July Thoughts and Things: summer nights, heat waves, running, at-home fitness, black lives, birthdays, beach time, and spiritual & educational growth.

My mind’s running a marathon these days and Chicago’s not. Yep, they finally cancelled the marathon, along with NYC’s..darn Covid.. yet it’s all I can do to catch a breath myself and turn it off when it’s bedtime. No matter where you are, I  imagine it’s the same for most of us. How on earth..in these crazy times..does one keep it all together? In previous posts, I’ve talked about running everywhere, at-home fitness, varied workouts, and caring for our beloved minds. In this post, I’ll share how all of that is coming together – kinda – in the reality of my life, Covid-19, and summer- time in New York City.

Let me be clear, this summer is no walk in the park or walk on the beach, or even anything like an easy run. In fact, I’d have to liken it, if I can make use of a physical anology, to an intermediate hike of marathon distance with increased elevation. So despite the things that I have going on, and of course I’ve managed to find things to keep me from dying from isolation, it is by no means easy and requires deliberate daily steps, one foot in front of the other, to see the results desired. What are those results? Well, some are: keeping a sound mind, staying fit, cultivating a healthy lifestyle, and growth and development. Man, that sure sounds different from those intentions I had at the cusp of the New Year. Sad joke, but I guess the new year went with intention (mine).

July came with all the sunshine, heat, and yes, thunderstorms – with a jump into the hurricane season, that’s meant we’ve been sitting in  90°F+ for the past week or is it weeks, hard to keep track with everything else going on. America celebrated July 4th – independence day – the likes of which this generation had never seen before. I mean we had fireworks in our neighborhoods unlike anything, in terms of its aggressiveness and duration, it went on for weeks at all hours of the day and night, which initiated unprecedented complaints and reports and made national news that got the powers-that-be attention and eventually tempered the insanity. Could it be, like many were insisting, that it was an outlet for a people tired of Quarentine? Meanwhile, Black Lives Matter protests continued, though it has simmered down now, and in a final twist to highlight the issues of African Americans and the social unrest bubbling, John Lewis, a main figure in Congress and representative of the struggle for equality and justice for African Americans, died a few days ago. This is amidst the continued restrictions in American society aka social distancing, wearing masks in public, outside dining, many small businesses going belly up, and others, like gyms and health clubs, remaining closed.

The reality sometimes presents a bleak-ish picture but eternal optimism is something I subscribe to and so I’ve continued my workouts to varying degrees to accommodate the heat that’s been, let’s just say, WOW. I’ve always preferred summer over winter, now I’m realizing it has been more about the freedom, travel & adventure, and vacation aspect, which is really more suited for summertime than this crazy humidity. Worse yet is that even night runs are becoming overwhelmed by the heat. No siree, that is not good. When I work out at home, I’m usually operating on heat overload and try to take it outside when I can, even at night – late night. Night runs, always are one of my favorite things about summer, is turning into a bit of a fiasco these days. I’m finding myself out and about at 9/10pm just barely keeping from combusting. This year, I have the opportunity to cycle at night too, and I’ve started going out to the beach in the evening time. Who am I kidding? It’s not just because I would totally wilt away in the daytime, even thought I would, but it’s also been therapeutic and helps me get a much-needed break from the monotony of routine, the news cycle, and the four walls of my apartment. Praise the Good Lord for beaches that are within my proximity!

In the midst of the surreal-ness of what is now my life, and probably that of many others,  I celebrated a birthday. How surreal (insert roll my eyes)! July, the month of birthdays: America, mine, my brothers, my roommate. Seems I couldn’t get away from it even if I tried, and try I did, I took myself off to the beach and even did a run while there. An escape it was. Beautiful, exhilarating, a welcome change of scenery, from the waves to the sunset and moonlight, that’s right, I stayed until nighttime. It was absolutely wonderful. Props to my friends and family, who, though we were apart this year, managed to be a tremendous blessing through the gifts they sent my way. I was gratified with all the love and dare I say it saved the event from being  an abject disaster. God is truly looking out for me. I’m now able to include some new “tricks” (equipment) into my workouts – variety my friends – and I started my personal training certification! Totally cool, totally online, and totally overwhelming. I’m still trying to navigate my way and figure it all out so my excitement is tempered with caution.

I’m convinced though that this season, while full of uncertainty and numerous stresses, is one of growth and personal development. I’m learning and growing in my relationship with God, the most important area of my life, and thank God too, He’s had to hear me pray about that for years. And true to form, nothing good comes easy, but it’s a daily walk that I’m needing right now to help me balance everything that’s happening. I remain very grateful. And there’s now the opportunity to delve into an area I have a genuine interest in and heart for. I’m happy to learn more about the world of fitness and now have some idea that I can make this more than my lifestyle by working in the field I love with the most rewarding benefit of helping others realize their health goals. Cool huh? Don’t I know it. Except, I have to get through this (focusing in this unlikely season) to get to the other side to that goal. Truth is, God is always in the details, always has been, always will be.

The Freedom to Run – Happy 4th!

Happy Fourth Of July!

Happy Fourth Of July!

Many of us take our freedom for granted. We live in a country unrivaled in its advocacy and support for  individual freedom and one’s right to practice, speak, share and do just about anything that does not endanger or threaten that same freedom we all enjoy. To the extent that we embrace these rights responsibly, we have a very good chance of living a fruitful, productive and healthy life.

Four years ago Blomberg Rankings did a survey on the world’s healthiest countries, many wondered where was the US on this list. http://www.bloomberg.com/slideshow/2012-08-13/world-s-healthiest-countries.html#slide21                   Ranking 37th, the United States, arguably one of the most developed countries in the world did not then produce a rating worthy of its standing. The question is, why? And have we progressed for there at all?

Chief among the reasons for our poor showing on Blomberg’s list is our inability to take responsibility for our health. More than how we treat our bodies (diet and exercise), holistic wellbeing ( body, mind and spirit) speaks to correctly embracing an attitude of health and wellbeing that informs our decisions and subsequent actions, thus creating a lifestyle of worth and enduring happiness.

Can we truly say we are free if we fail to use our freedom to educate and liberate ourselves from a mindset that harms and hinders us from realizing our full potential? Blame a fast food culture, advertising, social media, everything but ourselves, and our responsibility to make wise choices. We’ve heard time again that nothing in life is free, it is true. Our freedom came at great cost to many, we have the responsibility to embrace and promote it. To whom much is given, much is expected. One way we can do this is by adopting a healthy lifestyle; for those of us who run, we’re halfway there already. For all of us, let’s commit to embracing freedom beginning one step at a time. Celebrate: get out, get going, get active. Be Healthy. 

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Happy Independence!

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