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Wednesday Wind Down: In The Middle

Good Evening, Sweethearts!

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.

Watch this clip then read below.

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 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.

Peace & Love you, Sweethearts!

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Wednesday Wind Down: Birthday Behavior

Hello, Sweethearts!

As promised, I’m sharing this year’s birthday behavior with you. I altered my original plans a bit as my knee recouped, but I definitely did something I wanted to do every week. Just in case you’re unfamiliar with my annual ritual, let me catch you up.

Each week in August, I do something that fills me with joy or I’ve been postponing, then I continue the celebration once per month until the end of the year. Catch last year’s behavior by reading Birthday & Beast: Part I and Part II. This year, I am full of gratefulness and blessed to be here again to share with you.

Week 1: Rest. Much needed rest.

white bed linen
Photo by Kristin Vogt on Pexels.com

Week 2: Fun Rehearsal with my Troupe. Self-care Nails Day. Fun performance with my African dance company teammates. Rest again. Much needed rest.

Week 3: Great conversation with an old friend and a new friend. Online dinner date with my long-distance sister eating one of my favorite meals at Olive Garden. Recorded a back-to-school video clip with my Troupe. Attended the birthday party of my friends’ twins (that game of musical chairs was something serious) and ran into another member of our old Crew. Enjoyed my favorite milkshake – the limited time peach goodness from Chick-fil-A.



Week 4: Great food and conversation with my mother. A beautiful conversation over prime rib with my sister. Self-care Pedicure Day. High Tea at the lovely Smith-Byrd House with my favorite tea-drinking sister. Girls’ Night Out with lots of dancing and laughs.

Week 5: Facilitated an absolutely fun step dance class that almost didn’t happen but I’m so glad it did. Self-Care Massage Day. Shared an uncomfortable, yet necessary detail of my personal growth with my Troupe. Had a complete blast at my alma mater’s first football game of the season with my friend and sorors. Searched for new Bluetooth wireless earphones so when it’s in the budget next month, I’ll be ready.

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So, why do I share this list with you? Because I want to show you that it can be done. That joy can be visible when you’re willing to look. That you can and should live a life that is fulfilling from the inside out. Today, I encourage you to create your own personal law.  If you’re caught in the hamster wheel of work-sleep-repeat, you’re missing out on beautiful moments that won’t break the bank. Furthermore, when you’ve had near-death experiences (as many of us have), you should definitely invest in those moments on the regular. I engage in things I love all year, but during my birthday month and for the remainder of the year, I kick it up a notch to celebrate that I’m still here, reward myself for being on the grind, and refuel my spirit for what awaits me in the next year.

Lastly, I share this list with you because if my stretch marks make you feel more confident about yours, I’m for it. The older I get, the more I am compelled to peel back the layers of my soul. I’m OK with that. I’m at peace with the woman that continues to evolve inside of me. I love her and she appreciates the opportunity to stretch, learn, and breathe. Maybe your inner self has a message for you too. I hope that this post helps you to hear her/him and oblige accordingly.

Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweethearts. Here’s to your week!

Wednesday Wind Down: Over & Over

Hello, Sweethearts!

Here’s a shortstop for your week instead of the birthday month recap (because the celebration is still going). I hope it helps!

I had an epiphany while driving to work last week. As I saw mountain peaks in the distance, I thought about the song For Every Mountain by Kurt Carr. A fitting song for my surroundings, I went along with it for about 5 seconds. Then, I felt the tug of the Holy Spirit to notice the mountains. I scanned along the horizon and sighed in amazement.

Alabama is home to the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Their beauty can arrest your awe on any given sunrise or sundown. It should also be noted that the mountains create a chain — a series of peaks and valleys that can cripple the strongest warrior. As I looked at each forest-covered mountain, I noticed their repetition and various sizes. Then, my understanding opened.

man wearing brown jacket and blue pants sitting on green grass holding rectangular case
Photo by nappy on Pexels.com

Mountains rarely stand alone. When we conquer a challenge in life, we consider it a victory… and we should. The truth is, we have another mountain coming. And another one. And another one. We can’t rest for long after the climb; we should prepare for the next trek.

The second truth is that the peak may even be the same height… the same vice… the same person… the same enemy. After the victory, you usually run up against the same issue you dealt with and conquered. I can’t tell you how many times I have beat something that I beat a long time ago. Some things are easy, like smoking. I have no interest in creating that habit. Other things, such as insecurity in crowds, rear their ugly heads more than once. What I am learning is that the next peak comes to test the muscle strength you acquired on the previous one. This means that you should train for the mountain chain and prepare a chain reaction to win.

I encourage you as I encourage myself. Don’t be caught off guard, Sweetheart. Don’t assume that once you’ve reach the top that you don’t have to climb down and back up again. Gear up for the chain and complete the victory.

We don’t get to rest after one victory. We get ready for the next one.
And the next one.
And the next one.

Peace & Keep conquering. I see you and I’m rooting for us.

Wednesday Wind Down: Walk By

Good Evening, Sweethearts! How are you doing? I’m glad you’re still here. 🙂

Here’s a shortstop for your week.

I walked by a colleague one day and she said: “You have a nice walk-by scent.” I chuckled at the randomness.

Her: “You know what I mean? Like, you smell good when you walk by, but it’s not overpowering. It’s pleasant.” 

Me: “I knew what you meant and thank you so much. I appreciate you telling me that.”

Her: “I know that may sound weird, but you can get a horrible whiff from some people.”

We both laughed. She didn’t know that one of my insecurities is my scent. Because I spend most days with nasal congestion, I am protective of how I smell. I don’t want to have an offensive body odor and be unaware of it. So, when someone shares that I have a pleasant fragrance, I give myself a high five.

My questions for you:

  • What is your walk-by fragrance?
  • Do people detect positivity when you walk by?
  • Does your negativity have a stench?
  • Does unresolved anger steam from your skin?
  • Does drama drip from you as you walk around others?
woman holding pink rose flower closeup photography
Photo by Nicholas Githiri on Pexels.com

My prayer is that I spiritually emit a pleasant fragrance to those around me. I’ve been told that I have a peaceful positive aura and that makes me feel good. Don’t get me wrong — I am not naive in thinking I am perfect. I have and continue to do a lot of self-work and it is not sexy. It definitely doesn’t smell like high-end perfume. Fertilizer stinks but it makes beauty grow. I’m not oblivious to that truth. When my colleague served that compliment, it was the end of a workday, so I’m sure that I had a mixture of scents on me like any other day. Apparently, the dominant scent has been pleasant to her every time I pass her by which, on that day, was a pleasant mix of Arm & Hammer laundry detergent, Degree deodorant, and a hint of peach. lol.

Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweetheart! Smell good out there!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Wind Down: Starstruck

Hi, Sweethearts!

One of my favorite things to do is stargazing. As a child, I had an astronomy book to help me locate the constellations and understand the galaxies. It was fascinating. I would look outside my window when my mother fell asleep and let my imagination run completely wild. Somewhere in the world, there was another child looking at the same star as me. I was taking a nap on the crescent moon unafraid of heights. I could walk on the clouds.

As an adult, there’s nothing like looking up at the end of the day and realizing how small my problems are. I see the night sky as a midnight blue blanket sprinkled with twinkling promises of God loves for me. I smile every time at the thought of that Truth. Regardless of what is going on in my world, looking up inspires me to keep going.

Though they are far away, they are clear reminders that cause me to stare in awe. They are silently loud. I pray that God’s Light in me is able to be seen for thousands of miles. Onlookers will see me but admire the Father. Admire His Spirit. Honor His Glory.

When you go about your week, I want you to remember that you’re covered. You’re safe in His arms. You are Loved. You are protected. Your problems can only overtake you when you forget those stars. Breathe, look up, and smile every chance you get.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

astronomy dark dawn dusk
Photo by Matheus Bertelli on Pexels.com

Wednesday Wind Down: The Valve

Hi, Sweethearts.

My smiles this week were a direct descendent of my cries this past weekend. Yes, I said cries. There were definitely more than I expected.

I knew they were coming because of a series of unfortunate events this year, but I didn’t know when. Friday was a low point and a couple of tears leaked down my cheeks, but no more than that. Then, Saturday, there was a straw that broke this camel’s back. My hands started shaking and my heart rate increased. In less than five seconds, unintelligible speech spilled from my lips and my sweet sister was able to catch every drop of my pain on the other end of the phone. While she assured me, the waves of tears came so strongly that I muted the phone. I knew the scream was coming with more tears in tow. I tried to muffle that duo for months, and now they were inevitable. The next day, I had a terrible headache and my eyes were tender. Regardless of the discomfort, I felt… lighter. Not necessarily better, but lighter, which was more valuable to me.

Because of that cry — that release –, I was able to smile in the photo below and mean it. This was taken at a book club event hosted by my writer’s community See Jane Write. I was chosen as Member of the Month and my book was chosen as a summer read. I was able to soak in a beautiful experience with these beautiful souls. I was able to sparkle in a grateful moment instead of listening to the cacophony within. I don’t cry easily, but I learned a long time ago that there are only so many times you can twist that valve to the right and say “Nope, not today.” The muted mixture needed a sound because three days later my spirit would desire to smile.

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So, I am sharing this with you so you can allow your valve to be open too. Whatever cry you need to see a genuine smile on your face and feel yourself radiate the purest happiness one minute of life can bring… it is worth the flow. There’s something lighter on the other side of that scream. I also encourage you to provide a safe space for someone else to not feel alone in their tsunami. Someone you know may need to turn the valve to release the pressure as well. He needs to be heard. She needs you to listen. And if the tears fall and the scream reverberates, they need you near. There’s no better support than sharing the same comfort you received.

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I pray that you have a wonderful week until we meet again. Peace & Thanks for listening. Check that valve.

Wednesday Wind Down: Bricklayer

Hi, Sweethearts!

OK, I am still on a high from watching Boss: The Black Experience in Business – a documentary about African-American history in entrepreneurship and business industries. If you haven’t seen it, please do. Definitely a must-see. Here’s a play-by-play of how it all went down in my world. Special Shoutout to Carmen Mays, Founder of Elevators on 4th, and my alma mater UAB for hosting this event and reminding Birmingham of the juggernaut of Black entrepreneurship she was and will continue to be.

boss film uab

BEFORE THE FILM

20190716_175221.jpgI have a confession to make. Networking events are not at the top of my social list. It’s where my introversion leaps out to block my smile and I have to overshadow her by scanning the room for people I know and introducing myself to people I don’t. In all that I do that involves others (blogging, dancing, and massage therapy), solitude is where I am cozy.

So, what did I do? I made my introverted nemesis attend the pre-film reception. I’m also recovering from a knee injury and walking from my car to the event space was the longest distance I had accomplished without using my crutches. Needless to say, I was ready to sit down. While familiar faces wove in and out of their elements, I shared sincere laughs with another great businesswoman in my state and we decided to sit together during the film.

Me – 1
Nemesis – 0

DURING THE FILM

I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. I tried to capture a few notes, but only if the visual stayed the same. As soon as it changed, I looked up fast like a little kid with a bad case of FOMO before bed. Throughout the film, I was infused with strength. It would have been easy to be angry at the injustice, but I was undoubtedly empowered. Fortified. The stories of my ancestral heroes sealed the natural cracks in my entrepreneurial foundation. Some of the stories, I knew and taught my students. Others, I learned for the first time. I sat forward with my hands clasped at times and in other moments I smiled in awe.

What a beautiful rocky road of Black determination, I thought. Seriously. We were given manure and we made it grow – over, and over, and over again. Our money was stolen and we generated more like a prosthetic limb. We pumped the life-blood into ourselves after being left for dead. Agriculture. Banking. Hair. Clothing. We are a force to be reckoned with no matter which decade you decide to slice. I recalled my first time reading Ebony, Jet, Black Enterprise, and Essence as their humble beginnings were told in front of me. To see bursts of Color in a monochromatic printed world was lifechanging. Seeds of cultural self-esteem were planted within me at an early age and watching these gladiators of vision and ingenuity reminded me of their fruits manifested through today’s industry moguls. I sighed and smiled again to see such relentless prowess right before my eyes.

AFTER THE FILM

20190716_195315.jpgI sat up straighter. My back was stronger and my neck held my chin a bit higher. My hearty handclaps might as well have been among a sea of applause at Carnegie-Hall.  I felt so proud. So tall. As an African-American Woman Entrepreneur, I am walking on the bricks of hard labor and I get the immutable opportunity to place my own brick along that historical trail.

Black business owners have proven that skin color should never override intelligence and passion. We are beyond capable of building a present and a future for ourselves and others – nationally and internationally. Regardless of the opposition of ignorance, we continue to showcase dexterity and incredible resilience. Can you imagine the escalating levels of repeated faith it takes to accomplish such feats? I can’t imagine. To create decades of legacies without an Ellis Island is an irrefutable honor that should never be undermined or forgotten. 

Lastly, I also realized that I am exactly where I should be. To be reminded that those pillars of strength began with pennies in their pockets was just the juice I needed keep my energy going. Six months ago, I plunged into full-time entrepreneurship after my school closed, and it has been an exceptional journey. I have no complaints, but people often romanticize the life of owning a business and I couldn’t help but smile to know that my grit was in good company. My scars were in the right place. My tired eyes could still see my ancestors rooting for me. My hands were still capable of facilitating my dreams just like their cotton-picking fingers repeatedly reached for hope. My heart was still able to incubate their fire for economic freedom. My spirit was still synonymous with theirs and my feet could still walk forward on the bricks of their backs — one day, allowing someone to step on mine. Let’s keep building, America.

You don’t have to lose who you are to be successful.
Cathy Hughes, Founder of Radio One –

Peace & Thanks for listening! Keep shining!

boss film pbs

Wednesday Wind Down: Pick Up The Pieces

Hello, Sweethearts! Here’s a shortstop for your week!

You know how you feel when you’ve broken something you love? I have some jewelry that makes me happy, but they are broken. Beads. Shells. Charms. Seeing them disjointed makes me sad and I can’t bring myself to throw them away. Somehow, I believe I can put them back together or at least manifest a new creation out of their brokenness.

As I thought about this concept, I can’t help but include us humans in the scenario. Some of us believe we are too broken for God’s Love. Life hurled unwanted surprises and left cracks in our hearts. Just like my jewelry, our minds, bodies, and spirits are not as put-together as our social media allows. I am convinced that the more we try to pick up our own pieces to fix ourselves the more those pieces slip through our fingers.

This week, I was reminded of something and I heard His voice so clearly. If God can make a person out of pieces, certainly He can put the pieces back together. All of you is valuable. All of you deserves the opportunity to exceed expectations. All of you deserves to be whole. Pick up the pieces and hold them in your hands. Admit that you can not fix yourself. Acknowledge that you’re broken and allow the Creator to repair His Masterpiece.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

photo of woman throwing her hat
Photo by Idy Tanndy on Pexels.com

Wednesday Wind Down: Let ‘Em Talk

Good Evening, Sweethearts!

As you wind down for the day, I pray this message reaches you with good health in mind, body, and spirit. I can’t wait to share what I heard this week.

One of my favorite athletes is Manny Pacquiao. No, I am not a boxer, but I admire the profession and Manny has earned my respect over the years.

On FOX Sports PBC FACE TO FACE, I watched undefeated Welterweight Keith “One Time” Thurman talk about how excited he will be when he defeats Filipino Senator and Legendary Champion Manny “Pac-man” Pacquiao. Frankly, he was talking a lot of trash with shots of cockiness. Thurman spoke jovially of Pacquiao’s age and career statistics. He said that he studied Manny’s fighting style and described ways he could penetrate his speed. I shook my head at the television while my athlete remained unphased on the screen.

The reason why Pacquiao is on my respect list is that he keeps his priorities straight — no matter what. I love how cool he is under pressure. I love how he keeps the main thing, the main thing – faith, family, then the fight. I appreciate his ability to train hard and serve his country equally hard. I admire his work-life balance. So, as I continued to watch the dialogue, I couldn’t help but notice the dichotomy in demeanor. In the midst of this observation, I heard 3 things that can help us prepare for battles in our lives.

pacquiao-thurman (1)
Courtesy of BoxingScene.com

1. There’s a difference between training to obtain and training to maintain.

Looking at sizzle reels of their training sessions revealed how different they trained.  Thurman’s clip was grizzly. His workouts were aggressive. He explained his rise to fame and his teenage decision to choose boxing over academics. I loved it actually. So much passion at such a young age and still tenacious as ever. Pacquiao’s clip was seasoned and strategic. He looked like wisdom in motion, and I’m not just saying that because he’s my favorite. Their attitudes during exercises were visibly different as well. Thurman kept repeating his goal of being a history maker for bringing down his opponent. Pacquiao never mentioned him. It was like watching a car in the acceleration lane versus on the open road.

2. Let your fight talk for you.

The moderator asked for pre-, during, and post-fight predictions. Pacquiao had little say. His words were light, short, and clear. “I respect every opponent,” he said. When asked how the fight would end, he said that both fighters worked hard and made the fans happy. Thurman? In his best announcer voice, he claimed himself as the champion. Pacquiao smiled.

3. Let your enemy keep talking.

Throughout the entire session, there were opportunities for Pacquiao to retaliate with a fiery response. He let Thurman talk as much as he wanted and only spoke when asked a question by the moderator. His face didn’t flinch. He didn’t smirk. He didn’t grimace. His eyebrows didn’t furrow. He was calm. Even his instinctive blinks were undisturbed. I study communication like coaches study plays. I can’t deny my sentiments — I loved it. I couldn’t tell what he was thinking, but he definitely wasn’t moved.

So, on July 20, 2019, we’ll see words and training in action. Of course, I am #TeamPacquiao all day and regardless of the prediction, his character is a winner in my book. My prayer for us is that we take his lead when faced with situations underneath our royalty. Enemies always have a lot to say. Let your character be just as loud. Now, I’m not saying Thurman doesn’t have good character; I do not know him. What I am saying is stop engaging in every conversation as if you have something to prove. You don’t. Let your work speak for you.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

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