#Summer Is: Chasing Pavements (by Javacia Harris Bowser)

This week I posted about my writing goals. One of those this summer was to publish snippets of what summer is. Thirty-five to be exact. I've fallen short of that number, but that's OK, right? Point is, I tried. And summer is not entirely over. So let's try this again, no?

Today's #SummerIs entry is from my friend Javacia Harris Bowser. I've had the pleasure getting to know Javacia this year as she started See Jane Write Birmingham, a group dedicated to supporting women writers. She's done an amazing job growing See Jane Write, and I'm thrilled that she has joined the Alabama Social Media Assocition as a volunteer. But that's another story.

I love Javacia's contribution because it's about doing something that makes her feel good. It's inspring to me that even though she has a serious medical condition, she keeps moving. (In fact yesterday, I went to my first spin class with her, which I can't wait to write about.)

I'm publishing Javacia's entry today because it's "Be Body Positive Day." Started by a California organization, it's a day designed to celebrate your body where you are right now. You can click on the link to learn more about the day and the organization, whose goal is to create a "growing national movement of healthy, confident individuals contributing to positive change in the world." (I also posted a video beneath Javacia's entry).

She embodies the spirit of The Body Positive, and I love what she's written because it's all about moving forward. With that, here's her contribution to #Summer Is:

Summer Is: Chasing Pavements

I am not a runner. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no couch potato. I’ll out dance you in an aerobics classes like Body Jam any day. But I am not a runner. I don’t have a beautiful gazelle-like stride. I probably look like I’m being chased by Jason from Friday the 13th when I run. My shoes are older than your toddler and I even have a doctor’s excuse for not running. I have serious medical condition that has given me the joints of an 80-year-old, so my doctor is constantly telling me to stick easy cycling and water aerobics.  

Then I met the Shades Creek Greenway or, as it is affectionately called by us Birmingham residents, the Lakeshore Running Trail. One day while walking beneath the beautiful canopy of trees that covers much of the path I simply decided to run. And I loved it.

This summer I’ve spent most mornings, before the Alabama heat becomes unbearable, pounding the pavement of that trail and learning a few life lessons along the way. Here are three things running the Lakeshore trail has taught me.  

1)      Stay in your lane. Most folks know the basic and most important rule of a running trail: stay to the right and pass on the left. But the phrase “stay in your lane” means much more to me. It reminds me to stop comparing myself to others, to not worry about the cute blonde in the cute sports bra with the perfect abs and perfect stride. Same goes for everyday life. As I run the path I’m on, one that I hope is leading me to the life I want to one day live, I must be careful not to get off track by coveting someone else’s pace.

2)      Breathe and keep going. When I started running I was convinced I needed walk breaks every 60 seconds. Then one day Madonna’s hit “4 Minutes” came on my iPod and I decided I’d try to run for the entire track (which is cleverly four minutes long.) I did it. And one day I ran for seven minutes without a walk break, and then nine minutes, and each week I’m working to run for longer stretches. When I’m running there’s usually a moment when I want to stop and walk, but then I tell myself to just breathe and keep going. And I do just that. Likewise, as I’m chasing my dreams I remind myself to do the same thing.

3)      Keep your head up. After I started running I realized that all those folks that used to zip by me when I stuck to walking didn’t have their heads held high because they were looking down their pretty little runner noses at me. I’ve realized it’s actually easier to run when you’re not watching your feet to make sure you don’t fall on your face. I’ve found it’s much easier to catch my so-called second wind when I’m running with my eyes steadily fixed straight ahead. In life, we must do the same. Keep your head held high, stay proud, regardless of mistakes you make, regardless of how old your running shoes may be, regardless of how long it may take you to complete a mile. Keep your head up, always.

Javacia Harris Bowser blogs at GeorgiaMae.com and is the founder of See Jane Write Birmingham.  

Related Links:

Summer Is: Neil Diamond 

Summer Is: About Turning Life's Lemons Into Sparkling Lemon Sangria