Black History Month

Hello, Friends.

Yes. It’s been awhile (again). I know. I suck. I completely the first month of Run the Year and the streak challenge, logging 168.5 miles for the month. I also did Kathy Freston’s Quantum Wellness Cleanse as a bit of a bodily restart to kickoff the new year.

Now that I’m in my groove with my workouts and eating normal food again, I have conceived a lovely way to motivate myself to write more often (at least for the month of February): Black History Month!

If you’ve read my Bio page, you know that I’m Black. If you haven’t: Surprise!

Any who, I’m quite proud of that fact, and the events of the past few years (‘Murica) have really driven that home for me.

One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that while track & field have solid representation from the USA’s Black population, American distance running is shockingly white. This should come to no surprise to anybody who pays much attention to the sport. Runner’s World even had an article about it in 2011. Slowly, we’re seeing growth in the numbers of Black folks who run distance “for fun,” but the ranks of the American elites are still largely white (with the exception of naturalized citizens like Meb).

Running groups turned organizations/movements like Black Girls RUN! and Black Men Run are working hard to change the community’s perceptions of distance running and helping to increase the number of us out there logging miles. To do my part – however small – I will be profiling different Black women who run over the course of Black History Month. While I know there are some wonderful Black men out there pounding the pavement, I want to take the month to focus on women because #BlackGirlMagic.

Stay tuned!

 

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I’ve Got a Problem

*Sigh*

Look, y’all. I know I’ve got a problem. I am trying to do better. I really am, but it’s hard. You might be wondering which problem I speak of. It’s a problem with my writing. I love writing. I do. It’s a form of therapy, processing, and decompressing. My problem comes when it comes time to write something for public consumption. I will be brimming with ideas. Thoughts will come to me as I sit in meetings, peruse the internet, or watch TV. I jot them down so I can remember the brilliant things I plan to share with the anonymous masses of the interwebs on this very blog. The problem is that the second I sit down to actually start writing/typing, I go blank. Every argument I had to support the (very brief) points I jotted down fly out the window, and I am left with nothing but empty head space.

I am not entirely sure what leads to this ridiculous writer’s block. I can tell you that it is not a problem I ever had in high school, college, or even grad school. Of course, in all of those cases I wasn’t writing for the masses. I wasn’t generating material from thin air. I was writing for a very specific purpose (class) to a very specific audience (my professors or TAs). I knew going into those projects that nobody beyond the person grading my essay or paper was likely to read it. Any feedback I received was likely to be related to formatting or editing. I would collect my grade a move on.

When it comes to this blog, for publication, for ideas for what I might someday write for a dissertation, I freeze. I have no idea who out there will read what I write (if anybody). A troll could plant themselves in the comment section and rip what I write to shreds. There is no guiding assignment to keep me on topic. A post could quickly unravel from carefully crafted to circular ramblings. Some stranger out there could think, “Why does this woman think she needs to be anywhere near a pen/keyboard?” Is it imposter syndrome? Not really. It’s  not that I don’t think I deserve the webspace, nor do I think that you’ll one day discover that I’m a fraud. I’m far from it. I have a graduate degree and a job that I’m quite good at. No. I think it’s fear. Fear of sharing the most vulnerable me with the world. Fear that somebody might actually like what I write and want me to write more. Fear that one day I’ll be expected to follow through on my decade long promise (or threat) to write my autobiography.

What’s my problem? My problem is fear.

Another Name, Another Hashtag

Today I turned on the news and learned another name
Another hashtag
Another thing that can get me and people who look like me killed

Eric
Tamir
Rekia
Sandra
Countless others
And now?
Alton

Cause of death?
Loosies
Toys
Talking too loudly
Failure to signal
Selling CDs

Homicide

Cops deciding to be
Prosecutor
Judge
Jury
Executioner

The media will say
“He shouldn’t have resisted”
“The toy was too realistic”
“She shouldn’t have been out so late”
“She shouldn’t have had an attitude”
“He shouldn’t have had a gun (in an open carry state)”

Today I turned on the TV
And learned another name
Another hashtag
Another cause of death

Why I Gave up Alcohol for Lent (Pt. 1)

***I started this post about a month ago, and it has taken me this long to get around to posting it. Now that Lent is about over, I figured it was time to woman up and just hit publish.***

I have been getting a lot of questions from people about my choice to give up alcohol for Lent. Everything from, “You did what?! Why?” to “Couldn’t you think of anything easier? What about chocolate? C’mon. It’s not too late to switch!” My decision to give up alcohol has some very personal reasoning behind it, but hey, it might help somebody out. So here it goes. This will be a multi-post story because to understand my decision, you need all of the background information about my relationship with alcohol. I should tell you that not even my family knows all of the details, so this should be interesting.

Like many American kids, I had my first taste of alcohol at a very young age. It was your typical moment when the kid asks the adult what they’re drinking, thinking it’s some sort of soda, and the adult gives the kid a sip just watch their reaction. This happened at a neighbor’s house as we never had booze in our house growing up. I believe it was a Coors Light. I guess it doesn’t really matter what it was, all I knew at the time was that beer was disgusting and I would never drink the stuff again because eww.

Fast forward a few years to seventh grade. In my hometown, this is about the age that kids start experimenting with sex, drugs, and alcohol. I lived in one of those towns where when you are a kid you think there isn’t anything to do so you find destructive ways to deal with your boredom. For my friends and I, our first experiments with alcohol were pretty harmless: sneaking little sips of vodka from somebody’s parents’ liquor cabinet here and there. We were so terrified of getting caught that we had to start small. One night, a small group of us were at the movie when one of my friends pulled a water bottle with some vodka in it out of her purse. Over the course of the movie, we passed the bottle around. None of us drank enough to get even a buzz off of it, but that is the first time I remember feeling warm after drinking.

In the middle of seventh grade, I met my birth mother when we opened the adoption. After meeting the rest of the family, I began spending some weekends and at least one week during the summer with her. She is the one who introduced me to wine. At fourteen I was beginning to learn about the different types of wine, and she would let me have a glass with my dinner whenever I was at her house. At the time, wine was something to be enjoyed as a complement to a meal and nothing more.

Sophomore year was the first time I remember being in a situation where people were actively trying to get drunk. I was a bit of a homebody when I was in high school, so did not find myself at too many parties during my early high school years. We were at a friend’s house, and her parents happened to be out of down. This friend has older siblings, so she had been exposed to partying. Meanwhile, my parents did not drink. Anyway, we decided to take advantage of the fact that her parents were out of town and had a little kickback with a small group of friends. We mixed up some Captain Morgan and Dr. Pepper for our party favors. (Un)fortunately – depending on who you asked – my friend was convinced that she had made the drinks too strong and after only a few sips promptly dumped them down the drain. Another attempt was not made.

I will never forget the first time I got truly drunk. I was on the bus coming back from a week at Girls’ State when I texted my best friend and told him that I wanted to get drunk. Naturally, he was somewhat confused as I actively avoided drinking and parties most of the time. I assured him that is was something I “needed” to do to deal with the week I had just had living and learning in an environment comprised entirely of high school girls. We found a party at a friend’s house and I drank Phillips vodka straight out of the bottle, taking small pulls until my face got tingly and moon looked like it was wobbling in the sky.

And so began my party girl days.

To be continued…

Preparing for Lent

I’m what I like to call a “Metholictist.” I am a baptized, confirmed, and practicing member of the United Methodist Church, my birth mom’s family is predominately Catholic, and my bio dad’s family is primarily Baptist. Metholictist is what happens when you mush all of them together. Probably due to being raised in the tradition, I have always felt most comfortable in Methodist churches. The traditional hymns. The more reserved style of the service. Open hearts, open minds, open doors.

Today is Fat Tuesday. The last day before the season of Lent begins in the Christian church. It is a time of fasting and reflection in preparation of the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Like many modern Christians, my observation of Lent has always included the practice of giving something up, in other words fasting from something specific that might hinder my relationship with God rather than the more traditional abstaining from meals. In recent years in addition to giving something up I have also taken to adding something to my routine to contribute to my mental, spiritual, or physical health.

This year, I am giving up alcohol (for reasons to be addressed in later post). I am also committing to daily journaling, exercise (marathon training), and walking my dog. The funny thing is the hardest part of all of it will likely be walking the dog. At the end of the day, I often just want to sit on my couch and either read or catch up on some TV. I know she needs the exercise though, and it will provide an opportunity for me to unplug and reflect every day.

Depending on how brave I feel (see previous post), I may do some of my journaling on this blog. No guarantees though, folks.

Well, that’s it for now. Catch you next time.

I Wish I Were Braver

I wish I were braver
That I were brave enough to be unapologetically me
That I were unafraid to say that something doesn’t fit
That something isn’t right
That something is a mistake

I wish I were braver
That I were brave enough to celebrate my Blackness
To celebrate my Nativeness
Without fear or shame or question

I wish I were braver
That I were brave enough to constantly and consistently speak my truth
To be unafraid of other’s discomfort
To push into my own

I wish I were braver
That I were brave enough to open up
Brave enough to feel all of the feels without shutting them down
And brave enough to express those feelings

I wish I were braver
That I were unafraid to fail
Unafraid to fly

I wish I were braver.

One Year Down, My Entire Career To Go

July 22 officially marked my one year jobiversary. I have survived my first year as a full time professional and contributing member of society, and boy what a year it has been. As I reflect on my first year of work, I cannot help but be amazed at where this job has taken me.

First: Time for a bit honesty. I initially had zero interest in applying for this job. I had absolutely no desire to move home, and I really only applied to get my mom off my back (one of her so-called “humor me” moments).

Once I applied, I put it out of my mind and went back to my regularly scheduled job search. When they called me to set up a phone interview, I had forgotten that I had even applied for the job because it was months later. It was pretty typical of my job search to that point to apply for a job then find months later – after it had faded from conscious memory – that the position had been filled when I got the “thank you for you interest” email, and I assumed that this position was another of those. Of course, I accepted the invitiation for a phone interview. By this point I had graduated and moved home to help around the house while my parents dealt with my dad’s illness.

After scheduling my phone interview, I read up on the position again in preparation. Reading the job description, my first thought was, “This position is for somebody with an established career and likely a PhD, not somebody fresh out of their MEd program.” I also became pretty excited about what the creation of this position could mean for the students I had worked with while I was at LBCC as well as for South Dakota. With that mindset, I entered the phone interview with no nerves because it was just an opportunity to practice interviewing since they would likely never hire me anyway. Imagine my surprise when I was called back and invited to do an in-person interview.

Once again, I walked into that interview with the “another fantastic opportunity to practice because there’s no way they’d hire me” mindset. Thinking back, it is odd how much more confident I was knowing I wasn’t going to get hired than I was in interviews where I thought I had a shot. Reverse psychology, maybe? Who knows. Any who, complete shock when I was called and offered the position. I actually still have the voicemail on my phone from when my now boss called.

My first day of work, I had no idea where this job would take me. In the past year, I have had conversations with university presidents, attended an inauguration at one of our campuses, given a preliminary report to the Board of Regents, visited California for the first time, been appointed to five different advisory boards, and witnessed the search for an executive director. I have met some incredible people who I am honored and humbled to call friends and colleagues. This job is more than I could ever have imagined for my first real job.

This year certainly has not been easy though. As much as I have enjoyed the work, there are so many challenges I have faced. I did not realize how much I would miss being on a campus. Having grown up in a college town in a house right across the street from campus, this is the first time in my life that a college campus is not a part of my daily life. I miss the hustle and bustle of a college town. I miss being surrounded by academics and having critical conversations around topics I’m passionate about every day. I miss having easy access to speakers, museums, musicians, and sporting events. Heck, I miss Starbucks and Chipotle!

I also forgot how completely isolating it can be to be the only person of color in your regular sphere of existence (a topic for a different post). With the events that have transpired around the country this year, that is something I have struggled with more than anything. I have said it before, but that lack of a support system of folks who look like me makes the day to day very difficult.

Knowing what I know now, would I do it over again? Would I humor my mom and apply for a job I did not think I had a shot at? Would I accept a position knowing I would be facing some serious geographic isolation in the face of current events? That is hard to say. I have loved every minute of my time at work. My job is more than I could have hoped for; the opportunity, more than I could have dreamed; the work, critically important. One year in I cannot say if I would do it again, but I can say that I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Cheers to one year down, and here’s to an entire career ahead of me.

I’m excited to see where year 2 takes me. Maybe I’ll finally get some business cards.