Running The Race Against Myself

On Thanksgiving morning I silenced my biggest critic by doing something I was told that I could/would never do; and who doesn’t love a good ‘I TOLD YOU SO!’ moment?!? Unfortunately this accomplishment was bittersweet. The accomplishment: running in cold weather and running long distances straight. Why was this a bittersweet moment? The critic…… was me. For years I have held myself back by saying that I’m not a runner, that I could never run in cold weather, that I could never run long distances, etc. I came up with all kinds of reasons why I wasn’t a runner.

In May 2010 I signed up for a beginners running program and as a result, ran my first 5K that October. I ran the entire 3.2 miles thanks to the help and support of my running partner Allyson. Allyson was the person that motivated me to join the same program that she had previously completed. It was Allyson that offered to run with me during the race and it was Allyson that ran by my side the entire time making sure I was ok, pushing me when I wanted to stop. I have a picture of the two of us crossing the finish line with her hand on my shoulder, it was definitely a picture perfect finish.

After that race I ran one, maybe two more times but stopped because the weather was considerably colder and I had always had difficulty breathing in ‘cold’ weather (the coldest I had run in was 70 degrees *_*). I ran during lunch for a few weeks in January 2011 while I had a free pass to a YMCA. After that, I didn’t run again until March. That was short lived and I didn’t run again until October when I joined the local chapter of Black Girls Run (www.BlackGirlsRun.com). Since then I have pushed myself (with the strong encouragement and support of the ladies in my group and one of my best friends, Rhadi) to do things I have previously said I could/would never do when it comes to running.

After a 3 week hiatus (and being called out for my absence by one of my BGR sisters, Tonya), I ran with the group and later that night I put a post on Facebook asking my friends who wanted to join me for a run Thanksgiving morning. One of my BGR sisters, Ericka suggested I join the ladies that were planning to run one of the Turkey Trots. So at 10pm that Wednesday night I decided to run my first 8K.

Thanksgiving morning I woke up excited about the challenge of completing an 8K and with the intention of running the entire 5 miles. I got dressed in layers, grabbed my MP3 player, cell phone, chap stick and headed to meet the rest of the crew. When I got out the car it was 40 degrees…. and the self doubt automatically began. In my head I was telling myself that I wasn’t going to be able to run the entire race because my lungs weren’t conditioned to run in that weather.

I met up with the BGR crew that was there for the race, including Marleenee who came just to cheer us on and take pictures, and as a group we made our way to the starting line. As I looked amongst our group and the crowd of people in their coordinated attire with ‘runner’s bodies’, I again began to doubt myself. Clearly I was making assumptions based on appearance but I reminded myself that I’m an inconsistent runner that hadn’t trained for this event, so running the entire race wasn’t physically possible.

The gun sounded, I crossed the starting line, started my stopwatch and began the race against my biggest competition, my mind. My only game plan was to run my race and not worry about the pace of the other thousands of runners around me. I didn’t know the route of the race but had overheard that there were a few hills. ūüė¶ There were a few moments that were tough but I pushed through and quickly overcame the slightly difficult moments, especially those damn hills. At one point I could hear my friend Rhadi’s voice in my head saying “I shouldn’t want this for you more than you want this for yourself.” (Mind you he has never said those words to me, but that is definitely something he would say!!) Go figure the race ended on a hill, but as soon as I saw the word FINISH, tears began to gather in my eyes. They weren’t tears of joy or excitement but tears of saddness and disappointment. Sad because I have been my own bully; disappointed that it took 1:03:24 to discover that I don’t give myself enough credit for my own strength and abilities.

The last 3 words of my Facebook status before heading to the race says it all and will be my reminder:

In 2009 I remember thinking people were crazy for running races Thanksgiving morning. May 2010 I started running. Thanksgiving 2011 I’m crashing a Turkey Trot. Simply put, I AM EVOLUTION!!!!
My next milestone…running a half marathon in March. SEE YOU AT THE FINISH LINE!!!!
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‘Twas The Night Before 1st Grade

‘Twas the night before first grade and all through the house,

The school boy was sleeping and quieter than a mouse.

Mommy was exhausted from a long day’s work,

Still annoyed¬†by the rude students at tonight’s presentation¬†that were being¬†jerks.

The bookbag is packed with most of the requested supplies,

By the door awaiting for the morning and its owner to rise.

Ok, if I wasn’t so tired from a long day of work, going to 4 stores¬†in an unsuccessful attempt to find¬†a specific notebook, an event for work this evening, our nightly bedtime ritual, labeling supplies and packing the backpack, pre-loading the lunch box (which included writing my note to him that goes in the lunch box) and laying out the uniform, I would have written the entire post in the above format.¬† But my brain just won’t allow me to do that right now.

Superceding my exhaustion is my disbelief that summer vacation is over and it is the Eve of The First Day of School!!  I do vividly remember this night last year as I was very emotional about his first day of kindergarten (See: Milestones and Memories- http://tinyurl.com/3m3am43).  I am just as excited and emotional about this milestone in his life.  The journey in watching him grow and continue to develop his very unique and special personality continues to be an indescribable joy!  I am looking forward to hearing all about his big day tomorrow and really excited about his surprise tomorrow evening! 

If you read the post mentioned above and are wondering how I did when it came to singing our song….of course I cried. :’I

“I love you to infinity and beyond…

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† and then some……..

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† and then a lotta some”

                                                                                    ~Mommy & Son

A Visit From My 6 Year Old Self

Today I’m feeling very free spirited, almost giggly, just like a little girl, and frankly I LOVE how I’m feeling!!!

Maybe it is the green glittered polish on my fingers and the yellow polish on my toes.

Today feels like one of those walk barefoot in the grass (clearly I’m a G.R.I.T.S. -Girl Raised In The South), eat ice cream, run through the sprinkler, play Ring Around The Rosies, catch lightening bugs in Mason jars kind of days. My 6 year old self is wanting to come out and play today so I indulged her with some chocolate ice cream, which seemed to please her. I think the only thing that could have been better would have been a Snoopy Sno Cone machine and an Easy Bake Oven ;-D.

Maybe it is me feeling summer vacation coming to an end and connecting with my son and most other children getting ready to head back to school. Maybe it is that I’ve been so busy just ‘going’ that I haven’t taken time to stop and enjoy the little things that make summer special. Trust, I’m not complaining, just acknowledging the randomness in today’s feelings.

So today, I have and will continue spending some of those 86,400 seconds enjoying the visit from my 6 year old self. Feelings like this don’t come often, so I will cherish and appreciate this rare state of mind. I do hope she comes back to visit more often.

Note:
As wonderfully cute and adorable as that little girl is…..that isn’t me.

On The Day You Were Born

‚Äé6 years ago thanks to God’s blessing, Tyrone’s love and an amazing team of doctors and nurses,¬†my son¬†was born!¬†¬† As he and I say to each other at night: “I love you to infinity and beyond, and then some…and then a lotta some!!!”¬† And nothing could be further from the truth, that is just how much I love him!!

Today has been a day filled with fun, excitement, energy, emotions and of course reflections.¬† My parents made my brother and I feel so special on our birthdays that we could have easily believed¬†our birthdays were international holidays; and that is no different than how I want my son to feel on his special day.¬† Of course children love gifts, honestly adults love them too.¬† But when I think back about my birthdays, I can’t remember every gift I was given, but I can remember my mother coming to school and setting up¬† class parties for my special day, or my dad leading the ‘Going on a Bear Hunt’ story for one of my parties, or the only surprise party I’ve had in my life when I turned 13.¬† I remember my parents making me wait a little while in the car before getting out for school, because they called the radio station to give me a birthday shout out.¬† Things like that are what I remember and that is what I want for my son as well.¬† I want him to remember the love of family and friends that surrounded him for his special days, birthdays as well as other major individual accomplishments.

As today passed, there were moments when I remembered what was going on at that time 6 years ago.  Some of those were moments of indescribable excitement and some were of the worst fears a mother waiting to give birth could hear.  I remember the first time I laid eyes on his face, the brutally agonizing length of time before I could see him after recovery, the first time I touched him, which was simultaneous with the first time I cried after he was born.  I remember the first time I held him, my first time trying to feed, and I could go on and on. 

Well I flash forward today to the wonderfully intelligent, well mannered, hilarious, kind, outgoing, sports loving, boy that he is today and I can’t help but to become overwhelmed with emotions.¬† His smile melts my heart, his laughter is music to my ears and his hugs and kisses fill my soul with an undescribable warmth.¬† Simply put I LOVE THAT BOY!!!!

Shortly after he was born, I found a book that I knew I had to buy based on the title alone, ‘On The Day You Were Born’.¬† I’ve read that book to him a few times in between the obvious days, his birthday and Mother’s Day.¬† Words can’t accurately depict the emotions that I felt and would imagine other parents feel on that special day, but this book comes pretty damn close.¬† Tonight I read the book to him, he finished it by reading the last page (which of course made me burst into full tears) and then we followed that with our night time lullaby and expressions of love.¬†

Below are the last three pages of the book, On The Day You Were Born (with some relative edits to make it fit the day he was born),  followed by the expression of love we share to each other:

“On the day you were born

the Earth turned, the Moon pulled,

the Sun flared, and, then with a pull (push),

you were pulled out of the dark quiet

where suddenly you could hear….

a circle of people saying

with voices familiar and clear.

“Welcome to the spinning world,” the people sang, as they washed your new, tiny hands.

“Welcome to the green Earth,” the people sang, as they wrapped your wet, slippery body.

And as they held you close they whispered into your open, curving ear,

“We are so glad you’ve come!”

My son, because of you, I continue to be amazed, inspired, uplifted, motivated and¬†thankful¬†for all of¬†the things that you’ve brought into your parent’s lives.¬† You are the blessing that we wanted but never could have imagined that it would have been as great as the one we¬†received.

I am honored to have the title Mommy and don’t take for granted any of the rights, priviledges and most importantly responsibilities that come along with such an esteemed role.¬† My hope is that the tsunami of love my parents have and continue to give to me, I can at least give to you, if not enough for a flood so that you will¬†feel washed in love for my time on this Earth.¬†

MOMMY LOVES YOU!!

As our lullaby and words of expression go,

You are my son-shine, my only son-shine so please don’t take Mommy’s son-shine away.

“I love you to infinity and beyond, and then some…..and then a lotta some.” ~Mommy and Son

 

 

My Birthday Trip To ‘Never Land’

Yesterday was¬†the last day of March, which marks the end of my month long 35th Fabulous Birthday Celebration.¬† Yes, I celebrated my birthday for the entire month and of course loved every minute of it!¬† What a celebration it was! On the day of my birthday, some of my best friends came in town from DC and Atlanta to help me celebrate; and we did just that, beginning at 9:00 am at my parent‚Äôs home!¬† We spent the day hanging out and later that night, more friends joined in helping me celebrate at a birthday party one of my friends threw in my honor.¬† We had a weekend of nothing but good times.¬† Bigger than it being a milestone birthday was the fact that my entire day was spent with people and receiving birthday love from people that love and deeply care for me.¬† In the past year I have often reflected and shared with others about how wonderfully blessed I am to have the best family and friends anyone in the world could ever want.¬† And nothing could be closer to the truth than that!¬† The month long celebration also included celebrating with other fellow Pisces at a fundraiser out of town, a delicious and very hilarious brunch with girlfriends, cupcakes at work, a night of his Purple Majesty (Prince) and the release of the iPad 2(Yeah, that had to be mentioned.¬† I‚Äôm loving mine!!). Although March is gone, there¬†is something that¬†I’ve carried into April that wasn‚Äôt even around¬†on the first of March.¬† What I thought¬†was a gift that I was giving myself¬† turned out to be a completely different gift all on it’s own.

We all know the saying, ‚ÄúNever say never.‚ÄĚ and understand its meaning.¬† Even though that is a very well known phrase and one that makes complete sense, some of us have things that we without a doubt feel are definite nevers; present company included.¬† Well in the midst of celebrating I decided to throw caution to the wind and contradict myself.¬† My gift to myself was the permission to do something I never thought I would and be ok with it.¬†

With my permission slip signed, I went on my field trip to ‚ÄėNever Land‚Äô.¬† Once I arrived onto park grounds, I went to the ticket window where instead of getting a basic general admission ticket, I was handed a VIP pass and told the park was all mine to enjoy.¬†¬†Having VIP access to just about anything is pretty exciting, but this pass didn‚Äôt evoke those feelings of excitement because I had no idea of what to expect with that access.¬† As a matter of fact, the only thing I walked into the park expecting, was knowing I was going to be walking out of the park with an experience I previously said I would never have.¬†

So what was said experience like?¬† Let me put it like this, the ride I actually ended up on, was no where close to the one I thought I stood in line for.¬†¬†Since I hadn’t been to this amusement park before I tried to keep my expectations low¬†to avoid¬†being disappointed.¬† Since this was something I said I would never do, eventhough I didn’t know exactly what it would be like, I did assume/expect it to be¬†something¬†that wasn’t¬†toward the top of my list of enjoyable things.¬† Let alone did I think it would have been something I would possibly do again, which is a big extreme from something I¬†said I would never do.¬†

Lots of people that visit amusement parks¬†are happy to¬†leave with a ridiculously oversized stuffed animal.¬† Me, I’m happy with the daily smile and inner glow that came from not only trying something new¬†that was for myself, but¬†also as the result of an outcome that was quite the opposite of my assumptions.¬†

It was a Facebook status on a friend’s page that made me realize just how special my birthdate is.¬† My birthdate, March 4th, is the only date in the year that¬†gives us¬†a command/directive….March forth (4th).¬† So with that, take at least one trip and¬†March 4th¬†into ‘Never Land’; who knows, it might be there that you find your ‘Happily Ever After’.¬†

*FYI-Mom, Dad and anyone else wondering, no my ‘experience’ wasn’t anything illegal.

Honoring Your Value Even In The Valley Of Darkness

‚ÄúEvery time you suppress some part of yourself or allow others to play you small, you are in essence ignoring the owner‚Äôs manual your Creator gave you and destroying your design.‚ÄĚ ~ Oprah Winfrey

It has been a little over six months since my last post and I‚Äôm so embarrassed considering the premise behind me starting this blog‚Ķ.making time to do at least two things a day for one‚Äôs self.¬† I have failed miserably at my own challenge.¬† I will admit that I have thought many times since September about writing but quite honestly the only reason why I haven‚Äôt written is because I simply didn‚Äôt make the time.¬† In the past week or so my need to write has become one that I couldn‚Äôt ignore and will share about in my next post.¬† But this post stems from what started out as a simple one sentence email.¬† The simplicity with which that sentence was structured was a language that I personally connected with, one that I have spoken many times before.¬† It‚Äôs what wasn‚Äôt said in those 25 words that I understood.¬† Prior to the email the sender and I would have been classified more as ‚Äėacquaintances‚Äô because we were connected by a common surface thread, with little personal intimacy.¬† If you were to ask me about them I would have had nothing but favorable things to say, based on our interactions and I‚Äôm sure they would have done the same for me (or at least I would hope so :-D).¬†

In my reply, I responded to what wasn’t being said with my personal truth.  The details in the series of emails that followed I will not share.  However, one similarity we share is in not adequately valuing our worth.  Quite frankly, there were times when we undersold, mis-marketed, degraded, and underappreciated our own selves.  It wasn’t a planned process, more like a potentially fatal side effect of life that many people experience.  Constantly doing for others (children, spouse, family, friends, etc.), trying to satisfy people’s perception of who we are, and trying to only allow people to see the animated G rated version of what was at times a R rated film.  It took being scared of ourselves because of some thought, action or idea, to realize how deep in the valley of darkness we were. 

But what does not appreciating your value look like?¬† I‚Äôm a very visual person and am able to better understand if I can paint a picture, so as my pastor would say, ‚Äúwalk with me for a little while‚Ä̂Ķ..

Imagine you are teleported directly to the inside of a beautiful home.  The interior is well laid out with just the right amount of space you need.  It is decorated in a style that perfectly suits you and more importantly, it is built on a solid foundation.  Of course there are repairs or changes that need to be made because no house is without flaws, but this house is perfect just for you.  So you decide to see what it looks like on the outside and proceed to walk out into the front yard.  From the street, this property has great curb appeal because of its well manicured lawn, flowers and shrubs that nicely accentuate the yard and the brick exterior of the house is architecturally stunning and very inviting.  As you make your way to the backyard you approach a high, closed wooden fence.  On the other side of this fence, the view in the back isn’t as appealing as the inside and front of the property.  There is a swimming pool that only has about a foot of water that has been polluted by dirt, leaves, fallen branches and old sports balls that were never recovered.  The back of the house is covered in siding with patches of mold and scum.  There is an old car that works when it wants to, even after numerous attempts to make repairs.  On the faded, wooden deck sits patio furniture that is discolored from years sitting in the sun and cushions flattened from trying to provide comfort while people sat.  Towards the back of the yard is a rusty old swing set that looks more like the Tower of Pisa.  And in the far left corner sits a tool shed that is full of stuff that hasn’t been opened in years. 

From the front, this property appears to be worth way more than the appraisal value.  Those items in the back significantly bring down the value of the property.  But, to bring up the property value, the solution seems simple; remove the junk, clean the pool, fix the deck and buy new furniture.  But if you are as emotionally depleted as the pool is drained of water, taking on the much needed task to get things back in order seems like an impossible one to achieve.  So you let things continue to accumulate, adding no value or further bringing down the value. 

The image of this property is what our lives looked like if captured in a picture.  The car was something that at one time was very reliable, got us where we needed to go, had all of the bells and whistles we wanted and kept us safe during our travels.  But after unsuccessful attempts to have it fixed, what is the purpose of keeping it?  Is the physical structure what we’re really holding onto, or is it the memories of what once was and holding out hope that what once was, will again someday be?  If the furniture cushions aren’t providing the support you need, why keep them?  Why keep a non-functioning swing set around?  If it isn’t stable or safe, what purpose does it serve for the children?  The mostly empty pool is an emotional reflection of what is left when you are constantly serving as a filter.  In not wanting the dirty to seep through and be seen by others, you are holding onto all of the grime with minimal amounts of water not being filtered through.  And what about the tool shed that has been closed so long that you don’t even remember what’s inside?  What’s the worst thing that could happen if you took a look inside?  You might find something that once use to be a source of great joy, a project that you started to pass down to your children when they got older or the materials needed to clean and fill the pool with water that will soothe your burning skin on those blistering summer days.  Or you might find the shed is full of worthless junk occupying space that could and should be filled with purposeful things that increase your value.

For some people, it‚Äôs not what is behind the fence that is bringing down their value.¬† Sometimes it‚Äôs your neighbor(s).¬† Neighbors aren‚Äôt as easy to manage as guests that you allow/invite into your space.¬† With guests, you can ask them to leave or just not invite them over again.¬† Since your neighbor is a fixed part of your neighborhood, you can‚Äôt always avoid them, but you can limit your interactions to those random encounters¬†or when absolutely necessary.¬† Everyone isn‚Äôt meant to be in your life forever, and that is ok.¬† During the course of a friendship/relationship, needs and wants may change.¬† There are times when an ‘inventory’ needs to occur so that you can identify and properly classify those top shelf people in your life down to the daily house specials.¬†

People pay millions of dollars for materialistic objects that sometimes sit behind glass or on a wall and literally do nothing.  It’s sad that some of us don’t recognize or forget the priceless value for the unique, one of a kind, original that is us.

‚ÄúIf you really put a small value upon yourself, rest assured that the world will not raise your price.‚ÄĚ ~ Unknown

The Weight of The Mask

The poem below, “We Wear The Mask”, by the great Paul Laurence Dunbar speaks to the life that millions of us live everyday.¬† When we wake up in the morning we throw on our Put On a Happy Face Mask to hide the frowns that our hearts and souls actually wear.¬† Many of the things we do aren’t for ourselves, but for other people.¬† So as not to disappoint those people or burn bridges we do everything we can to please others, even when it is in direct conflict with our own souls.

We make decisions based on what we think other people will think of us.¬† What is really disappointing is how we allow ourselves to be so burdened by what other people think that we continue to add layers to the ones that already exist.¬† But at some point the weight of the mask becomes so heavy that we can’t even keep our head up.¬† The¬†mask breaks our back and is sometimes so thick that it is suffocating.

But why, why do we wear¬†masks?¬† Is it too difficult to be ok with doing what we know is right for us?¬† Are we trying¬†to protect and repair¬†a broken heart?¬† Is it that¬†our pride won’t let us admit when¬†we’re wrong?¬† We try so hard to sculpt¬†an image of ourself that we think others want to see that when we look in the mirror, we don’t even recognize the image standing before our eyes.¬† Why do we feel guilty when we say no to people?¬† Just because we don’t win, does it mean that all of the achievements we accomplished¬†in the race are null and void?¬† And why is it not ok to stop?¬† People¬†give great respect to¬†athletes who retire early because of physical injury suffered ‘on the battlefield’.¬† But for those of us whose playing fields aren’t marked in yards, with free throw lanes or home plates, we’re given a badge of shame, rather than a celebratory parade when we want¬†to leave the field because of injuries.¬† I can already hear someone saying, “quitters never win”.¬† But remember, some people suffer career¬†ending, ¬†life threatening or even¬†fatal injuries while people from the sidelines are still pushing them to stay in the fight not knowing the full extent of ones injuries.

As a child, we want to make our parents proud and live up to their expectations, regardless of our age.¬† As a sibling, we want to¬†be the¬†positive example by which they follow.¬† As a significant other, we want to¬†be all they need.¬† As a parent, we want¬†to express to our children the love¬†we have for them, which really is indescribable and unmeasurable.¬† As a friend, we want to be the safe haven they know is always available where they won’t be judged.¬† As a co-worker/employee/employer, we want to be viewed as the biggest team player/captain/manager.¬† ¬†And those are all of the smiley faced versions of those masks, of course there¬†is a sad faced version for each one.

While we are holding up the masks that we think others want to see, underneath are the¬†masks that more honestly reflect the person we are.¬† There is the Mask of Uncontrollable Tears that is trying to shed the pain and hurt that we are supposed to be ‘strong enough’¬†to not let bother us.¬† The Mask of¬†the Flame Juggler worried about being able to pull everything off, safely and successfully.¬† The Mask of¬† Fear.¬† The Mask of Shame.¬† The Mask of Apathy, sometimes you just don’t give a damn and are ok with that.¬† The Mask of Insecurity, which¬†is probably the biggest, ugliest and heaviest mask we wear.¬† We all want to be good enough, liked, loved and accepted, but are so busy seeking those things from other people, that we fail to realize that we¬†can’t convincingly sell a product we really don’t believe in.

And no, all of the masks we wear aren’t weight bearing.¬† It’s just that so often we say, ‘if they really¬†knew¬†me’ or worse, think that who we are doesn’t deserve to be seen by the world.

So my challenge to you……wear your masks with pride.¬† Be comfortable with the masks that are yours and ok with throwing away the ones that really don’t belong to you.¬† You’ll find the load is lighter and much easier to carry.¬† Most importantly, wear the masks that reflect who you are so that the image staring back at you in the mirror¬†is a familiar one.

We Wear The Mask – Paul Laurence Dunbar

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,–
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be overwise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!