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Listening at the Speed of Life

– by C. J. Wade –

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self-care

Sunday Special: My Birthday Gift

Hi, Family!

I hope you had some goodness last week. I didn’t post last week, but I prayed for you. If things didn’t go well, just know that you were not forgotten and it just got better. 🙂

Let’s jump right in. My birthday was Friday and I had a simple plan to just be in it. Be present in my mind, body, and spirit and feel the essence of being in that space of time. I was reflective as usual. You know that about me by now. 🙂 One of the things that kept resurfacing during my meditation this weekend was the best birthday gift I could have ever asked for – knowing who I am and walking tall in it.

One of the things I planned for my birthday was to stroll through the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. The bamboo forest was beautiful. I had to snap a photo along the way.

I vividly remember when it wasn’t this way. So uncomfortable in my own skin. If the DeLorean had been available, I would have been a frequent flyer to skip all awkwardly frustrating moments. The conversations that my words never seemed to fit in. The weird encounters where I wanted to say something but was too afraid. The situations where I sincerely wanted to shoot my shot, but backed out because I thought I wasn’t good enough. The repetition of accepting less than what I was worth. Just beam me out of there!

Today, I had one of my intentional solo dining experiences. The kind where you pick a restaurant that is designed for two and utilize the space for you and you. *lol* I reflect on then and now and see how each moment made me pine for this one – the season of confidence that I unapologetically walk in. No, I didn’t get everything I wanted and some things haven’t come true, but the greatest gift on this birthday is that those weird moments are no longer normal.

Confusion and anger are not my bedmates.
I speak up when I need to and keep them guessing when necessary.
I love everyone and I understand where certain people fit in my life.
I am in the career lanes that I prayed for.
I love my chocolate skin and what it represents.
I appreciate my body and I listen to her.
My spirit is attuned to God’s Spirit and I pay attention when they speak.
I got Vibes.
I walk into a room and Peace walks with me.
I love intimately, sweetly, and consistently.
I leave when I need to without FOMO tugging at my shirt.
I don’t feel like I’m scratching my way through life trying to reach a pinnacle.
I don’t feel like I am merely surviving until the next day.

It’s beautiful here. It’s not perfect, but it is exquisitely warm. To be able to sit in this space and time and not feel compelled to satiate the appetite of others is a blessing. A blessing this former people-pleaser asked for decades ago.

So, this tree bark and my hair were twinning.

That’s my birthday wish for you, Family. If you’re not already there, I pray you receive and experience this level of Peace too. I pray that you walk in your divine purpose on this Earth so your loving spirit can multiply in others after you’re gone. I pray you are exceptionally well in your mind, body, and spirit and that you take nothing less for that alignment to occur in your everyday life. I pray that wherever your feet tread that you send seismic warning shots to any dark forces that may be lurking nearby. I pray your smile lights up your life first. I pray you exceed your own expectations. I pray you look in the mirror and nod in agreement to the Masterpiece looking at you.

I love you all and there’s nothing you can do about it. We’re family. We’re connected. I’m rooting for you.

Peace & Thanks for listening! *throws birthday confetti*

P.S. – I’ll post a few photos from my birthday-month fun on social media later this week. Here are my links –

Thursday Love: At Capacity

Good Morning, Family!

This morning, my spirit was full… of crap.

I felt the weight of the world’s problems on my shoulders. People arguing about masks, vaccinations, federal vs. state rights, and other issues can sometimes seep into my pores and steam under my skin. Add being empathic into that mix and it can generate a whirlwind in my chest that is difficult to dissipate. Hearing and seeing the discord can make me Godly angry, then exhausted.

This morning, I noticed my internal engines revving. No, it wasn’t because of a news story or something I read. It was residue from a conversation about current events that I witnessed.

Wow… you’re really drinking your own Kool-Aid, I said to myself as words flew between the people involved. Then I thought again, as I have many times this year, if I wasn’t a Christian, I wouldn’t want to be one now. Where’s the compassion? Disappointment and grief fused my lips together as I tried my best not to hear the conversation. Bible verses that distinctly tell us how to handle disagreements and how to love one another beyond our comfort zones swirled in my head like bullets ready to be fired from my mouth. I drove home shaking my head and apparently fertilizing my heart because that thing had germinated in my spirit enough that it was sprouting leaves into today and that made me angrier. Robbing me of my brand new day was unacceptable and it felt like a cactus that wouldn’t stop growing inside my belly.

Photo by Valeria Ushakova on Pexels.com

So, what do you do when you’re at capacity with current events? When you feel like you can’t hear or see another thing before exploding? When you’re trying to see how God fits in all this mess? Great question. I’ve had to figure out a few tactics myself to keep me from spiraling. As I learn, I share, so maybe these will help you too!

First

On the way to work this morning, I vented to God about it. No filter. If you’ve been around my blog for awhile, you know real prayers are a huge part of my faith walk. What good is it to serve someone you can’t be honest with? *shrugs* So, that’s what I did. I shared my disgust, my anger, my frustration with the One who holds my heart. Feel free to do the same; He can take it.

Second

I said the following personal mantras aloud:

I can not control everything.

People will do what they want to do.

This is just a season and seasons do change. (You can thank my mom for that one.)

I don’t have to let it in.

Third

I cleansed my spiritual palate with a musical reminder that I am finite and can not hold the world’s problems inside of me. I am not designed to be the host of high stress. Soothing sounds were needed to help me throttle down, so I played How Deeply I Need You by Shekinah Glory… more than once. It’s one of my go-to songs when I don’t know what to do.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Lastly…

I made a mental list of people that show their love by respecting me. When I closed my eyes, I could see them one-by-one. I imagined them hugging me as I took deep breaths into a further state of calm. With that list, I was reminding my spirit that those high-strung people – although God loves them still – are not in my circle. They do not hold power or influence over my life. I have an excellent tribe that I value and those individuals that I saw were a temporary stop along my life’s journey. They do not get to change the molecular structure of my day or my spirit. I am loved. I am cherished. I am respected. I do not have to be loved, cherished, or respected by them. It does not elevate my value.

After a couple of hours, I was back to baseline. I could feel my skin again instead of wanting to jump out of it. I could breathe easier.

I encourage you to gather your own “emergency response” ritual in case you need it and before it sneaks up on you at the grocery store or around your family. Chop down the bad growth before the cactus within gets out of control. It’s not worth it… because after you’re dead, the foolishness will continue without missing a beat. So, don’t miss your life because it. *reminding myself too*

Peace & Thanks for listening! I love y’all and stay well!

Wednesday Wind Down: Post-Op

Hi, Family!

I hope you had an enriching day. If not, I hope these words give you some solace.

Let me start by saying that today was a hard one. As I claw my way out of depressive waters (thank you Jesus and Therapy) and realign my life, there are days like today that make me wander down a rabbit hole of “why’s” and “what if’s.” I know what you may be thinking… “Why would you wander down a road of why’s? What good does it do?” It’s not a place I wanted to be, but somehow I ended up there today and whew… talk about a headspin. Next thing I know, I was sitting in my car with a pen in my hand trying to write my way out of a dark hole of loneliness. While that’s not the cool thing to say in Christianity, we keep it real around here.

So, what happened next was a beautiful reminder in the form of a whisper. Pen still in hand with about a half-page of spillage, I heard “You’re in post-op.”

It made perfect sense… instantly. In 2019, I told a friend that I felt like I was in spiritual surgery – like God wanted to rearrange some things in my life and all He wanted was my yes. I remember saying “OK, let’s go. Whatever You want to do, I’m in.” I had just transitioned into full-time entrepreneurship and felt like I was already skywalking on faith anyway. So in 2020, when depressive waves crashed into my soul, I remember saying “OK, so isn’t it over? Is the surgery incomplete? Am I still going through it? This is rough.”

*insert radio silence here*

Me and my frustration cried and yelled feeling like a used discarded sweater. Meanwhile, my body felt limp and expended. What in the world was happening? Was this the second phase or something? Whatever it was, I wasn’t a fan and it was lasting too long.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

*insert timelapse here to present day*

I sat in my car, lamenting on paper, then I heard that whisper and I saw it clearly. Me + hospital gown + hospital bed + tubes + monitors + four sterile walls. I knew the scenary all too well. There I was, lying there, eyes closed. I took a deep breath and realized what the Holy Spirit was telling me.

Occasionally in the vision, a nurse came in to check on me. A doctor had already spoken to my family. Limited visitors, one or two persons. I slept mostly. Limited words left my lips because my throat was still sore from anesthesia and/or the surgery itself.

After surgery, I think I should be up and running like a car after a tune-up. I always think that even though I know better. Once a procedure is completed, there’s a place called post-op and there are post-op instructions. Even same-day surgery has a post-op period. Nevertheless, what do I do? A slight tip over too much. *SMH* Why? Because I think it’s over. It’s done. It’s time to move on.

Well, Family, that’s how depression hit me like a freight train last year. I had a series of “it’s time to move on” lies in my head that lasted over a decade. Each compounded over the other. I still had joy. I still had divine anointing over my life. I still used my gifts in church, and yes, I still inspired others. And I did it well. And I meant it. But when I gave God permission to rearrange and extract as needed, I tried to apply the same lie – “OK. It’s over. It’s done. It’s time to move on.” Meanwhile, in the batcaves of reality and against my desire, I’m in post-operation recovery. Some friends have been removed. Some boundaries have been implanted. Some desires were shifted underneath others. Some thought patterns have been rewired. Stitching of redefined faith is in place and my insides are learning to work with them. I don’t feel like talking much because it hurts as it heals. I’m relearning my voice and its abilities. I’m raw, fragile, and strong at the same time.

I’m healing.

I’m healing.

I am healing.

And I can’t rush the post-op. “Change my heart, God!” “I want to be like You!” “Make me over!” Sounds great, doesn’t it? Well, if you want it, this transition can not be skipped. There are instructions that must be followed so the healing can continue past the operating room.

Photo by Nguyu1ec5n Thanh Ngu1ecdc on Pexels.com

Tonight, I want to share some grace with you in the form of this reminder – make peace with the post-op period. It’s uncomfortable, I know because you want to jump into the swing of normal, but truthfully, your normal is different after you ask God to change it. After you want to level up inside. After you say yes. When I said “OK, let’s go,” that meant that some people, things, thoughts, and habits could not go with me… and I didn’t get to decipher which ones stayed. I won’t lie to you, Family. It’s been the rawest experience of my life to date but the best decision I’ve ever made. If you’ve been here for a while, you know attention is not my cozy place, but with this experience, I’ve had to speak up more and share my heart past the uncomfortable part of me. Every time I do, someone says “Me too.”

Hence the entire reason for this blog. I don’t want anyone to be afraid of the process of Jesus’ Love. I don’t anyone to be ashamed to say “I need a therapist.” I don’t want anyone to feel alone in their walk of faith. If no one has told you lately, you are not alone. You have value and you have purpose on this Earth. You also have a right to be the best version of yourself… the version God had in mind when He fashioned you with His hands.

My prayer is that you embrace the discomfort of recuperation knowing that healing is a process and wholeness is on the other side of it.

I love you. Peace & Thanks for listening. Stay well out there and reach out if you need to.

Wednesday Wind Down: A is for Advocate – PART 2

Happy Thursday, Family!

Since last week’s post, I have spoken to 10 people about self-advocacy – some strangers and some within my circle – and I don’t think this is by accident at all.

What I’ve realized is that humans (including myself) are willing to put up with abusive behavior from all angles. When we think of abuse, we often imagine physical turmoil, but it has many forms. By a singular person or by collective experience, we allow a cycle of abuse acceptance.

Photo by Joey Kyber on Pexels.com

When you’re a Christian, this cycle has multiple rings like an old tree. We are told that there is no glory without suffering, and while that is true in some capacities (just think of an athlete training for the Olympics), it should not be the soundtrack for our daily lives. We tell ourselves a lie that the more suffering, the closer to God we are and that being meek and humble means not being assertive. This loop of lies causes us not to self-advocate when needed and so the cycle of abuse acceptance continues. In essence, we abuse ourselves. I’m not talking about letting something slide for your peace of mind’s sake. I’m referring to always placing yourself in 2nd place or even worse, at the back of the line.

Photo by KoolShooters on Pexels.com

Here’s a recent example –

A health provider presented appointment time options. I wanted the 10:30 AM appointment, but I have a client that usually books a noon session. Now, the client’s session was not on the calendar yet, but my first inclination was to schedule the health appointment around the possible session. A few seconds after the thought leaped from my lips, I stopped the cycle. I confirmed the shift with a verbal affirmation. “I am important enough to be on my calendar. Please put me down for the 10:30 appointment. Anyone booking me will have to catch me after that time.” I blocked the 12:00 hour in my booking software to provide the necessary space. She nodded her head and proceeded to schedule me. I needed to do that… for me, for my heart, for my mental health, for my spirit. I needed to remind myself that my health was the priority instead of making myself available for something that may not happen.

Photo by Orione Conceiu00e7u00e3o on Pexels.com

That’s why some of these posts have been on Thursdays lately. I had to ingest my own wisdom when I’m too exhausted to post quality thoughts. I have to say, “Pushing through this moment will not yield the best of me. I need to go to bed.” So, instead of beating myself up about missing a Wednesday, I relinquish my pride and go to sleep. Why? Because Jesus snatched solitude when He needed too (Mark 1:35). He paused and prayed to refuel his spirit (Luke 5:15-16). He did not allow his ministry to deplete Him. *insert record scratch here* Let me say that again – He did not allow his ministry to deplete Him. He knew there was a divine appointment that would need all of his focus and he geared up for it along the way.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Self-advocacy preserves us for our purpose. It allows the mind, body, and spirit to be healthy enough to do exceptional things and have beautiful moments with others. It is not selfish when it is in your best interest. This is why the backlash against Naomi Osaka does not surprise me. We celebrate exertion over well-being. We would rather look good than be well. We prefer to say “If you can’t handle the pressure, change jobs.” instead of saying “I respect your decision. How can I support you?” We perpetuate the cycle of abuse acceptance both inside and outside of ourselves and that is by design. I believe evil forces seek to stress and tire you out before your divine appointments arrive. So, when it’s time to activate the excellence within you, you’re depleted. Well, I’m on a mission to change that for myself.

My prayer for you, Family, is that you join me in making small changes in your schedule… small changes with your interactions… small changes in your workplace. Ask God to show you what you need to function optimally and I guarantee He will show you. I am a witness of this truth. He cares about our earthen vessels and I care about you too.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #28

Disclaimer: Have you ever heard of encouraging yourself? Well, this is an authentic letter from my spirit back into myself at a time (any given time) when I needed to do that. Thank you for listening.

Christina,

Girl. It’s OK.

It’s OK to not be OK. It’s OK to be frustrated. It’s OK to survive on the Word of God. It’s OK to drink pouches of positivity to stay alive. It’s OK to pour it out.

You’re doing the best you can. You do right by people. And as you type this part with your eyes closed, you are emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically aware of who you are and who you want to be.

I know there are parts of your life you have yet to obtain. Those unreached parts do not define a deficit in who you are. I know there are many experiences you are grateful to have in your memory bank. How beautiful, they are. How beautiful, you are. Remember that you are not your accomplishments and there is no race. Do your best and when you get there, you’ll be there. In the meantime, you’re here and don’t be angry at that. It’s downright egregious that you’ve had to fight for things that others received easily. You’re not envious of the person, but the frequency frustrates you.

Photo by mikoto.raw on Pexels.com

Queen, stand firm in knowing that God’s got you. You have to believe that enough to keep walking when the room is spinning. You have to breathe that in every chance you get. That’s your resuscitation when it feels like you’re suffocating under the bricks. Our God is great provider, healer, and the resurrection of life itself.

You have to be better at accepting His help through others though. You’re patient with others more than you are with yourself. You know how to give yourself grace, but you suck at letting the process continue when you don’t see the justice. You struggle with letting patience have her perfect work in certain situations. No, you’re not the only one with challenges beyond your control, but your experiences do matter to the Father and to those whose loving arms surround you.

Just breathe. Deeply. Inhaling all you know that is Truth and exhaling all you know that is heavy.

It’s OK.

It’s OK.

It’s going to be OK.

Photo by Matheus Natan on Pexels.com

You are a warrior. You are soft enough to be a princess and strong enough to be a queen. You have exceptional abilities and capabilities. You are one woman with a wide wingspan. Doubt is no match for you. Despair slinks away at the mention of your presence coming because you know to whom you belong. The same God that created the world and all that you see lives inside of you as a force to be reckoned with. So, after those tears comes a rising. After those shoulders rolled forward comes a head held high. Listen to your heartbeat and remember God put it there for a reason.

You got this.

He got you.

Just like He did the last time.

Sincerely,

CJW

Wednesday Wind Down: Self-care

Good Morning, Sweethearts.

Serendipity entitled this post because that is what happened unexpectedly last Wednesday evening. I’m convinced that I fell asleep in nanoseconds.

After an insightful yet sensitive roundtable about race relations and current events, my social self smiled and exhaled in another healthy example of communication. It went well but unbeknownst to me, my introverted self was on a timer and she didn’t power down.

She plummeted.

God kept my drowsy eyes open until I made it home. As soon as I clumsily unlocked the door, I immediately pulled my shoes off like I was allergic to their soles and I fell face first into the couch. I remember this moment. I remember my body sinking into the cushions. Then, I remember waking up… without talking to you. I told myself “They’ll understand” and I went back to sleep. It was by far the best sleep I had experienced in weeks.

So, where does that leave you? It made me want to share four personal tips I use to keep myself grounded. Mind you, it doesn’t mean I am oblivious to what is going on (you can tell that from my other posts). It means that I’ve learned how to ground myself so I am not easily tossed to and fro in the tsunami of social media, industry standards, personal relationships, health issues, and anything else that can throw a dodgeball at me. Check out these four things I do on a regular basis.

My Self-Care Regulars

1) I massage my feet before bed every night. As a teaching/performing artist, my feet are my carriers. Not only are my pedicures non-negotiable, but my feet take so much impact in a day that showing them some love is not an option. Peppermint oil lotion or epsom salt lotion have been my besties before bed. It is also a reminder to be grateful to God for body to do such wonderful things.

2) When weather permits, I comb my fro outside. There’s nothing like a breeze channeling through my scalp. It’s like Moses and the children of Israel walking on dry land after the parting of the Red Sea (only my “land” is moisturized). Liberation meets my comb with every stroke of the wrist. I love smiling at the sky and taking deep breaths until all sections are untangled. I meditate and soak in the beauty of nature.

Photo by Buenosia Carol on Pexels.com

3) I treat myself to a solo lunch/dinner/treat every 2 weeks. I started this tradition as a collegiate intern and it stuck with me. Actually, it was how I deepened my relationship with Christ. Nowadays, I don’t have as much expendable income of course, but the self-love gesture continues. While eating alone can be debilitating for some people, I cherish it. I can journal if I feel like it, enjoy a nice view, or listen to some tunes and dance in my seat while waiting for my meal — all without talking to anyone (which can be refreshing for someone who has to talk for a living).

4) I allow myself to daydream for 5 minutes when I’ve had a difficult day. Yep, you heard me. I daydream. It’s pretty healthy for the brain and it was the only pin in my sanity on many o’ days. What do I daydream about? Well, aside from fairytale romances, I love to watch myself at the beach enjoying the warm ocean water or snuggling in clean crisp sheets at an exceptional hotel. I’ve even daydreamed about being home in bed. Do whatever works to make it therapeutic just be sure to set an alarm in case you fall asleep.

I hope this helps, Sweethearts. If not, here’s a bonus — turn off the television for a bit. It’s OK to give your senses a break. There’s a lot going on in the world and we’re going to be here for a while. It would be wise to find something that works for you and make it a habit. Your interpersonal and intrapersonal interactions depend on it.

Peace & Thanks for listening. What is one of your self-care regulars?

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