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Monday, November 2, 2020

Flying in a bottleg half marathon

In case I have not mentioned it enough, I am a gear guru for Blue Sky Endurance. Now that we have that out of the way let me begin my story. 

It really wasn't a bootleg half marathon. It was the virtual Take Action Move for Justice half marathon.  I just call it bootleg because I had no real route in mind. I meant to map it out. I really did. But as it got closer to the day I decided that we would just go out and walk. We weren't racing so I figured it would be fine. 

So Saturday morning two of my 50+ and fabulous women friends from Charleston and I synchronized our watches and started the race. It was more of a walk as we had not seen each other in months. These are part of the group who would meet me at 4:30 to run 10 miles most Saturday mornings when I lived in Charleston. 

It was fun catching up. It was different walking. And if I am honest, it was a teeny bit nicer. I had no route so we walked up and down most of the streets in my neighborhood and eeked out 8 miles before we left it. We commented on the front yards, mostly the front porches, and the horses. No, I do not live in a rural town, and yes there were two horses tucked in at the end of a dead-end street. Go figure, but long ago I learned never to judge lives I will not lead. And I cannot imagine living with horses or any other kind of animal as I am highly allergic. 

The morning was brisk and chilly. It was in the 50s. I wore my new (yes, I broke one of the cardinal race rules and wore something new) hoodie that I got from Blue Sky Endurance.  It is the Comet Seamless Hoodie from Salomon Running I love hoodies and I almost really love this one.

But first the good stuff: the seamless body fits nicely. I bought a size up so that it was roomy as they fit true to size. It was super soft and cozy. With its engineered mesh zones, this hoodie is breathable with wicking fabric that kept my body temperature stable. It kept me warm enough when we began our walk and as it got warmer it did not stifle me. the color was nice, too. I would even wear this with jeans and boots. 

What I did not like was the thumbhole contraption. Perhaps contraption is not the right word, but I cannot think of another one at this moment. Full disclosure I probably love thumbholes a bit too much. I think every piece of apparel with long sleeves should have them. Yes, even my dresses. My mom disagrees and she is probably right, but I am entitled to my opinion. Anyway, I wanted true thumbholes and not whatever this is. While I am sure there was research that went into this thumbhole thing and that there is a good reason for it to be this way, I am not a fan. And I could be in the minority. What else is new?

As for our walk, we finished it. It was an adventure. I gained new knowledge about my neighborhood. We all caught up in the four hours that it took us to walk. We were tired in a good way. It was hard, but we did it. And we are thinking that maybe, just maybe we will do it again. 


Thursday, October 29, 2020

Flying needing to be seen

Originally posted in the Blue Sky endurance newsletter because I am a @gearguru. 

Lately, I have been a bit hesitant to go outside to run. The events of this past year have caused me to examine my participation in outside physical activity. Part of this analysis is because my running looks a bit different due to the osteoarthritis in my right knee. My running is often a cobble of run/walk and maybe a skip in between. Another part is due to the mass amount of racial unrest in this country and the fact that Ahmad Aubrey was murdered while running 45 minutes from where I now reside. Events like this have left me, a Black woman without much solace.  

Running has always been my safe haven and now I wonder if I am safe. Even in the midst of my doubts, I am still out the door at 5:30am.  Armed with a huge stick and a taser I now take the Sunlight Duo rechargeable light by DuraVision Pro. It is small, lightweight , and extremely bright. It clips on my waistband without pulling my pants down. That leaves my hands free. And it stays in place not bouncing as I move. Which means I can focus on my surroundings instead of being distracted. It is rechargeable which means that I do not have to search for batteries in my junk drawer. You know that place where they are supposed to be and yet most times, I find the empty package. I charged it when I first got it about two weeks ago and have not had to recharge it yet even after using it two hours at least five times a week. It illuminates things even when there are no streetlights and in a room in my house when I did not turn the lights on. This tiny light makes running feel a bit safer and that is exactly what I need right now.


Flying into excellence

Originally posted for Blue Sky Endurance because I am a #gearguru. 

Today I stepped into excellence, not perfection excellence. There is a difference. Excellence means that you have done the work to the best of your ability. You have pushed yourself to the edge as defined by you not by your parents, your friends, and not by society. You get to set the goals and you get to crush them. And you can do this every freaking day. Just show up for one more step, one more minute, one more mile, one more of whatever it is you do or that you want to do. It all counts. It all counts even if no one sees you and it reverberates mightily when someone does. Just do the thing, your thing even if it's the thing that you thought you couldn't, shouldn't wouldn't ever do. That is how stereotypes crash and confidence roars.  Come on let's do this thing, stereotypes be damned.

My foray into excellence this time (Yes, you are allowed more than one time. In fact you should do it every day in some form or fashion) was standing front and center in front of 30+ people of all shapes, sizes, ages, races, abilities, and I assume religious ideologies. This was my largest yoga class to date. I was ready and yet the butterflies were rampant. Deep breaths, soft gaze, and focus. One more time and then again and again. Just one more. Namaste and then showtime. Front and center. I am in charge. Just do the thing.

Good thing I had on the super silky comfortable tank top. It beautifully wicked the sweat probably fueled more by nervousness than exertion from my body. I love that the back in a bit longer and covers my rear for that tiny bit of modesty that I want. Not in a dowdy old fashioned way, but in a cool pulled together not letting it all hang out in public kind of way. Not that there is anything wrong with letting it all hang out, this just wasn't the place for that. The ample armholes provide lots of room for me to move through poses without restriction and the seams did not rub me raw. The mesh center back panel allowed me to remain cool or as cool as I could be in front of all those people. Plus it's pretty cute. The Blue Sky Endurance logo emblazoned across the front reminded me that I have support along my journey. I am never alone in my trek for excellence and regardless of your fitness level neither are you. 

Friday, October 23, 2020

Flying voting

Early voting in Georgia started on October 12th. The lines to vote for that entire week were about a half-mile long. People were doing the best they could to social distance, but the heat and the sheer amount of people made that a huge task. 

Potential voters were told to bring personal accommodations such as chairs, snacks, and water. There were volunteers handing out water and snacks to those who did not get the memo or who perhaps had been in line so long that they ran out of snacks and things. 

I saw a lot of canes and walkers. People were out in full force. A friend of mine got in line at 5:30am and there were people who were there an hour before that. The polls did not open until 8. People were on a mission to vote. I do not know if most were worried that the mail would not deliver their ballots in time or if they wanted to be caught up in the excitement of this election. 

I was happy to see all of the people in line but saddened that some were in line for 8 hours. Some of my friends and I talked about going and making a day of it. Having a picnic in the line. That would make it less stressful and less like a task. Plus we would have great stories to tell people when this election was over. 

Instead, a friend and I voted on a Saturday afternoon. The line was not visible from the street. There was a tent to shield us from the sun. We have just eaten lunch and not in need of any sustenance. And we had time. I was a tiny bit worried that I may need a chair since we had already gotten in our 5 miles and my arthritic knee was making its presence known. 

We got in line anyway. We heard a few stories. Most of the people in line were teachers discussing the impact of COVID-19 on their schools and teaching strategies. There were complaints about this and that. No confrontations or angry words. We all watched a bit anxiously when a police officer told a woman that she needed to put on her mask. She didn't want to. She stated that. She looked around and when no one came to her aid she begrudgingly put it on. She had 'bad attitude' stamped all over her face. A few whispered that we knew who she was voting for. One should not assume, but I am sure we all did. 

Forty-five minutes and thirty-two seconds later my civic duty was done. I had voted. I had voted upfront and in person. I have the sticker to prove it. Fortunately, I encountered none of the issues I had been warned about. I had studied the ballot beforehand and had a few civil discussions with others as to what the amendments meant. I had researched the candidates at the local level. I was an informed voter. 


 

Monday, October 12, 2020

Flying low

Jon Tyson
It has been about a year since I last posted. So much has happened that I don't know where to begin. So I will just dive right on in. This is the first time in my life that I have actually been afraid to be out in public as a Black woman. I mean, I have seen my share of racism before now like the time when I ran over the Cooper River bridge and a car of white men drove past and called me the N-word. I was shocked, but not rocked to my core like now. I just thought was an isolated incident. 

I don't think that anymore. Nothing is isolated. It is blatant and consistent. I took a break from social media and the news. Too many triggers. Too many unarmed Black men dying at the hands of white police officers. Too many white women calling the police on Black people for just living their lives.  This is reminding too many of us of Emmett Till. I cannot unsee the murder of George Floyd and those 8:46 seconds. And then there is Breonna Taylor. And then there are many, oh so many more. I don't sleep so well these days. Ahmad Aubrey was murdered about 45 minutes from where I live.

And yes I know about civil rights. I was on the planning committee of the first relay from Selma to Montgomery Alabama where we ran the same route walked in March 1965 for voting rights. I know that people died so that I could vote and do plenty of other things. I know my history. I just never thought that I would be fighting to gain the footholds that those before me had already gained. Or was it simply an illusion? 

I don't blame the current administration for racism. It has been systemically around for many years. And as crazy as it sounds now, I thought we had moved past it. Yes, my privilege is showing. I am a Black woman. I am an educated Black woman. I am an employed Black woman. I am a Black woman military veteran. I am a Black woman who owns a house. And yet if the police are called I am just a Black woman with all the stereotypes and microaggressions that the law allows. And the law allows for plenty. People are allowed to be afraid of me because I am Black. My skin is viewed as a weapon even when I am sleeping. And that is why when a police car is behind me I call someone, just in case while knowing that isn't really going to keep me safe. The best I can do is pray for a video. 

It is exhausting gearing up for battle every single day and then expected to be professional. It is exhausting trying to make myself appear less than so that people won't feel uncomfortable around me. It is exhausting to hold my tongue when I hear that all lives matter. When I know the person saying it doesn't give a damn about the Black ones. And yet, I must not raise my voice, cut my eyes, or show any emotion in my face. It is exhausting. 

Every single day that I wake up I feel that I am not doing enough. I stand in front of my classes and try to make sense out of things that don't make sense for not only my Black male students but for the entire class. I have to teach as if my heart is not breaking. I have to teach as if I am immune from all that is happening around me. Black people are being murdered and we fail to hold anyone accountable. Protests are good, but they are not enough. We need to vote. Vote for the greater good. Vote for humanity. 

Well, I did not do what I was supposed to do. I got angry. I spoke out on a podcast. My episode is called Screw ur Kumbaya. That's right I said it. Then I collaborated on the Banners of Courage t-shirt line.  I created a module to address social justice for the yoga community. And I am still angry. I am angry when my so-called white friends remain silent. Or when they privately message me that they are here for me. I need you to be here for me in public spaces. I need you to advocate for me every single day with fire and breath. 

I need you to know that it isn't easy being Black right now. Not that it ever has been, but lately it has been much worse. Black people are being murdered for being Black. We are not okay. I am not okay.  


Friday, May 24, 2019

Flying with paradigm shifts

I have not written for a long time. I meant to write sooner, but every time I started to something came up and derailed me. There has been a lot of turmoil in my life and some of it I did not handle very well. I disassociated from a group whose mission I really believed in. It was part of my dream. And then I realized that the philosophical differences were too vast and I just did not want to try to bridge them. I had been feeling uncomfortable about this situation for many months and it kept getting worse for me. 

I will admit that I did not reach out to communicate my unease. At some point, I just stopped caring. And I unceremoniously vanished. I broke up with them via text which is exactly what happened to me in a personal situation and I swore I would never do that to anyone. I guess I lied. Or maybe I just figured out that the amount of effort you put into ending something exemplifies the amount of value you have in the relationship. I was not the bigger person and it felt just fine. I do not feel guilty and maybe I should. Not for what I felt, but for how I reacted. No matter, it is done and as I said I feel great. Now I can move on to other things without that baggage. I wish them well. I really do. 

Then I ran a horrible half marathon. Yes, I know that some runs are just not as awesome as others, but this one really sucked. My right knee hurt so bad that I walked the last three miles. I did not even try to run across the finish line. And I cried. There was another woman with me in a similar situation. At least she had friends waiting for her at the end. There was no one waiting for me. My running career crashed and burned and I got in my car and cried all the way home and into the night. 

Yes, there are worse things. Yes, there are people who would trade places with me. Well, guess what? They can't and at the end of the day I still have my sh** and those better and worse people still have theirs. 

Then by some collaboration of the universe, I met someone. It is new and I am not defining it as a thing yet. But for the first time in a long time, I am inspired. I am learning so much about myself through his eyes. Very cool for me since this rarely happens. He is not in complete awe of me. He may not be in awe of me at all and that is just fine. Because falling off of someone's imaginary pedestal hurts like hell, especially when you did not put yourself up there and have no earthly idea just how high it is. Just let me be me without artificial inflation, thank you very much. And that is all that I will say about that. It isn't a thing until it is if it ever is. And surprisingly I am okay with that. I am in this with my brain fully functioning and hope for more good things to come. I do not need someone on a white horse to save me. I saved myself a long time ago, but it is great to have someone make that makes me laugh. 

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Flying outside of my comfort zone, again


Leio McLaren
Last year I completed my 200 hour yoga teacher certification. During the process I said that I wanted to bring yoga to those who did not have access to it. I thought I would be teaching in a homeless shelter. I kept saying over and over and over about how that is what I was going to do. Then I wrote a research paper on the whiteness of yoga and the wheels started turning. I kept saying that I needed to teach yoga in a public space. Women of color kept asking me where I was teaching. The owner of a local studio asked me to teach at her place. I said I would. and yet, I have not. I have plenty of reasons or excuses disguised as reasons. One of them being afraid.

And then I agreed to teach yoga to elementary school kids again. The program now has 80 children. That is right 80. And surprise surprise , this year an adult component was added. So I now teach adults. Yikes! Everything that I was running away from just hit me smack in the face. I have to teach adults. Teaching adults is much scarier than teaching kids. The kids will do any pose and giggle in between. Most are not afraid of flipping their dogs or moving into wheel (with the proper warm-ups, of course). Adults understand how things feel within their bodies. They have expectations of feeling great after a class. I know. I am one of them. I am an adult.
So, now none of my excuses disguised as reasons matter at this point. I have taught two adult classes. I did not die. I did freak out a bit when I moved a class too quickly through the sequence and had to add poses. I also slowed the end of the class down. I did not even sweat. Well, not so that anyone could see it. I felt it.

Now I am in week two. I am still a bit anxious, but I know what I am doing (for the most part). I am able to read a room and make modifications. The freak outs are fewer. I did it. I moved beyond the things real and/or imaginary that were holding me back from teaching. From making yoga accessible to people who might not ever try it or walk into a yoga studio for a variety of reasons. In my small corner of this world yoga is not so white. It is fun, funky, liberating, and beautiful. And for that I am proud. I am completely out of my comfort zone. and I will do it twice a week for seven weeks and who knows what happens after that. 

I also accomplished what I set out to do. I am teaching. Not in a studio, but out in the community where impact is still being made. Teaching in a homeless shelter is still on my radar. Just right now I am being called to be somewhere else.
 The best piece of advice someone has ever given me was 'do it scared.' And no matter if you're scared, just go ahead and do it anyway because you might as well do it scared, so it will get done and you will feel so much better if you step out of your comfort zone.
~Sherri Shepherd