So, Sunday didn’t happen… and Wednesday didn’t either. I apologize for not keeping my posting promise. Unexpected goodness absorbed the week, but I got you today! In honor of National Poetry Month, I made a goal to share a poem or spoken word piece each week and well, we’re in here now. *lol*
I wrote this piece in the spirit of gratitude. Thanks in advance for reading it!
When it’s all said and done I will be Forever Me The purest form of myself before I got to know who she was Quiet Smiling Curious and cautious Caring Relatively fearless Foreseeing Loving The spirit God planted inside of this shell The original.
I look down into my arms and see her smiling back at me “You’re going to be just fine,” I say, rocking her slowly Smooth as chocolate Back and forth Ebb and flow Like the waves she will encounter “Just keep growing,” I whisper, “… and don’t let this world turn you to stone…” I bless her face and peer into the horizon of her future Back, forth Ebb, flow Peace, storms, then peace again “You’re going to be just fine.”
Then, I see her in the distance Walking like a warrior over Earth’s edge Tattered armor, strong legs Bulging courage Breathing deeply Battle scars Sword of Truth in her right hand Testimonies in her left Sharp mind Focus, keen She sees me Through me In me And we share a breath of hope recognized Confirmation that we didn’t quit We kept growing Kept loving Kept soaring, despite the dips and blows Ebb and flows Back and forth
I appreciate her. So, I might as well get to know her now Love her curves and all her edges She is perfect imperfection Legend And I love Forever Me Because when it’s all said and done And the warrior stops walking That is all that I will be.
Have you ever seen a vision of your future self? Mine is amazing. Tell me about yours?
Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out there!
Before I get into the inspiration/motivation for this week, I wanted to shoutout my readers… that’s right, you. 🙂
Every time I sign into WordPress, I smile. People from all over the world visit this blog. Singapore, Romania, Iceland, Brazil, India, South Africa, The Philippines, Morocco… just to name a few. People in my personal circles read this blog too and I sincerely appreciate their support. I will never take your visit lightly and I am so grateful for every heart that reads mine through this site. Thank you and I pray for you all.
Secondly, here’s a quick word of encouragement — don’t forget to listen up. I understand the severity of COVID-19 and how important it is to listen out for facts over rumors. Quick sidebar: For accurate updates and well-explained information, check out Dr. Bertha Hidalgo at Chic in Academia. She’s a scientist and a fellow See Jane Write member. I love reading her Science Says posts.
One of the traps we can fall into is listening out for information without listening up for spiritual guidance. When I say “listen up,” I’m referring to infusing your spirit with God’s Word. Here are a few ways to do that –
Go outside for a walk (while maintaining social distance, of course). Take a notebook with you or use the voice recorder on your phone to capture what God whispers to you.
Since we’re in quarantine, utilize this time to digest one verse a day (I suggest YouVersion – The Bible App). If it won’t overwhelm you, read a chapter and chew on it for a week. I like to research historical and geographical information surrounding the passage I’m reading to gain context and expand understanding.
Meditate for 5 minutes. Meditation comes in various forms, so don’t be intimidated by that word. One of my favorites is from AmaZen Yoga by Kimberly Snell. She combines scripture with yoga to create a spiritual meditation. It’s great for beginners. If you’re working during this time, here’s a post called work time yoga (it’s less than 10 minutes).
Pray words of gratitude and authenticity. If you’ve been with me for a while, you know that I’m an advocate for real prayers. Being grateful for what you have and being honest with God about how you feel are therapeutic for the soul. It’s a way of releasing what is inside of you
Listening up keeps me refueled when I’m submerged in times that can tap me out of the game. It looks like we may be virtually stuck together for a while, so I pray that you are forged into a stronger and healthier you during this time — inside and out. That’s my mission. How’s yours going?
First, I acknowledge the survivors and families affected by the tragedy of September 11, 2001. I also acknowledge the first responders and volunteers that rescued and sacrificed themselves in the name of Love. I appreciate you and remember you forever.
Now, to the message at hand… a very direct one at that. It encouraged me so much Sunday and I pray that it reaches you too.
Between here and heaven, you have an Intercessor (Jesus) and an Interpreter (the Holy Spirit). Liaisons that speak up and out when your silence needs a voice. When your tears are immutable forces flowing from your eyes and a wail is all you’ve got. I wasn’t in a sad space on Sunday, but a sweet surprise from a sister cracked open this hardworking vessel and my grateful heart cried out. This year has been a great lesson on how to throw my cares with a weight of faith tied to the end so it can sink in the bottom of worry. Each month, my throwing arm gets stronger and my Peace grows. All because my Intercessor knows how I feel and my Interpreter makes sense out of my jumbled emotions.
A huge part of my spiritual freedom is that I am not afraid to pray. I am not afraid to say the following:
“Lord, I’m scared.”
“God, this doesn’t make sense.”
“I don’t like this.”
“You are so awesome.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I need your help.”
“I don’t know what to say.”
Those are prayers that I release often into His lap. I am able to do so because I believe that I have an advocate in the middle of my words and eternity. Whether I’m excited or frustrated, I pray with vulnerability and confidence. God knows, Jesus prays, and the Holy Spirit guides. Because of that support, I am never afraid to share my innermost fears and expectations with my Creator. Just start the conversation and listen.
When you’re in the middle of whirlwinds and life events, remember that you have Someone that is in the middle with you. You are not alone. You are not desolate. You are not an island though you may feel like you’re standing on one. I can’t explain why bad things happen in the world other than everyone has volition and we are not robots programmed by God to be good and perfect beings. What I can say is that I have experienced supernatural comfort and intentional acts of kindness. I have felt arms around me when I felt afraid and an inexplicable amount of fortitude in times of need. I have awakened in the nick of time while driving and gotten a hug from a friend that merged my pieces back together. None of which I prayed for immediately prior to receiving… but I had a middle and I encourage you to put your middle to work too. Just like in the above video clip, those hands are on you too.
This is for every teacher out there that gives of their time, talent, and treasure in order to see their students “get it.” My co-workers gave me the gift of their professional passion and I couldn’t be more grateful. While I was in therapeutic massage school, they volunteered their wisdom in various ways and enjoyed pouring into all of us. From 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM every day, I was a student and I received all of their awesomeness. Truthfully, I became their fan. They were not colleagues during that timeframe; they were my instructors and their goal was to see me succeed in my new journey. They helped me study and practice after school when I needed it and cheered when I passed my boards and landed my first independent contract. They also hugged me as I cried. I couldn’t have asked for better gurus for uncharted waters.
You truly do give what you get.
I can’t count how many times I stayed after class, drove to campus on my days off, and counseled students to pursue their passions in the midst of adversity. It didn’t matter that I was exhausted or that my bank account was coughing dust… I wanted to give the gift of care to people that were transitioning into their next levels. I didn’t think I would receive all of that back from people that I admired as my friends. The best gift was to be an open vessel in their classrooms. It is truly possible to receive what you pour into others and I appreciate every drop.
Those are the three words that have been sitting in my spirit since September. I even got three lotus leaves shaved in the nape of my new ‘do to represent each word for the special occasion. Who is “we?”
“We” includes my late father, who chose to love and encourage an angry, confused 12-year-old until she melted in his arms and trusted him with all of her heart.
My former husband, who carried the bills while I finished graduate school and mentored me in the education profession which created a segue for me to teach at my newly-added alma mater.
My family and my very much alive and awesome mother, who was my cheerleader and the perfect example of love, loyalty, strength, courage, wisdom, and fight.
My performing arts troupe, also known as my tribe, that kept my creative lifeblood flowing, balance out the academic grind, and navigated the ship when I was weak.
My pastor and church family that, with open arms, understood every worship rehearsal night I missed due to working and studying and always had a prayer in their pocket.
My beautiful small group of strong and Godly women, which created a spiritual safety net for all of my hills and valleys.
My incomparable instructors who collectively created a safe space to learn, grow, and heal with insurmountable passion and sincerity.
My friends that texted jokes, encouraging words, and random “I’m checking on you” messages to ensure that I knew that my goal of being a licensed massage therapist was well within my reach.
My complimentary massage clients that trusted me with their physical and spiritual well-being.
Twas the Wednesday before graduation weekend and I am one blessed creature. Why? Because I had a “we,” and truth be told, you have/had a “we” somewhere in your life too. Think about one person that was supportive and inhale that gratefulness, then exhale that truth into a message to let them know. If they are no longer on Earth, smile and support someone else in their honor.
Peace, blessings, thanks for listening, and wind down safely, my loves!
Recently, I felt the pain of a woman who’s only desire was to provide the best solution for her children at the expense of what she wished for them. She cried after we prayed together. I bought the items she needed and she agreed to a massage therapy session. I just wanted to help, wanted her to know that I see her. She was the 2nd person for I whom I prayed and to whom I had given. The first person was homeless and when I asked him for a prayer request, his response was to pray for his family. How selfless. These opportunities started hours after I received news that my income would decrease… again. Perfect timing, right? That’s what I said too.
Now, I’m not monetarily rich. I’m not a superstar. I don’t have someone taking sensational photos of me at every turn so I can post them on the ‘gram. And I’m definitely not a selfie girl. I just… listen. I sincerely try to listen to God’s voice everyday and anywhere. That’s how this blog Listening at the Speed of Life was born. So, when those opportunities presented themselves, I had to be obedient. No questions asked.
What have I learned about myself along this journey of obedience?
I hug my students.
I even hug strangers.
I pray for people I don’t know.
I say thank you. A lot.
I love big and I retreat quickly.
I boldly express my care.
I can speak up when I’m scared.
I can ask questions unapologetically.
I seek to understand.
I generally stay to myself, yet I have meaningful relationships.
I am a delicate, and resilient balance of mind, body, and spirit.
My introversion is beautiful, not a defect.
I don’t have to be loud if I don’t want to be.
I don’t have to be in the mix to feel included.
I like breathing and being, and sometimes these come at the cost of being misunderstood. That’s OK with me now. (It wasn’t when I started.)
So, back to the moment. She was grateful. I was humble. We connected.
It’s time that we slow down and feel the heartbeat of one another. We’re all humans trying to navigate through this life, and if you’re a Christian, then you’re trying to adhere to a certain compass as you travel on your path. It’s not easy, and we are all doing it… walking it out, journeying into the next dimension of ourselves, and feeling our way around in the darkness of tomorrow’s challenges.
What would it hurt to wave to the service worker? Speak to the custodian? Give a thank you card to the teacher? Buy an extra meal for the hungry? Or simply hug your friend without it being an obligatory salutation?
What happened to us orbiting together instead of spinning around each other, being afraid to bump into one another’s space?
What happened to running the human race together and checking on others along the way?
When we see something awesome, we gaze. We don’t stare as if we’re trying to figure it out. We behold it. We soak it in. That’s what I did this week on my way home.
I gazed at twinkling stars for about 5 minutes at a desolate exit ramp. Don’t worry; I was safe. But boy did it feel good to just sit and watch.
When is the last time you star gazed? What about gazing at the Stars in your life? Those special people are worthy of beholding. They are amazing creations fashioned with the amazing hands of an amazing God. What would it cost you to acknowledge their greatness for a few minutes?
In March of this year, I witnessed a beautiful blend of past and present.
My fraternity brother was inducted into the Birmingham Police Department after graduating from the academy. Be it that he is my little-big brother (he towers over my 5′ 4.75″ frame), I was so proud when he shared the news and invited me to come to the ceremony. I had attended military and law enforcement events before, but unfortunately, most of them were funerals. This time, I was in the audience as a member of his support team and I was honored.
Upon arrival to the designated room, it was clear that this was a family affair. Many people were just as excited as I was to be present for such a special occasion. Even children that may not have understood the magnitude of the moment were all smiles seeing blue police uniforms everywhere. There were sergeants, captains, and city officials waiting to honor the new graduates with their new badges and priceless pearls of wisdom. I found a good seat and waited with expectation for what would happen next. I’m used to attending events by myself, but this time was different. I felt out of place for a minute because I wasn’t with a pack. I didn’t come with a 15-piece cheering section, yet, I cleaned the lens on my camera phone and checked the front and back doors in hopes of getting a good photo on the first try.
Families and friends were buzzing around like paparazzi waiting for celebrities. To us, that’s exactly what they were. They were our heroes and we were excited to see their debut. A short, petite female officer stood in front of the cadets like she was six-foot-four.
I was immediately proud and wanted to raise my feminist fist. As she gave orders to stand at attention, recite prolific promises, and march forward, the room absorbed her command as well. Everyone seemed to be at spiritual attention.My fraternity brother marched by and I felt the wind of his maturity and pride. He was seriously motivated to uphold his vow and relieved to finish the first leg of his municipal marathon.
Then, I got emotional.
The tears almost fell from my face when I realized that this was the same police department that tormented his ancestors – with water and other horrible means. The history of what I was watching flooded my soul and a for a brief moment, I was overwhelmed. Dignity arose within me for every freedom fighter, foot soldier, and civil rights leader ever to grace this God-given Earth. I didn’t feel militant. I felt regal. I felt strong. I felt American.
My vision was blurry with teary pride as I watched each officer shake hands with superior officers, some of which were parents initiating their children with a solemn salute. This was the dream so many slaves had when their heads fell upon their pillows made of dirty cotton after surviving lashings they didn’t deserve. When marchers stood in the streets locked arm-in-arm, singing and chanting in the blood thirsty faces of evil, they imagined a mirror image of liberated faces on the other side.
I couldn’t breathe easy for a few minutes. I couldn’t stop smiling for a few more. There was nothing more American than what I was feeling right then – a dream realized and an honor bestowed simultaneously. I blessed them in my spirit and prayed over their lives… that God would keep them alert and ready at every call and even when no one was in need of their service. I prayed for protection and wisdom and for the understanding of their families.
The fact that something so ugly could metamorphosize into this moment made me proud to the recipient of their sacrifices. It was a social spit in the face of centuries of racial injustice.
I was grateful. I was proud. I was filled.
What makes you “feel” American? Moments like these do it for me.
I started this trip a bit frustrated with some people that call themselves family. I had been holding in a tumultuous flow of words for a month. Unfortunately, people think that if you aren’t belligerent with colorful words spewing out of your mouth, that you aren’t capable of being such.
I am happy to inform you that this is a lie.
That quiet worker or positive colleague can be a verbal assassin with plenty of artillery to annihilate your heart, but s/he chooses to smile instead. This was me for a month. The term familyalmost seemed like a dirty word that left a foul taste in my mouth when I thought of certain people. My circle got smaller and some of it was involuntary. So, needless to say, I was a bit sour.
Then, my sorority sister lent her ear for what was a tsunami of “Why’s,” “That’s just stupid’s,” and “I just don’t get it’s.” My mother and aunt tag-teamed to ensure I caught my twilight bus. A sisterfriend checked for my travel safety. Another sisterfriend of 16 years transported me to bookstores to inquire about book signing opportunities before heading to the airport. One sorority sister extended herself with hospitality that could rival any 4-star hotel and another sorority sister hosted me with patience as I coordinated visits with DMV friends I had not seen in 10+ years. My big brother is always one call away when I’m in town and my mother always seals my travel with prayer.
God brought all of these things back to my remembrance and I am sitting on this plane marveled at how flimsy we view the f-word and how quickly we throw it away.
It doesn’t matter how many genetic or blended relatives you have,
God will give you the family to fill the need.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs indicates that we have a need for connectedness, love, and belonging. I believe that wholeheartedly. After all, God created the ultimate adoption plan through His Son, so we were not designed to “do life” alone. Even a mean senior citizen has a plant, pet, or something they can care for!
You may have a sister you can’t stand or an uncle you don’t like, but for every ounce of foolishness and discord, there is someone spiritually-related for you to do life together.
I am so grateful for my family. I pray that God shines a spotlight on yours so you can see them when life gets dim, too. Don’t think that familyjust encompasses a group with the same last name. It just requires a circle of people connected by the same heartstrings.