Life Is in the Stretch
My life will forever be marked in two sections — the life I had before my maternal grandmother died and the life I’ve lived since. That’s how I reference my life in my mind and when people ask me certain questions about my journey. Since her death, I’ve been on an intentional quest to live my best life, and the demands I’ve placed on myself at times have often crossed the line of too intense. I am my harshest critic. No doubt about it. At times, I’m so busy chasing the life to stop and appreciate the journey and the things I’ve accomplished. Truthfully, that’s not the best way to live. I think we would often go farther if we stop to appreciate our progress from time to time. Progress equates to growth and effort. A push to do better, do more than what is required of yourself in your comfort zone. If I’m being honest, some of the best times of my life and greatest experiences I’ve had with others came out of a stretch. Me stretching myself outside of these invisible boundaries we often don’t realize we’re living within. Before my grandmother died, I didn’t travel much or read books, and I saw my life through a pessimistic lense. Losing her roused me out of a slumber that I hadn’t been able to awaken from prior to her death. Despite how painful it was losing her, her death helped me to get serious about living. But as life would have it, I would encounter more hardships and the zest for life that I once had begin to wane. You start living and things don’t go as planned and you get down on yourself. But I’ve found that life is cyclical — life, death, and rebirth is the constant cycle of our journey on Earth. A couple of nights ago, I dined with one of my best friends in Harlem. I had some of the best snapper and jollof rice that I’ll now have to try to locate in Texas (I’ve been missing out!). During our conversation, he reminded me to acknowledge how far I’ve come and the accomplishments that I’ve achieved. He was a reflection of confidence and gratitude for me. He helped me to remember that life can’t always be about what we’ve yet to accomplish, but giving ourselves more credit for what we have done and who we do give inspiration to. There is a part of me that doubts my abilities in certain aspects of life, but there is another part of me that is absolutely and fiercely limitless in my thinking.
Five years ago, I would’ve never believed that I would be running marathons and raising money for charitable causes. With one decision to get my physical body in shape, it opened up my entire world to new possibilities. My social circle has expanded to include some amazing people who I doubt I would’ve met otherwise. In July, I was eating the finest cuisine Mexico had to offer and sailing on the Sea of Cortez with people that have helped me to achieve some of my greatest goals in life. This weekend I ran my first out-of-state half marathon, dined with friends in Brooklyn while listening to some of the best 90s RnB, saw Whoopi Goldberg live and conversed with one of my best friends about life, love, relationships and Jesus a few blocks down from the Apollo Theatre. My mind has been stretched by experiences. This weekend I did my best to stop and take it all in. I’m appreciative to be exposed to people who look different, think in ways that open up my perspective, seeing synagogues that are built different than the one I worship in and tasting cuisine that’s not a part of my culture — it stretches me to be a better human being. More open, more willing, more giving, more appreciative. But I must say most of these things would’ve never been a part of my life without the stretch -the friends, the running, new cities, different foods, higher level conversations. You have to stretch. The comfort zone is detrimental to our growth. Be willing to move beyond it because there are far better things outside of it.