I typically end each year posting my year’s top or favorites list. In the past, it has been either the year’s books, music/albums, movies, or some variation. As an expression of gratitude for all that this has brought to my life, here is my top 7 personal moments of 2018. I pray that not only will it inspire YOU to reflect on cherished moments of your last year, but also to look forward to future plans, dreams, bucket lists, goals, and people in your life for 2019.
#7: L.E.A.P. Women’s Empowerment Conference
I previously posted about participating as a panelist for the L.E.A.P. (Ladies who are Educated and have A Purpose) Women’s Empowerment Conference. This was an amazing day and event. I love volunteering at career days and speaking engagements, especially opportunities to engage with our youth (particularly young ladies). This event was special because it was filled with discussion, sharing, inspiring and touching our youth, while also networking and connecting with fellow colleagues, business owners, educators, mentors, and overall dynamic women.
6: Return to GCYC
I’ve worked at the Gary Comer Youth Center (GCYC) in some capacity (contractor, programming, evaluation, membership, staff, volunteer) since the building opened and it has been a blessing. It has always been my passion to work with youth, while also give back and contribute to our community. This past summer at the annual GCYC Career Day, I was happy to be able to announce that I would be returning to work there as the Youth Employment Manager. In this role, not only it is an honor to work with youth, but also to assist them launch their dreams and goals in areas where they can use their knowledge, skills and talent in the form of jobs, employment, and career opportunities.
I am inspired by quite an array of people and every so often I’m blessed to meet those that are renown across the country and even around the globe. As an triathlete and runner, quite a few through the years, including Flo-Jo, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Carl Lewis, Gail Devers, and Michael Johnson, are a few track and field stars that are amongst those I’ve loved to watch.
In recent years, the journey of the dynamic Allyson Felix has been amazing to see. This past February, I could not have had a better birthday gift than to have the opportunity to meet her AND actually hold one of her Olympic medals. She is delightful, humble, and incredibly sweet.
I want to send her best wishes into 2019 as she has recently announced and revealed the blessing of her new baby girl, Camryn! And to see Allyson open up so much personally has been refreshing, allowing people to see even more of her inner beauty as a woman and now a mother!
#4: 30 Days of Self Love
I’m often so much more comfortable as a giver to others than to focus on giving to myself, so to take on a 30-day “Self Love Challenge” was very different. I learned to see it as necessary to regain perspective on myself, my value, as well as, actions and people that don’t served my purpose. Taking time to do the things I grow accustom to doing for others and redirect to doing them for me was renewing. I even shared some of those moments with others, in hopes to inspire them to embrace, give to & love themselves. Writing myself a love note, gifting myself flowers, making myself a gift, sending myself an “I love you” text, were all pretty powerful in acknowledging my own worth, keeping the bar high for my own expectations of what I give as well as desire to receive, and embracing that self-love, as well as, God’s love, allows us to be so filled that we can continue to give to the world.
#3: Trip to Miami for South Beach Triathlon
I’ve previously been to Florida, but Miami was new to me and an amazing time! This was my first destination race..the South Beach Triathlon! It was six days to prepare and pursuit my first outdoor race of 2018, first triathlon post-bike fall, surgery & rehab (to see my progress), have an awesome photo shoot with someone special, remarkably talented and fun, and enjoy the artistic side and sites of Miami! And yes, I had a BLAST!!
#2: Gatlinberg with Family Ziplining
There is nothing like time with family.. especially with those you don’t get to see very often. This past summer, my mother’s side of the family had a phenomenal trip to Gatlinberg, Tennessee. One family all under one roof in a large cabin decked out with multiple rooms, pool table, jacuzzi, games, small theater and more. We had fun cooking, shopping, walking, and exploring! And of course the thrill-seeker & challenger in me had to do something extraordinary while knocking out one of my bucket list items. Yes, I previously have done a form of zip-lining, but it was one line across and back at a museum. This time I got to go on a full course, high in the trees. And though I still kind of have a fear of heights, I had to just suck it up and go for it. Not only did I enjoy the course, I got to do with with one of my adventurous cousins, who serves our country in the US Air Force and I don’t see often and admire! Him, his wife, and I were the 3 musketeers zipping across like big kids!
#1: Good Morning America w/ Michelle Obama
Indeed a true highlight and recent buzz of excitement was being face to face with our beloved First Lady, Michelle Obama. And as if being in the same space was thrilling enough, to also be on live television with her as she responded and answered a question for me, was a moment beyond moments. It was a blessing to be at a live taping of Good Morning America in Chicago as she recently launched her book “Becoming Michelle Obama”, and have Robin Roberts introduce me while asking her a question. And in Mrs. Obama smile and response, she demonstrated how gracious, personable and engaging she truly is. And yes, I’m still hoping the 2 of us can travel somewhere fun together as indicated in her response. Hey, a lady can always dream, right?