"If it doesn't scare you, it's not worth doing"
On January 16, 2017, MLK Day, I (and a growing team of women) will begin a 240-mile run from Harlem to Washington DC in an effort to raise money and awareness for Planned Parenthood and the awesome power of women. (To put it into context, we will collectively be running roughly two NYC Marathons each day). We will arrive in DC on January 20th to join all of our powerful, beautiful, and courageous sisters in the Women's March.
If you would like to support Planned Parenthood and our run, please donate here (we are hoping to raise $44,000 in honor of the 44th President, Barack Hussein Obama).
Meet the Nasty Women Supporting the Initiative:
Training through the winter is difficult. Mostly because you have to convince yourself to get out of your warm bed which, honestly speaking, is contrary to good sense. But winter training also has a way of making you feel like a badass; while people are home avoiding the cold, you are putting in work that will leave you in much better shape for the warmer months.
Below are 5 items that make my winter training more bearable.
I don’t usually run with headphones but when I do, I use the Springmoves app to help me stay injury-free and maintain a higher cadence. After all, one of the best ways to optimize performance is by working on increasing running cadence—or steps per minute (SPM)—and this app is a great tool to do just that. It allows you to select your desired cadence and then curates music to keep you on target.
Read more at Women' s Running Magazine HERE
About a month ago, I received an invitation via LinkedIn to speak on a panel for a Columbia Women Rock Entrepreneurship event. I was not familiar with the organization but the organizer, a sophomore named Helen from my Alma Mater, was so put together that it compelled me to say yes. I was invited to share my experience and journey as an entrepreneur and share any thoughts I had on women empowerment.
When I arrived that night, I met Helen and asked her how she started the organization. She let me know that it was brand new- in fact, this was their first event, and so she was nervous nobody would show up. She herself was born in China and had only come to the United States for college last year. And here she was, the founder of an organization meant to empower young women. I was immediately impressed. As the seats started to fill I thought to myself, if only Helen knew that Harlem Run had started with just one member!
I spoke first about how to create Movements not Moments and opened up about how my personal struggles have really created a vulnerable and authentic community. The 3 women that followed blew me away - with their confidence, business experience, and openness about their stories. And that's when the self doubt rushed in - did I even deserve to be on this panel? Even as some of the speakers referenced impostor syndrome, I still had moments where I felt that I had found myself in the presence of company of which I was undeserving.
And so for me, that is the biggest point of reflection that I'm left with. Why do we do this to ourselves? On top of all of the other critiques of the world, we often stand in our own way, making our work all the more difficult. And I'm not saying this to receive more praise. If you read about impostor syndrome, you'll find that praise often exacerbates the problem. I do have a difficult time when people make me aware of my accomplishments - and I'm not faking modesty. It makes me uncomfortable. I believe that impostor syndrome, like comparison, is a thief of joy. It inserts harmful insecurities that can, if left unchecked, can lead to our own undoing.
I invite you to think about how impostor syndrome may be affecting you and maybe share with me ways that you have dealt with it in the comments below!
This month has been one of the busiest to date. Last year was a similar story - with the build up to the NYCM, time seems to go faster and my schedule gets packed with more fun events than the brain can process. I'm still working on processing them. While I do, I present to you a photo collage of everything that's happened. Well. Not everything. But the highlight reel!
I remember reading the play "Our Town" when I was in middle school (or high school) and loving it. One line in particular sticks out that really haunts me (btw I would later find out that "Our Town" was one of my grandfather's favorite plays as well for the very same line).
"Does anyone ever realize life while they live it...every, every minute?"
I'm afraid that I don't. I'm always focused on what's next. But I hope to do better.
Photos by @themattpowers, @uarunning @mattryb, @alacrityamir, @gnp_photos and me :)
10/1 Battle of the Boroughs
10/8 Rock n' Roll Brooklyn Half
10/11 International Day of the Girl
10/14 Baltimore Running Festival
10/21 UA Run Camp
11/1 Run Westin NYC Marathon Shakeout
11/2 UA Brandhouse NYCM Speaker Series
11/3 Project Start on Good Day New York
11/9 Launch Party for Candice Huffine, Women's Running Magazine cover model
I recently returned from Run Camp: The Desert. 2 days of running in some of the world's worst conditions. The elements: 96 degrees, 270+ feet below sea level, dry and unforgiving. The conditions: no showers, no bathrooms, dehydrated food, camping with poisonous mammals and insects. The experience was so intense and surreal that I am still processing it. I will be blogging about it on Harlem Run and Women's Running in more detail, but I wanted to leave a short reflection here I wrote directly after completing the experience.
Exhausted. But realizing I have to keep pushing my limits. I never imagined I would live this life. I'm so honored and excited for where life has taken me. But I want more. As painful and awful as it was at points -- Run Camp made me feel alive. I can't wait for what's next.
...it's like a tidal wave dragging me under. And I'm desperately trying to pull those around me with me. I'm angry and bitter and jealous. I feel it happening and I can't seem to pull myself up from it. I'm watching helplessly through the wave, flailing and silently screaming while fully aware of all of the fact that I'm not making any headway. When the wave subsides and I emerge, tired and beaten down, I feel a deep sense of regret. Like the worst kind of hangover you've had the morning after - looking back and taking stock of all of the people I may have hurt as a result.
Recently, I fell into a temporary depression. It was a celebratory weekend and I should've been happy. But one thing triggered me into a state of despair. I should note -- I have been taking medication since April -- since right before my father died-- but for careless reasons, I've been forgetting to take it every night; and it has caught up to me. So, recently I found myself drowning. In a bar with all of my friends -- angry that people were having so much fun and expected me to be enjoying myself as well. I hated myself at that moment for not being able to shake the feelings. But I remembered the tips I've practiced over the years. And so the destruction and regret was minimal. I did not feel better immediately -- the depression lingered for a few days --- but the mere fact of being ACTIVE and not giving into the negative momentum felt good.
5 tips for how I deal with my depression (that might help you too)
1. Go for a walk
No matter where I am or how awkward it might be to leave a situation, I go for a walk to gather my thoughts. I don't want to say things I'd regret and I often need to clear my mind without interference
2. Go for a run
If i'm in a situation where a run is possible, nothing works better for me. The run often turns into a tempo or a Fartlek, where I can really take out my emotions on the pavement
3. Talk about it
There are a few people close to me who let me say whatever I want without taking it personally. I talk to them about my irrational beliefs and fears and my anger. And they just let it roll off of their backs.
4. Feel it
I try to be kind to myself and remember that I am human and therefore allowed to have a range of emotions. I shouldn't be so hard on myself for feeling badly.
5. Remember tomorrow
And when all else fails, I remember that tomorrow is another day. I will never take that possibility for granted.
Are you suffering from depression? Are there any tools you use during your toughest moments?
If you wish, please share below.
I've been trying a lot of new things lately and it has been a really rewarding experience. Things that I promised I would never do (like cook) have taken on real significance in my life and I've begun to consider why I've resisted so strongly in the past.
Cooking for me always seemed like a chore and something that I thought would make me weak for doing; hear me out. I thought that being a feminist meant resisting prescribed gender roles - point, blank period. I thought it meant that anything that was stereotypically reserved for "girls and womxn" were things that I should decide not to do. However, age and a little bit of wisdom has taught me that being a womxn and being a feminist means that I get to create my own experience of what that means to me. It means that I can accept the complexity and, sometimes, conflicting ways of "being a womxn" because being a womxn means a multitude of things to different people. Once I started to embrace the plurality of womxnhood, I started to feel better about the things that I wanted to do without bearing the weight of what others might say they mean about me as a result.
With that burden off of my shoulder, I realized that I want to learn to cook and that it would be empowering to not only be able to save money by doing so, but also share this art with others that I love.
So I called on Azura Dea to help show me around the kitchen.
On the menu:
- Roasted Chicken
- Roasted Potatoes
- Roasted Brussel Sprouts
- Whole Chicken
- Brussel Sprouts
- Herbs (I'm not even kidding when I tell you that I didn't know what she meant by herbs- so I'm going to break it down and say "thyme and rosemary")
- 3-4 Lemons
- Garlic Bulb
- Olive Oil
Check out the full experience in photos and vlog* below!
*shout out to Amir Figueroa for helping me on my vlog journey. Together we are learning and developing our talents in this process together!
How do you create meaningful change? How do you ensure that you leave your community (and this Earth) better than you found it? For me, it is through fitness and mental health advocacy. The #Harlem1Miler is my favorite day of the year and more important to me than my own birthday because of the impact that it has had on people, near and far.
We created the event in 2015 when Harlem Run was presented with the rare and unique opportunity to make use of a pre-existing permit for Marcus Garvey Park. Thanks to the Harlem Run and Harlem United community, we scraped together volunteers and produced a 150 person event. This past June, year 2, we hosted over 500 people - adults, children, men, women, ranging from a few months old to 101 years old.
Click on the image below to see a beautiful recap of the day, put together by Amir Figueroa of Harlem Run.
Enjoy and see you next year!
This was me when I was about 13 years old:
I was very awkward and uncomfortable in my body. All of my time was spent doing activities my parents determined would make me a functional grownup :) There was private school, art lessons, music lessons, soccer practice, track practice; I was very privileged. My immigrant parents were determined that I would have everything growing up that they did not have; I was living up to my nickname, powdered feet. Knowing my past and my privilege makes it all the more difficult to accept that, right now, young girls like I was live a very different existence. At the age of 13 years old, many young girls in Ethiopia will be married off to men much older than they are. Sometimes 10 years older, sometimes more, these men are complicit with a system that robs these young girls of their futures. Rooted deeply in customs and local traditions, child marriage is not something I seek to attack from an ethnocentric point of view; for reference, the practice is illegal in Ethiopia itself, where the law dictates that 18 years old is the legal age for marriage. So rather than discuss what is going wrong, I want to talk about possibilities - the possibilities that open up when a young girl is NOT married off at 13 years old and is given the opportunity to grow and flourish.
On October 11th, I will co-host an event in celebration of International Day of the Girl that will benefit Girls Gotta Run, an organization committed to giving young girls athletic scholarships that allow them a chance to be educated and a chance to be children!
Meet: 7pm at Street Bird (Marcus Samuelsson's restaurant on 116th and 8th)
Oh, and ps. In case you're wondering how my flexibility is going, here's an update below :)
Welcome to my second blog post! This one is about CONTEXT.
I think it's important, near the beginning of this blog journey, that I share some context with you- about who I am and where I came from. I certainly do not want to paint a picture of perfection or of fearlessness. In fact, with every new thing that I do, I have a slight pain in my chest from FEAR - fear of rejection, fear of people realizing I'm not good enough, fear of failing. That pain has not gone away, I have just learned to embrace the fact that it means that I'm getting closer to what I really want. The more afraid I am, the more the opportunity is worth pursuing, I've found.
But let me provide you with a bit of background.
In November 2012, I ended a toxic relationship that I had been cycling through (breaking up, getting back together again) since 2004. I had a panic attack when it hit me that I was really and truly...FINALLY doing something different with my life. Everyday, I played this song on repeat.
When I say everyday, I mean e v e r y d a y. And I didn't do much else but cry, and stalk him on the internet, of course. Because I was unemployed, I had the time to really invest all of my energy in HIM. Thankfully, I had started my own running journey back in January of that year and run my first marathon in May so, unlike other times I had ended my relationship with him, this time there was one thing that I had to look forward to - my daily run.
I had to get out of my door everyday to run. And I had to eat everyday in order to have the energy to run. And I had to shower everyday after the run. These simple things kept me going. I also had to be present enough to be there for my father, who was 7 years into his Lewy Body Dementia diagnosis at the time. So I decided to blog about it. My running and my father kept me going.
Since November 2012, a lot has changed. That blog evolved from just words on a page into Powdered Feet Run Club, my attempt in November 2013 to help other people in my neighborhood see the transformative power of running. Nobody came until a few months later; in July/August of that year I changed the name to Harlem Run and I guess the rest is history. I'm providing this (brief) context to be completely transparent about the last several years. I recently found this note in my phone about my first blog
I've started this blog because I feel helpless
I know that part of why I kept those notes in my phone is because the pain was so unbearable, I wanted to have a record of it so that I would never forget where I came from. I'm so glad I'm no longer there, but it is not a foreign concept to me. That pain is something I deeply understand and, to be honest, I am revisited, from time to time, by similar thoughts.
So why did I share this? Because my life is not just the smiles you see on instagram and well-crafted messages on facebook. My life is incredibly painful and heart breaking sometimes, and, other times, it's purely magical . And that's the beauty of it.
**New blogs and vlogs will come out on Sundays, I've decided. I don't know about you - but Sunday is my laziest day but also, conversely, my most inspired day. I spend it at home, typically, trying to wrap my mind around the coming week and prepare myself to gear up to do it all over again - except better. I hope this blog will provide some inspiration!**
I've decided to make some changes. And there are TWO moments that triggered them.
I recently was a guest panelist at the She Knows Now Summit, an event that challenged and inspired womxn to start their own "hero's journey," a philosophy by Joseph Campbell that unpacks how heroes are made.
The summit featured womxn from various disciplines and diverse journeys who shared their stories, expertise, and passion. I spoke on a panel with Claire Fountain about mindfullness in yoga/running (she spoke yoga, I spoke running) and the transferable lessons to real life.
After my panel, I stuck around for the rest of the day and was fired up by all that I was hearing and able to apply to myself! I decided to take inventory of my life, my friends, my goals, my next steps. A random list of things I've been wanting to do but avoiding came to mind:
I want to learn to cook
I want to do a split!
I want to run the NYC marathon, even though I'm not in my best physical shape
I want to start blogging again - this time, with a vlog component
I recently became an ambassador for PROJECT START, a running initiative created by Candice Huffine in collaboration with Women's Running to encourage and inspire all womxn to lace up and just START! Why not use Project Start as an opportunity to start other things I've been meaning to do?
SO, over the past week and a half I've begun to tackle this funky to do list. I've started flexibility exercises thanks to youtube that I do daily, even though they are a painful reminder of how much longer I have to go. I went grocery shopping at BJs on a Friday night recently and waited over an hour in line to get healthy food that I could start to cook. I've committed to running the NYC marathon even though I am nowhere near the fitness level I was last year. And I started this blog today with the below REALLY AWKWARD FIRST VLOG.
Things I don't have
- ANY knowledge of how to vlog "correctly"
- ANY expertise with a camera
- ANY idea of whether this will work
Things I do have
- A voice and the desire to use it
Excited for this journey. Share your thoughts and comments below..but please, be polite <3
PS Still trying to figure out how to enable comments...I'll get better at this - I promise!