What would happen if I actually buckled down and do those things I always said I was going to commit to at the start of every new year or change of every season? Who would I actually be?
It’s June. Halfway through 2021…
I gotta come clean.
I have been inconsistent this past year…hell, this past decade, with being consistently committed to anything, especially those things concerning my mental health, my emotional health, and my physical health.
After a pretty depressing and emotionally draining phone call with a “friend,” I realized that for the last year or more, I have been neglectful of me, chasing behind bread crumbs, not receiving the energy I was giving away, and honestly, seeking validation of me outside of me. I would start a health routine and stop. Decide to get emotionally fit. Then stop. Decided I needed to really get my -ish together, only to stop AGAIN.
When this conversation concluded, something was different. Different because that “high” I was accustomed to was no longer there. These talks were usually “uplifting” to me or gave me that high I became accustomed to …the high that numbed the real issue of what may have been going on with me.
Something was different today.
A deep feeling of sadness seemed to wash over me. What the f___ (yep, there was a cuss word that welled up in my spirit) have I been doing this past year…hell…these past 10 years?!! I have been wasting my time and energy, giving me away to people and situations that were harmful to my overall well being! Time is short. The next day is not promised to any of us, and I have spent more than 2 decades sleepwalking apparently.
Today, I made the decision to stop sleepwalking through the second half of my life. I made the decision to go forward and do whatever it takes to truly create the best version of me. What would happen if I committed to being the person I always wanted to be? What would happen if I focused on the things I could control? I mean REALLY focused.
In the past, I have always said “Tomorrow. I will get started tomorrow.” Tomorrow always came and went. A mental error I always made was believing that tomorrow, I was going to be different. Do things differently. Tomorrow arrived, the cares of the day arrived and I seemed to stay and feel the same, be the same person as I was before. I realized no one was coming to save me, there was no miracle potion I could take that would make me into the person I always dreamed of becoming.
I must do the work. I must stop procrastinating. I must stop negotiating. I must stop overcompensating. I must focus and DO THE WORK.
The truth: I have been low-key complacent. Hiding behind being a single mother and raising my sons and just brushing things off with “I don’t have time for that.” Complacency. Much of my almost 5 decades on this planet has been falling to this way too many times and not pushing through discomfort.
Somehow all these years, I accepted mediocrity, being average, complacency and sleep walking through these last 4 decades. I was not living up to my personal potential. In the eyes of others I didn’t look like a failure. In my eyes, I was a failure or rather I have been failing myself. With some of the choices I have made and have been making lately, I have been on auto-pilot. There is a quote that says “You don’t get what you want in life, you get what you are.”
Who was I? I am at the half way point in my life. Where am I? What am I doing? The boys are in college now. What is holding me back? What did I always want? Who did I always want to be? I have always wanted to be someone who was disciplined, physically fit, mentally fit, financially fit. I wanted to have a real savings account even while trying to pay off my student loans…emotionally fit…working with purpose, really making a difference in my community and in the lives of the children I work with each day…be kind to myself. Make good choices for myself. Leave a legacy to my children that will change the narrative of the future generations of our family.
In 6 more months, I will enter a new decade of my life…the half century mark in fact and honestly, I don’t want to be wrestling with the same things. So, I am going to conduct an experiment for the next six months. What would happen if I focused on the things I could control? What would this focus yield in my life? Who would I be at the end of this personal experiment? What if controlling the things I could control would lead to the life I always dreamed of living, as the person I always dreamed of becoming?
So the first thing I have decided to tackle was physical movement. I have been too inconsistent over the years with my commitment to physical movement. I have all the tools I need, yet fall short of my goals every year. Health is wealth. Consistent physical movement is extremely beneficial to our mental, emotional and physical health. We cannot manage the trials of life in poor condition. It’s no longer about looking good naked…while that’s a plus…this was about trying to reach the end of my life being in better shape mentally, emotionally and physically.
This morning, I committed to all the things I wanted for myself by first committing to moving my body everyday for the next six months. The second half of my life is on the line. The legacy I wish to leave to my sons is on the line. Keeping a promise to myself was on the line.
So these next 6 months are going to be an experiment, what will be the end result at the close of this decade?
Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.
I’m not a runner, but I got some kids to sign up for my after-school running club. Cue Poppy & Branch from the movie Trolls…
I got this feelin' inside my bones
It goes electric, wavy when I turn it on
All through my city, all through my home
We're flyin' up, no ceilin', when we in our zone
I got that sunshine in my pocket
Got that good soul in my feet
I feel that hot blood in my body when it drops (ooh)
Just a little theme music to listen to as you finish reading this post!
I’m not a runner, but I got some kids to sign up for my after-school running club! How bout 20 precocious participants believe it or not?!
Recruitment started out kind of shaky.
Everyone filed into the gymnasium rather energetically and took their socially distanced spots on the floor. Surveys were passed out with with words for the older children and pictures for the younger children with names of the clubs that would be available after school on Thursdays and Fridays.
Running was competing with two powerhouses…ART & MUSIC(I don’t understand how they are such heavy hitters when schools like mine have virtually erased those kinds of subjects from the curriculum…but I digress.) I began to give my spiel.
Running was placed at the top of the list with a cute graphic of a happy child running. I figured if I placed it first no one would be interested after I began describing the other clubs available and teachers who will be sponsoring those clubs.
Spiel ended. I began circulating aroung the room checking for perplexed faces or anyone needing help. Inwardly thinking, “Well, no one is going to sign up. There, I tried! Oh, well.” Then, there came a small voice, “Dr. B, what is a running club? I can’t run.” Before I knew it, I blurted out “Me either! But we can learn together! And if I pass out, you can call someone to come get me!” We both started laughing.
I didn’t realize there were others listening to our conversation. Another little voice asked “What if I can’t do it?” I asked “What if I can’t? Are you going to help me?” He said “Sure, I will help you!” I responded “Then I will be there to help you, too. We can help each other. I probably will need you more than you need me since I am an old lady.” The child said “Okay, Dr. B.”
As I continued walking around the room, I noticed some of my upper elementary students start to loosen up and beckon me to come over. There were a group of girls and one asked, “What if you are too heavy to run?” I responded, “Then you can walk. We will walk some and then run/jog some. Eventually it should become easier. The thing is you have to try.”
I could see she was really giving it some thought. Yet, the other girls didn’t seem to be convinced. Who knew how hard it was being a sixth grader and being different from your friends? I left the group alone and proceeded to go back to the front of the room to wrap up the surveys.
“Students, make sure your name is at the top and that you have chosen 2 things you want to be a part of each week.”
My assistant collected the surveys for me to compile later. The students began to collect their items and file out of the room to the next activity. As they walked by me 2 or 3 kindergarteners said “I signed up for running. I want to help you run, Dr. B.” A few of the older students filed by and a couple said, “Yeah, we signed up, too. It might be fun.” The last student out was the young lady who was concerend about her weight, handed me her folded paper and walked away.
I opened her paper. Checked what looked to be ART and MUSIC first…but then music had a line drawn through it and a big check mark placed next to running. I thought, “wow, no turning back now.”
As I sat down to go through the rest of the surveys and complile rosters for the different clubs, of course music was the clear front runner. But coming in a close second was RUNNING CLUB with Dr. B!
I was totally shocked and humbled. Twenty(20) young people signed up to learn to run with me after school. I could hear these lyrics from Justin Timberlake’s song:
When we move, well, you already know
So just imagine, just imagine, just imagine...
Just imagine…I’m not a runner, but I got 20 kids to sign up for my after school running club.
The mind and body are not separate units, but one integrated system.
Bernie Siegel, M.D.
The Movement Memoirs are starting today as a way to document my commitment to moving my body daily for 30 days. Consider it to be an experiment if you will. What will I learn about myself and this 49-year old body in those 30 days? Can I maintain 30 days of consistent movemment or will I give up?
Today was day 1. The theme for today would have to have been YOU CAN NOT TRUST YOUR THOUGHTS! It is funny and quite interesting at how my mind seems perfectly quiet and contented as long as I sit on the sofa watching television. No push back at all. Thoughts silent.
The moment I mutter “I need to exercise today,” I began thinking about all the things I need to do BEFORE I start said exercise. I mean all sorts of thoughts! I seem to literally start rationalizing why it would be better to just wait until tomorrow. And I have tried waiting until tomorrow! That tomorrow turns into another tomorrow and another tomorrow and before you know it a week is gone!
There was a real Wrestlemania going on in my head and all I wanted to do was get on my treadmill and start my Couch to 5K app!
I literally had to perform a manual override of my prominent thought, put my tights on, lace up my sneakers and step on the treadmill!!
I began to walk slowly. The app gave me 5 minutes to warm up before the walk/run intervals started. It was rocky at first because I could literally hear “There is no point to this. Just wait until tomorrow. It’s too late in the day. You work out better in the mornings!” I mean all kinds of gobbledygook!
I kept moving and I literally had to say out loud “NO, KEEP GOING!” Eventually the nagging voice stopped and the run intervals got easier. I couldn’t help thinking “Man, you cannot trust your thoughts!”
My body did exactly what I told it to do today. I decided to keep going and I was able to finish the entire workout…all 25 minutes! And felt better afterward.
Why were my own thoughts fighting me? Movement is good for me but why was I arguing with myself to just get started?!
Day 1 down. Goal achieved today. Will I win the battle each day for the next 29 days? We shall see.
This time I thought I was going to die! I mean, for real!! “I MUST BE LEAVING THIS PLANET TODAY!” I thought. Suddenly, I became Fred Sanford, “This is the BIG ONE! I comin’ to join you, honey! With a hole in my heart!”
I mean it sure is heck felt like it!
The pain in my chest was SO REAL — indescribable! The knot in my stomach was SO REAL — painful! I could not breathe. I thought I had contracted some terminal illness whose symptoms were just now surfacing. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep.
What the HHEELLLL was wrong with me?! I had contracted an illness alright. However, this illness would not be found in any medical text or diagnosed on WebMD. The illness I had contracted or rather been stricken with was “Broken Heart-itis.”
At some point in our lives, we have all had it. You give your whole heart to someone, thinking that what the two of you have is surely going to last forever. This time. This is the one. This time. I will never love another. This time. I will never want another. This time.
And this time it is going to be different. Yup!
Then, the unthinkable happens.
Your one and only “true love” tells you they don’t love you anymore or that they don’t feel the same about the relationship anymore or they just ghost you — disappear without warning.
Maybe it’s the other way around, you don’t love them anymore or you no longer want to be in the relationship, or maybe you are the one who ghosts. Whatever the reason or whomever is to blame, you find yourself with a case of Broken Heart-itis now.
This “illness” oftentimes strikes without warning or if there are signs leading to this unbearable disease, you think you will be able to handle it, it won’t be so bad, or even that “it won’t happen to me.”
But it happens. The relationship ends.
They leave. You leave. Whatever the reason. You now find yourself dealing with a set of emotions and mental anguish that no amount of education has prepared you to deal with. What do you do?
Where is the vaccine?
Like most of us, you probably cry your eyes out for what seems like weeks, stay inside your bedroom under the covers for days watching sad movies or listening to sad music, eating comfort food. Maybe you even beg the other person to change their minds, send countless texts and emails, seek revenge (I DO NOT advise this!!), drive by their homes, stalk their social media pages, talk to their family and friends, or begin dating random people! The list could go on and on.
So, let’s just say, we have done some things we are not proud of when we look back in retrospect.
No one prepares you for this pain. Nothing seems to ease the pain.
There are no talks when you are growing up about what to do when you experience a broken heart. There are no classes in your public or private education that teach you how to navigate the difficult waters of emotional turmoil. It seems to be something we have to go through. Ride out.
And if one more person tells you “You will be ok,” you will SCREAM!
We are told that time heals all wounds and it does for some. For others time heals nothing. Just how do we recover from Broken Heart-itis?
Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.
I am NOT a runner, but I’m starting a running club for my elementary school students.
Why? Because they need it and maybe because I need it, too.
The pandemic has helped make our youngest members of society even more inactive than they were already becoming. Couple this with growing up in a rural and impoverished community, your outlook on life or even the benefits of being active become rather cloudy.
I was working with our after-school program one evening and the children were engaged in their “30 minutes of physical activity,” amid the complaints and groans of “this is too hard, why do we have to do this?” I witnessed children as young as kindergarten who could barely bend their knees, touch their toes, or even run in place for longer than 30 seconds without stopping and gasping for air. They looked like miniature old people (no slight to our senior citizens because some lead extremely active lifestyles that will put any young person to shame!)
I couldn’t help thinking “What is happening to our children?!” It made me question my own physical activity and how I was taking it for granted. How I was not as consistent as I needed to be with moving my body, knowing my body needs movement to be able to function properly for me as I age. I questioned whether I was being a good role model for them.
Being academically sound is just one piece of the puzzle.
As I looked around the gymnasium at my students’ faces, I couldn’t help thinking how running and jumping and bending should be a right of childhood. How moving can be fun and make you feel better. What I saw were children who were being robbed from the joys of childhood that involved running around and playing outside. What I saw were children who were headed for a future of physical ailments and health issues if they did not incorporate regular physical activity into their lives.
In schools, we are setting foundations for attitudes and behaviors that our children will take into adulthood that are supposed to help them to thrive, survive, and be productive members of society. But what are we modeling? What foundations are we setting? Are we guilty of perpetuating unhealthy lifestyles for them?
Then, out of nowhere it seems, I got the idea “start a running club.” I laughed and engaged in an internal debate with this “voice.”
Me: Running club? Noooo!
The Voice: Yes!
Me: Man, I am not a runner! What can I teach them?
The Voice: You can learn with them.
Me: Yeeeahhh, I could (apprehensively, insert thinking emoji here)…
The Voice: If you dont introduce them to it, who will? What will happen in their lives if you don’t?
Me: A running club, though?
The Voice: Yes. You run (no pun intended) the after-school program. Why not? Give them something to go with those reading and mathematics clubs.
Me: True. What if I fail?
The Voice: You might. But start it anyway.
So, my elementary school running club was born. I began researching if running clubs were even plausible for students in grades K-6. Turns out, they are everywhere! The Road Runners Club of America recommends in their FUNdamentals of Youth Running: Focus on participation and self-improvement. They assert “In elementary school, running should be about participation and developing a healthy lifestyle, not about being the fastest kid in the school or program. Save competition for middle and high school aged students.”
This is exactly what I wanted to be the focus for my young people. I saw this as a sign that maybe this is an assignment for me while I’m here working at this new school and why I may have been selected to run the program. Maybe there were some providential things at work.
I am NOT a runner, but I’m starting a running club for my elementary school students.
I have started running. I have stopped running. I have said I could do it. I have said there’s no way I can do this! Why have I not been able to let running go?
I felt excitement bubbling up on the inside. I thought “Yes, let’s do this and see what happens!”
I took a moment to create the promotional materials to introduce to the students and their parents who were a part of the after-school program.
So, on this Monday, the running club will be introduced to my students and for those that sign up…on this Thursday, we will start.
On THIS Thursday, we will learn to run together, by first starting to walk, then run slowly…very slowly.
Who knows why I was given this idea? Maybe this is one of my assignments while I’m here on this planet.
I always encourage my college-aged sons to “write a different narrative” for the family. I feel this running club may inspire or motivate these young people to write a different narartive for their families and for themselves, and get healthy along the way.
I am NOT a runner, but I’m starting a running club for my elementary school students.
“The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” –
John Bingham, No Need for Speed: A Beginner’s Guide to the Joy of Running