I do it, and I do it big. Here's to not forgetting about it.

Archive for the ‘Confession’ Category

They say work and politics don’t mix but…

I let it spill over today.

*Student plays like differences in note values don’t exist*

Me: These. 👏🏾 Are. 👏🏾 Quarter. 👏🏾 Notes. It’s like they are a qualified woman and you are America – stop pretending that they aren’t there.

I’m going to bed now.

The Trouble with Listening

listen and silent

I keep a poster with this saying in my classroom, among others in a similar vein, to help visually remind my students that listening is the first element in being a learning musician. We absorb and enjoy this aural art with our ears. I ask of them daily – “Is it possible to talk and truly listen at the same time?” Thankfully, I don’t teach too many smart asses who say yes, and I believe that they actually get it. Most of my students are empaths to whom I can say, “When you have something to say to me, don’t you want to know that I am paying attention to you? Doesn’t everyone deserve the same?” When we really listen to one another’s thoughts and the music we make together, it is then that we can fully experience the beauty of our work.

Even a 5 year old can grasp this. Why is it so hard to put into practice?

On the 4th of the month, I have great concern that my Fabruary may turn into Flabruary. I have not run since Saturday. I had a run planned yesterday but I chose to get a massage instead because my entire body feels tight. Even as I tell myself that I am listening to my body by not running for a few days, I feel like a loser. I fear losing the great progress that I made in Shamuary. I wonder if I am simply a weak person who cannot handle the training load I have put upon myself. You know I cannot cope with having peaked at 34.

“You know what I need to do?” I said to myself this evening. “Read my blog!” I am feeling like I have never been sore in my life and I logically know this cannot be the case. While it feels like the end of the road for my progress, I understand realistically that progress is rarely linear and it’s more likely that I simply need a bit of recovery. I put “injury” in the search box and what do you know, I have experienced the need to alter my plans more than once.

Perhaps we find listening difficult because it feels passive. We feel as though we will miss something if we don’t immediately act or speak. We feel a pressure to contribute and make our abilities known – so much so that we overlook the cost of pausing to observe and absorb. I wish my body felt like a million dollars so that I could confidently take on what is in my running plan this week, but she’s trying to tell me something and it sure ain’t “do your 11 mile run on Friday.”

I still fully intend to be fearless in 2020. My body is reminding me that sometimes bravery requires the willingness to stop, listen, and adjust.

The Lesson: Race Report

The only time I’m ever wrong is when I think I am wrong. That’s the lesson.

It was Friday night and my body was hurting. When I don’t feel like running, I feel sad about not feeling like running, and it quickly becomes a twisted spiral. I had been looking forward to both my speed repeats and my long run all week – perhaps because I was going to allow myself to have Culver’s. I work really hard to avoid going more than 2 days without a run because obviously, if you don’t do something for 3 days in a row, you just don’t do that thing. For example, I am no longer a pianist. I did the most logical thing I could think of: I whipped out my credit card and registered for a 5 miler on Sunday.

As soon as my transaction cleared, I checked the forecast. 40s! I looked at the course more closely. Big ass bridge! Twice! I had been texting my friend and I told her I needed to pay for a race because I would be less likely to skip out on a run I had paid for and boy was I regretting making that choice, even though I was right!

I spent most of Saturday on the couch, lamenting my hurting leg. Briefly got up to go to Culver’s despite not running. I went to bed with my 5 am wake up call in mind. Upon awaking, I prepared myself a delicious egg sandwich, a double espresso, and filled my carafe with a lovely brew of Ethiopian Longberry. If I drink like they do, I’ll be fast like they are, amirite?

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For someone filled with so much doubt, I’m pretty cute. As cold as I was, I couldn’t help but enjoy the beautiful view of the bay from Clearwater and feel God’s glory as the sun rose. There is nothing like seeing the sun rise and feeling the hope of the possibilities at the starting line. I danced, stretched, and browsed as I waited for the race to begin. My plan was to run for 1 minute and walk for 30 seconds. While I wanted to finish in under an hour, I tried not to allow myself to get too attached to that goal.

The first time I had run over this bridge, I was with my mother, who cursed the fact that there was a hill so early in the race. “That’s not fair,” she insisted. Thankfully, I not only knew to expect the unfairness, but I had been practicing hill repeats. For the first time, the Clearwater Causeway did not feel like death. I just kept doing my intervals and I was able to do so steadily. As each mile passed, I pointed to the sky, recognizing the source of my strength. I never felt tired. I made the turn to go over the bridge once more and felt like I could conquer the world before me. I made sure to run on the road where it wasn’t pitched so I didn’t have angry knees and hips later. I was crushing this bad boy.

Look! I did it!

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I am on track RIGHT NOW to meet my goal of running 10k in 1:10. If I were to do it today, I would probably be a bit uncomfortable, but that’s okay! I have to keep showing up and remember the real lesson – things are typically not as bad as I think they are. Shamuary is ending strongly!

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(P)Re-Epiphany: Race Report

I’ve fallen, and I’m conflicted as to whether or not to get up.

I groaned as I woke up yesterday to check the weather. Cold, cold, cold. I personally do not care to be outside when it dips below 55 in Florida, and it definitely was in the 40s. On the way to the race, I asked myself – why do I bother registering for January races? It feels this way damn near every. year. What is my compulsion?

My mood did not improve upon my arrival at the race site. I saw several people I know, and quite well, but they either didn’t recognize me or chose to ignore me. Sometimes, as a black woman, I feel like a chameleon – a change to my hair and I am a totally different person. Perhaps I simply have a forgettable face, or both! Anyhow, this introvert didn’t feel like talking anyway. I saw a student and his family and I turned the other direction and went back to my car to stay warm.

My word, January 1 was filled with such hope and here I am, the 5th, fallen from my glory. My shiny new Garmin glimmers on my wrist and I feel unworthy of the tool in which I’ve invested. It’s the same old body! Same old weakness, same imperfection, same doubts, but now with Spotify and Bluetooth. I worked to set up my playlist, which I named for my mood.

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Sigh. Why am I here?

I exited my car about 5 minutes prior to the race start. I will admit that my music made me dance and smile, as sour as I had been feeling. Like running, it is primal; moreover, it also elicits my feelings of inadequacy, but the only performance ahead of me was this 3.1 miles, so I’m gonna jam. I hear someone shout go and I walk toward the start line, without the hope that I had had just 4 days prior.

I knew that I was capable of running the race in its entirety, but I did not know how fast I would be. I told myself I would just run comfortably. A couple – each with a stroller! – passed me, and I sighed once more. Those babies are winning in every way, I thought to myself – they don’t have student loans! My twisted sense of humor made me smile as I ran.

My watch beeped as I passed the first mile marker. Under 12 minutes?! Whose legs are these? Can I maintain this? I enjoyed my music as I took each step, thankful for what seemed to be a steady pace. This race was in a very familiar area, which – I cannot say I find positive. I know exactly what it feels like to drive on these roads and because I do so fairly often, it made me very impatient to finish the race. By the time the final turn came, I no longer regretted having registered – but I’m not doing this one again!

There was so much food at the finish line but I still just wanted to get the hell out of there. Why does it still feel like a divine revelation that I enjoy completing races, even when I start the day reluctantly? Why am I so hard-headed that it still surprises me a bit when God brings me to another finish line? What will it take for me to feel like I just want to run and not run and hide?

Anyone who is among the living has hope—even a live dog is better off than a dead lion! Ecclesiastes 9:4 (NIV)

You hear that, y’all? I am better than a dead lion! Apparently, there’s hope for me, even when I am down in the dumps…20200105_080055

Miss and Hit: Race Report

The Christmas season may start in earnest after Thanksgiving for civilians, but for music teachers like Lady J, I’ve been professionally preparing since prior to Halloween. Holiday concert number one was on Friday, the 6th, and I had been so stressed and so not running that I thought I would skip out on a 5k for which I registered months ago on Saturday. The Mentor said it would make me feel better, though, and I had the best of intentions to do it.

Womp! Didn’t happen. I made it to bed around 11 and set my alarm to 4:30, but when the husband came into bed late, I was unable to get to back to sleep. I was more scared of the hour long drive each way than I was of the running, and so by 5:30 am, I fell asleep again.

I really hate skipping races for which I’ve registered (unless they are triathlons, no regrets). The only other time I can think of that I’ve missed a running race is when my mother-in-law was literally on her deathbed. 2019 has been a great one, no? 🤦🏾‍♀️ While I think I made the best choice, it still bummed me out. The Mentor texted me to ask how it went because she’s the best, but I waited to reply until…

I showed up and registered for another race today!

Here I am, one of my favorite places in the whole, wide world. The starting line. I’ve been mostly doing intervals since September, if I’ve been doing anything at all. I simply wanted to see where I am right now and how I felt. Run and see what happens!

I chose my Gospel music running playlist. I need supernatural help every day, but today I thought it would be especially helpful. 3.1 miles is a long way! I didn’t have high hopes that I would be able to make it all the way through a song without a walk break, much less a whole mile, but after I saw the first mile mark and I was still trucking along, I started to get some confidence.

Step after step was given to me. I kept marveling at how the body works. The gift of being able to move forward – to walk – much less run – was making me smile as I worked my way toward the finish. Less than 40 minutes before I started, I found myself with Santa!

I. Was. So. Happy!

As I wrapped up some shopping, I heard the awards start and didn’t think anything of it at first. Then I heard some of the times and thought…maybeeeee…and maybe came true!

5th place AG! Not bad for a girl who set her alarm for 4 am this morning and swiped her card to sign up 15 minutes before the start!

I wish my running were more hits and fewer misses, but I am thankful for today! Here’s hoping my next hit drops sooner rather than later…

No Regrets!

Mommy has no choice but to shake her head and smile when I do something, like eat a plate of food that she has obviously set aside for herself, and she calls me out. My response is inevitably, “No regrets!” It’s not like I am going to lose her love, right? The food was calling my name.

I feel similarly about life at times. The world is my Mom’s plate for the taking. I write from about 10,000 feet, on my way to see The Mentor and run a race with her in her current home city of Washington, DC – one of my favorite places in the world.  I am insanely blessed to 1) have an amazing friend like her, 2) have the means to visit her, and 3) have a job from which I am able to take time to visit her. As I gaze out of the window and see God’s beautiful creation, I am made to smile.

Of course, since I am myself, I am unable to feel pure joy. We COULD crash any minute, you know. Also – am I working hard enough? Do I really have any discretionary income – you know, considering? Have I had all of my fun? Live update: we have made it to the gate and as long as I make it back (seriously, Lord, I’m kidding) my loan payment is still due. I will say this – my student loan debt has made me less afraid to die. But I digress, however slightly.

Am I living a life that brings the Lord glory? What am I doing? Is God happy when I am traveling and being the tax and spend Democrat that my Daddy says I am? Perhaps even more importantly, am I using my working days in a manner that pleases Him? What if I am doing everything wrong? How can I be sure that I won’t face Him some day and be greeted by a divine face palm?

At work, I seek to inspire others to tap into their capabilities. I want them to feel comfortable exploring, excited about creating, and willing to collaborate with their classmates to do so. I suppose God could find my desire to facilitate such things pleasing, though I feel I fall short often.

Sadly, my money goes to church with more frequency and predictability than I do. I was baptized in a white evangelical church where I received (and do receive, when I go) solid teaching, but it is difficult for me to cope with the fact that this demographic is the one that is MOST supportive of – well, you know. To be fair, I haven’t really been afraid in the last few years to schedule a race on a Sunday or train or just sleep in. Can I really not afford to give God a concentrated few hours a week? If what we value is reflected in our finances, how much more so with our time?

How much would it suck to be having a good ole time down here like an idiot and being doing it wrong? How can I know I am okay, so to speak? I want to nourish my relationships, professional and personal. I want to challenge myself to grow. I want to see things I’ve never seen before, but I want to do it all in a way that pleases Him. This is the only way I will surely have no regrets. I wish I knew exactly how to do it.

 

My Debt

I’m a well-educated millennial. It didn’t take two masters degrees for me to learn how to balance a budget, but now that I have them, it seems that for the foreseeable future I will have a line item reading “Student Loan Repayment.” In my first years after school, I wasn’t really thinking about the long-term consequences of having them, but I was forced to when I tried to do the most adulty of adult things last year.

Adonis and I tried to buy a modest townhome and our debt to income ratio, because of my extensive education and my chosen underpaid profession, resulted in a denial of the home loan. Man, I cried and I CRIED. I felt – and still feel, to some extent, like a failure – despite everything I’ve achieved and how hard I’ve worked, my financial profile somehow makes me unworthy of this official step. I feel like I’ve ruined my life and I had the greatest of intentions in pursuing my education. While I am quite sure I’m not the only person in this situation, it is difficult for me not to feel self-pity.

money pink coins pig

How Banks See Me.

I have had several months to reflect on my impassioned reaction. It is interesting to me that I was so profoundly disappointed to not acquire something that I have been historically quite dispassionate about. I often say that I ran out of commitment juice when I got married – no. more. long. term. THINGS. EVER. When I think of homeownership, it honestly seems like a drag – the landlady has more responsibility than the tenant. The ONLY perks are 1) a fixed cost in monthly payment (hahaha that commitment is okay I guess) and 2) building equity. So why was I so upset?

Welp. The most reasonable explanation is that no amount of education can stop the ungodly reflex of lamenting that “everyone else is doing it.” Honestly, the worst part of that is if everyone else is doing AND not everyone else is as educated as I am, maaaaan I have really made some poor (rimshot!) choices. I am half-joking when I tell people that my mind is my mortgage, but for now, that seems to be true. Truer still when the literal meaning of mortgage – DEATH PLEDGE – is examined. I suppose no one would come to foreclose upon my mind and repossess my degrees, but it most certainly feels like it is going to be with me forever.

Paul wasn’t lying to Timothy.

For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

1 Timothy 6:10 (NASB)

I have no wish to wander. Yes, I have an obligation to pay this debt, but that is no reason for me to pierce myself and pine for something that clearly God did not want me to have in that moment. Perhaps my name may never be on a title, but the most important title I will always hold is child of God. The debt I must focus upon is the one I have to God for making a meaningful life possible.

Pray for me.

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