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Wednesday Wind Down: Birthday Week 1

Hi, Sweethearts.

If you’re just joining the blog, it’s my birthday month and my yearly tradition is in full effect. Every week, I do something I love and once a month thereafter, I continue the celebration.

Last week, I spent a sweet rehearsal fellowship day with my Troupe. When I got home that evening, I thought of them and the sentiments below and smiled.

Leading a team can be isolating. 
Your brain is on while theirs are asleep. They seek the end while you’re combing through the knots of details.
The changes and adjustments — they are many.
They seek answers you’re still asking God for.
You create room for them to grow. You are grateful they do the same for each other and for you.
You laugh together. You cry together. 
You trust they can turn the vision from the pen to perfection.
You carry them in your spirit. You pray for their families. Their health. Their successes. Their hearts.
You ache when they do, even when they don’t know it.
So, why would I kick off my birthday month in this lane?

Simple. 

They also remind me to wear my knee brace.
They force me to be vulnerable when I don’t want to do so.
They balance grace for my mistakes with constructional feedback.
They dive into the Word of God with me.
They make me laugh within 1 minute of our meeting together.
They pray for me.
They trust me to lead the ship and they go where God leads us.
They are unapologetically sold out for Christ.
They are raw and tangible human beings.
They always seek to understand each other.
They allowed me to grow as a leader and as a friend.

To spend the beginning of August with my team instead of my original plans was a conscious decision to celebrate our connection. Our family. That growth journey. That opportunity to serve. As leader, I’ve learned to listen, be bare, be firm, and be observant. I’ve learned to be students of them. I’ve heard their inaudible voices of grief and anxiety and also memorized their laughters. I’ve learned that these are my people. My tribe. They are ready to pray at the drop of a dime and they are spiritually sound as a entity and as individuals. 

The best part – they can carry on without me and I trust them wholeheartedly. So, what better way to kick off August than to remember that I’m not alone? To break bread and drip sweat and exchange sharpness with my folks? To fortify that God gifted me with people that turned from strangers to family? 

To share life with others as you morph into versions of yourself is not for the faint of heart. But we do it anyway because of moments like this past weekend. Because Love is at the center. So…

Cheers to August. Cheers to us. Here we are — 
Still flapping these wings to heights unknown.
Still soaring above murky waters.
Still maneuvering through the challenges this season brought with it
Still here. Still making it.

And I celebrate that. I celebrate God in me. I celebrate the woman I have become with my Troupe. My tribe. My sisters.

Hello, August. I welcome you with open arms because I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweetheart. Open those arms wide and accept that you’re an amazing soul with potential above the heavens. And do something you love this week too. Put it on your calendar.

I love you all.

#bloglikecrazy: Day 6 – Meeting of the Minds

The Good

#6 – I played two roles – leader and follower!

In my performing arts troupe, I play both sides of the field. It’s a delicate balance, really… one that took time and heaping spoonfuls of humble pie over the years. My Troupe has committees, each serving as a gear to make the machine called “us” run smoothly. There is plenty to do and while I am proud to lead such a fabulous group of professionals, I am even more proud when they don’t need me to turn a dream into reality. Last year, I vowed to be a better follower and when the situation called for it this year, I truly enjoyed wearing that hat.

I am on two committees and I loved meeting with my committee teammates, brainstorming and executing our plans, and presenting ideas to the Troupe like other team members. It was fun and it gave me a grassroots view upon which to compare my aerial one. My ideas were not always chosen and they didn’t play favoritism just because I’m the founder. We worked together and I loved every minute of it. In the end, I felt more well-rounded as a leader and collaborative as a follower!

The Lesson

As a leader, my job is to create other leaders, not do everything myself. Now, there something you should know – I’m a perfectionist, so when I founded this organization, I truly felt like I had to do everything and as a result, my Troupe didn’t feel like I didn’t trust them to do anything. Over time, we communicated openly and worked on being a well-oiled machine instead of a bunch of squeaky gears. The result is a group of 10 people that know their roles, serve in them well, and be interchangeable as needed.

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Teammates down, Coach.

Are you allowing yourself to be a team player? Do you listen to the heartbeat of your team or do you just push them to exhaustion?

What would happen if all of our leaders learned how to be exceptional followers?

Peace & Thanks for listening! #ivoted

 

#bloglikecrazy: Day 2 – Do It Afraid

The Good

#2 – I danced and mimed at Dance Across Birmingham!

Why is this significant? Because I didn’t die doing it!

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Dance Across Birmingham is hosted by the Alabama Dance Council (ADC) and is a creative ritual for me. My adventurous self gets to frolic between any dance genre that tickles my fancy. For one Saturday out of the year, members of ADC provide free dance classes for the Birmingham community and beyond. You can learn everything from ballroom dancing to salsa to belly dancing to Bollywood. I love it! It gives me a chance to stretch my dance limits and be uninhibited with a group of strangers. No one judges your stumbling feet and flailing arms as you also learn with those who are classically trained. The instructors make sure that you have fun in all of your awkward glory and you meet some incredibly cool people in each class.

During lunchtime, the instructors become the performers and you watch them explode with excellence in their respective genres. Asian-inspired awesomeness, hip-hop glory… it’s a beautiful parade of talent, skill, and passion.. and I’ve always wanted to know what it would feel like to be on that stage.

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Dancing with Nathifa Dance Company & Outreach, LLC

Well, that dream became a reality this year thanks to Sistah LaVondia Smith, Founder and Artistic Director of Nathifa Dance Company & Outreach, LLC and Rosemary Johnson, Executive Director of the Alabama Dance Council. I was elated to dance with Sistah LaVondia and NDC because of their powerful and colorful African dancing and drumming. They are a sight to behold and a force to be felt! I had admired them since they began 25 years ago. If that wasn’t enough excitement, I performed a mime piece with my Troupe and was infused with strength! What an awesome 1-2 punch of goodness!

The Lesson

Fear is the only thing standing between you and Glory.

For decades I was scared of African dancing because of my respiratory issues. I was haunted by a fear of having an asthma attack mid-performance, so I cowardly never tried to learn it with full capacity of heart. Wow… to think of how much I was missing out! After that performance with NDC and a few others, I was offered the opportunity to join the Company. I was grateful and honored, to say the least.

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What can I say? We get down and dirty for the sake of the Message.

The other fear I had was that my Troupe wouldn’t appear good enough to perform on that stage. We are a comprehensive powerhouse, but I honestly wasn’t sure if we would be accepted as equals. We are a group of faith-based performing artists that come from various backgrounds and our puzzle pieces fit perfectly to create movement that touches the soul. We unapologetically seek to reach an audience of ONE, but I couldn’t help but think that our colleagues wouldn’t understand us. I was emphatically wrong. Not only did they get it, but they enjoyed it!

All it took was a resolve to stand in the face of fear, push it down and walk over it. Sounds easy, but it wasn’t. I just did it anyway. If I had not done so, I would have missed out on two beautiful milestones and someone could have have missed a moment they may have needed to experience.

What is one thing that scares you, but you want to do it more than you’re afraid of it? I stand with you and pray for our boldness to run right over it. Will you get the tingle of timidity every now and then? Maybe. That doesn’t mean that you can’t conquer it, again and again.

Peace & Thanks for listening and “see” you tomorrow for Day 3 of #bloglikecrazy!

#bloglikecrazy: Day 5 – Grit

I have the best creative team in the world. Give us space and time and we do extraordinary things, like create moving water, tumultuous trees, and a visual Bible story in seconds.

On last Sunday afternoon and into late that evening, my performing arts troupe, Workmanship Incorporated, rehearsed for our upcoming performance at the UAB Gospel Choir Reunion Concert to be held at the Alys Stephens Center on Monday, November 13, 2017. I was torn between physical pain and supernatural will, but I made it. One of my teammates lives in another state and she drove into town to join us. Other teammates came from church, work, and family duties to give their sacrifice of dance as well. To check out a short clip of the rehearsal, click here.

At one point in the rehearsal, I stepped back and just marveled at how fantastic they were. Willing and diligent to get it right so God could have complete control on performance day. No one complained. No one was belittled. No one was anxious to leave. We were on one accord. Everyone was pressing toward the mark and it was beautiful. I loved beholding the glory of God working in them behind-the-scenes. 


In a bigger perspective, many will never see what we go through at home in order to produce the fruit on our limbs in life. We have structured areas and danger zones where we get our lives together before heading out into the world. In the performing arts arena, the audience may see 10 minutes of creativity for 10 hours of preparation. It’s a labor of love and a gritty process, but well worth it in the end. That’s the essence of your life, your relationships, your dreams, your responsibilities. If you do it right, grit becomes part of your daily diet. It’s good for you and for those around you. It doesn’t let you quit or whine. It pulls you over the humps and having others with you that chew on the same stuff makes all the difference.

So, there I was… with a front row seat looking at a dream realized from my 14-year-old self. Rehearsing with all of the energy we could muster. Laughing through trials and sharing our victories. And I realized then,the aftertaste of grit tastes good.

Peace & Thanks for listening! 

And to my Troupe, Workmanship Incorporated, thank you for being my muse. I love y’all. Xoxo

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