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Listening at the Speed of Life

– by C. J. Wade –

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service

Wednesday Wind Down: Matri

Happy Wednesday, Family!

Mother’s Day is near and I’ve been reflecting lately on lessons I’ve learned from the matriarchs in my family. Before I dive into that pool of goodness, I must acknowledge the mamas in this virtual living room and those mourning their mamas. I love you all and I see you. I appreciate you and I’m hugging all of you right now.

April is a reflective month for me because two of my late grandmothers’ birthdays are in that month. When May comes, the flutter of mother’s day rests on my heart in the same sentimental space. It’s a peaceful area. I feel the spirits of my matriarchs everywhere and their wisdom wraps me up and steadies my seas. Below are four lessons that steer my life to this day.

Photo by Timothy Paule II on Pexels.com
  1. Keep your mind sharp.
    When my great-grandparents drove down from Ohio to visit us in Alabama, it felt like Christmas morning. Not because they had a bag of presents, but because Great-Grandma Coffee was my mental playmate. I was nerdy elementary kid and she reveled in it. A few books of word search puzzles was always in her bag and my eyes lit up every time she held it in her hands. When she calmly pulled out a pen from her purse and rested her knees in that rocking chair, I knew what time it was. The challenge was on to see who could finish a page first. We could go through 50 puzzles in a matter of days. She had a head full of trivia. If I beat her, it was a miracle. Our word search battles were the stuff of gladiators. Her daughter, my grandmother, was the same way… always stretching her mind. Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy were constantly playing on the television and I loved it all. Thank God for matriarchs that weren’t afraid to show their wit.
  2. We are stewards of the Earth.
    My paternal grandmother taught me early that God gave us a divine charge to take care of this planet. Recycling was non-negotiable and eating fresh foods was normal. She read every label and screened every meal to ensure it was nutritionally balanced. Aloe plants thrived in her apartment It’s because of her that I only purchase 100% juice and that I can tell you which vegetables contain certain vitamins. She’s why I eat broccoli like candy and monitor my fried food intake. Her mantra was that we were made from the Earth, so She had everything we needed to survive. I loved that about my grandmother and I appreciate her wisdom in marrying our faith to Mother Nature.
  3. Do it well or don’t do it at all.
    One thing about my grandmothers and my mother, they were/are notorious perfectionists. My aunts are the same. What you could not do was do something halfway and they find out about it. No way. Make that a hell no with stadium lights around it.. My grandmothers could dress to the nines and could organize an event better than any professional planner. They stressed that the only thing you truly own is your name and is imperative to keep it intact. Whether it was re-applying the crooked stamps on the envelopes or making sure my choir robe was pressed, everything has the stamp of your name on it, so care about everything that leaves your hands.
  4. Serve from the heart.
    I watched my matriarchs serve people from all walks of life when they needed Love most. Their hands were extensions of God. I saw grace with my own eyes from elementary school onward and it germinated grace in me. My mother called the parents of her Sunday School students every Saturday to ensure they were coming the next day and to offer a ride if they needed. The little brown Chevette carried a caravan, you hear me? Every week, she picked up youth choir members and anyone who wanted to go to church. That single mother on a shoestring budget made several trips if necessary. My mother. Every week. Rain or shine. My aunt wakes up asking God to show her who to help today, then… she actually does it. No matter what it is. When you serve others, you do it from the heart of God, or don’t do it at all. Period.
Photo by Akil Mazumder on Pexels.com

None of my grandparents are living, but they live within me. Their wisdom stands around me when life gets rough. I appreciate everything they instilled in me and all that my mother still pours into my soul. It’s a priceless gift.

I pray that you are surrounded by maternal wisdom from surprising places if you’re not able to retrieve it from your family. Matriarchs are all over the place – in your community, your church, your neighborhood senior living center or retirement community… anywhere. Reach out for it and be amazed at the richness you’ll find.

Peace & Thanks for listening, Family. I love you and stay well out there!

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #15

To My Amazing Massage Clients —

The first thing I want to say is that I’m proud of you. You took a step toward being a stress-less self. You said “I don’t have to live like this,” and made the call.

I know it wasn’t easy. You’re used to being on-the-go and at-the-helm. You’re the giver, the knower, the person that juggles all the things… but one day, you decided to book your appointment. The next month, you did it again. You kept making the decision to put yourself on your own calendar and making self-care a continuum instead of a dot. For some of you, it was a financial sacrifice and for others, it was an emotional one. It may have meant stepping away from the kids or caregiving duties to catch your breath or taking a break from work for 30 minutes to recharge for the next stint. Either way, I am grateful that you took a chance on me being your licensed massage therapist and kept me along for your wellness journey.

You already know my mantra and that it breathes in me. I believe everyone deserves a healthy version of themselves… everyone deserves that moment to remember they are not what they do — they are human. This includes all socio-economic statuses because massage is more than a spa day. It’s a conscious decision to press the pause button so you can continue to be a healthy you. It’s scientific and it’s spiritual and I never take it lightly that you extend your time and trust every time we meet. There are laughs, sometimes tears, and at other times, silent reflection or snores. It’s all a testament to your recuperation… your moment to refresh your mind, body, and spirit before you get back out there. That’s what fuels me to work with you each week and read all I can about your conditions before you arrive and after you leave. It’s the exchange of wellness and growth between us.

I pray that you always create room for yourself in a world of many demands. I pray that you always remember that YOU MATTER. It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle of life by being everything to everyone and answering every direct message, call, text, and email. Just remember the day you booked your first appointment. Recall that feeling of looking at your calendar and anticipating that you have a pause coming in a few days. Think about when the pain didn’t seem so great or you got quality sleep that evening. Then, do it again… as many times as you need to without any apology to anyone. After all, your name should be on your time too.

See you soon,

C. J. Wade, LMT

#bloglikecrazy: Day 4 – INYWA

Saturday was awesome.

So awesome that I didn’t post my feelings all weekend. I soaked in it until my happy waters receded a bit. I just naturally let the sweetness of what happened feed my soul. So, let’s catch up.

When I hurt, I serve. So, I was missing my dad one day at work (he passed away in August), and I thought of how it would feel to receive a note of encouragement at that moment. When compassion compelled, I went for it. I hosted a service letter-writing event on 11-4 between 11 AM and 4 PM. Couldn’t get any better than that.

Consequently, my letter-writing service event turned out perfectly. It accomplished exactly what I wanted – to create space and time for people to give of themselves on paper despite their busy lives. Not only did it accomplish this mission, but it provided a sweet spot for strangers to connect comfortably over a common goal. It sparked conversation, laughter, and camaraderie. It allowed people to pause for awhile and open up their hearts.

Secondly, most of the participants sat down wondering if they would have enough words to create a letter and they ended up having their inkwell overflow.  It was so touching to be so vulnerable to each other. The common comments were “I don’t know what I’m going to write.” and “I don’t think I have enough words to write a whole letter.” Once their hearts connected to their pens, they couldn’t stop writing. Consequently, some participants wrote more than one letter. I just loved how the outpour continued from the pages to the person near them through smiles and conversation.

Lastly, I was excited to simply see kindness run free. Although there was much to be sad about in the world, for 5 hours there was love to be had by any who desired it. Family, friends, and strangers gathered in one place to swim in the altruism of service letter-writing and every person left lighter and brighter in spirit.

I received 6 military addresses and those soldiers are going to get a lot of random love and encouragement in the upcoming weeks with the 27 letters that were written that day. That made me beyond happy… it made me full.

Stay tuned for the next I Need You Write Away (trademark pending). It’s going to be just as sweet.

Thank you to everyone that came, wanted to come, and shared their loved ones’ military address with me in confidence. It is an honor and a pleasure to share life-giving words.

Peace & Thanks for listening!
(And don’t worry. I haven’t forgotten about the #bloglikecrazy challenge. I got you.)

Happy Memorial Day?

Good Day, Good People!

I hope your day is going well so far because guess what… it’s a holiday weekend, baby! *insert public jig here*
We’re not out of school yet, but at least I have a class-free Monday thanks to the service men and women who sacrificed their lives for our country. I teach a significant amount of veterans each quarter and yesterday one of them said something that struck a chord within me. 
After class, she expressed her annoyance in that she hates it when people say “Happy Memorial Day” to a veteran. I asked her why although I had an idea of where she was going with the conversation. She explained that the day commemorates the death of fallen soldiers and there should not be a “happy” greeting in front of it because it’s not a happy occasion/holiday. I listened to the rest of her spill and so did a few lingering students waiting to sign the attendance roll. Considering it was a speech class and I encourage them to consider all sides or “voices” on an issue, I took the opportunity to share why someone would put “happy” in front of their memorial day. 
My deceased military family members did not die in combat, but they did serve admirably. They were happy in doing what they loved… serving. Marines, Army, and Air Force run deeply in my family tree. Memorial Day for me is not happy because they aren’t here. It’s a Happy Memorial Day because I make sure to pause and celebrate their happiness. While I wouldn’t dare compare the pain of them being missing from my life to someone who has greeted the casket of their fallen soldier, I’m not sure if I’m completely in favor of removing the “happy” from the holiday. Their ultimate sacrifice was not happy, but their gift of service probably made them happy. Whenever I see military personnel (active, reserve, or veteran), I tell them thank you for serving. No matter what. Each time, I get the same response – “Thank you ma’am, “Thank you for your support,” or “It’s my pleasure.”
Maybe it’s ingrained, but I’d like to think they are doing something that makes them happy… serving others. 
I understand her disdain for people that walk up to a veteran and saying “Happy Memorial Day” with a pasted smile. I sympathized with her past military experience where individuals were not respectful of her fallen comrades. I acknowledged that Monday may not be happy, for she is entitled to feel and commemorate as she deems appropriate.
She is the one with a “V” on her chest, not me. I cannot step into her shoes and say “I know how you feel.”
All I can do is honor my fallen with a circulation of happy memories and allow her to remember hers as she sees fit. She’s earned it.
What do you think? Should we take the “happy” from in front of memorial day? 
Peace & Thanks for listening.
Photo Courtesy of American Soldier by Toby Keith

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