This past Memorial Day weekend, groups of people came out to celebrate the joys of a three-day weekend, show reverence to our service men and women, spend time with family, enjoy good barbecued food, and attend a plethora of cultural festivals that Memorial Day brings. In NYC there was rain and sunshine, breeze and sweltering heat, but most importantly, there was laughter and love. Sure, one weekend does not eradicate the needs people have and the daily struggles that exist, but this weekend added perspective that I didn’t realize until I was on a trail along the Harlem River completing an ambitious walk-run combination from 145th Street to the George Washington Bridge and back. My inspiration comes from L.I.F.E.: Love Inspires Fulfilling Efforts.
My cousin Fareedah, an avid runner, drove up from the Washington, DC area to hang out with my sisters and me. We went to a barbecue, attended the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Dance Africa, ate some good and interesting food, partied a bit on Sunday night, and finished the weekend off with that ambitious walk-run combination I mentioned earlier (my cousin didn’t walk at all—she ran the entire journey and even came back and motivated me to run the last quarter mile—pushing my body to its limit.). While I was running, I was thinking to myself how badly I wanted to quit. It was hot, my feet and legs were burning and I just wanted to be relaxing or watching people as I sat along the water’s edge. The last thing I wanted to do was to go running. I had given myself a pass not to have to work out by making excuses; and, I knew the run I was about to take would be brutal. For a little while, I almost allowed my mind to believe the ease of not running would be the best decision, but with resolve, I snapped out of that self-defeating attitude and sprang into one that encouraged me to keep going, thinking of how much I love myself and how much I love looking good in my clothes even more (I’m hardly vain though)! I thought about every bulge and roll on my body and how I could stand to lose some pounds and gain better quality time on this Earth. I also thought about how much effort our First Lady, Michelle Obama, had put into creating the Let’s Move campaign. That’s when I told myself to move it!
So, I invested in my inner health in the same way that I always invest in my outward appearance—by making the best, most advantageous, and feasible decision. As I ran along the trail, other runners and bikers were extremely supportive—they gave the thumbs up, made eye contact and erupted into smiles of approval while we were on our journey of health, and ultimately, a physical declaration of love. I had first begun this journey running on 145th street, traversing up a steep hill with my cousin and my friend, Jenisha. While running, men cleared the sidewalks that had turned into their soap boxes and convention centers and we heard people say things like, “Keep up the good work girls,” or “Look at that…Black women running.” People loved seeing us exercise, they wanted to encourage us to do what they were not doing, and they shared LOVE completely. When the run was over, my body felt like wet noodles, but my spirit felt like water’s relief—I had been quenched.
Sitting in traffic on the FDR Drive in NYC gave me plenty of time to think so I called friends that had been on my mind, but that four-lettered ‘B’ word kept getting in the way. Two of them didn’t answer—perhaps busy had gotten the best of them also, but two of them answered. When they answered the phone, I sensed a similar emotion. Joy. They were happy to talk, but even happier to have been thought about. In that moment in time they mattered to someone else. I was now the cheerleader. Ironically, they both used the same statement, “I appreciate you.” My phone call (and of course a verbal reciprocation) had sent the same message. Those moments are what L.I.F.E. is really all about.
Love is a powerful weapon that can manifest in myriad ways; it inspires, encourages, motivates and transcends negative thoughts. Love is demonstrated in the way we treat and speak to one another and most importantly, how we treat ourselves. You may still be intending to fulfill your New Years’ Resolution. And, you still have time. Fulfill the best resolution by loving yourself and rejecting any elements that attempt to take you from your course. There will be plenty of cheerleaders on the sideline. It’s time to start living the good L.I.F.E.
For more information about Let’s Move go to www.letsmove.gov
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