Hi everyone! Thank you for all the love shown the past couple of months. I am truly grateful and thankful for your support. I know I have been missing in action on here. Sorry! I have two drafts to posts I started writing but could never get the words to flow right. I hope to get those finished soon. Derek Jeter & Peyton Manning deserve it.
In the mean time, please check out my column today in The Dispatch. This column means a lot to me!
“To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. Number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.” ~Jimmy V
I had a full day yesterday. Jimmy V would be proud. I laugh daily. My mind is constantly bombarded with thoughts. However, I do not allow myself to be moved to tears on a daily basis. Mainly because I do not always allow myself time to really sit down and reflect on the things that would bring tears to my eyes. When you hear the word tears, most of us immediately equate them with sadness. Often, when I do cry, it is not because I am sad. Most times I cry out of thankfulness. Thankfulness for my relationship I have with GOD. Thankfulness for my family and friends. Thankfulness for the life I have been blessed to live. In a sense, every day I should be moved to tears because every day I have something to be thankful for.
As I watched my favorite awards show, the ESPYs, last night I was reminded how truly blessed I am every day I am above ground. I watched as athlete after athlete graced the stage to thank countless people who helped them achieve the success they are experiencing. However, despite all the fan voted awards that are given, the award I anticipate the most is the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance.
March 4, 1993. The day Coach Jim Valvano delivered a speech that would change how many viewed life. I was nine years old and very much oblivious to the fact that one of the sports worlds most beloved personalities was fighting the battle of his life. As tumors laid rage on his body, Jimmy V issued a challenge to everyone. He only needed seven words, with three of them being repeated twice, to put many on a path to living a life of destiny: “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.” On that night, as Jimmy V stood giant-like and announced the formation of the V Foundation for Cancer Research, lives of people all across the country and world were being intertwined.
The late Coach Kay Yow. Kevin Everett. Don Meyer. George Karl. Anthony Robles. Eric LeGrand. Dick & Rick Hoyt. Stuart Scott. Some names are recognizable while others are not. What they all have in common is that they share the honor of being recognized with the Jimmy V Award. In 2007, I cried a river as I watched a woman whom I had the privilege to share words, hugs and gather pearls of wisdom from, Coach Yow, accept the award that beared the name of her late friend. I love hearing the stories of people who have overcome or are overcoming obstacles that stand in their way. They are no different than you and I.
Last night, as I watched Scott eloquently describe his fight against the c word, I was moved to tears. My day was complete. I watched as Scott beamed with joy over the fact that “Jack Bauer” presented him with his award. I was watched as Scott proudly talked about the support he has received from his employers and colleagues. I watched as Scott dropped the bombshell on us that he had just been released from a grueling seven day hospital stay three days earlier. Words cannot describe the amount of respect I have for this man. I watched as Scott laid out for us, firmly, his motivation for never giving up: his daughters. As he called for his daughter, Taylor, to join him on stage, I fell apart. Over 3,000 miles away I could feel the love between them as they embraced. As my eyes fell on my yellow bracelet on my arm, the same one that Scott wears regularly, I was reminded that we are all in this together.
Something was different about this year’s ESPYs. Maybe it was the fact that everyone’s Twitter handle associated with ESPN was changed to the V Foundation logo for the day. Maybe it was the fact that the ESPYs was honoring one of its most popular anchors. Or maybe its just the fact that as times goes on, I have become more in tune with what really tugs at my heart strings. From Scott’s moving speech where he told us how to beat cancer to US Veteran and hero, Jeff Sweeney, accepting the Pat Tillman Award for Service, the show was full of heroes who embody the spirit of never giving up.
As I rewound the broadcast to watch Scott’s speech again, I flashbacked to a scene that took place about seven years ago in Chapel Hill. I was invited to Late Night with Roy by a member of my extended family. In true Kassie fashion, I ventured over the enemy territory sporting North Carolina State red from almost head to toe. Scott was the host. In true Scott fashion, I was picked out of the crowd and the jokes began. After the event, I got to talk with Scott and he thanked me for participating and having fun with him. As we set to bid farewell, we posed for a picture and went our separate ways.
Back in the present, I once again looked down at my wrist. My yellow bracelet was shining brightly. The bracelet that links myself to Scott as well as others. My LIVESTRONG bracelet. The bracelet that has become a universal symbol for the fight against the c word. While I can not empathize with what Scott is experiencing, my life experiences unite us. My grandfather had it. My grandmother had it. Three times. My next door neighbor, who was like a grandmother to me, had it. My cousin had it. My friend Laura had it. My friend Trinita had it. My colleague Maria had it. My friend Celena just finished battling it. My friend Quincy is battling it. The names are countless. The number of people that have been effected are endless. The lives that have been changed are numerous.
Last night’s ESPYs shined a bright light on the community that surrounds those fighting the c word. As tweets scrolled across the bottom of the screen, including one from me, from people who are fighting or fight for others, I was reminded, once again, that we are all in this together. No one who battles the c word should have to battle alone. We should all fight together. We should all fight to ensure that generations to come never have to experience a life plagued by the disease. We should all fight to ensure that many more birthdays are experienced. We should all fight to ensure that each and every person who is fighting is held up by someone who is willing to fight with them and for them. We should all fight to ensure that Jimmy V’s word will forever reign…”Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.” Actions speak louder than words. What do yours say about you?
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you ~1 Thessalonians 5:18
Every fourth Thursday in November, people gather with family and friends to eat, drink, watch football, play football, chat, laugh and eventually take naps. At some tables, there will be a prayer said before those present begin to sample the feast laid out before them. At most tables, thank yous will be said and thankfulness will be acknowledged. At my table, we will do both.
Thanksgiving is a day set aside for us to be just that, thankful. However, in my life Thanksgiving is not just a day it is a lifestyle. When I arise from my sleep, I am thankful. When I go to sleep, I am thankful. All the hours in between, I am thankful. I am thankful because I realize that my life does not have to be as fabulous as it is and I realize that circumstances could change at any moment that would drastically alter my fabulous life. Do I have everything I want? Nope. Do I have everything that I need? Yes. Even though it seems like at times I am lacking in some “needy” areas but it has not stopped me from doing what needs to be done.
So on this day, a day set aside to give thanks, I want to give thanks publicly. Below are a few things I’m thankful for…
1) I am thankful for my relationship with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Without a doubt, I know that I would not be the person I am today without him. I would not have survived some of the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual traps that were set for me. He keeps me sane in an insane world. I seek to please Him in all that I do. He died for me so I will live for Him. SN: If you are reading this and you do not comprehend how I feel, my prayer is that one day you will feel the same way.
2) I am thankful for my family. All of them. My family is my backbone. When I don’t have anyone on this Earth that I can call upon, I know I have my family. Their love, support and reality checks are priceless. I draw a tremendous amount of strength from them and I am blessed to be linked, by blood, to each one of them. Without them, there is no legacy for me to uphold.
3) I am thankful for my friends. I am blessed to have an amazing group of friends who love me, support me, encourage me, correct me, uplift me, motivate me, inspire me and celebrate me. The older I get, the more I can appreciate those who have stuck by me when I had nothing to offer other than my love and friendship.
4) I am thankful for food. Seriously. Not just because it is necessary but because it is sooooo good. I love to eat! And I love fresh baked bread.
5) I am thankful for heat. I’m not made for this cold weather ya’ll. Nevertheless I am thankful for it because it means I am among the living.
6) I am thankful for my love of sports and working out. Nothing cures a bad day like a good run/workout and a game on my tv to scream at.
7) I am thankful to be home. It was not in my original plan but GOD’s plan is ALWAYS better than mine. This is exactly where HE needed me to be. I totally get it, now.
8) I am thankful for the beach. The peace, tranquility and serenity of the beach is unmatched.
9) I am thankful for the ability to see, hear, taste, touch and smell.
10) I am thankful for the many opportunities I have had to give back over the years. The joy I get when I am able to help others is indescribable. I take none of the credit. I am always thankful to GOD for placing me in the position to be able to help.
11) I am thankful for books. Not Kindles or Nooks. Books! I love to read! Sadly, I have not had much time lately to read as much as I would like but I have made a vow to read at least three books before the end of the year.
12) I am thankful for my blog. My own little space in cyberspace to share how I feel, when I want to, how I want to.
I am a runner. I was destined to be one. I was a breeched baby, born feet first. My mama says I have been running non-stop ever since the day I entered into the world.
I am a runner. As a child, I was a certified tomboy. Looking at me now that may be hard for you to believe :-}. I promise you I did not always wear five inch heels, nail polish and eyeshadow. Growing up, I wore dresses when I had to. I liked to dress kute but I was much happier climbing trees, playing outside with my friends all day, riding my bike or watching Transformers, He-Man & Thundercats. And yes, I ran. A LOT. I would run to my neighbor’s house. I would run around the block. I would run from the street to the front porch. I loved running. I ran in middle school. I ran in high school. I ran in the state championship track meet. I set records. I ran, ran, ran.
I am a runner. Running for me was just something I liked to do until 2010 when running took on a whole new meaning. Before then, I typically ran no more than four miles at one time but here I was going out on 14, 16 and 18 mile runs. I had suddenly become runner. Me? A runner? A marathoner? Even I ask myself from time to time, how did I end up here? The answer is pretty simple: destiny.
I am a runner. Three years ago, after having one of those “ah ha” moments, I decided to do a half marathon. I was unemployed at the time and was searching for something new. One day I was at one of my favorite places to run when I stopped and talked to a coach I knew. I told him my plans and he simply asked me, “why not do a marathon?” I looked at him like he was crazy. Me?! Run 26.2 miles?! Dude had definitely been sniffing the Icy Hot too much. However, at that moment something clicked. As the day went on, I kept replaying our conversation. I thought about the conversation for days and finally I made a decision. I was going to join 26.2 klub!
I am a runner. When it came to running and working out, I was a loner. I liked working out at my own pace in my own time so when it came time to train for the marathon I thought I could do it all on my own. WRRRRRONG!! I was out on a 10 mile run one day and said to myself, “this is not working.” I was upset with myself. I was not a quitter but I was not as motivated as I needed to be to get this done. So I stopped training but I kept running. I ran and ran and ran and as destiny would have it, I encountered an organization that would change my life….The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training(TNT).
I am a runner. I first heard about TNT when my friend, Kiyanda, trained with them for a half marathon. I did not know much about the organization but I decided to research them to see what they were all about. Once I read their mission, I knew this was where I needed to be. In May of 2010, I went to a TNT information meeting. I was sitting down skimming through the information packet when my eyes landed on Marine Corps Marathon. Anyone who really knows me knows how I feel about Marines. My granddaddy was one of the first black Marines and in my eyes my granddaddy is the epitome of a man. When I saw that race was an option, my mind was made up. I was going to do this!
I am a runner. I decided that not only was I going to do this to honor my granddaddy’s memory but I was going to do it to honor the memory of loved ones who had battled cancer. Some beat it, some did not. I was running for my granddaddy, my grandma Margie who battled cancer three times, “my grandma” Ms. Lit, my cousin Akia who passed at the age of 18 from lymphoma and my friend Quincy who was in the hospital at the time fighting leukemia. I was running for them and each and every person who had lost their fight, was victorious over the disease or was currently in a battle. By the way, Quincy is now cancer free!!! Thank you God!
I am a runner. I went into the challenge full speed ahead. I bought running shoes, running gear, Body Glide, sunscreen, shot blocks, etc. I was running almost every day. I cross trained on days when I did not run. I was focused. Until I hurt my knee. September 18, 2010. I was on an 18 mile run when about half way into mile five my knee locked up. I could not bend it. I could barely put pressure on it. I definitely could not run on it. I was in pain. A LOT OF PAIN. I was crying. I was screaming. However, I was so focused on the end goal that it did not matter. I had a training run to finish and I was determined to do it. I did not complete all 18 miles that day. I only did 14 but I was proud of myself because the determination that rose up in me that day was the same determination that got me across the finish line on October 30, 2010.
I am a runner. However, at this point in my life I do not run without a purpose. I run because it offers me a chance to give back. I run because I get to help others in need. I run because I get the opportunity to escape the chaos of the world and focus on people who need me to push through so they have a chance at survival. That is why I run. I run for the father who does not want to tell his kids he has stage four cancer. I run for the mother who has to explain to her young daughter why she is losing her hair. I run for the young men and women who instead of hanging out with their friends have to hang out at the doctor’s offices to receive their chemo treatments. I run for the toddler who’s life ended early because of this disease. For them, I RUN.
I AM A RUNNER. I never thought I would be calling myself that but it is part of who I am. It is part of who I was destined to be. And if I happen to lose another toenail as a result, oh well!! It will grow back. The other one did.