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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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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.

Transpiration

There have been a lot of deaths around me in the last few weeks. Friends, family, students, and co-workers have lost loved ones unexpectedly. I know that within the silence of poverty and conflict, people die everyday, but in recent news, there have been outbreaks of crime like sporadic wildfire. Random shootings, suicides, and bodies found. When clusters of deaths happen around the same time, I always ask the question “What does this mean? Why now?”

What I got was the message below. It came so fast that my hands could barely keep up as I wrote it on a nearby sticky note. IMAG3365

Transpired is not the same as expired.
We transpire, not expire.
Our lives are transpiration; the transpiration
should be inspiration.

I must admit – I didn’t know transpiration was a word. I figured it had to be because of expiration and inspiration. So, I looked it up. You won’t believe what I found (unless you’re a hydrologist).

“Transpiration is the process by which moisture is carried through plants from roots to small pores on the underside of leaves, where it changes to vapor and is released to the atmosphere. Transpiration is essentially evaporation of water from plant leaves.” (U.S. Department of the Interior/U. S. Geological Survey)

My eyes got so big after reading that definition, and so did my understanding of the words I heard. Check this out.

Since we are the seeds of God and He formed us from the ground, we are essentially spiritual plants on Earth. Have you ever heard of “Bloom where you’re planted?” There you go. Well, when we die, we return to the dirt from whence we came, yet our souls are not expired. They are transpired from our bodies. If you read my post Water Proof, you’ll see where this is headed.

We are made of water and dirt. How appropriate for a seed to transform into a plant. Since we have been planted, at some point, we must be harvested. It’s gruesome to think about. It makes me cringe, but it’s the truth. The fruit of us – the lives we’ve touched, the people we’ve birthed, the service we’ve rendered – lives beyond the harvest. Essentially, we pass from one state of being into another in a form, i.e. spiritual transpiration. We don’t expire when we live in Christ. We don’t choose the manner in which loved ones transpire, but if they have been an ambassador for Christ on Earth, drenched in His living water… I believe we transition in Him as well.

Some believe in reincarnation while some believe there is no eternal home for the soul, and I respect your beliefs with sincerity. The following prayer is mine:

May we all transpire after we have expired all that
we were purposed to inspire on Earth.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

Photo courtesy of picture-perfect-world.tumblr.com

Holey Folks

A visual I saw on Sunday, May 7th: A man is walking on a deserted small town street. He’s dressed up for church – suit, shoes, trench coat, and hat – but, there were holes in his chest. Perfect round holes with the circumference of an aluminum can. It was a windy day and his posture slanted forward as he pressed into the force. As the wind whipped around and through him, green bacteria grew in the holes. He kept walking, but his pace grew slower. Then I saw the same man, in the same scenario, only this time the holes didn’t exist and the bacteria bounced off his chest as he walked into the wind.

What I Heard:

God wants to clean the holes in our heart left by others and fill it with his Love and Light. You were not designed to walk around with holes in your soul.
You were not created with a deficit in mind.

The truth is that we have a lot of holy folks with holes in their hearts. They’ve learned to breathe around them, look pretty around them, and even preach around them. Those holes are lined with bacteria of hate, prejudice, lies, and unforgiveness. And some bacteria is good for you, even the bad ones, for they help build your spiritual immune system. But imbalance and infestation is what causes death of the soul.

I am not exempt. I have had many moments where I didn’t want to love someone, didn’t want to extend myself, didn’t want to be kind, and definitely didn’t want to forgive. But I realized a funny truth about this badge called “Christian” that I wear. I don’t have a choice in representing His character. I have a choice to trust, but I don’t have a choice to forgive. Once I said “You are Lord of my life. Take me as your own. I’ll do what you say. I want to love people like you love. I want to be like you.” I relinquished my duty as a free agent of this world. I now have a duty to show Christ in everything I do. I’m an ambassador, and I don’t choose when and where to take off that title. So, when He says “Call her/him,” I do it. It doesn’t matter if I was wronged or if I know they have spoken ill of me… when He commands it, I do it. It’s frustrating, yes. It’s unfair; yes it is. It’s aggravating; indeed. But, I don’t always get it right either, so I only hope that I receive the same diehard response when it’s my turn. I don’t want the bacteria to stick. I want the Love of God to repel it.

We can’t continue to walk around in garments of gold pretending like we aren’t rotting wood underneath. We’re holy by His grace, not by our standards. We can’t give place for the Body to be infected. After all, infections spread fast, but they don’t have to. We don’t have to die holey.

I’ve been on this Body kick lately. I’m interested to hear everything God has to say.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

Photo courtesy of Human Anatomy Chart. They have awesome images for biology nerds like me. Check them out.

#bloglikecrazy: Day 29 – Influence-a

From the root word fluent meaning  to flow

Influential people have a flow that pours in others. The fluency of their power easily transfers from one mind to the next, which in turn pours into surrounding minds. It’s a phenomenon, when it’s allowed to be. The act of being the influencer carries a great weight that one may not even know she is carrying, for instance, an apple carrying a disease. The outside may be beautiful, and the internal flesh may appear perfect, yet the invisible could harm you. Someone could have coughed on the sliced interior or touched it with infected hands, and now what was once beautiful to see, smell, and taste is now a biomedical weapon to slay the health of multiple people.

Keep walking with me and see if you can track where we’re going…

I begin each speech class with the same questions –

Are your words good enough to eat?
Do you share healthy words for others to ingest and digest or do you walk around throwing garbage on the plates of people’s souls?
Do you have good credit with your words?
Can someone take what you say and use it as an extension or “line of credit” of your character?

There are people in your neighborhood still struggling with words that flew into them as children. Hateful words. Hurtful words stating they were stupid, slow, and wouldn’t amount to anything in life. A flow that contaminated what was once beautiful into someone you can hardly stand to see. Their minds were a garden and their souls were fertile to receive the influence, the flow that poured in. But there’s a flip side to this epidemic – this spiritual influenza. If we can receive, we can also pour it within ourselves.

Let’s revisit that root word fluent. When someone is fluent in a language, it flows out of her/his mouth. It’s a river that knows its direction. It is not a second thought; it is part of the person’s internal make-up. It has been developed, strengthened and tested to be influential to the culture for which it was created. According to one of my favorite sites, the Online Etymology Dictionary, the Medieval Latin and Old French etymologies refer to influence was an astrological noun – “streaming ethereal power from the stars when in certain positions, acting upon character or destiny of men,” and “emanation from the stars that acts upon one’s character and destiny.” In other words, what you do and say – your flow – can directly affect the trajectory of someone’s character and destiny, including your own. Just as I’m sitting here with the flu, the trajectory of my week was changed. My goals were not met and my body was under the influence of someone else’s infection. I didn’t ask for it and I didn’t want it, but it happened. Their fluency of the virus flowed into me. I can only imagine that is how the power of our existence can be to others if we allow the river of Christ’s Love to flow within us. We can be the influence if we speak and live in His Love fluently.

You were created to be influential. You were designed to be influential to the culture in which you live. You were made to flow – to receive and to pour into others. You weren’t created to infect, but to inspire. Think of all the good seeds you could sow if you walked everyday with this in mind. You would circulate a positive river within your spirit that could block any influence you do not need. Furthermore, you could very well use the past negative experiences to create your own vaccine against spiritual influenza. Instead of being the diseased fruit, you could be the tree that spreads good health and allows the Flow the reach everyone around you.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo Courtesy of Salt Cave of Southlake

#bloglikecrazy: Day 20 – Proof of Life

A short stop for your day –

In a world where mutual human respect seems to be a dying artform, I needed proof after the presidential election. I needed resuscitation that all was not for naught and that there was good in the world to override the poison I had heard around me. I was also seeking the truth that I wasn’t just aimlessly helping people as they stomped on top of me on the way to their destination. I needed a beep on the heart monitor, a waveform on the EKG to give me some hope to press forward that day.

It came the night that my performing arts troupe was recording a creative piece. I’ve been on a kick lately of pushing us toward the unfamiliar and questioning our systemic practices. This particular evening, we would be taping in my church’s sanctuary and utilizing their colorful lighting amenities. It was exciting to see how it would look, but I was spiritually exhausted.

The blip that I needed arrived in the form of a White pastor of an ethnically diverse church saying yes to a predominately Black troupe and authentically caring about our creative goals. Not once was race a factor. Not once was time an issue. All we cared about was Jesus and making an excellent product to encourage others.

At one point of the 2-hour session, I was overwhelmed. I got so full that tears welled up in my eyes. The lighting, the sound, the attire, the laughter… it all hit me. Here we were, defying everything that society says we should hate about each other and working with sincerity and passion. Let me be clear – prejudice exists and I am not oblivious to it. But there was proof of life available and all I had to do was look around. Proof that the same blood pumps within us all and that everyone isn’t trampling over the other in shameless indignation. The heart of people are walking evidence that proof of God’s life exists. That beep was all I needed to keep going.

What has been your proof of life lately? Have you overlooked your blip?

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo courtesy of Open Clipart

#bloglikecrazy: Day 13 – The SisterGood

Maybe it’s the holiday spirit, but I’ve been in my feelings lately…the good ones.

Sisters come in so many shades of goodness. Some enter our lives through the crossing of life paths and others by the blood in our veins.

Recently, I’ve been recharged through some amazing women. Scoping out the different types of goodness that I have the honor of experiencing. The sheer fact that our energies can buzz around each other and create new perspectives is a phenomenon science can not touch.

Politics. Culture. Music. Relationships. Work. Passion. You name it, we’ve talked about it. We’ve gotten angry together and laughed until we’ve cried. We’ve danced together in the joy of hip-hop classics and prayed together in mind-altering faith. We have overcome tragedies and digested injustice while holding hands. Feeling each other’s pain is normal. Hearing each other’s cries from miles away is a regular occurrence. We are bonded.

person-having-a-red-heart-attack
Photo Courtesy of Medical News Today

It reminds me of something I tell my students – We weren’t designed to do life alone. I’m not talking about marriage; I’m talking about spiritually. You need a tribe. A confidant. A plant. A dog. Something. Even the meanest person can experience solace through a fish tank. It’s a part of our DNA. We were designed to reach out, be heard, and love fiercely. That’s why it hurts physically when our hearts our broken. We were not created for eternal solitude, but for perpetual connection.

So this leads me back to my sistergood. Do you have people of the same gender that you can be verbally naked with? I’m not talking about acquaintances, associates, or even friends. I’m talking about family that may or may not include blood lines. Sisters or brothers that you have unadulterated honesty with and no one leaves permanently angry. People that you don’t have to worry about being manipulative with your words or deeds. It’s rare, but possible. My sistergood is a small circle, but fiercely loyal and safe. My sisterly connections span a little larger, but are just as awesome. I love them all, and I’m grateful for them too. The older I get, the more I realize how important this goodness is to my soul. Starting with my mother and going outward, I am blessed beyond measure to have the opportunity to love and be loved by them.

I pray that you find your sisters and brothers in this world. My world is definitely better with them in it. Yours will be too. Don’t be afraid to do life together.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

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