Monday, July 4, 2016

Life Lessons from a 1st 5k

I recently completed my first 5k run. Those who follow me on social media know that I started training for this months in advance. As a kid who couldn't run at recess due to asthma (my left lung collapsed twice) and as an adult managing chronic asthma, running was not an activity that I ever imagined I would enjoy or participate in. Not to mention I have had 4 left knee surgeries including an ACL replacement as a result of a cheerleading injury that never got repaired timely!

Preparing for such a physical challenge really opened my eyes to some valuable life lessons. The way you prepare for one thing is an indication of how you prepare for anything.

1) Set your own pace.
When you begin any new challenge, your biggest competitor is yourself. Don't worry about what others are accomplishing or at what speed they are accomplishing things. This is your new challenge and you are working towards your personal best. Someone boasted on social media that they didn't need to train for their race. I thought "Good for you but imagine what your time had been if you had put in the time and commitment to train."

2) Accept that setbacks will happen.
I started 2016 with a very ambitious challenge posted on facebook-90 miles in 90 days. On the surface I thought this would be easy; that averages a mile a day. Since we have a treadmill at home, I assumed I could easily reach this challenge. I didn't account for sick days, long days at work or simple lack of motivation. Listen to your body! If your body is telling you to sit this one out and rest, listen to it! For the days I missed, I added on those miles and am proud to say I did run/walk/jog 90 miles in 90 days but I went in thinking it was a done deal. Always mentally prepare for obstacles so you can overcome them when they occur.

3) Inspire and Impact.
Don't be afraid to share your goals or your progress. Those who perceive it as boasting or self promotion are shallow in scope. Your accomplishment can inspire someone else who would like to do what you have done. People should like to see their friends and family working towards a goal and they should contribute to that goal if possible. You are working hard; share your positive news with your circle. The world needs more of it!

4) Whatever you do, just finish!
I remember standing at the START line. I was in a new city (Philadelphia) and didn't know anyone at the race. I thought about backing out because I was getting nervous, scared and embarrassed. Then we all started off; some running, some walking and some jogging. My confidence soared when I passed others and my confidence dropped when others flew by me. It was humid and there were unplanned steep inclines on the path. I stopped to use my asthma inhaler and thought "Can I do this?" ABSOLUTELY. I walked until I got the strength to start running again. Whether you walk, crawl, run, jog or skip....just finish! Remember, you are competing to win against yourself. Your negative self speak is your only enemy.

It was an awesome feeling to have people cheer and celebrate as we crossed the finish line. This was about setting a goal and working hard towards it. I wasn't out to compete against friends or prove anything to anyone else. I used to run from a painful past but now I choose to run for a brighter future!



Wednesday, June 15, 2016

I always swam in the deep end



Do you remember what it was like to stand in the shallow end of the swimming pool as a child? You probably got real comfortable quickly because you knew you weren't going anywhere. Did you ever want to swim across the pool and venture into deep waters?

The shallow end allows you to see eye to eye with people on a superficial level. The deep end challenges you and sets you apart from just standing.....stagnant.

Life is like a swimming pool. You can't expect a deep relationship with a shallow person.

People will come into your life; many asking for a raft or a swimming lesson but always standing in the shallow end.

I learned to swim at an early age. In fact, an in-ground swimming pool was a childhood birthday present. With each stroke, I grew stronger and more confident until the shallow end was no longer fun for me.

Seek relationships that are meaningful and deep. Relationships built on lies, insecurities and falsehoods won't help you grow. People will reveal things and behaviors that weigh you down.

Throw yourself a life jacket and navigate on. I always preferred the deep end of the pool. Gene pool included.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Cancer is a coward




Yesterday, I reached 9 years as a breast cancer survivor. I count my diagnosis date as my annual milestone as a survivor. On what should have been a joyous day, a cowardly act only reminded me that life is full of unaccepted acts that will only set you back momentarily.

My daughter's car was hit and damaged by a hit and run driver yesterday. Despite the obvious anger and disappointment, we were thankful that she wasn't injured. The whole incident was a reminder that you can be going through life when an unexpected and undeserving event can rock your world.

It is how you handle those obstacles that will define your character and measure your strength. You never know how strong you are until you have to be strong.

When I was diagnosed, initially I was terrified. I actually put off chemo therapy for 9 weeks simply out of fear. This was not a wise move nor was it a move driven by knowledge. I was simply afraid of the unknown and ready to accept what could have been fatal consequences.

It was through outreach with other survivors, self reflection and my daughter's encouragement that I found the courage to undergo chemotherapy and exhaust all medical intervention to give myself the best odds of beating breast cancer. Soon I realized that I wasn't a coward; cancer is a coward.

Just like that driver who hit my daughter, cancer causes harm with no reason or recourse. It seeks to break spirits, separate families, test faith and strip people of all they hold dear. It awakens the fear and uncertainty within us. It is ruthless in its pursuit of death.

I am beyond grateful that I have seen 9 years since that dreadful date of April 24th, 2007. I've had 9 years to spend with my family and hopefully impact lives in a positive way. I have laughed more and enjoyed special memories with special people more than I ever did before battling cancer.

Cancer enabled me to focus on myself more and live fearlessly. I'm not afraid to speak up, be heard, walk away, facilitate action and live a life that I've crafted that defines my purpose but also cater's to my heart's desires. I focus on people in my life who share my synergy.

People used to say "you can't have your cake and eat it too." Yes you can. You choose the life you live. When you are faced with your own mortality, it is in that moment that the rest of your days will be defined. What will people say about you when your time here is up? What will you be remembered for?

A cancer diagnosis feels like someone hit you and then ran off. You are left breathless and asking why this happened to you. Don't let the coward win. Stand up, fight back and embrace every moment of the rest of your life with confidence and certainty. I may have had cancer but I promise you....cancer NEVER had me.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

In a good place

When you're in a good place,  you don't want to leave.

I'm grateful for being in a good place in my life right now; mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. Things seem to be aligned and I'm happy with the choices I've made and how I have chosen to deal with adversity and setbacks.

I used to think that life should be easy. That was when I was young and naïve.

Life will ALWAYS have challenges and setbacks but the key is going through it and overcoming those hurdles. Remember setbacks pave the way for amazing comebacks!

So embrace the feel good days and the good times. Celebrate the small successes. Unfortunately, there may be tears and challenges around the corner so why not enjoy the ride until you hit the speed bump.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Peering at brown people through rose colored glasses

I'm seeing a very disturbing trend. It's a trend where Black athletes, politicians, celebrities and performers are being held to a different standard than their peers. A very judgmental public is trying to create a dynamic to constantly attack and demean the most successful among us.

It started last week with the negative posts about Beyoncé's Super Bowl performance announcement. I'm like "Y'all did sit through that Katy Perry fiasco last year, right?" Other than not liking her music or style, I really can't think of any activity or behavior that she has demonstrated that would merit the negative social media comments before she's even performed. Do these same people post about EVERY musician that they don't care for? Why is it so easy and comfortable for some to attack a Black woman?

Throughout the NFL season, we see the media turn the spotlight on the on and off the field behavior of Black athletes yet when White athletes engage in the same antics, we barely hear a peep or see a headline about it. Michael Phelps appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated wearing white on a white background with a redeeming headline about his drug recovery. Do Black athletes receive the same saving grace and magazine covers for overcoming addiction?

Most recently, I watched how easily it was for people to openly vocalize that Tariji P. Henson was "under the influence" accepting her Golden Globe award last night. Really? Were you pouring the drinks? Have you never seen an off the cuff acceptance speech before? Do you not watch "Empire" and see how much Tariji puts in the Cookie's character that perhaps a part of her IS Cookie?

See, here's the thing. I've silently sat back over the years and watched the first Black President face EXTREME scrutiny. His wife and daughters and every decision that he's made has been met with fierce social media scrutiny despite those actions behind demonstrated by every other U.S. President that has held this office.

If we continue to sit back and silently allow our community to be publicly criticized constantly, we are setting a precedence that we are still "less than." We must speak up and let people know that they are being offensive and illogical in their perceptions and criticisms of Blacks.

It's perfectly okay to set your own standards. Just be sure you take off your rose colored glasses before you present your point of view.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015-Did it pass you by?


2015. You've dealt me my share of ups and downs with a mix of celebrations and disappointments. But most importantly, I've been able to be in every moment that came my way and that in itself is a gift.

I used to let life pass me by. Anger, regret and attitude would prevent me from enjoying life or spending quality time with people I care about. I'd be at the moment but not really be in the moment; already thinking about the next appointment or engagement or obligation instead of enjoying the current one.

2015 was labeled my "fearless" year. I started the year by mountain climbing Camelback in Arizona; not an easy feat. With each step that took me higher, my fears were minimized and new confidence gained. When I stood at that mountaintop and looked down, I accepted that getting to the top is never easy and it requires faith in each step.

I went out on a jet ski for the first time and released a fear of being on the open water. I have sailed on cruises before or enjoyed dinner cruises but I never felt comfortable and relaxed on water. Although I'm an excellent swimmer, I just never released that fear until this summer.

On the career front, I took some great leap of faiths that have worked out in my favor. Going back into the corporate workforce after sitting out a decade presented its own set of unique challenges but you have to know what you will and won't stand for in regards to employment. Don't sacrifice your morals or self esteem for a paycheck when there are other options. Don't be too proud to get a foot in the door of a company you really want to work for.

I've learned that sometimes the people you love will disappoint you. When you've done all you can, you have to accept it for what it is, hope for the best for them and move on with your life. It's that simple.

As always, with each passing year, you always learn who you can count on when things are down and you might be surprised that those same people aren't there when the tide turns. Some people would rather be your friend as long as you aren't doing as well or better than them. Learn to decipher an acquaintance from a friend. Spend your time and energy on your friends.

2016 won't pass me by. I don't have to set grand goals or use extravagant adjectives to describe my predictions for the next 12 months. I am just thankful that I have had another year to conquer fears, reach new goals, make new friends and most importantly, create a life that I don't have to escape from to find happiness.

Happy New Year to you!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Another Year-A little wiser

My friend Barbara, a fellow breast cancer survivor, and I at my birthday party. She's been one of the strongest women I've known this year.
 
Every year around my birthday, I sit down to blog about the past year. 43 to 44 was ROUGH! There were more highs than lows but the disappointments came from putting my trust, time and energy into the wrong relationships.

I failed at my first attempt of re-entering the workforce after 10 years as an entrepreneur. And that's okay. To admit failure is to admit you tried. If you fail and take the experience as a learning opportunity, you walk away a winner. If you walk away angry or resentful, then they win.

I made the mistake of assuming that coworkers are your friends. Granted, I met my very best friend at work but she is a rare jewel. Lesson learned: Be professional. Be polite. You can even be friendly but leave those colleagues out of your personal life and set your expectations low that they truly care about your well being. Better to be surprised than let down.

I've also learned that no matter how bad things may seem, if you stay focused and positive, eventually they will turn around and you will embrace the endless possibilities of a fresh start. Going several months between jobs was challenging but I never gave up. Just told myself that the right opportunity would come along. In the meantime, I did things that would help me get to the end goal rather than things that were counterproductive.

I developed a zero tolerance policy for toxic people and got the courage to cut them out of my life. Toxic people prohibit your growth and development. Nothing good will come from association with those who thrive in seeing you struggle or who hold you back from being your best. They condone your bad behavior rather than telling you when you are wrong or making a fool of yourself. You will be at your worst and they applaud. Learn to change your audience!

I learned not to apologize for being myself and for taking time off to be good to me. One shouldn't feel guilty for putting their own needs and wants first every now and then. You can't be good for anyone else if you aren't good to yourself.

This past year has kept me in good health and I've maintained my health and fitness goals by being more aware of the impact that diet and exercise has on my well being. I set goals that are best for me and my physical challenges and don't minimize my progress based on what others are accomplishing. I am fully confident that I can complete my first 5k run within the next few months.

Social media. Argh. It's been a thorn in my side. People put too much energy being passive aggressive on social media and I'm committing to ignoring the people who use it to thinly hide their anger or envy at others. There is something to be said when you consciously type a post aimed at being hateful or hurtful at others. Why even exude energy like that when you can take the higher road or turn the other cheek? Why are you letting people know they have power over your thoughts?

Most importantly, I have experienced first hand how the love, support and encouragement from the right people in your life can elevate you to new heights. Sometimes you simply outgrow people and you must part ways. I've never been one to be superficial so trying to revive a dead relationship isn't my strong suit.

I'm looking forward to reaching 45! I hope to continue to grow stronger and wiser and always have gratitude for the people who are a positive and unconditional source of love and support in my life.