This post is dedicated to the “survivor you.” You know — the part you tucked away because you thought you were done with that season? That you. Right there. We’re going to tap into that person again.
Which person was you?
College student with minimal income and a heavy semester course load
Single parent trying to stretch a minimum wage check
Homeless person avoiding an abusive home
Fresh out of school and figuring out how to budget expenses
Sick at home and not able to work
Laid off from work and working a lower paying job
Caregiving for a loved one and trying to balance work demands
If none of these fit you, fill in the blank with whatever lean state you’ve experienced in your lifetime. Now, let’s revisit some ways you can survive this season too. You can’t be too high and mighty to dig into the following three tips. Ready? Let’s take a quick trip down memory lane.
Survival Reminder Tips
Stretch those meals. Remember those ramen noodles? I hope I didn’t make you gag. lol Essentially, you ate within your budget. You made one pizza last two days. You got creative with pasta. You could eat off of $10.00. You knew each restaurant’s deal days. This may be a different time, but you may need to dig into that mindset for a bit. There’s nothing wrong with that. If you have to feed that family on spaghetti, make it happen. When I was an RA in college, I created a study break for my residents by buying about six boxes of kiddie cereal and various types of milk and setting up a cereal bar. Do what you need to do, Sweethearts. Create that magic!
Go outside. It’s no secret that when we were younger, we went outside more. Yes, there’s a pandemic out there, but there’s a reason why my grandparents would always tell us to play outside. Remember when you had to walk because you didn’t have a car or you took public transportation to the nearest stop? It expands the mind, strengthens the body, and uplifts the spirit. Take advantage of parks and hiking trails. Those are excellent places to create beautiful memories within social distancing and budgeting parameters. So, explore your city, county, and state!
Sharing is caring. Back in the day, my college friends and I shared meals. Between three of us, we would conjure up a protein and some sides. This may be a little interesting with the virus, but it won’t hurt to buy a couple of frozen dinners or cans of soup for your neighbor. If you’re that neighbor, it won’t hurt to accept the kindness. The more we stay in silos, the more likely we are to die in them. Be careful? Yes. Be caring? Yes again.
I truly believe that COVID-19 has been a great equalizer and everyone has the opportunity to tap into the survival skills that got them through the tough times of yesteryear.
The pandemic won’t last forever. We just have to make it through this chapter. Don’t be afraid to dig deep to see it through. Don’t be afraid to let that “survivor you” float to the surface and do what s/he does best. Then look in the mirror without shame and smile at that awesomeness.
Once upon a time, I left my house with a prayer. I was a fresh out of grad school with boots on the ground trying to secure a teaching job. My phone had just been stolen as I was using pay phones to call schools and possible leads. I had gone to the library to print out directions because GPS was not an option. The summer heat was not my friend and I was beyond hot — inside and out. So on a day in June, I said “Lord, I need to work somewhere. Just tell me where to go.”
I drove straight to that store and took a deep breath before walking inside. It had been a couple of years since I had worked retail and frankly, I was not looking forward to it. “You’re allergies are going to freak out,” I muttered to myself as I walked through the store, “but you gotta do something.” Your frankness and your warmth sold me from the jump. I knew you were the real deal, but I didn’t imagine that you would become family.
When my sweet friend Nancy passed away, you showed me empathy by letting me work in the backroom so my tears could flow at will. When my former husband’s diabetic skin needed suggestions, you always made sure to keep me updated on the best products to soothe its agitations. I appreciated your humanity. And while I appreciate every supervisor I’ve worked for, I have comprehensively learned more from you than any corporate experience I ever had. I learned more than how to run a store. I learned how to use discernment during the hiring process, how to mix grace with facts, how to manage personalities, how to work that calculator and know your products like you know your name, how to provide a positive customer experience, and how not to be pissed off everyday. I would tell myself after a long day or a hard shift, “If Wanda can do it, I can do it.” We made it through holiday rushes, limited staffing, late night inventories, and ridiculous floor sets. Every time, I would tell myself that same sentence.
You know my family because you’re woven into our tapestry. My mother respects you and when my father and former husband were alive, so did they. Your heart is bigger than most people I’ve met and I am so grateful you’re in my world. Like I tell anyone that acts sideways – “I’ll fight you over that red-head. She’s family.”
Wanda, I pray that every single seed you have sown in the lives of others will come back to you 100-fold. I have no worries about your future because you’ve planted so richly. You know I have your back no matter what and you know I’m not the only one that will say the same thing. All of us are so much better because of your awesomeness.
First of all, you rock. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
You’re probably gearing up for the holiday weekend right now and while this year looks a little different, it is still projected to be busy nonetheless. Around this season, for some reason, the public seems to lose its wits. Rudeness flies freely like the wicked witch’s monkeys from The Wizard of Oz. It’s repulsive and I don’t condone it one bit.
Whether you had to take a retail job to secure your family or you’re just trying to make some extra cash, you deserve to be treated with dignity. I wish I knew why people toss their money at cashiers, don’t read their coupons, or insult your intelligence, but after 17 years of retail experience, I can’t say that I’ve found the master key to that one yet. Even when I was in leadership and managed a high-volume store, I still had people question my ability to assist them. I am convinced — when some customers cross the threshold of your store, something happens to their neurons and they are draped in a disgusting cloak of indignation and entitlement. It can make you angry if you let it.
May we all show each other some grace this retail season and thereafter, but truthfully, there’s a lot of stress in the world. So, gear up. Someone will probably try to degrade you today or yell at you over something beyond your control. I’m sorry about that. When you put on that uniform or that nametag, remember that you are simply fulfilling a role. You are not what you do. You are not a peon. You have exceptional skills and you are valuable to all who enter. You are still the fantastic phenom you were when you got out of bed this morning and you will be when you lie down tonight.
I don’t care who comes into your establishment, remember that you are the heartbeat of the company. Don’t let anyone make you feel otherwise, OK? Don’t let it stick.
Work that shift. Make that money. Help those people. Go home proud.
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.
Well, Sweethearts, I have one for you that may sting a bit. It’s got some length, but as soon as I heard it, I knew I would share it with you at an appointed time. Now is that time.
“Let the fools pass you.”
Heard 2/9/20 @ 7:16 PM
I was driving on the night I heard this. A car was riding my tail. I don’t have road rage, so I waited until I could safely change lanes to get out of the way. The driver sped up but did not pass me. It was a weird moment because I had been subject to road rage before.
A few years ago, a White male targeted me while driving one day and antagonized me for a couple of interstate exits. I had not cut anyone off or was going too slow, so I was confused when the taunting began. I got over; he got over. When I sped up, he sped up. When I braked, he did the same. He almost sideswiped me numerous times and tried to run me off the road. He yelled choice words and had an evil grin. I truly believe he was possessed. The end of that story includes me doing some defensive driving and swerving off the exit he tried to block me from accessing. My hands were shaking, but I quickly circled back to head in the opposite direction and took some alternative ways to my destination.
So, you can understand why I was a little leery of this present-day situation. It was night time, not during the day like the previous experience. My senses were heightened and I was prepared to defensively drive again. I sped up; so did the driver. I braked; the driver did the same. I sped up and the driver revved the engine. I was annoyed, but calm. I accelerated with the intentions of leaving the opposing car behind my tail lights. Then, I heard the Holy Spirit say loud and clear – “Let the fools pass you.” I let off the gas and the car kept going into the distance.
For a moment, I was morphing into someone from the Fast & Furious movies. I was prepared to take my ride to the 100 mark and beyond if it meant proving my point to that driver. I didn’t sense danger; I detected that s/he was baiting me. And I almost took it. Almost.
Sweetheart, the evil forces in this world want nothing more than you bait you into being reckless. To be so autonomous that you sincerely disregard everything you know to be the truth and cling to a thwarted view of community. You know that Jesus is the answer and you also know that the pandemic is still here. You know that God is Jehovah Jireh and you also know what’s in your bank account. You know that faith is imperative, but you also know God made science. It’s inevitable to be shaky about some things, but it is not acceptable to be dismissive, callous, and hasty.
Fools will be fools until they want to know better. Jesus knew that better than anyone. Here is He was… the Son of God wrapped in skin and filled with blood, organs, and sensitivity and yet, even He couldn’t convince everyone that He was the One they prayed for and that His Word was true. Instead, the law keepers and church officers cherry picked the Word and made it fit to their liking. It happens now. The parable of the virgins is a good example of how some people take a fragments of information and miss the essential component for it to be effective (Matthew 25).
It’s not your job to convince a fool of her/his wrongdoings. It’s your job as a faith walker to set the example to light the way to right standing with God. Period. So, the more you yell on social media, the more you speak out of season, the more you choose to be blind to the truth, the less empathy you exhibit, the less Love you spread, and the less Jesus they see.
I am convinced that some people just like to rebel. They love to stir the ant mound. They feed off of drama, frenzy, and sensationalism instead of being patient enough to research the facts and listen comprehensively. Critically thinking is simply not in their repertoire. If they don’t like it, they starkly stonewall it.
As frustrating as that may be, your freedom comes in knowing that you are not responsible for their actions. Yes, in times like these, we can be negative benefactors of their decisions, but ultimately, we are not responsible for others. We are responsible to each other not for each other.
So, if someone wants to rebel against handwashing and sanitation because they believe it weakens their immune system to fight off COVID-19, let them have it. You just make sure you wash and sanitize you and your area. If your sister keeps squandering her money, let it go. Let the fools pass you. Yes, I said it. Let… the fools… pass you. You gain nothing trying to convince someone who has made it their ultimate goal to be rebellious against anything that appears to threaten her/him. You could showcase a petri dish full of bacteria and a person with a rebellious spirit will tell you it’s not real. You can read him the law and his reality will say those rights are being taken away. She will say “thank you, essential workers,” then say that the elimination of EMT Breonna Taylor‘s life was justified. The same person will wear steel toe boots, a hard hat, gloves, or a mask to work, but not follow the rules in a grocery store, school, or barber shop. Sweetheart, let them pass you. It’s not worth your peace to be angry at their mindset. Frustrated? Sure. Annoyed? Understandable. Just like I was with those drivers, I ultimately had to veer off or slow down to save myself.
Here’s a couple of verses as a reminder when your foot is on the emotional gas and you’re on the edge of fighting the whirlwind –
“Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.” – Proverbs 18:2
“Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” – Matthew 15:14
Lastly, I’m reminded of a time in school when I saw some students cheating on a test. It made me angry because I had studied hard for it and they were getting away with a great grade. Then came the semester exam and those students were struggling. One of them left out of anger a few minutes into the exam. I didn’t feel sorry for them. I did not help them. I kept going. They didn’t fool the teacher; they fooled themselves.
Whether it’s personal or professional, I pray that you let the fools pass you. It just seems like what you’re doing isn’t worth it, but your sanity, your wellbeing, your health is worth the work. Don’t let anyone make you think otherwise.
First, I pray that you and your family are doing OK.
I know there’s a lot going on in the world, so I decided to take a practical approach with this week’s post.
Emotional digestion has been on my mind. Here are 4 things that can help with that process — two for my fellow Black community members and two for members of other races and/or ethnic groups.
MY BLACK COMMUNITY
Breathe. No, seriously… breathe. You need oxygen between the sprints toward racial equality, past due justice for lives lost to racially-motivated crimes, and police brutality. None of these are going to stop tomorrow, so be careful about overwhelming yourself and taking on the good fight 24/7. You’re human… and I get it, you’re also a soldier for the cause. So am I. Even soldiers need to rest and recoup. Why else would they have “lights out,” “chow time” and “rations?” Taking it further — how else will you have enough oxygen to forgive when the time comes? Yes, I said the f-word. I know right now that is not swirling in your soul, but if a friend pleaded for you to forgive him for his bias and culturally insensitive actions, would you do it? Would your heart be so full of rage that you would be deaf to his cry? This is what happens when we don’t breathe. We die of asphyxiation by racial trauma and emotional bondage. It’s not worth it. Keep fighting for basic human rights, but don’t die from your own anger. Take a minute from social media. Pause the news if needed. Breathe so you can fight again.
Don’t judge each other’s gloves. There are different shades of fight that can work toward the same goal. The worst thing we can do is judge each other’s fight style. Some acts are foundational, such as voting and teaching our children what to do if they feel like their lives are in danger during a traffic stop. Other acts are forged with specific passions to deliver a powerful punch in the wall of racism, such as songwriting, education, science, public speaking, or marching in the streets. Whatever it is, we can’t afford to judge each other’s punches because they don’t look like ours. If they land, they’re working. I know it’s difficult not to see everyone express themselves like you, but take heart in knowing that the collective approach will be effective for generations to come.
COMMUNITY BROTHERS & SISTERS
Listen. You are being asked to lend your ear and your heart right now. Yes, I know that you have experienced disgrace in some form, but you are not in our skin and your children’s/brother’s/sister’s/mother’s/father’s name isn’t on the growing list of police violence. So, take note of this Chinese symbol for “listen.” I have used it in my communication classes to reiterate one simple principle – listening and hearing are not the same. It requires effort and sincerity. It requires a pause on your feelings to highlight the concerns of others.
Acknowledge and explore. We all have biases — this is a fact. Would you not want to hire your cousin over a stranger? It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a nepotist; it could be that you truly want to see your cousin be successful. There’s nothing wrong with that. The problem arises when the stranger is the best fit for the job and she is denied the position because of that familial tie. The problem comes in when you won’t let your child sleepover at your neighbor’s house because they don’t look like you. The issue may come to the surface when he brings a Black woman home as his girlfriend. You may not know how you feel until it’s right in front you. So, one thing you can do (that won’t require a Facebook fight everyday) is acknowledge that you are an imperfect human that may have an ancestral seed of racism. It’s OK. I know that’s asking a lot, but if Black communities can assimilate into predominately White board rooms by changing their hair, speech, and demeanor, certainly our fellow brothers and sisters can take a magnifying glass and do a spot check on their souls. Here’s a couple of verses that may help as you explore yourself. I allow the Holy Spirit to take a deep dive at least once a year. It helps greatly and I always discover something that needs removal.
Maybe you’re inundated with opinions. Maybe you’re overwhelmed with social media. Maybe you’re exhausted from empathy. Whatever it is, you deserve to be healthy enough to handle it. I pray that these notes help you function at a higher level.
Another name of God is Jehovah El Gemuwal – The LORD God of Recompense. As a Body of Christ, we do pray for righteousness to be served for lives that have been lost unnecessarily. Here are just 110 of them. There are many more and in most cases, they resulted in delayed justice or no charges at all. I place them here so you can pray for their families and remember that they did not come home to them one day. I also hope it serves as a somber reminder that one of these names could be mine.
Peace & Blessings, Sweethearts. Breathe. Heal. Serve. Fight. As always, Thanks for listening.
Hi, Sweethearts! I hope that you are well wherever you are.
Right now, it’s a double national appreciation week highlighting teachers and nurses. *insert confetti party here especially for my fellow educators!* Both superheroes spar in different arenas, but I believe they face the same dragons that we all deal with.
They know what it’s like to prove themselves.
Ask a teacher or a nurse to recall their first time in the field and they can describe it vividly. Perhaps their hands shook as they searched for the vein to administer medicine. Maybe they rocked the 1st period and the 2nd period was an epic fail. They were nervous. They encountered self-doubt. They had a challenging colleague or supervisor. At some point, schooling had to meet real life. The rubber had to meet the road. Along the same continuum, they had to dig deep and find their grit. In both careers, they are in direct contact with the ones who need them. That comes with a certain level of pressure to sink or swim.
Next, think about the last time you were taught by a male teacher or had a male nurse… if you had one at all. In America, we are accustomed to seeing female teachers and nurses more often than male ones. Why? I believe it’s that both occupations are seen as nurturing. This can be discouraging for men who want to pursue those careers and their choice in career paths can oxygenate discrimination once they get there. For example, a friend of mine taught science but was often mistaken for a coach. He was often asked what sport he coached when he attended educational conferences and they were shocked when he said robotics. Another friend is an excellent elementary school teacher, but we both know that unless he is a principal, he always watched closer to be sure he isn’t inappropriate with his students or deemed “soft” among his friends. So, he works harder not to be viewed as a pedophile or homosexual even though he is neither.
They know what it’s like to press pause for the cause.
I remember being on a 10-minute break between classes and crying my eyes out for 8 of those 10 minutes. Yes, eight. I was still processing my father’s death and something reminded me of him. I fought through the memory in class, but once that break came I calmly yet briskly walked down the hall and out the door. Sitting in my car felt cozy and safe for my tears to flow. I set my alarm so I wouldn’t lose track of time and let the air of humanity flow through that superwoman vest of mine. It felt tight all day and I needed a break from being the oracle in the room. The alarm punctured time and I was thrust back into the reality of students waiting for the 2nd half of class. So, like an athlete at after half-time, I wiped my face and geared up to go back in. I drank my water, glossed my lips, popped a Ricola drop, and walked into the building like a rockstar model. Why? Because my students needed me more than I needed to cry and I had one minute to get to class. That was reality.
What nurse or teacher hasn’t had that moment? We know there are students and patients that care, but they are not always positioned to be empathetic. So, we suck it up. We press pause and we continue. Continue to give. Continue to empower and encourage. Continue to listen. Continue to problem-solve. Continue to serve.
Nurses and teachers of all kinds and specialties, I see you and right now, I believe the world sees us all the more. Thank you for doing what it takes. We will get through this together.
Peace & Thanks for listening. Be kind to each other out there and stay well.
I’ve been sleeping pretty well and not at all — and it’s been great. Let me explain.
You already know that I’m a night owl. That’s when my creative juices come out and play. Sometimes their stride can generate a supernatural momentum, so much so that the sun and I say hello the next day. When that happens, I don’t just get a lot done; I am infused with energy to execute the plan laid out before me. If there are obstacles in my way like a bunch of linebackers, I feel inoculated against them and empowered to run them right over. Lately, this is how those sleepless nights have been.
Then, there’s the flip. Aside from a few not-so-great health days, my sleep has been sound. Ridiculously sound. It doesn’t hurt that my work commutes have stopped under quarantine, so that created a lot of room for naps as needed. For someone who usually spends 4-5 hours a day in a car, those naps have been golden.
I remember a season when this wasn’t the case. I used to have repetitive nightmares of various kinds. They would feel so real that I would delay going to bed. I would tire myself out in hopes that I wouldn’t wake up in the middle of the night. I felt tormented instead of settled at sundown. Then, this verse changed the game.
I realized had control over my rejuvenation. The tumultuous overnights were actually an evil scheme against my productivity and my Peace. So, I took my sleep back. I quoted that verse every night before I went to bed. More than once if necessary (which was often).
My encouragement to you is that you re-possess your rest. When you sleep well, your body rebuilds. Your mental prowess increases. You power up to be a better version of yourself. Now, you can see why it was such a perfect plan… to steal something that would enhance your God-given awesomeness. Don’t let it happen especially in this season. You deserve to be your best self, so do what it takes. Speak with Word over your rest.
Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweetheart. Here’s to those sweet dreams too.
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?