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Listening at the Speed of Life

– by C. J. Wade –

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self-esteem

Wednesday Wind Down: Appreciate Each Other

Hi, Family!

We’ve been on the appreciation train and tonight we’re focusing on each other… but not quite how you think.

I was listening to a sermon on YouTube and the auto-playlist showed a clip about a celebrity divorce. I’m not into gossip, so I rolled past it. Then I went back to it and stared at the sensational title and description. I thought of how crippling it could be to have intimate details of your life dissected among the public and sprinkled with the hot sauce of opinion. I imagined it was me.

Photo by Ivan Samkov on Pexels.com

During my divorce process, my mother said one thing – “No one really knows what goes on in a marriage except the people in it.” It’s true. All of the highs and lows are stuck between you and your spouse. Even if children are involved, they host a non-marital point of view.

Mutual friends. Mutual places. Mutual memories. It all comes to a close.

You wonder if you’re still connected to the people you shared – What do they think of me? Are we not friends anymore? Will I get invited to the wedding, baby shower, birthday party…?

Eating at the same restaurant without them feels weird. There was flirting, dessert, a symphony of laughs… you’re used to being part of a pair. Events you both attended now feel like foreign soil, even if things ended on civil terms.

And the memories. No one prepares you for the flashbacks in your mind, body, and spirit. After all, you were one.

Some of those areas close abruptly while others commit to a slow (and sometimes awkward) burn. You’re open. Raw. And you’re still going to work, raising children, caring for a parent, and appearing “normal” while debriding parts of your life. Now, your name is changed (again), you have to learn a new morning routine, or you have to create a solid face each time you say “We’re no longer together.”

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

What if the intimate details of your life were on display for millions to watch and reply? Then those persons demanded to be updated about each step without regard for the crackling sound of your heart breaking seconds at a time.

What if they captured your tears on camera and replayed your exposed emotions on their hand-held screens? Then tell you that you’re required to filet your wounds because you’re a public figure.

Did I also mention that your body is constantly being dissected according to its best and worst parts? Yeah… because your photo is always up for the taking. And your hair and makeup better be perfect.

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

I want you to sit with that amount of emotional exposure for a minute. No wonder some burn under the limelight and seek seclusion at any chance. The thought of people digging into the season of my divorce makes me shudder. Seriously. Though it was amicable, it was still a tender time in my life.

If we can respond to the invasion of Ukraine with a high level of compassion (prayers continued to our Ukrainian brothers and sisters and visitors of the country), certainly we can spread it to others during sensitive times.

Be gentle with people going through divorces, especially public figures. Let’s grow from being messy school kids gossiping in the social media cafeteria. It’s depreciating and we can do better. There are delicate emotions involved that should be handled with care. Before you comment under that post or upload the meme, put your face in there. See your child’s face there. Imagine your parent’s name there. Now think of Jesus. Remember His compassion and our charge to treat each other with value. That’s the center of appreciation.

Courtesy of Youversion – The Bible App

I love the second definition of appreciation from Merriam-Webster – increase in value. Something increases in value when it is preserved over time and with distinct effort. It’s been protected, catalogued, and gently handled. It was valuable upon creation, but its value increases with consistent care. The more fingerprints, the less value. Family, don’t be the excess fingerprints that decrease a person’s sense of value. Be uplifting. Say encouraging words. Pray earnestly… and not out of what you want but out of what God says is healthy for their lives.

Love will forever be an action word. How can we say we Love God and not express Love to each other? How can we Love people we do not know and not the ones we do? We should handle each other carefully, with grace and Love. Every day. No matter what they look like or where they live. No one is required to update their status to soothe your itch for details. No price is high enough to demand answers when someone is restructuring their reality.

My prayer is that someone appreciates you in your current season. If things are going well, I pray they raise their arms with you in celebration. If things are not so great, I pray they elevate your heart with compassion and walk through the mud with you. And if you’re a celebrity/public figure reading this, my prayers are with you always. It takes a lot to be where you are, so I pray God reminds you that you are more valuable than your gift. I pray you feel the blanket of His Love every day, no matter the chatter at the lunch table.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out there!

Share this reminder!

Wednesday Wind Down: Appreciate Your Attributes

Hi, Family!

How are you? I hope you’re doing well out there.

I missed connecting with you while I was out. It feels good to be on an upswing and back on the page.

I thought about what I would say and the only thing that kept resurfacing was love, more specifically how to love yourself. Yes, Valentine’s Day is approaching, but that doesn’t mean that all of the love has to pour out and leave you behind. Plus, it sounds great, but sometimes you need night lights to lead you in the best direction.

Loving myself has been a journey with several moving pieces. I loved the parts that I loved, but it took work over the years to love the parts that were quirky, annoying, and confusing. When I was child, a constant question was “Lord, why did you make me like this?” I didn’t hate myself, but I disliked the parts that didn’t make sense to me. Being in what Jane Fonda calls the “second act” of life – between 30 and 60 years of age – has brought with it a deeper sense of self. A deeper understanding of what makes me an exceptional Creation of God. A sweeter Peace that passes all understanding.

In January, there’s natural talk about goals, developing new habits, healthy decisions, new career moves… things you will activate in the new year. I want you to consider a February resolution – to embrace every part of yourself.

My challenge is for every month of the year, I want you to locate and ask God to illuminate part of your design – your purposeful DNA, your spiritual architecture. If once a month is too daunting, just start with this month and see how it goes. You may even focus on the same attribute for a while. That’s OK. It’s not about quantity here; it’s about the quality of self you were designed to live with.

Courtesy of my YouVersion Bible App

In your stillness, ask “OK, what is it about me that you made that is meant to multiply? What is it about me that is meant to elevate this world before I leave?” Maybe it’s your ability to make others feel comfortable in your presence or your ability to navigate difficult situations. Maybe when you hug people, they feel comforted. It could be your expressive nature that empowers others to lift their hearts, their voices, and their actions. Whatever it is, it’s important. It’s vital to this life down here.

We are often asked to cherry-pick our attributes and sometimes they bleed into stressful situations. I believe there is more than one thing that is awesome about you and I’m asking for you to begin learning how to love all of them. All of you. Starting this month.

Notice your design. Notice your stellar nature. Notice how God carefully created you.

While I pray nothing bad happens to bring out your awesomeness, the truth is crap happens. And sometimes it happens in clusters, to good people, at inconvenient moments, etc. So, if you naturally give comic relief in sensitive moments, embrace that. The more you illuminate how God made you and recall how He sees you, it will strengthen you when feel like you don’t have purpose and that you aren’t fearfully and wonderfully made. Because you really are.

My prayer is that you see yourself as different pieces that make up a mosaic, a beautiful piece of art… and I say that intentionally because we’re all a piece that’s designed to work together (1 Corinthians 12). Instead of boxing yourself as being one-dimensional or ordinary, I would like for you to ask God to show you what He made.

I love y’all! Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: I Love Me Some You!

Hi, Family!

While I do “love me some you,” I wrote that phrase as an example of how you should talk to yourself. Here’s a short stop for your week.

When was the last time you spoke kind words to yourself?

If it’s been a while, try these truths.

  1. I am a masterpiece.
  2. I am a blessing.
  3. My breath has meaning.

Tonight’s post is a quick reminder that being kind to yourself is vital to your health. Like a relaxing shower, speaking love over yourself is what you need after defending your worth in various arenas. It’s the medicine you can’t depend on anyone else to give you except God.

Maybe you’re wondering why I said “some.”

The colloquialism “I love me some you” is expressed when you can’t get enough of someone and you love to swim in their presence. The truth is most folks need a little time to love all of themselves. All of the ugly parts. The unfinished places. The scrapes and bruises. The dark corners. It takes the unmatched Love of God to love all of that and multiply that Love among others. Until that time comes, I encourage you to look in the mirror and say positive things. Start with one sentence if you have to – one word even. Say sweet words your soul can eat. It doesn’t have to be cheesy, but it needs to be real. A real step in forming a healthy habit.

Look at yourself and speak the Truth to you. That you were made by an incredible Love this universe can not contain but left undeniable proof in the form of your awesomeness.

Here’s to you smiling at you. Sooner than later.

Peace & Thanks for listening. I love you and stay well out there. Inside and out. 🙂

What’s a truth that you can or would like to speak to yourself?

#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: Stickers

Hello, Sweethearts!

Here’s a shortstop (a 500-words-or-less-post) for your week.

Ever since I was a child, I’ve loved stickers. They were expressive and comforting. They represented my voice when I didn’t want to talk. They ranged from Lisa Frank to historical landmarks.

The problem came when my mother wanted a clean surface or I wanted to change the look of my binder. Those stickers could be so difficult to remove. This same difficulty occurred with people placed labels on me growing up.

You’re too quiet.
You act like you’re better than us.
You think you’re smart.
You talk White.
You’re too dark.

You’re too tomboyish.
You’re so prissy.

You’re not aggressive enough.
Your panties must be dipped in holy water.
You stay to yourself too much.
You don’t smile enough.
You’re too sensitive.
You’re too nice.

Stickers. Labels. The ones you just read were stuck all over me from elementary school onward and I desperately tried to change every last one of them… trying to conform to the shape of the sticker just to please the person that put it on my body. It was exhausting to migrate between two polarized ends trying to find the center like the bubble on a level tool. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get it right. I was always too something. It took two decades to absorb God’s Truth about my existence and allow His Love to wash that residue off my spirit. I realized and accepted the fact — Labels do not dictate me. They describe one’s perception, but they do not determine my craftsmanship and my footsteps.

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

Over time, as I let the warmth of the Father’s Light shine on my soul, I embraced my “too” somethings. My sensitivity was my superpower to empathize with others and see pain past the smiles. My sweetness was my weapon to confuse instigators and diffuse volatile situations. My desire not to have casual sex brought me peace of mind when my cycle was late. My quietness enhanced my listening prowess and critical thinking skills. None of these things meant I was superior to anyone; I just knew at an early age the state in which my Peace liked to live.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I learned that the way God made me was not incorrect. I was not defective. My introversion was not a bad thing. Every attribute and every trait was carefully placed with His purpose in mind and I still walk in that Truth today.

Sweetheart, walk in the Craftsmanship in which you were made (Ephesians 2:10). You were created by a Master Builder. Don’t let the stickers overstay their welcome. You are way too extraordinary for that.

Peace, Thanks for listening, and stay well out there.

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?

#bloglikecrazy: Peep My Prayers #5

Prayer: “Your handiwork is breathtaking. You made me so well.”

Hey, Sweethearts. Welcome to Day 5 of #bloglikecrazy. Thanks for reading!

So, I have a confession to make. I have never struggled with body positivity in regards to my shape. Yes, I realized I was skinny as a kid — especially when my grandmother’s friends told me that my hips were sticks — but, I recall letting their comments bounce off my little breastplate and going outside to ride my ten-speed. I have never fought the battle of hating my form. Now, my skin tone? We had to work on that.

In elementary school, I was called nigger, inkblot, darkie, blackie, midnight, holy draws, goodie-two-shoes, etc. The verbal attacks were always related to my color, my faith, or my virginity. By the time I reached high school, you couldn’t tell me that my skin wasn’t comprised of chocolatey goodness. I had developed confidence without forming an ego. Before #melaninpoppin became a thing, God opened my eyes to how beautiful I was in His eyes. I remember the moment distinctively. Puberty was in full swing and I noticed stretch marks and… wait for it… hips! Instead of being horrified, I traced the new wavy lines on my body. They seemingly appeared overnight and my nerdy self was fascinated. I squeezed the new fluffy additions on my hips and smiled in the mirror. They were soft and looked sweet, especially since I was an aspiring doctor and admired all things anatomy. I was ready to wear them with pride.

Oftentimes, I look in the mirror and speak those words of prayer. I let the Creator know that He did an exceptional job. My mind, body, and spirit do amazing things on this Earth and I am grateful for what I see. I love the thickness of my thighs and moles on my face. Now, Myrtle (my encroaching gut) has gotten rude and out of hand due to various factors, so she’s got to go starting after Thanksgiving, but I don’t hate her. She just needs to be checked so some of my favorite clothing items can fit the way I want them to (I know… purely carnal). I don’t model my body according to societal standards. I just want to be the best creation I can be to show my Creator that I appreciate His Masterpiece.

I pray that you appreciate the same about yourself, Sweetheart. Pray that prayer as you look into the mirror once a week if needed. Do what you got to do. Love that body and do right by it.

Peace, Thanks for listening, and pray those real prayers, Sweethearts!

Wednesday Wind Down: The Untouchables

Hi, Sweetheart!

What a full week it’s been. I’m glad you made it too. If this is your first time joining me, welcome in and I’m happy you’re with us. Here’s a shortstop (less than 500 words) for your week.

A difficult thing for me to watch is someone who believes s/he is untouchable. I’ve been thinking about this topic for a while as it relates to my massage therapy profession, but last night at church I heard a whisper that added another layer to the word. Let’s chat about it for a quick minute.

Illness can make a person feel unworthy of touch, especially if the disease is contagious or fatal. You may know someone that had a premature baby and the parent(s) were unable to touch their child outside of the incubator. What an aching abyss of longing for both souls to experience.

Secondly, when someone is exceptional in her/his craft, we may refer to them as untouchable. That’s a good thing — to be so stellar that you are beyond the reach of inferiority. Unfortunately, it can also create a sense of invincibility and that, my friend, is a dangerous glasshouse. As long as we are in this human frame, we are vulnerable somewhere. Your Achilles heel may be in a different spot from your neighbor’s, but rest assured, you have one… or several. Contrarily, you can also feel unworthy of touch when ego flips upside down in the form of low self-esteem.

Here’s the deal — either way, the untouchables are in need of connection. A connection that creates intimacy. An intimacy that births loving exchange. Maybe you’re an intentional or unintentional member of this club. Today, this is a reminder that you are worthy of a beautiful encounter through God’s Love. You are not untouchable to Him. No matter what end of the spectrum you call home, there is no part of you that God can not reach. You are an excellent creation and being you — with those eyes, that skin, that heart — is all that is required for you to be worthy of Love. Don’t let anyone tell you differently, Sweetheart. Nobody.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Go rock your week!

grayscale photo of man woman and child
Photo by Kristin De Soto on Pexels.com

 

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