for listening!

– Here’s a short stop for your week. God bless! – CJW –

The church is not aWhen God breathed into Adam, the Breath kept going (Genesis 2:7). Think of all the people in the world and how many breaths are taken each second. That’s a lot of breathing.

If we look at the Church as the Body of Christ, then inhaling and exhaling take on a new meaning. Church is not a social club. It’s a place for the Breath to resuscitate the Body so it can leave the building and touch the world. It’s a well for the Body to be refreshed enough to share the Living Water with others. It’s a hospital for the Body to be mended during war so that the battle scars become proof of life.

Don’t hold your Breath. It is literally the Ruach Elohim… the Spirit of God. Exhale His goodness. Exhale His grace. Exhale His Word.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

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