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Finding My Power

I was never a runner. My running experience and skill is limited to the couple years I joined the track team in high school to kick it with my girls and watch cute boys at track meets. So it has come as a bit of a shock to me how much I've grown to love running.

It started only a few months ago. I'd created a regular workout routine, consistently working out a few days a week at BodyTalk. It was the longest I'd remained committed to any kind of working out routine - partly because it's a lot of fun and partly because it suits my schedule better than the gym classes I love such as cycling.

But I didn't feel like that was enough. BodyTalk is really just for strengthening, particularly for your arms and core. I knew my classes there couldn't give me the cardio I needed, so I randomly started running. It made me feel like any other great workout would - after pushing through it you feel both invigorated and proud of yourself. However, I discovered that there was something to love that I'd never appreciated before. Running makes me feel powerful beyond belief. I'm on a high when I listen to my playlist (filled with dancehall and soca to keep me moving, of course). I almost feel invincible.

But even beyond the physical, there is the mental challenge of running that appeals to me. I'm not a competitive person by normal standards. You won't catch me trying to run better or faster than the next person. But I'm super competitive with myself. I am my worst critic, and I definitely don't like disappointing myself. So when I run 3.5 miles (as I did today), I expect improvement the next time.

And that's the part that I need the most. The mental stamina is so much harder to come by than the physical stamina. There are so many points during my run where my body is capable of pushing it further, yet my mind is telling me to slow down or run a shorter time.

I'm at a point in my life where I'm experiencing so much growth. I'm also aware of how much growth has yet to occurr. As I continue to make running a regular part of my life, I believe that the same feeling of power that overcomes me during my workouts will take hold in my personal and professional life. The mental strength I build will develop the courage and committment I'll need to face future challenges that come my way.

I'm working with a theory here, but my goal is to follow through in order to see the results.
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Rocking the Red Pump: Women and HIV/AIDS

I'm rocking the Red Pump today in honor of National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.
The goal is simple: raise awareness.

I must admit: I do not know any women with HIV or AIDS (or open to me about it, rather). However, I find this damn near impossible when I look at the statistics. I find it even more impossible when I look at the alarming rates that black women and girls are affected in my own community.

HIV is the 5th leading cause of death in women in the United States, ages 25-44. Every 35 minutes a woman in this country finds out she's HIV positive. Black women make up 66% of all new diagnoses of HIV in women.

It gets scarier, especially for those of us living in the DC Metropolitan area. The rate of women in D.C. infected with HIV/AIDS is nearly 12 times the national average. According to the Washington Post, in "at least 3 percent of District residents have HIV or AIDS, a total that far surpasses the 1 percent threshold that constitutes a "generalized and severe" epidemic.”

Last I knew, epidemics were faced with much more urgency. So that begs the question, at least in my mind, what will it take to not only increase the urgency in our own community, but also get the full attention and support of our leaders? I mean... what will it take for you to truly believe that this is a serious issue??

I remember when I first got tested. It was in school at Howard. Honestly, I only did it because I heard they didn't need to draw blood. (I have this fear of blood and needles that I'm beginning to get over so don't judge me please!) Since then I've been tested by swab and/or by blood just about each year. And each time it's the same. You take the test and you wait for results. I don't care if you're abstinent, that wait is nerve-racking whether you’re waiting 15 minutes or a few days (to get lab results back)! But it’s entirely worth it.

Knowing your status empowers you. Finding out that you are infected allows you a fighting chance. Finding out that you are not means you are blessed to be one of the few who will get to live without the disease another day.

So please. Don’t be a part of the 21% who don't know they are infected with HIV. Get out. Get tested. Know your status. And raise awareness.

If not for yourself, do it for the betterment of our community. Our lives depend in it.

Statistics from the The Red Pump Project website.

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Respecting the Pause: Wisdom from Alice Walker

"Wisdom, however, requests a pause. If we cannot give ourselves such a pause, the Universe will likely give it to us. In the form of illness, in the form of a massive mercury in retrograde, in the form of our car breaking down, our roof starting to leak, our garden starting to dry up. Our government collapsing. And we find ourselves required to stop, to sit down, to reflect. This is the time of "the pause," the universal place of stopping. The universal moment of reflection."
So you have your mind, heart and soul set on a goal. You work hard and push forward toward that dream. Focused. Determined. Passionate. You do all that you can do, and you are told there is time you need to wait. That’s just the process. So you wait even though waiting is far from your strength. You get anxious. Quite frankly you’re almost squeamish because you are so excited about this dream you are pursuing. But you wait because you know it is worth it, and there is nothing else you can do.

Finally you receive the news. It’s not the news you expected to hear. You just knew how this was all going to play out, and this news was definitely not in that plan. Matter of fact, you wouldn’t have even planned for this type of news if you had created a contingency plan. I mean it totally came from left field.

The news sinks in. You internalize it, and you grieve. You grieve because it hurts to have something you wanted so badly no longer be within your grasp. Then you go to sleep. And you wake up.

Now the question is: what do you do next?

Well, I don’t know about you, but the A-Type side of me needs to have that answer. However, through this thorough and personally challenging process that pursuing that goal required, I’ve experienced quite a bit of growth. Growth that I’m only now seeing as I sit and take pause.

In her book We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For Alice Walker says, “if we cannot give ourselves such a pause, the Universe will likely give it to us.” Ironically, and almost bizarrely, I reread this meditation (the book is a compilation of various meditations she wrote) the day before I received my news. When I first read the book I didn’t think much of it, but when I reopened it a couple weeks later this was the one that grabbed my attention. In reflecting on my situation, I believe that I have been given a pause. And it is my intention to take it.

So when you see me, don’t ask me what my plans are for my life. Because I don’t know. Don’t ask me what’s next or how long I will be staying at my firm. Because I don’t know. When you see me, don’t even ask me when I’m going to grad school or what I’m going to study. Because I don’t know. And I don’t need to know right now. I’m respecting the pause.

And if you’re worried that I’m discouraged or getting "off track," just stop your worrying right now. I’ve grieved, and I’m okay. Furthermore, I still intend to live out my purpose. There is no changing the innate part of me that is driven to succeed. However I am well aware that there are many paths to that purpose. Right now I’ve been told to take a detour (whether temporary or permanent), and I’m simply taking some time to sit on a bench in the park to enjoy the scenery.
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