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Flashback Friday: Just For You

Good Morning, Sweethearts! How are you? You’re still moving forward, so I’m proud of you. *fist bump*

Tuesday was the last day of therapeutic massage school (insert quick dance right here) and I took a break from the blog on Wednesday to soak it in. So, I’m coming with a “shortstop” today to make up for missing our Wind Down this week. Below are 9 quotes that were on my Instagram when I began blogging. They are still relevant in my life, and I pray that at least one of them speaks to you as well.

Peace & Blessings to your day and weekend! TGIF!

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Wednesday Wind Down: The Flood

Good Evening, Sweethearts. There’s more transparency than usual below, so here we go.

I cried last week at work, and I’m OK with that.

That statement may not mean much to you, but it means everything to me. 

Grant it, no one was within my radius, but at that point, I didn’t care if a soul was near. I’m not afraid of tears, but unless it is in a worship service or tears of joy, I do my best not to cry in front of people. No matter who they are – family, friend, or acquaintance. And crying at work? An absolute no-no. Even though family, friends, and acquaintances are completely free to unleash their tears on me and let them drop down the back of my shirt, for me, it’s not the same freedom. After all, that’s how us givers feel. We’re used to having open arms instead of receiving them.

Sorry. On with the story, before I get ahead of myself.

Last week, I didn’t cry tears of joy or frustration. I truly believe they were a gift from God. The pressure valve had clicked and my saline salvation released the pressure. Twice.

For the past 2 years, I’ve ridden on a rollercoaster of experiences, including snuggling with depression after a car accident where I slammed head-on into a guard rail and on the flip side, publishing my first book. Fluctuating income and a 4.0 GPA in massage therapy school. A corporate Excellence in Teaching Award and the death of loved ones. A cancer scare and the exhilarating participation prominent performances. Kindness from strangers thousands of miles away and an amicable divorce. I often felt like a twisted vial of Bible heroes –  Joseph the Dreamer, Job the Survivor, the giving and relentless Shunamite woman, Nehemiah the Builder, and Elijah the Miracle Conduit. Every high where my hands flew up came with a transfer from pit to pit as clusters of unrest pounded my back like the seat of an old rollercoaster. The undulations were inevitable. You wouldn’t believe them all. On most days, I was perfectly fine, in the center of gravity and gravitas. On other days, let’s just say I was locked deep within my introverted shell.

The smiles, jokes, encouragement, motivation… that’s how I live everyday and all of that is real. And last week, so were my tears. They weren’t the cute ones either. Beginning as a silent scream, they arrived with wailing in tow like airport luggage. In the first wave, I had 9 minutes left on my lunch break at school and the bank representative expressed such empathy that I was rattled. “Just get to the car,” I said. “You don’t have time to do this right now, so just get to the car and give it a few minutes.” The bank representative didn’t know my story; I just gave the facts she wanted and that was enough for her to feel my spirit over the phone and beautifully encourage me. Then, I permitted myself to twist the valve and let the tears go. The 2nd wave? Yeah, pretty much the same – random, ugly-faced, and loud.

Like many givers, I have grown accustomed to trudging along, staying optimistic, and living in gratefulness. Unfortunately, this also leaves a sliver of opportunity for me to press and pack down the cries of my heart. Somewhere along the way, it became more “Christian” to suffer in silence and only praise God in public. Then,  when I stopped in the emergency lane of life to catch my breath and actually shared a glimpse of the reality in which I was thriving, it was viewed as whining and not having enough faith. Really? How ludicrous! So, what did I do? *smh* I stopped sharing with certain friends and family and just kept running. Well, last week, I took a pause to let my soul cry out and that release was my blessing. With 2 minutes left, I began to sob with gratitude that His provision and understanding kept me this far. “Thank you, Lord” and words of adoration seeped from my lips. When my break time was up, I packed my half-eaten home-cooked lunch, wiped my eyes, blew my nose, washed my hands, and clocked back in to massage my next client.

I’m sharing this with you as encouragement, not as a plea for pity. In that moment, I was overwhelmed because I was so grateful that God never sees me as weak when I cry. He actually sees me as strong when I plop my dead weight on Him. If anything, I am creation under obedience and a daughter that isn’t scared to fall hopelessly and hopefully into the lap of her Father. Doesn’t a tree bleed sap when it’s scarred? Doesn’t a cloud release rain when it’s heavy? So, why can’t I? You may have had that moment recently or you can feel the pressure valve ticking a little and you haven’t cried yet. If you need a time-out to release the kracken, take it. Find a bathroom, closet, public park, wherever you feel safe and just let the flood do its work. No matter how strong you are or how much faith you project, your tears are a gift from God. Just check out the people we look up to in the Bible. Trust me, you’re in good company. Countless times, prophets, disciples, and pariahs cried out to God

Tears were made to purify and speak on behalf of the spirit. Don’t stifle them. Let them flow. Breathe. Then wipe your face, drink some water, and get back on the road. There is nothing weak about the flood, for it has much strength when it runs free. And you’ll be able to run free too.
Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweetheart. Hope it helps. 

Wednesday Wind Down/TM Lesson #4: Arrhythmia

Happy Wednesday, Sweethearts!

We learned something cool in therapeutic massage class about the heart and I underlined it in my book as a reminder to share it with you. I remember learning it in college, but something about this time around was louder.

Did you know that the heart has its own rhythm? As in, every organ is co-dependent except the heart, which can beat (for a short time) outside of the body. It has a natural pacemaker (the sinoatrial or SA node) that initiates the electrical sequence for the heart beat, and that the blood turbulence in the atria and ventricles create your heart sounds. Neat, right?! So the SA node kicks off the rhythm of your heart like a drummer giving the band 4 counts to start a song and your valves keep the sound flowing in the right direction – in, out, up, down, arms, legs, lungs, head… it’s all coordinated with the heart’s rhythm. And if the beat is off, well… that’s not good.

Image:
Venzella “Joy the Drummer” Williams

What I extracted from that lesson was God made us with our own rhythm. We walk around with this customized drum set in our chests at all times. Never do we say “Hold on, let me check my pulse. It may have stopped today.” No, we just keep going through life – talking, laughing, living. We trust the rhythm and it keeps the rest of our body on beat. So, what happens when the rhythm changes? Then, my friends, there is arrhythmia. Not all rhythmic changes are fatal, but some warrant close attention.

 

Some arrhythmias are so brief (for example, a temporary pause or premature beat) that the overall heart rate or rhythm isn’t greatly affected. But if arrhythmias last longer, they may cause the heart rate to be too slow or too fast or the heart rhythm to be erratic – so the heart pumps less effectively. (American Heart Association)

CJW and Sheila E.
The legend herself, Sheila E.

In life, the very same thing happens. We can be on a path that feels so good and then something small can throw us off. On the other hand, that steady pulse of life can be disrupted by something large and it can feel like the entire band needs to walk off stage and go home. Whatever the sound, you’ll feel the rhythm of life change. Maybe it changes your daily routine at home or your financial distribution. Maybe it skews your speech or the way you see someone. I believe we experience spiritual arrhythmia and I am convinced that we either learn to adjust or, like the heart, we simply stop. We wander through life on autopilot and wonder why we don’t feel anything. Maybe it’s because our heart is offbeat and we need a pacemaker to jump it off. Well, God is the ultimate heart regulator. I know this from personal experience. When I felt like the walking dead, he resurrected me to see life through different lenses and I haven’t forgotten that gift, even if my heart skips a beat or two along the way.

You don’t have to die from arrhythmia of the mind, body, or spirit. If you find yourself reading this and you are in need a heart check as you wind down tonight, I am praying with you. Contact me and I’ll pray with you via email. Just don’t live off beat and by all means, don’t stop. You are needed in the symphony.

Want to learn more about the heart? Check out this link from the American Heart Association. It has explanations, videos, and downloadables. A nerd’s dream come true!

Sheila E. photos courtesy of moi at the Sheila E. Concert (epic.)
Joy photo courtesy of: NBC News

Wednesday Wind Down: End of Day

Happy Wednesday, Sweethearts.

Imagine this scenario:

It’s been a long day at the workplace and the only thing you want to do is envelope yourself in the warmth of pure affection. On the ride home, you anticipate the kiss of your beloved and an embrace that would melt the day away. So, you smile as you unlock the door and call out the sweetest name your lips have ever known. Before changing clothes, cooking dinner, or unloading the car, you desire nothing more than to fall into the arms of spiritual, emotional, and physical safety. You call out once more, but no response. As you search the house, your anticipation morphs into disappointment; then, you hear a knock. Finally! When you open the door, your love on the other side. Your arms fling open and you are ready to enjoy the moment you’ve been waiting for all day, but s/he says that you have to wait until you hug each other. You ask how long and the reply is “I don’t know.” Your heart is crushed as the door closes and you hear your person drive away.

Can you imagine your arms being open all day long waiting for the one you love to run into them? Me either. The sheer thought of it makes my heart ache. So, you now understand how I felt when I read Romans 10:21 this week – “But regarding Israel, God said, ‘All day long, I have stretched out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.'”

1525304834038_image

I immediately thought of the prodigal son and his loving father. I thought of Hosea and Gomer, his promiscuous wife (check it out – he has his own book in the Bible). I thought of someone waiting for days, years, even decades in hopes that a love would return. To the extreme, how heartbreaking it would be for a Father-Creator to see disloyalty from afar and leave His arms open anyway.

So, what does your end of day look like? Are you tired of something of running from something? Are you exhausted from fighting with your demons? Are you angry at the person who hurt you? The Father’s arms are open. Right now. Tonight. Every night. No matter how stubborn you are and how much you think you can figure it all out yourself, His arms are open all day long. Watching. Waiting. Anticipating. Searching for you in the darkness and hoping that you’re on your way.

My, what a beautiful God we serve.

Peace, thanks for listening, and wind down safely, my Loves. Oh yeah, and don’t forget to exhale in His arms tonight.

Wednesday Wind Down: Yes and No

Hey Sweethearts!

Tonight’s wind down is pretty simple because that’s how it hit me.

I was reading an article last night from Entrepreneur.com – 3 Rules I Use to Stay Productive and Not Overwhelmed. I read productivity articles often to find practices that best suit my purpose and vision. This one was particularly interesting because the guest writer Ted Serbinski engaged personal examples that created a comprehensive model of how he uses life-changing principles.

Over the last couple of years, I have adopted some of these rules and they have enriched me personally, academically, and professionally. I am a full-time student, educator, writer, and executive director of a performing arts troupe. On any given day, I have homework to grade, rehearsal to attend, and content to write. So, needless to say, I was eager to read Serbinski’s wisdom as a father of three under age three that has a portfolio of 40-plus startups that he has invested in and actively support – plus, he receives 1,000 emails and takes 15-30 meetings. WHAT THE WHAT?!

One section especially grabbed my attention – “Consider this: Each time you say yes to something, you are inadvertently saying no to something else. That “yes” takes up time in your life and when that next opportunity comes up, you don’t have the time to say yes.”

I incorporated this principle into my life some time ago and put it in overdrive 2 years ago, and I appreciated his wording of it.

So tonight, I’m asking you the same question I asked myself – Where are your yes’s going? Are you saying no enough to make room for the yes’s you’re supposed to say? 

Let that churn a bit and make it settle in your spirit. Have a great week and wind down safely, my Loves.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

Photo courtesy of Forfend.

 

Wednesday Wind Down: Move Along

Today was a good day and this week has been a good week so far.

I had the chance to observe and experience sadness, pure joy, introspection, encouragement, and curiosity. And it’s only Wednesday. lol Out of all of these totems on my journey, the most intriguing lesson I learned was how to move along. And no, not the “hurry up, get over it, keep it moving” mantra we all live by during the workweek. I mean, how to move along the spectrum in which you’re experiencing.

If you’re sad, float in it for a minute or two – then allow the Holy Spirit to show you how blessed you are. Keyword: allow

If you’re joyful, dance along the grain of that moment. Let it move you in every way. Absorb it. Be in the present. Let it fill you up and overflow.

If you’re contemplating life’s questions and what fuels you, go there. Step into the groove of thought and write down what you see. Don’t be afraid of it. Don’t be leery of the future.

And last, but definitely not least… if you’re being encouraged, let the shower of good words wash over you like a summer rain. It has the ability to refresh your spirit as long as you don’t force an umbrella of insecurities above your head.

Move along with the moment. Don’t keep pumping the brakes on everything. It’s OK to be consumed with love, joy, sadness, etc. Just don’t live in the dark places. It’s not where you were meant to thrive. Grow, yes. Thrive… not a chance.

I believe in you, Sweetheart. Let’s keep going through the week.

Peace, Blessings, and Thanks for listening!

You’re the Agent

A short stop for your week

Hey Sweethearts!

I’m on my lunch break and decided to give you some #MondayMotivation. God gave this illustration to me a couple of years ago and just recently, I’ve had friends that needed to hear it, so hopefully, it helps you too.

Imagine a washing machine full of dirty clothes. You put the laundry detergent inside as the basin fills with water and close the lid. You expect those dirty clothes to be restored to their rightful identity of being clean after the wash cycle, correct? The clothes should be clean after the detergent has done its job. Well, that’s what God expects of His agents.

Bottomline – you’re the agent of change. You have to accept that assignment if everything and everyone is agitating you. Laundry detergent is also known as a cleaning agent. Upset about systemic dysfunction? You are the agent that is supposed to infuse into the environment, not the other way around. Don’t let discord and chaos make you change your identifiable characteristics of excellence and positivity. You may rub people the wrong way with it – after all, I’m sure the clothes are not happy with all of that friction, but they have to change. Your co-workers or cousins may get on your nerves, but you are the agent. Everything around you has to subject itself to the power of God in you.

Peace & Thanks for listening. You got this. Go have a great week! *fist bump*

Photo courtesy of Mother Earth News

#bloglikecrazy: Day 28 – Measure

Can we just chat for a minute? OK. Cool.

I was tickled after reading a devotional last night about not being offended by someone else’s portion of talents and gifts. I mean certified tickled. I was laughing in bed and shook my head in amazement before falling asleep.

Check this out: Matthew 25:15 from The Parable of the Talents

“To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one,
each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey.”

So, if you don’t know the story, a master has to leave town for awhile and gives his workers a portion of his wealth to manage while he’s gone. To one servant, he gave 5 talents. To another, he gave two talents. And to the third one, he gave one talent. Now, one talent is worth about 15 years of labor’s wages, so each man had enough to work with. Totally excuse free.

But this is what got me laughing. We pay so much attention to what someone else has, how many talents they received from the Master, that we forget the part that says “each according to his own ability.” Now, check it – if we just grow what WE were allocated, it can still double which is WAY more than what we had (Matthew 25:16-17)!

Then, if that wasn’t enough, both the 5-talent and 3-talent servants got the same response from the master:

Matthew 25:21 (NLT)
“The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!” 

It didn’t matter how much they started with because he knew what he gave them in the first place. He just needed him to grow what they had. Isn’t that a simple concept. God is sitting there waiting on us to just grow what we’ve been given. Don’t worry about the size and placement; just multiply it! Multiply your measure, your gifts, love, peace, laughter… make it grow! The 1-talent servant was deemed wicked because he didn’t have faith in action to believe what he had was enough. Shame on all of us for thinking that way sometimes. And that’s what made me giggle as I turned on my side and set my alarm for the next day. I’ve been doing this thing all wrong. I just have to grow what’s in my hand because it is enough and the God that gave it to me is enough too.

And not to mention that even the verses of the parable doubled (14+14 = 28). LOL!

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo courtesy of YouTube.

 

 

 

#bloglikecrazy: Day 22 – Roles

I think everyone should work retail during a holiday season one time in life. Just one time. That’s all it would take to digest humility, camaraderie, and self-control.

My first taste of retail was in college at a bible bookstore. I loved it. I worked with great people and it was normal to see an associate praying with a customer. My kind of environment. Whether I was on the sales floor or behind the register, I was comfortable.

saleFast forward a bit to working in the retail world after college. I wanted to make extra money to minimize my debt. Needless to say, my patience was shorter and my tolerance level had dropped dramatically. I couldn’t understand either side of the tomfoolery. Why wake up, get dressed, and drive through traffic to be lazy or cause havoc as an employee or a customer? Don’t get me wrong – quality service is important to me. I’ve worked retail on the management level as well, and I understand the value of meeting the needs of every customer and providing solutions that benefit both the company and the consumer. In those leadership positions, I also believed in protecting employees from abusive behavior and I did not tolerate the degradation of anyone on my team. Nevertheless, when the roles are reversed from humans-on-equal-terms to employee-consumer, something changed.

All of a sudden, I wasn’t an intelligent professional working to make extra cash to reach a financial goal. I was “she,” “her,” or “that girl over there.” Apparently, I was someone who didn’t warrant a “Hello, how are you?” before being thrown money on the counter at the end of the transaction. I was looked upon as inferior enough to hold bags of perfectly capable people shopped around the store and fetch items they didn’t want in the first place. I had an idea of what I was getting into, but I wasn’t prepared for it. Then, to take the cake, if the customer found out about my other titles (educator, choreographer, former caregiver, etc.) or that I’ve traveled extensively, then their eyes light up as if to say “Oh, you’re more than what I thought.”

The truth is I was an equal before they decided to see me as one. If the setting was a business mixer or at a concert, the interaction would potentially be positive and enriching. We would converse about psychological constructs, civic issues, and professional development. Since the stage was a retail store and I was playing the role of an employee, many people assumed they were superior.

It made me think of how many times we judge people based upon the role we see them in at a specific time – the janitor, the doctor, the restaurant server, the hair stylist, the single parent, the athlete… who often do we size up a person’s intelligence or capability based upon the role? Let’s try to do less of that during this holiday season and beyond.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo via youbabyandi.com

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