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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Flying in a different sapce

I am always talking about being involved in the community. While I lived in Charleston I certainly did that. A few months ago there was an article in the paper mentioning open seats on various City of Savannah commissions. I was never successful in getting appointed to a board in Charleston, but since I felt that I had done remarkably little in the place where I now live, what would it hurt to apply? So I did. I did and I forgot about it. And in all honesty I did not exactly know what I was applying for. I thought it was to be on a committee. I have served on numerous committees in my life and have even lead a few. I can do committees.
I received an email asking me to come to an interview for a seat on the recreation committee. That should have been my first clue that this was not 'just' a committee. Who interviews to be on a committee? Then I discovered that it was at city hall. So now things were beginning to feel bigger than 'just' a committee. Fortunately I was adequately dressed. My parents were in town and we were going shopping after my interview so I almost threw on jeans, a blouse, jacket, and some amazing shoes. But something told me to put on a tailored dress. I was almost tempted to be suited and booted, but I stayed in the dress. Perfect choice as it turned out.
In preparation for my interview I googled every member on the current board. I tried to find the budget, meeting minutes, goals, and stuff that would help me understand exactly what I was getting myself into, but the information was scarce.
I arrived promptly 20 minutes before my interview. at the appointed time I was ushered into the city council board room where various people (mostly men) were seated around a massive table. There were plenty of others in the 'audience'. I guess all interviews are open to the public. That was a bit intimidating. First time for everything.
I did not get to ask questions and I had a list of them. I was peppered with a few and in less than 10 minutes I was given the customary 'thank you for taking the time to come in and talk with us' and it was over. I wasn't even sure who was in the room or even around the table. I left a bit bewildered, but better for having that experience because no one I know here had ever gone through it. It was indeed an honor to be asked to interview.
Shortly afterwards I received a letter form the mayor saying that I am now on the recreation commission. My 3 year commitment begins in January. How cool is that? So I now welcome the opportunity to be in  different space. To see the inner operations of city government. I guess I really live in Savannah, now.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Flying with a friend

 Saturday morning almost felt like old times. When I lived in Charleston we would run at least 10 miles at 4am. This time we were running in Savannah. We ran at 7:20am, not 4am. And we split the half marathon, not 10 miles. Not even the bridge. I really miss those days. I am not running nearly as much as before. I am not clocking in 100+ miles per month anymore.

In fact, Saturday's race may have been my 6th or 7th run since being benched by my doctor in March. And yes, he consented for me to run this race. I was very hesitant when Annette asked me, but said I would.

Then I had to figure out how to train. Osteoarthritis is not always fun to run with. I started running 3-5 miles the last part of September. I got fitted for shoes since my stride is completely different than before. I rode my bike more, I do more yoga, and I am swimming. But to run better one needs to run.

Fortunately Annette did not care about the time or the pace. We did our best and we crossed the finish line standing up. We were not even the last people (at least I don't think we were, but I could be mistaken). No matter, we ran together something that we had not done in a couple of years. Something we took for granted while I lived in Charleston.

So this is our medal. We each got one, but it took both of us to run the race. I liked that. Teamwork. No stress. No drama. Just fun. Oh, my brother came as well. He did not run, he drove us to the race and cheered us on. Good times. This is the stuff memories are made of.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Flying in the community

Dr. Carlos
A few days ago I had the pleasure of attending a conference at Wake Forest University titled Rethinking Community. Not only did I attend, my co-worker and I presented. That was huge for me. I had never presented scholarly research to other scholars/practitioners. Interestingly the conference was composed mostly of members from the Wake Forest University-Winston Salem community.

Let me pause here to say that Wake Forest University and Wake Forest are not the same thing and are not in the same place. Yeah, I was confused and I confused other people.
Wake Forest University is in Winston-Salem. Wake Forest is in well, Wake Forest.

Not that you got that, let me continue. We were very fortunate to be among those who are questioning what community is, what is the university's role in the community, and what is community. We were involved in deep thought provoking conversations.

Ibtihaj Muhammad and Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf
We heard from Dr. John Carlos, one of the members of the 1968 Olympic track team who raised his fist in the air on the podium; Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, a basketball player who did not stand for the national athem in 1996; and Ibtihaj Muhammad , the first African American Muslim woman to win a medal in the 2016 Olympics in fencing. They are part of the community called activists and more aptly human. They are some of the people whose backs I stand on as I propel my way.  

That is what community is all about. The melding of unique ideas, distinctive actions, and people all of the common good of us all.

After our presentation we were told that we are now a part of the Wake Forest University community. We shared our collection thoughts on what we contributed to our community and hopefully provided insights on how they could implement similar actions into theirs.

We took back with us a richer sense of the academic community and potential initiatives on ways to contribute more to our own communities. I say communities because ours are very multicontextual. We have the wider social media community, the school community, the local community, our community of people outside of our immediate space, and now the Wake Forest University community.

We left (or maybe I should only speak for me). I left empowered. Empowered because I was invited into a space and was given the opportunity to use my voice. In that same space others not only heard my voice, but amplified it. I entered a space full of raw conversations about race, gender, class, socialism, politics, and many other topics often too hot to touch without ripping one's own skin off.

It was where I needed to be. It pulled me out of my safe environment and charged me with putting into action my time, talents, gifts, and money.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Flying while bruised

Sunday it happened again, twice. I fell while riding  my new bike. I had a melt down. I actually burst out in tears. I was supposed to be getting better and I felt like I was doing anything but that. And this time was not in a swamp. So I guess that is an improvement except pavement hurts more.

I am bruised. I am bruised more than I have ever been bruised in my life. Even more than when I fell through my attic. And I hurt a lot. My body looks just like the picture of those bananas. And the fact that it is on my butt make is hard to sit for long periods of time. And it hurts in certain positions when I sleep. On a scale of 1 to 10 my medically knowledged friend says it's only a 4 and that I am being overly dramatic. But I don't think so.

But I cannot give up. I sort of want to, but I paid too much money for that bike to let it collect dust. I will never be able to ride a century (even though I am rethinking that) if I do not get more time in the saddle. And I am a bit afraid.

All of this was going through my head and then I met Carlos Moleda former Navy SEAL who has won the handcycle division of the Ironman Triathlon World Championship five times. He is paralyzed from the waist down in the line of duty. When he noticed me he promptly stuck out his had and said, "Hello, I'm Carlos". Just like that. Just like that I was amazed to see him simply get up from his bike and into his wheelchair smiling and chatting.

And I am just bruised. I am crying because I fell twice in one day. I feel twice in one day and am bruised. Now that does not seem like much to cry about. So today I went on a run and am thinking about what to do differently the next time I get on my bike. I may be bruised, but I am not broken or paralyzed. I have no excuse not to ride again. Plus my friend Tyra won't let me.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Flying with a lot of new going on

 The other day I got a new bike. The one in front. I actually rode it 22 miles. This is significant because it was a new bike, new shoes, new clips on the shoes, new gears, and new bike shorts. That is a lot of newness happening all at one time.  

I was nervous. This bike is a lot sleeker, lighter, jazzier, and advanced than my previous bike. I did get a bit frustrated clipping in. I had no issues clipping out (which is a very good thing).

I was so worried that I was going to fall that in fact I did fall. On grass this time which was nice, but not as much fun as telling people that I fell in a swamp. A guy in a truck pulled over and ran out to help me. That was very nice. It was especially nice since the guy was white. I know that it shouldn't matter and it really doesn't. It's just that after all of the hate going around, it is nice to know that there are people who do not subscribe to that rhetoric. And he did not even think about race because he jumped out of his truck immediately. Normally I would not have noticed, but now I am a bit more aware of these things. This is new for me, really thinking about skin color.

I am not sure I am happy about that. I mean I always notice how many of 'us' are in a room, but not out in traffic. A whole lot of new going on.

I think our country is in a state of awakening. Just because people have remained silent does not mean all is well. I feel like the next chapter of civil rights is unfolding. People are rethinking and people are researching. I now know the history of the national anthem and many other things.

A whole lot of new going on.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Flying with Faith

Over the weekend I had the pleasure of attending a yoga workshop with Faith Hunter. Admittedly I had never heard of her before. I am not at all familiar with the icons of yoga. I am sure that will all change once I begin my yoga teacher training next month. But I am not there yet.

Anyway, I was apprehensive about participating in the workshop. I am not a bendy person. My quest for pretzleness has not gone very far. And the arthritis in my knee makes a few things a bit more challenging than I would like. But we all have challenges, right?

So why did I sign up for this workshop? Well, this was my very first opportunity to be taught by a woman of color. And freaking yes I was excited about that. I also thought it would be a great prelude to my upcoming yoga teacher training. And I needed to do 'something'. It was really just that simple.

I was well beyond the edge of my comfort zone. That is a great place to be, but I certainly don't want to live there. I did things that I had ever had the nerve to try. I did things I did not know how to try. I amazed myself. I pushed myself (okay two margaritas at lunch may have had something to do with that), but in the end I exceeded what my mind thought I could or maybe should do.

I have a lot more to learn. I still want to hold a crow for more than 1.5 seconds, do a handstand, a tripod headstand, a wheel, and who knows what else. I want to feel comfortable in my own skin again. I want to feel the power physically and mentally. I want to feel endless possibilities.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Flying in my version of Wonder Woman

Today I felt a little bad-assed. I ran four miles for the second time in a week. The goal is to be able to run six and a half miles comfortably for my leg of a relay in November. Today I ran without my watch. I ran with my watch Monday and all I know is that I am running a lot slower than ever before.

Yes, I know that I have really not been running since March. Yes, I know that osteoarthritis in my knee makes things incredibly hard. And yes, I was still bummed to be running so slow when I should be thankful to be able to do this much.

I am thankful for my body. It is a good body. It allows me to swim, do yoga, and bike between 20-35 miles on any given Sunday. Not too shabby for someone not really training for anything. I am just trying to balance out my fitness routine because menopause is a thing.

Menopause is a thing and I cannot take hormones. Menopause is a thing and the weight has materialized where it wasn't before. I am learning to embrace the change and move forward no matter how slow.

So today I ran. It is a small victory but isn't that what life is? Connected small things that lead up to bigger and better things? Please say yes, because that is what I keep telling myself.

Today, for the first time in a good while I am walking around believing that I am my own version of Wonder Woman. I hope this lasts for more than one day.