Friday, August 8, 2014
I recently completed my first, walking half marathon, which was a fund raiser for the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center's Breast Examination Center of Harlem. Below are brief thoughts I jotted down along the journey.
Tue, Apr 08, 2014 @ 1:31 PM
I am psyched to be taking this journey to improve my health and fitness and, at the same time, to be able to help raise funds to support people living with cancer, right here in New York City. I've never walked a half marathon before, but I am excited. I will be sure to keep you posted on my progress over the next few months. Ready ... set ... go!
Sun, Apr 27, 2014 @ 5:51 PM
Today marks the end of my third week of training & I'm still excited. My regimen includes walking (of course), strength training, and cross training. For part of the cross training, I decided to try Zumba since I've heard such good things about it. The first time I went, I thought I was going to pass out, but I survived and decided to go back. After this week, I think I'm actually getting some of the moves down and not feeling as uncoordinated as when I began. Wepa!
As far as my walking is concerned, these early weeks are geared toward building endurance; the later weeks I will be focusing on my timing. Yesterday, the weather was very accommodating so I took a scenic, 5.5 mile walk along the Belt Parkway.
Until the next update, please keep me, the other walkers and the patients of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center's Breast Examination Center of Harlem in your prayers.
Thu, May 22, 2014 @ 9:14 AM
I always knew I could do this, but after my walk along the Belt Parkway last Saturday, I am even more confident. My pedometer is acting up, so I am now using the cool Walk the Walk app to track my distance and speed. Saturday's goal was to walk 7 miles and I did at least 7.5. I have been concentrating on my power walking form and I am glad to say that I am improving every day. In a couple of weeks I will start to focus on increasing my speed.
Here is an interesting fact I learned over the weekend: one of my dear friends was the first patient to be served at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center's Breast Examination Center of Harlem when they opened their doors in 1979. She still receives care there and highly recommends the center to everyone.
I'll keep posting updates on my training progress and look forward to working together with you to make a difference.
Tue, Jun 24, 2014 @ 10:12 AM
On Sunday I completed 11 weeks of training. It seems like I just started, yet the big day is almost here.
I am grateful for all of my friends and family who donated and helped me surpass my fundraising goal. Don't worry; if you have not made a contribution, it's not too late! Every dollar counts in the effort to assist the patients of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center's Breast Examination Center of Harlem.
My goal last Saturday was to walk 11 miles. I actually covered a total of 12.7 miles. I am in pretty good shape for the half marathon. My average pace is 3.3 mph which puts me right on target for finishing in four hours. Less than four is my goal, so over the next few weeks I have to work on slightly increasing my speed.
If you see me, I'm still my regular soft and fluffy self, so one may wonder how all of this walking is benefiting me. I actually feel stronger than when I started; power walking with the proper form strengthens my core. Another benefit is that working toward a goal and seeing it come to fruition is an ego boost. Although I do walk in the rain sometimes, most of my walks are in the sunshine and that helps increase my vitamin D intake. Finally, my walks nourish my spirit. I always walk outdoors where I am surrounded by nature. I do not wear headphones; therefore I am not distracted by music or text, email, FB, and class notifications. It's just me, my thoughts, prayers and praise.
Thanks for taking the time out to read about my journey.
Mon, Jul 28, 2014 @ 10:46 AM
It is over ... and of course, I have some stories to share.
When I started the half marathon journey, I knew that I would be venturing outside of a few comfort zones. I had to be disciplined with my training, I had to fundraise (& I really hate begging for money), I would be doing this walk while wearing only a bra on top, and I would have to actually decorate this bra. The training wasn't so bad, because I'm really, still, not that disciplined and I don't let it get to me. I did have a regimen that I mainly stuck to & I pushed through various weather conditions that would normally have stopped me. (Yeah, me!) I had a modest fundraising goal and my awesome family and friends made surpassing it a breeze. (Thanks, y'all!)
As far as decorating, I was not planning on buying any supplies other than what the event coordinators offered from Darby Smart. (I'm cheap like that.) I received a package that contained fabric dye, tubes of paint that dried to look like beads, glue, and some ribbon. Let me just state, I'm not a crafty chick. I looked at my dye options (what I thought was purple and green) & opted for the purple. It turned out pink. With streaks. But that's OK. Then I asked my daughter to come help me decorate. We had family night; I ordered pizza, the children looked at my supplies & laughed at me. After much questioning and some google searches, we decided on a theme. The princess decorated one cup & left me to finish the job. I did make a trip to the fabric store to purchase tulle and some other crap. So, here I am sewing stuff to cover my cleavage (it looked crazy), contemplating adding sparkling, dangly things to hide my jelly belly and my son, the prophet speaks. He basically said I was being ridiculous. He asked why I registered for an event that stipulated walking in a bra and then tried to add on things to cover up.(Was I body shaming myself?) That was the end of that. I remembered why I was walking & put an end to the decorating stress.
I finally made it to the night of the event which started on Randall's Island. I took the train uptown & waited on 125th Street for the bus across the bridge. I planned to walk alone since I couldn't convince anyone else to take this leap with me. However, I had the feeling that it would be better to walk with a group. Spirit is such a guide that I was led to approach two sisters who were also waiting for the bus. They were not with a team either & welcomed me to walk with them. Best trio ever! It so happened that we were three Brooklyn girls whose names all begin with "Sha". (I can't make this stuff up.) After a short but interesting bus ride which encouraged me to look up the history of the island (in addition to the park and Icahn stadium, the island houses a homeless shelter and psychiatric facility), we arrived.
Walkers were greeted with a band upon entering the arena. There was a pre-show that included a gospel choir, dancers, Broadway actors, and women on stilts. Food was available (but I ate at home). If you got there early enough one could have had a massage or had their picture taken at the booth. What made this a truly great experience were the people. I don't know how many walkers there were, but I was amazed by the creativity exhibited. There were feathers, rhinestones, tutus, lights, adinkra symbols, fishnets, wigs, hats, wings, Wonder Twins, Harry Potterish costumes, super heroes, a rainbow of colors, chiffon, furry leggings, and so much more. The diversity of participants also impressed me because there were people of all ages, genders, races, and physical abilities represented. Along the route, walkers expressed concern for each other; nobody was left behind. The volunteers, and even some of the cops, were encouraging and upbeat throughout the entire event. Some of the evening highlights included the following:
- The route itself was beautiful (mostly). The island was scenic. We walked across a bridge and down the East River Esplanade. We got to window shop when we cut across 57th Street. We also skirted Central Park for a while and strolled up Park Avenue.
- We were mad hype coming along the FDR drive. Drivers were honking & we were waving and screaming.
- The young dudes walking with us were hilarious. (I don't think they had water in their water bottles.)
- The Dominican girls had music. (Yes!)
- When we were starting to drag, the rats came out to cheer us on. That translated into a huge burst of energy as we ran down the block.
All in all, it was a great adventure. I'm proud of myself and all the other walkers. I can't wait for next year!
Friday, June 13, 2014
Photograph by Shahmet Gordon
I am currently engaged in a challenge that asks if I can be happy for 100 days in a row. Every day I post a picture on Facebook that represents something or someone that brought me joy. The real challenge for me is not in finding a happy moment but in limiting myself to posting just one thing. I'm pretty random and tend to find glee in most situations. (I'm not walking around singing and laughing all day long, but I do dance quite frequently!)
Generally, I post a picture with a sentence or two describing my thoughts. Occasionally I am more introspective. Such was the case on Tuesday when I posted the above picture with the following commentary:
Today's happyness is brought to me by the Holy Spirit through the gift of clarity. Today is the first day of my last class with University of Phoenix. I started college during the Fall 1985 semester. This has been a very, long journey to obtain a four year degree.
Over the years I have often felt like a failure. When I started as an undergrad, my parents were paying my tuition. That was a gift everyone isn't blessed with and I squandered it. At different times, I tried to go back to school; I would start and then stop again. (It was very annoying to pay for something I didn't complete.) I would look at my peers or family members who had graduated and wonder why I couldn't just do what they did. Not everyone went to college straight from high school - some went to the military first, some went to school while married, some while parenting young children. But I just couldn't seem to get it together enough to follow through.
What I now understand is that there is a time for everything; my time is now. I didn't have the capability to juggle family, work, church, and school. That worked out pretty well for my daughter, as I was available when she needed me and she is currently in a good place. By being in school right now, I am providing a tangible example to my son regarding studying, setting priorities, and working toward goals. Also, he can see that a couple of F's do not define a person; you can always work harder and do better.
I feel as if my life is flowing in 20 year phases. The first 20, childhood and adolescence, was a time for growth and development. The next 20, young adulthood, was for marriage, children, and focus on the family. This 20 seem to be about self-improvement, career, and community. (I'm only a few years in, so I can't be totally sure.) God willing I see another phase or two. I don't know what they will bring, but I do know they will be exciting years.
Clarity. A Gift. To be able to look back and see that there was a purpose. To understand that I am where I should be, doing what I should be doing.
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. (Ecclesiastes 3:11,12)
Thursday, January 30, 2014
Today is January 30, 2014 and it is the 30th consecutive day that I have exercised for a minimum of 30 minutes. Yay! Go me!
Quite some time ago (I'm feeling it’s been over two years, but I can't be sure), I joined a fitness group on FaceBook which is facilitated by the highly acclaimed filmmaker and activist, Byron Hurt. The description for B. Hurt "30 for 30" Fitness Challenge states, " ... this is a health and fitness support group. It is not a competition, nor is it a place to feel shamed for missing workouts or failing to work out for 30 minutes or more for 30 consecutive days. This is a space where we collectively share our workouts, our successes, our progress, our failures, difficulties, ups and downs, obstacles, and our pride in ourselves after working out for 30 days in a row." All of this is true!!!!!!!!
This is the first time I have actually made it to 30 days. I have a habit of starting hard and falling off. Sometimes I fall way, way, way off, for months on end, but I always start again.
Over the years, I have had a rocky relationship with my health, wellness and view of my body. I have set goals, revised them, and altogether scraped them. At times I have shared my vision with others, at times I kept it between God and myself. I have received advice, tried to fit other people’s regimens into my schedule, felt like I wasn't doing enough and gotten overwhelmed with it all. I have dropped weight & gained it back, multiple times. Right now, I am reflecting on “30 days” and feel like sharing, because you know, that’s how I do.
I started the year dancing at a party hosted by another member of the “30 for 30” group. On that day I decided I was going to move for at least 30 minutes every day this month. Whatever movement I chose, I knew it would be better than none at all. My goal is to be healthy. I have the rest of my life to achieve this, so there is no rush. I need to build a foundation of good habits and then build on it as I go along. So move I did. I dusted off my belly dance dvd collection and got to shimmying. After a while, I felt like venturing down to the gym and hit the elliptical machine or treadmill for a few days. Someone threw out a 24 day ab challenge, so I added crunches, leg lifts and planks to the mix. Some days I didn't feel like doing anything, but I pushed myself and jogged in place while watching TV. The point is, I moved. Most days I did the minimum of 30 minutes, sometimes I did more. In the future, I will probably add other forms of exercise & I will certainly get back to walking in the park or by the pier when the weather breaks.
So what changes have I seen this month? Well, my body is still fluffy, that hasn't changed too much yet (and I’m not really sure how much I want it to). I didn't weigh myself at the beginning of the year because I didn't feel like it. I did start getting on the scale on the 13th and in the last two weeks I lost two pounds. What’s more important is that I have made some changes in my eating habits - green smoothies every day for breakfast, more water, more salads, less processed foods, no lunches from Wendy’s, no Starbucks – that will benefit me in the long run. My time management skills are improving. If I want to make a green smoothie or be able to bring my lunch to work, I have to ensure I have all the items I need at home ahead of time. If I know I’m going to be out and about at night, I have to wake up early and get that 30 minutes in. This rolls over into other aspects of my life as well. That’s it for now, but that’s enough. I am a work in progress and I like what I see!
Tomorrow will be Day 31. Rest day before the new month? Nah; I’ll be meeting the BigCity R&B Line Dancers & getting my movement in. There’s room for one more if you want to join the fun!
Monday, January 6, 2014
My sister/mentor Hakikah Shamsiden of Shamsiden Coaching has proposed a One Word journey instead of New Year resolutions. “The concept behind One Word is to select a single word for the year and let it be one of your guiding principles.” (Please click the link above to read more on this exciting idea!)
I previously mentioned that I have a guiding scripture that shapes how I move in the world. Therefore, the concept of One Word resonates with me as I continue to mature and evolve. Through the years, I learned that when something just comes to me, it’s usually the Spirit prompting me & the wise action is to just go with it. As I read Hakikah’s post, the word fluidity jumped out at me; this is my word for the year. Fluidity can be defined as the property of flowing easily. It is a variation of fluid which, according to Merriam Webster, means having particles that easily move and change their relative position without a separation of the mass and that easily yield to pressure. I like that. Fluid usually describes objects that can change or adapt easily yet maintain their essence. It reminds me of water (ya'll know how much I love the water), flowing freely, not being deterred by obstacles – simply surrounding them or seeping through & continuing on the journey.
Fluidity – going with the flow – not getting all bent out of shape when things don’t proceed as I envisioned. Yeah, that hasn't always been me, but I am moving in that direction. Fluidity – rolling with what works for me & not getting bogged down with what “should” be. Fluidity – recognizing that maybe I am a little unconventional & not trying to twist into some other, more traditional, form. Fluidity – not being afraid to continually redefine myself. Fluidity - not passing judgment on those who happen to move differently through life than I do. Fluidity - knowing that one day I may not be able to hold my tongue when someone just can't stop themselves from invading my space on the bus and understanding that it will be alright. :-)
Yes, this year I will open myself up to all the possibilities, lessons, experiences that will come my way with fluidity. How about you? Would you like to join me in the One Word expedition?
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
I love when the Spirit connects the dots for me …
Yesterday, during morning prayer at Cornerstone Baptist Church, my heart was heavy for our youth. It grieves me to witness them dying – physically, spiritually. Over the weekend there was an incident in East Flatbush (the neighborhood I grew up in), which left a young man, Kimani Gray, dead. This is right on the heels of the anniversary of the slaying of Trayvon Martin, the death of Hadiyah Pendleton while she was seeking shelter from the rain, and just prior to the shooting of 6-month-old Jonylah Watkins when she was getting her diaper changed by her father. In addition, our young people deal with some challenges these days that we didn’t have to encounter until adulthood – it is taking a harsh toll on many of them.
So we prayed. And then I felt like when we bring our concerns to the circle, yes, we have corporate prayer and God hears our cries, but we also plant seeds. At some point we will work together to find ways to address the issues that are on our hearts ... we pray, listen for the response and follow up with action.
But, I still felt as if there was something I should be doing, right now … something I should be doing to effect change in the lives of our young people (other than the two I birthed). Yet, I’m not … I’m not a teacher … I’m not a social worker … I don’t run a program that keeps youth off the streets or positions them for later life … I don’t mentor or facilitate workshops … I barely even engage children I don’t know personally …
Yet, they are still weighing on me. Then, I was reminded of something that was spoken to me, nearly 20 years ago. I was told that God knows my heart, He knows what I want to do for the children and it will come to pass. At the time I was like, “What is she talking about? What do I want to do for the children?”
Here is where the good part comes. I was reminded of my ministry, formal and informal, which is to mothers. Although I am still an ever-learning, work in progress, during my 24 years of parenting, I have experienced a few things, read a lot and conversed with many people. I’ve accumulated quite a bit of information which I readily share. Within the church, I have led a ministry to women with children. My online presence began and flourished in groups geared toward mothers such as Baby Center’s Parents of Color, MSN’s African American Moms Online and Café Mom’s Domestic Violence Survivors.
That’s when it hit me that I am doing something to help the children. How? When mothers are physically, mentally, spiritually, and financially healthy, the children thrive. When mothers are safe, the children thrive. When mothers are engaged in joy-filled and productive relationships with fathers, the children thrive.
What’s my point? While there is always more work to be done, don't discount the work that is already taking place. Everyone is not meant to have a worldwide platform, but what we do in our circle of influence has value. We must remember that there are numerous ways to accomplish a task, and we each have unique talents that equip us to achieve our goals.
Be encouraged. Don’t grow weary of doing good. This world needs you. Even if you can’t see the fruits of your labor, know that they will develop. Remember that the work that God began in you will continue until completion.
Monday, December 31, 2012
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
On Saturday, while I was walking to the mall (yes, I said walk; I’ve been slacking on my exercise and have to get it in where I can!) – anyway, during that walk I had a revelation & started shouting in the street about how good God is. Now, if you know me, you know that’s not something I normally do in the street but I was so filled up that I couldn’t help myself. Let me explain.
I was thinking about a meme I recently saw which stated:
“It’s funny how someone who was just a stranger last year, can mean so much to you now. It’s terrible that someone who meant so much to you last year, can be just a stranger now. It’s amazing what a year can do.”
That led me to reflect on the saying that has been going around for years about how people come into your life for a reason, season or a lifetime and how we need to accept this & learn to recognize the blessings of each type of relationship.
This led me to think about a few people who I had known for a long time, but became crucial during the last few years – sometimes offering daily support as I struggled with life changes – pushing me to re-discover aspects of my personality that lay dormant – encouraging me step out of my comfort zone – yet today, they are no longer a part of my life. These are some reason or season people. I was feeling a kind of way about that until I realized that they helped me usher in this current season of peace & healing.
That’s when I accepted the fact that I am healed. I’ve had an inkling for the last few months because I just don’t feel stressed any more. It’s been a while since I’ve had a “moment” where my emotions overcame me. However, I wasn’t sure until that instant. It was also then that I noticed the song below was pumping through my ear buds from Pandora. I love confirmation!
Allow me to recap my last few years. I know everybody goes through stuff and mine is pretty regular in the scheme of things, but it really had me feeling troubled, sometimes downright depressed. While the last four years have included many great moments and memories, they have also been filled with loss. In 2009, I got divorced after 20 years of marriage. Some have likened the trauma of divorce, regardless of the circumstances, to that of death and I can see the truth in this – a death of dreams, hopes, expectations, etc. In 2010, after a sudden illness followed by months of hospitalization, my mother passed away. During that time, I also had to find a new home to live in, which was my second un-expected move in two years. Last year brought the transition of another close family member. Then just before Christmas, I had a hysterectomy. Although I had no plans for bearing more children, I did mourn the loss of my womb – I mean, we had been together all my life, you know.
So, that’s where I was and, over time, I came to be where I am now. Healed. This season reminds us that God is with us. Always. And that is such a good news that I couldn’t help but shout about it. There will always be something going on. This world has seen so much destruction from man & nature; there is pain all around us. Sometimes it is difficult to bear. But we are not alone. We are never alone. Even in our darkest moments, we must hold on to the truth that it will pass. Our relationships are so integral to our wellbeing that we can’t take any of them for granted – the reasons, seasons & lifetimes all have a purpose.
Today, I am grateful for the relationships I have been blessed to experience – past & present – those that ended, those that are hibernating, & those that are blossoming – I count it all joy. Today, I am filled with peace & I wish that to you and your loved ones.