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Monday, September 17, 2018

Flying feeling 'less-than-my-usual-greatness"

Christian Fregnan
I cannot believe I have actually been away so long. In some ways it feels like it and in others it does not. So much has transpired. I was invited to be a panelist on the Black Women's Equality Day event. I presented my journey from a beneficiary of Civil Rights to a grass roots activist in a presentation called Pilgrimage to a sacred space: Commemorating Selma. And I am on tap to deliver a workshop on joy next month. And, I am going to Alaska this weekend! Then I will only have 9 states left to visit. Yes, I have been to 40 states including Hawaii. I have started back running. I am averaging 20 miles a week. My pace is slow, but I am covering the mileage. I plan to run another marathon, maybe next year. All that above was part of my best. And even I will admit that it is/was pretty awesome. 

And then...change. I understand the need for change in business or in everyday life. I understand the bottom line. I understand tightening the purse strings. I understand streamlining. I get it. I have been part of it. I have been laid off.  I have contributed to a plan to lay people off. It is not easy or fun. Many of my colleagues were laid off a couple weeks ago. We were not told the rationale. And we cannot figure it out. 

Things are different. Even before the layoffs the vibe changed. And I caught up in it. I did my best, but my best just did not feel like my best. I felt like I failed my students. I do not feel like I am on top of my game. 

Here's the thing: the game changes. Best is relative. It is different from day to day. Sometimes hour by hour. Dare I say minute by minute? The truth is that I was doing my best. It just wasn't the same best as last month or last year. And that is allowed. I am allowed to not be as great as I was. I am allowed as long as I do not intend to stay in that state of 'less-than-my-usual-greatness'. 

I do not plan to stay here. There are lessons to be learned here. I am doing my best to pay attention. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Flying with the birds

As I get older I realize that I must be very discriminate in the people I allow to share my breath. Not everyone has my best interest at heart. Not everyone wants me to succeed. And certainly not everyone should be passengers on my journey.

I learned some hard lessons. I had to politely remove myself from the orbit of some people. It was hard, but not as difficult as I thought it would be. don't get me wrong, I am the best cheerleader you could ever have. However, when I need the cheering and the same people were not there after I was just in their corner I began to pay attention. I do not mean tit for tat. I mean showing up and being present when showing up and being present is required.

And then I noticed that there were those who showed up and were present without the prodding. They were there because they were interested in being on my team and having me be a part of theirs. And honestly, those are the only people who I will go out of my way to make time for. Those people who show up. And that makes me show up and stand up a bit taller than usual. Just by being in the room their energies create an atmosphere of greatness. And who does not want to be surrounded by greatness? Who does not want to be part of greatness?

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Flying with Crumpled Doretha

I had not realized that it has been over a month since my last post. I will try to do much better going forward.

I have started back to running. Okay, maybe that is not a correct statement. Let me try this again, I have started back to running MORE. Yeah, that is it. That is much more truthful. I bought a Planet Fitness membership, the $10 one so that I could run on a treadmill. I gave my treadmill away because it would not fit in my house unless I put it in the kitchen. And that just seemed, well uncouth. Anyway, I would routinely jump on the treadmill and run three miles. I even went after teaching class at 9:30pm. I could go at 5am when I did not feel safe running alone outside.

Well, that abruptly came to a halt and I started running again outside. I'd rather run a slower three miles on the pavement than on a treadmill. Then I started running farther. On my birthday I ran six miles. I was supposed to run 5.7, but I hate raggedy miles so it became six. Then I increased to 8. yes, I can now run 8 miles. I am sure they are not pretty, but they are beautiful to me. I want to get back to running a 10 miler every week. And yes, I am missing my running crew in Charleston.

So, I am back. My knee is okay. I have greater mobility and can almost straighten it all the way out. It does not hurt so much except when I do not take rest days. On the days that I do not run I am still doing something like yoga, swimming, or walking. I need to rest. I feel guilty when I rest. And I know that rest is when the body rejuvenates. It is still difficult to do.

I now take pictures of my crumpled clothes after a run. Not after EVERY run because sometimes I run out of time or my clothes are sweat soaked to my body that taking a picture just cannot happen in a timely manner. But I do my best.

And it feels great to be able to leave my stuff on the pavement. To just flat out eat miles again.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Flying with Hamilton

I managed to get decent tickets at a decent price for Hamilton. No, not Anthony Hamilton. I am sure getting tickets to see him would be great, but I am not a huge fan. Okay, I rarely listen to his music. I heard he was amazing, though.

Anyway thanks to a few random acts, I saw Hamilton. I took my accomplice (every person needs an accomplice in life) and off we went to Atlanta. It was our first road trip together and it went well except that I would not stop for her to grab coffee. It was a road trip, I do not drink coffee, she was late, and she should  have brought a thermos with her. Fortunately my lovely aunt made her some coffee along with a great breakfast. At that point I think all was forgiven.

Hamilton was worth all of the hype. I will admit that I had to Google the play so that I would have some idea of what I was going to see. Yes, I am sure we covered Hamilton in elementary school and maybe high school, but apparently I slept through those classes because I remembered absolutely positively nothing. Sad to say that I thought he was on the $20 bill. Yes, now I know that is Andrew Jackson. I should have known that from all the chatter around replacing him with Harriet Tubman. I did not know that he wrote part of the Federalist Papers because I read them while working on my PhD.

The play captured my attention and now I know much more about American history than I ever did. I am now going to go back and read up on other founding members. I know I should know my American history especially since my degrees are in public policy and administration. Not sure how I missed most of it. Perhaps if there were more plays like this I would have been inspired to do more research on history. But then again, maybe not. At least now I will and I hope that many others will as well.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Flying with a gift

Yesterday I was given a wonderful gift. I was asked to teach yoga to students in a summer program. These students were from Haven and Hodge elementary schools. They were all students of color. I recently wrote a research paper on the whiteness of yoga. So this opportunity was exactly what I needed in an effort to normalize yoga for people of color-if that is even possible.

Anyway, there were just over 40 kids on purple mats moving to the whale sounds (the theme was about whales and Spotify has this playlist...). Yeah, I guess you had to be there. There was a lot of laughter and even more mindfulness. We focused on our breaths. We allowed our bodies to take the shapes exactly the way they were supposed to all very different from one another. It was magical. Everyone participated. One second grader brought his mat upfront and helped lead the class. why? Because he had done yoga before and he wanted to be up front. It was really just that simple.

Of course there were the usual kiddie chatter and giggles during class, but it was all good. It was more than good. It was a perfectly imperfect practice just as all practices should be. It was the start of a movement. It was activism in a quiet gentle form. These children were doing something that many adults don't do. Something that many adults don't do because they are afraid. Something that many people of color do not do because of the stares they get being the only 'one'.

My hope is that yesterday I empowered over 40 children to step on their mats not just now, but later on in life without fear of anything. Without thinking about their skin color, their body type, or not understanding the poses. I also want them to take this power with them off of the mat. I want them to feel their power in school, on the bus, on the street, and especially in their minds.

Yesterday I was given a wonderful gift and for that I am eternally grateful.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Flying with the vote

I voted for the first time as a Georgia resident. Before voting I had a lot of research to do. I had no idea 'who my people were'. I did not want to go into the poll without knowing anything. Plus, I am always telling people to be informed voters and I use the hashtag #foryourfile so that I can catalog the issues and responses that I would not remember. I even attended a political luncheon in an attempt to hear from the candidates themselves. I did not learn much. Partly because not much was said and partly because it started an hour late and well, I had other things to do.

So I paid attention to the televised debates. I read everything I could get my hands on. I particularly had to read, read, and re-read articles from various sources on Stacey Evans and Stacey Evans. I was not sure which one best represented me and the television commercials were a bit misleading. I had conversations (not as many as I wanted and I think my friends and coworkers were getting weary of my questions) with people in an attempt to decipher what was needed and who could best deliver that. Again, it was the primary. The winner would go up against the Republican primary winner. There will be a runoff to determine that.

It was different voting in Chatham county. Much of it was manual input. It took a lot longer than I am used to. There were no ballots posted. There was no explanation of the referendums or whatever those questions were on the ballot. I was unprepared for them and I thought I had downloaded the most recent ballot. I got frustrated because I did not understand the manual stuff. I got a voter registration card so why was I manually put into the system? I did not ask because my words may have come out harsh and I may have been escorted out. So I stood there waiting glaring at the woman who I am sure was doing the best she could to put my information into the system. I managed to vote and next time I try the early voting.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Flying with Thursday's Word

Photo by Saffu on Unsplash
Thursday's Word is back!


John 4:24 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.

Think about your greatest hero (someone you don’t personally know) you can know all about them, without knowing them. Pick a superhero and detail all the things they do.  What have any of them done for you? 
The same thing happens with God, we can know all about Him without having a relationship. Now think of God. testify to what He has done for you?  Not a superhero but a Supernatural God who is alive and well in this world today. He is holding you up right now and giving you life.

Jesus Christ is the one we all need a relationship with in order to live a good life down here. Get to know Him today.

May God continue to bless you, is my prayer.

Brenda Smith