Category Archives: Testimony Tidbits

Seasons of my life shared for the encouragement of others

Pandemics and Racism

It’s been nearly two and a half years since my last post and to say that life’s really happened in that time would not be an exaggeration. Now, it is 2020;  ask anyone and they will tell you that this was not what they were expecting in a new decade. Kobe Bryant’s death was the start of decline for hope in the year and now we are in a pandemic and also in a time of grieving, protesting and reacting to the deaths of more unarmed Black people due to racism. To have all of these tabs open isn’t comforting, but conversations that we as a people have long avoided are being had.

Anyone who knows me knows I dislike conflict, drama and disheartening news. It is exhausting. Personally, the years 2017 through 2019 served up enough drama for me. However, with people genuinely checking in on me for my health: physically, due to COVID-19 and mentally, due to the killings of people who look like me, it’s lead me to pause and think about my feelings.

From a very young age, us Black people are faced with the realization that our expiration date as a race tends to be quicker than our brothers and sisters with less melanin. We deal with higher risk of a number of diseases and although slavery ended 150+ years ago, the root of what lead to it and what kept it alive so long hasn’t been dealt with. Families were torn apart with slavery back then and today, it is with the prison system and being killed in situations that don’t warrant the loss of life. My constant fear is to grow numb as the hashtags of victims’ names rack up on social media like money being raised for a ’90s telethon.

My second major was African and African Diaspora Studies at UT, but to be honest, like most students, I probably skipped doing a lot of required reading and now I am not only regretting that decision of 20-something me, but wanting to (re)read those books and articles to educate myself outside of my personal Black experience and be better versed in sharing when friends, colleagues and associates ask me what they can do to help and how can they learn more about systemic racism. At times I feel like I’ve done myself and those who I influence knowingly and unknowingly a disservice by not fully utilizing that knowledge and my story to spark change.

My Black experience includes seasons of being told I acted White, seasons of self-hatred because I didn’t know where I fit in at, and my current season of continued self-discovery, the realization that my story as it is has value and finally keeping my crown on my head. I am still in the process of determining my personal plan of action in being part of positive change, but felt that I should just start by writing out my feelings and initial thoughts.

More than a Marathon

This is my first post since 2016. I told myself that I would be more consistent in 2018; we will see how that goes. 2017 was a great year for me. It was noted as the year of victory per the biblical meaning of “17” and I was determined to shoot my shot in many areas of my life. I got my edges snatched by loved ones at the beginning of 2017 which contributed to me rediscovering my power and my own light. Little did I know that those would be two of the things I’d put to work during the end of the year.

For two and a half years, I’d been stressed out at work because I didn’t leave when God told me to. This lead to gaining 20 pounds on to of the 10 pounds from the 2014-2015 winter holiday break because instead of being proactive with my career and seeing what other opportunities were out there, I stayed and was moved to a different team with a different dynamic than what best fits my work style. I was on a great team, we produced awesome work, but I felt stagnant and experienced burn out.

At the beginning of 2017, I sensed that this would be my last year at the company and started applying and interviewing for jobs that were promotions from my current role. I listened to books about pivoting in your career, read articles about how to “hold on” when you’re not digging your job any more, and even downloaded a book about how to quit. I never listened to the last book because in September 2017, I was let go from my job during the restructuring of my team.

Being let go was God’s unconventional answer to my prayer for rest and refueling. It happened at the beginning of my birth month the same week I started training for my first marathon. That was the best birthday gift that my last team gave me and I say that with no sarcasm. I had so much peace the day I walked out of the office with my box of things and that night’s 5K with my run group was even faster than my usual pace.

For three months, I balanced marathon training and interviewing for jobs. Although I knew God had me and would provide, I questioned Him about how long I would be in this season. My bills were getting paid, I had a small community of support who prayed for me, prayed with me, and sent me job posting information, but I’d convinced myself long ago that I was always supposed to have it together and felt like a failure.

During the last month of marathon training, two different companies I’d applied for numerous positions with contacted me. One was for a position I’d initially been reluctant to apply for and the other company reached out to me about a position that I didn’t apply for, but because I was in the system, my qualifications told them I was a perfect match. The latter company is in the same building as my old job.

I interviewed with both companies prior to the marathon. One interview was before the Thanksgiving break. The interview with the company within the same building as my old job was one day shy of being three months since I’d left that address with my cardboard box. Both interviews went extremely well and led to final round interviews following the marathon. Peace overcame me along with the sense that on the other side of the race, I would receive offers and would go into 2018 refreshed and with a new job.

I spent a good amount of the 6 hours and 48 minutes it took me to finish my marathon thinking about my final round interviews and how I would wear heels that week when I wasn’t thinking about what I had gotten myself into and why didn’t I decide to change to the half marathon at the last minute. Had I not been thinking about final round interviews, I probably would’ve gone faster but I’ll do better next time. Finishing a marathon is an accomplishment in and of itself ESPECIALLY when the van going to the finish line asks if you want a ride. Making it to my medal, my run family, my cousin and my cupcakes was the official close of a chapter for me.

I brought up my marathon in both of my final round interviews. My marathon medal remained in the car while I interviewed with both companies. The woman I became in 2017 from the reality checks, a re-established fitness routine, a season of rest and checking something off of my life’s to do list that I’d back out of 2 years in a row shined through in front of potential bosses. It made finally sense that the reason I’d been attracted to yellow dresses so much that year was because I recognized and owned up to how lit God made me.

What I went through off of the pavement made my on pavement, in running shoe victory so special to me. I now work in the same building as my old job with a company and team I see growth in and on the welcome board the fun fact beside my picture is “I’m a marathoner.” There are times you feel like you’ve hit rock bottom, times you want to keep your pride and not ask for help, and times you want God to speed up because you feel like you’ve learned what you needed to and are ready for the next stage in your life. However, keep moving, keep trusting, and remember faith the size of a mustard seed can push you further than you logically think.