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Listening at the Speed of Life

– by C. J. Wade –

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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: Purple People Pleaser

Hi, Family!

First things first – guess what? I intentionally went to bed before midnight last night. *gasp* I know! I’m surprised too! Usually I stay up to write you, but I was led to turn in early… then my dog decided he wanted to frolic up and down the street without returning home for about an hour.

When you know you messed up… #SammysWorld

I growled, retrieved him, and still managed to throttle down before midnight. I say that’s a win. Thanks for celebrating with me. lol

Before I went to sleep, I knew the contents of this post and I’m so excited to encourage you today. It’s a little meaty, but there’s good stuff and pictures, so let’s get into it!

I want to talk about Aaron, Moses’ right-hand man and priest to the Israelites. He’s one of my favorite Bible profiles to study because he had such an interesting life. Here’s some facts you may not know.

  • He was older than Moses by three years (Exodus 7:7).
  • He was commissioned to be Moses’ eloquent mouthpiece as he confronted Pharaoh (Exodus 3:14).
  • His staff turned into a serpent in front of Pharaoh and ate the other magician’s staff-serpents (Exodus 7:8-12).
  • He made the infamous golden calf that caused Moses to flip his lid and break the Ten Commandments (Exodus 32).

Yes, you read that right. Aaron made the golden calf. From the Israelites’ earrings. Ear-rings. Let that sink in.

Photo by Rafael Barros on Pexels.com

To put this in a present-day perspective, imagine you and your older brother (emphasis on older) built a company from the ground up and he sells it to the lowest bidder without telling you. So, you come to work one day, and the employees are having a fully blown party. Cake. Balloons. Alcohol. Dancing on desks. Everything. Then your brother says he didn’t know how the sale took place, that he just gave the people what they wanted. That would make you angry, yes? I know I would be furious.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Well, that’s a small equivalent of what happened between Moses and Aaron. Moses trusted Aaron to be his go-to. They confronted Pharaoh together. Traveled the wilderness together. Beheld the intricate assembly of the Tabernacle (their mobile place of worship) together. Saw God rain manna (small pancake-like food) from heaven together. While the Israelites were fighting the Amalekites, Aaron and Hur upheld Moses’ arms so they wouldn’t lose (Exodus 17:8-13). He was bestowed the responsibility of priesthood to lead alongside Moses. He was even outfitted with custom threads made to God’s specifications to represent his leadership calling (Exodus 28). So, you can imagine the disgust Moses wore on his face after he comes down from Mount Sinai with God’s Words in his arms, still beaming with glory from meeting the The Most High to find out that his older brother was the culprit of the calf and leader of the party. Then, to make matters worse, Aaron gives a lame excuse and says the calf just came out of the fire (Exodus 32:24). Really, dude? <— my real life response. See what I wrote next to the verse.

I write what I think as I read the Bible. Good ol’ reading comprehension skills happening over here.

Now, before we judge Aaron and his tomfoolery, let’s recall when we did something not-so-great under the pressure of others. Here he is, among the anger of thousands, wondering how much longer his brother was going to take in the mountains. “He’ll be back soon,” my imagination hears Aaron saying to himself. “Just be patient.” The grumbling grew to insurmountable degrees. The legal matters multiplied as he judged with his best intentions. Their piercing eyes alone would have made anyone nervous to come out of his tent. Then one day, he cracked and gave in to the people. This is where I wanted to bring you into the picture. The “you” that tends to say yes when you should say no. The “you” that accepts the invitation when you should respectfully decline. The “you” that foregoes your preferences for the comfort of others. That “you.” That’s who I want to bring to the table to meet Aaron. Meet the leader. Meet humanity. Sometimes we forget that as we read God’s Word that there were people in it. Blood, sweat, and tears. Skin. Fear. Love. Admiration. Ambition. People-pleasers. For a moment in time, Aaron set aside his divine directive to oversee the Israelites while Moses was gone and gave them what they wanted instead of what they needed. How often do we do the same? Setting aside our divine instructions for a temporary moment? Throwing up our hands instead of squaring our shoulders? The answer is probably more often than we think.

Photo by Sora Shimazaki on Pexels.com

My favorite part of the story is that God didn’t throw Aaron away. Not only was he outfitted in customized priestly garments, but so were his sons. In Exodus Chapter 39, we see the same attention to detail and craftmanship put into his attire as in Chapter 28… and this is after goldencalf-mageddon. He reminded Aaron of his identity. He reminded him of his purpose. It comes full circle when you research Aaron’s garments. Part of God’s instructions were to engrave the names of the 12 tribes of Israel on two onyx stones. Onyx has been known throughout the ages as representing protection and forward movement from the past. I believe Aaron the priest needed that prayer just as much as his people. His breastpiece included jewels that represented each of the 12 tribes and a linen pouch sown inside of it carrying the Urim and the Thummim, which were stone-like objects used for divine decision-making. He was to wear this breastpiece over his heart when he entered the Tabernacle as a reminder that he would carry judgment for all 12 tribes (Exodus 28:29-30). How befitting… that God would give him such responsibility before and after the decision to create the golden calf.

If you find yourself being a chronic people-pleaser, know that you’re not alone, that it is easy to fall down that wormhole, and that you can get out. My suggestive start is to say no to one thing a week that you usually say yes to and that you would probably feel guilty about later. Just one no once a week until you’re comfortable with that level. It doesn’t have to be a rude one and you don’t have to overexplain it. Just exhale it and let it breathe into the moment. Start there. Pray about where you should be so you don’t overbook and overwhelm your schedule. I do it all the time and it started years ago with a prayer and a stressed-out face looking at my calendar – “Lord, where do I need to be?” As a result, I haven’t been stressed about my schedule again.

Wherever you are on the spectrum of people-pleasing, I pray that you uproot insecurities and fear of rejection. I pray that Love wraps around you so warmly that you remember exactly who you were fashioned to be. People-pleasing is a dangerous trap that always leaves you as the victim. My prayer is that you remember that you are the survivor.

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

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #24

Dear Future Self,

Girl, you did it.

You’re enjoying your life to absolute fullest, even more than you were before. Beach waves are rolling nearby and an organic smoothie is within arms reach. Your upcoming trip is booked and the next one is already planned. Did I say how good your hair looked today?

I am so proud of you. The birthing of your books continue to yield much fruit. While challenges still arise, you digest them with wisdom on your fork. Remember the financial pressures that came like tsunamis? I’m glad you didn’t drown. I’m glad you didn’t give up. I’m glad you gathered the shreds underneath your feet and walked right over them. Everything you experienced made you the force that you are now.

You shine. I can feel it from yesteryear.

Photo/Hair/Makeup by Desiree Danielle Beauty.
Assembly – my sisters Desiree, Ashlee, & Miyoka

Your “no” is still strong and your “yes” is still formidable. I’m smiling right now just thinking of how courageous you are. Nothing was able to hold you from fulfilling your purpose and I’m so grateful you didn’t quit. Sitting at that desk writing your heart out is exactly what you should be doing. Inspirational speaking is your jam. Loving is your armor. Massage therapy and wellness are still your advocacy vehicles and your practice is flourishing beautifully. I’m so proud of you for hiring others so they can be empowered as well. Those properties and those investments are going to serve you well.

Girl, keep shining. Keep doing what God tells you to do because it only gets better. They say to check on your strong friends, so just know that I’ve been praying for you for a long time. I don’t know if you’re married, but if you are, I know he’s dope. If you’re not, I know your solitary life is dope.

Can’t wait to see your awesomeness. No rush. I’ll meet you there, Queen.

Sincerely,

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #17

To my Homeless/Transient Brothers & Sisters:

I love you.

So many of you have stories that have never been told, let alone understood. As some of you told me — you were doing well before you got here. You moved down South to assist a family member get off drugs and lost your sustainability trying to help them. You lost your job and your home in the same year and couldn’t gather funds to recuperate. Instead of letting your whole family suffer the blow, you moved out so they could stay safe. You were a veteran who kept getting the runaround instead of a call back. You had a life… a whole life before being someone people ignore. You are someone’s son or daughter. You are important.

You aren’t lost causes, but your needs often get lost in a crowd of bureaucratic tomfoolery. I’m sorry about that. Instead of just throwing food to fix your hunger during the holidays, it would help if we talked with you about your skill sets and your health. Unfortunately, money makes things move, so that hinders you from getting what you truly need — a long-term solution.

When I see you, sometimes I stop to give you food or water, sometimes we pray together, and sometimes I pray for you as I drive by. One of the stereotypes is that you are mentally-ill drug addicts who are incompetent of taking care of yourself. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Your weathered skin wraps around your warm soul. You’re a survivor and I admire your grit.

As a sisterfriend schooled me once — most of you have a place you call home; it just doesn’t look like ours. So, keep taking care of yourself. Keep taking care of each other. Make sure you save the coins you get so you can eat and ride the bus. If you have a child with you or you’re staying in your car, hold tight to the Truth that your current situation is temporary… hence the phrase “transient community.” You are moving toward the next chapter; just keep taking the next step. Please… don’t give up.

I pray for your protection all the time, especially when the weather is cold, rainy, or both. If nothing else, remember that God definitely has you some angels out here.

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?

Wednesday Wind Down: Resurrect

Hi, Sweethearts!

This past Sunday was Easter Sunday where Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I thought of a quick stop of encouragement for you… for us.

I am determined to come out of this quarantine season better than I was when it began. Like our Savior, we are in a place of holding. It is darker for some than it is for others, but one truth is the same — it is temporary.

What will you become when this is all over? When a new normal resumes, will you carry the same baggage? Will the residue of your anger infiltrate your future relationships? Will you continue to abuse others and yourself? Who will you be after we come out of this season? Those are my questions to you.

person hands woman pen
Photo by energepic.com on Pexels.com

Personally, I have a list of to-do’s. I’m definitely not sitting at home twiddling my thumbs. Those that know me well can attest that I am always working on something to achieve my goals. This season is no different. There is one thing on the to-do list that supersedes them all… and that is to stay free. To not let anything physically, mentally, and emotionally hold me captive from filling this life with everything I was created to be. I know I make God proud. I know His love is unconditional; however, I know I can get in my own way. I can think that I’m not good enough, that I’m too old, that I’m not old enough, etc. That part —- that cancer — has no place here. So, under quarantine, that is how I will resurrect.

How will you?

I love y’all and I’m praying for you. Peace & Thanks for listening!

 

#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!

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