Today, I went to the kid’s school for their Black History Month Assembly. I was shocked at how it moved me.
Having a daughter who is part black and living in a mainly white community, I am acutely aware of racism, and she is all too aware of being different. She used to ask me “Why am I the only one with brown skin?” and I would explain to her that she had one black parent and one white parent while the other children had two white parents.
She once asked why she was the only one in our house with brown skin, and I told her I was the only one in our house with red hair, everyone is different.
When she started school, I worried that she might encounter racism. I worried that being different might be too much for her to handle. I remember all too well being teased about my red hair, and how mean kids can be if they think your difference will make you feel weak. I wanted Rebecca to think her difference made her strong.
I tell her all the time how beautiful she is, how gorgeous her skin and her hair are, and today at the assembly, two children read a poem that I hope Rebecca was listening to. I will keep it for her and let the message be hers.
Why Did You Make Me Black Lord?
Lord, why did you make me black?
Why did you make someone
the world would hold back?
Black is the color of dirty clothes,
of grimy hands and feet,
Black is the color of darkness,
of tired beaten streets.
Why did you give me thick lips,
a broad nose and kinky hair?
Why did you create someone
who receives the hated stare?
Black is the color of the bruised eye
when someone gets hurt,
Black is the color of darkness,
black is the color of dirt.
Why is my bone structure so thick,
my hips and cheeks so high?
Why are my eyes brown,
and not the color of the sky?
Why do people think I'm useless?
How come I feel so used?
Why do people see my skin
and think I should be abused?
Lord, I just don't understand...
What is it about my skin?
Why is it some people want to hate me
and not know the person within?
Black is what people are "Labeled"
when others want to keep them away...
Black is the color of shadows cast....
Black is the end of the day.
Lord you know my own people mistreat me,
and you know this just ain't right....
They don't like my hair, they don't like my
skin, as they say I'm too dark or too light!
Lord, don't you think
it's time to make a change?
Why don't you redo creation
and make everyone the same?
Why did I make you black? Why did I make you black?
I made you in the color of coal
from which beautiful diamonds are formed...
I made you in the color of oil,
the black gold which keeps people warm.
Your color is the same as the rich dark soil
that grows the food you need...
Your color is the same as the black stallion and
panther, Oh what majestic creatures indeed!
All colors of the heavenly rainbow
can be found throughout every nation...
When all these colors are blended,
you become my greatest creation!
Your hair is the texture of lamb's wool,
such a beautiful creature is he...
I am the shepherd who watches them,
I will ALWAYS watch over thee!
You are the color of the midnight sky,
I put star glitter in your eyes...
There's a beautiful smile hidden behind your pain...
That's why your cheeks are so high!
You are the color of dark clouds
from the hurricanes I create in September...
I made your lips so full and thick,
so when you kiss...they will remember!
Your stature is strong,
your bone structure thick to withstand the
burden of time....
The reflection you see in the mirror,
that image that looks back, that is MINE!
So get off your knees,
look in the mirror and tell me what you see?
I didn't make you in the image of darkness...
I made you in the image of ME
I hope that, if you ever meet my daughter, you will get to know the person within. If you don’t, it will be your loss because she is a beautiful person who happens to have brown skin.
First, I would like to thank-you. Being accountable to someone and sharing my journey with you has helped to motivate me to reach my goal. Knowing that I am going to let you know how I am doing has gotten me to the gym, stopped me from adding sugar back into my tea, and helped me to eat better (most of the time).
Despite all of that, I am back where I started with my weight. I lost 2 pounds last week, and at one point this week, I was down another pound, but I gained it back. That said, I understand my weight will fluctuate day-to-day and throughout the day, but it’s still disappointing to look at the scale and see the same old number staring back at me, especially since I went to the gym 3 times this week and I can barely walk because my leg muscles are like jello right now.
I will not give up though. What’s motivating me to keep going? Well, as I said, you are, my challenge to my husband, and my friend Bryan.
Bryan has been helping out at the gym, showing me the ropes, and kicking my ass!
Here is my Valentine’s present to you: Inspiration.
This is Bryan’s story, a real life success story. I have known Bryan since grade 9, so I assure you, this is a true story, these photos have not been touched up and his story is one that will keep you motivated.
My weight loss journey:
My hopes in writing my weight loss story is it may inspire even one person to believe in themselves. Jan 9 2009 I weighted 316lbs. With the support of my family friends and a caring trainer I lost 130lbs in 9 months. For anyone out there who is thinking they can't, or that it would not happen to them, believe me it can.
When I started this journey in my life I was a different person. Most of my childhood and all of my adult life I had been overweight and not physically active. For the most part I thought I was happy and excepted that I was overweight and would always be overweight. However as the years went by the weight also piled on. I was no longer just an overweight guy. At 316 lbs I was obese. I made several attempts to lose weight on my own but always failed. Each time I failed I would lose more of my confidence and self esteem. After several years of failing I no longer had the confidence in myself and had given up.
There wasn't one particular event that made me want to change my life, but I knew I had to make the decision to seek out some professional help. After searching for doctors and looking into exercise camps all over the world, I decided to speak with a personal trainer. On January 9, 2009 I met with a women who helped me change my life. Her name is Ranjna, a personal trainer at Good Life Fitness. Within a few minutes of speaking with Ranjna I felt I could trust her and liked her direct approach. I believed this was what I needed to make drastic changes in my life.
We set my goal weight at 190lbs, a weight I had not seen for over 22 years. The thought of losing over 120lbs sounded impossible to me. This was a last ditch effort on beating something that had controlled me my entire life. I needed to give this a chance and promised to give 100%. To be honest I knew I would lose some weight but I also thought I would end up finding an excuse to quit.
My trainer set my workout schedule 6 days a week, 3 days with her, and 3 days on my own. Before that day I had only been in a gym 6 times in my life and now I had to be there 6 days a week.
Stepping foot in the gym for my first workout was the hardest, most uncomfortable thing I had ever done. I felt like I did not belong there. Everybody must have been looking at me wondering why I was there. They must have all been judging me and staring at the fat guy. However, little did I know, it was the members of my gym that motivated me. Day after day they would see me, giving it 100%. At least once a week I had members encouraging me to keep me motivated. My fears were quickly gone. The gym was no longer an intimidating place, it was a place of encouragement and support. I found myself looking forward to the gym. It had become a part of my life, a home away from home. I do believe setting a six day a week workout schedule was the the reason I had become so connected with the gym and its members. I had a sense of belonging and exercise had become part of my new lifestyle.
I was very fortunate, my trainer I had was very knowledgeable in nutrition. She knew my old eating habits were fast food and more fast food, so it was easy to see what I was doing wrong. Her approach was simple for me to learn and follow. There was no magic pill, or secret formula. Eat home cooked meals and eat clean. At no point did I ever count calories or grams of anything. It was common sense eating. Eat when you are hungry, and eat a balanced meal of protein, vegetables, grains, and fruits. This approach made it easy to stick too, and maintain my weigh loss for the rest of my life.
After 9 hard months of being 110% dedicated and focused on myself I had lost 130lbs. A goal that I had thought was impossible to achieve. Working out and eating healthy gave me a drive I had never experienced before. The physical results were so nice to see, however, the emotional results were even bigger. Each workout had given me more confidence in myself, and making healthy food choices were becoming easier. Food no longer controlled my life. I now look at food as fuel for my body. The foods I eat today are to survive and fuel my body for the next workout.
I believe having a strong support system is why I was and still am successful today. It has helped me make the impossible possible. I was fortunate to have the finances and support from my family to help me achieve these goals. But at the end of the day, I was the one who made the commitment, made the healthy choices, and left the blood and sweat on the gym floor. To be successful you will need a support system. But the most important support system is yourself.
It has now been over two years since I started my journey and my choices of finding a balance in work, family, and health are still tough. I am happy to say that today I am a completely different person and for the first time ever, I believe in myself. The confidence I never had before, I now have. I have a new love for exercise and for myself. I realize now I was not happy with my life before. I just never knew how great life could feel.
For 36 years I was missing out on a huge part of my life. Anyone who is wanting to change their life, wether it's 5lbs or 500lb. Make that commitment to yourself today. You are worth it.
For any questions or support please contact me anytime, I would be more than willing to help. Contact me at [email protected]
Bryan has been generous enough to include his email in case you need a little motivation or advice, and I invite you to join us on our Facebook Page, where Bryan gives workout tips and a nutritionist offers healthy eating tips. It’s also a place where friends motivate and encourage one another to reach their goals.
Happy Valentine’s day!
The first months of a baby’s life are pretty thankless. You feed them, change them, care for them, and they puke on you, pee and poop on you, and keep you up all night. Of course there are rewards... that first smile, a warm snuggle etc, but it seems, inevitably, no matter how you care for them, regardless of the fact that you are there for them 24 hours a day the first thing they say is “dada”.
Of course, we tell ourselves, they aren’t actually saying “daddy”, it’s just the first letter they are able to form, right? They are too young to know how to really say a word. There is no reason to be upset that dada is said before mama.
But then, that first time they say “mama”, our heart swells, and we know they are talking to us.