Six of us from Infinity tri fam were racing, 4 of which were in the same wave, and it’s always encouraging to have teammate & family support.
Six of us from Infinity tri fam were racing, 4 of which were in the same wave, and it’s always encouraging to have teammate & family support.
Well, I guess it’s that time. For the last week or so, it’s been increasingly on my mind…oh, how 4 years can seem like only 4 days or 4 minutes…
There are certain visuals and emotions from then that are permanently seared in my mind & heart. Though I think of my dad very often, this time of year for the last few years have had a particular resonance. I’ve had these thoughts before, but never put them to paper or keyboard, but it seems like the time to release.
To actually watch a loved one physically pass away is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone. The idea of being there to provide comfort or see them through to the final breath seems like a good one, but to actually witness the physicality of it, I would say for me was traumatizing. To see the man who represented love, strength, devotion, authenticity and so much vitality slip away was almost unreal. Without being graphic, seeing what the body does, what cancer did, in those final moments was not peaceful. And needing to be the strong one, not wanting the only other family member in the room, my mother, to see me cry and knowing I had to be there for her (as well as to my dad) was important.
I knew even then, that it would be a while before I would really get over witnessing life leaving the body of a man who carried me on his back and took me to the park when I was child, as well as could sit in a room with him silently watching the History Channel and feel like we had the most robust conversation.
His final breath on Friday, May 14, 2015, was a culmination of a week of very spiritual occurrences. It still amazes me how the week beforehand, when the doctor at the hospital said dad had a few weeks to a few months, I remember thinking “well, he doesn’t know my God”. Being the realistic optimist, and spiritually grounded person that I am, I went into the next couple of days not knowing how little time he had left. Transitioning to the hospice facility, which was gorgeous, and in retrospect, was peacefully fitting for the care dad would need. He had been alert and talking, however, by Monday, he mainly acknowledged us and visitors by slight head nods.
It was only then, that it began to seep in, that those “few weeks to months” we were told, would actually be only a few short days. For those next days, staying in the hospice room where I could see dad staring up at the ceiling, I wondered what he was thinking. Though not very physically affectionate, I remember at one point wanting to resort back to being a little girl and lay next to him, cuddled under his arm, but instead a sat in a chair holding his hand and prayed.
That Tuesday/Wednesday, I woke up in the middle of the night. Mom was asleep on a couch in the room. I felt compelled to walk over to dad’s bed and hold his hand. I’ll never forget that night. Though many may not believe in our connection to the spirit realm, I’ve long embraced it as other relatives previously passed. The following may seem crazy to some, however, in the time I was holding dad’s hand, I felt the presence of others in the room as well. I had on various occasions previously sensed my dad’s mother, Ma Maude often since her passing 10 years ago, and on that night her presence was there almost as clear as day. Her along with my dad’s dad, Grandpa, my great-uncle Henry, my brother and seemingly others that I couldn’t identify. It felt as though the spirits of passed family were coming to comfort and assure him in his road home. (Whew, as you can imagine, I’m in tears writing this).
For a while I was just quiet, but felt a sense of peace in the room. For those that knew, Fred Allen Holloway, you knew that he was quiet, and though not very tall in stature, had an strong unassuming presence. In the final months dealing with health challenges, he never complained, never acknowledged any pain or difficulties, and honestly, you never would have known what he was dealing with until the last 2 weeks. He was always there for everyone else and in being “our rock”, it became clear to me what I needed to say.
I had previously hoped we could do or find some regimen to fight what cancer was doing to his body. In my prayers, I knew God was listening and hoped His answer would be ‘yes’. However, in that moment that night, I accepted what was to be so. And while holding and caressing dad’s hand, I leaned towards his ear and told him, “Daddy, it’s ok. You can let go..you can rest”. I imagined he would concerned about my mom and things she had been dealing with and I wanted to assure him. And then I told him, “I got this. We will be alright”.
..and two days later, he was gone.
I often don’t share in this way because of the positive and uplifting person I seek to be. Well, I’m sharing this other side of what it can be like to grieve or miss someone no longer being on this earth. One reason is because its real. Death and loss is at times very difficult and has long lasting impacts. It’s important to recognize, accept and embrace all shades and sides of it.
Typically, you will see me sharing even about this experience from a space of gratitude. I recognize we miss loved ones and long for them to be with us, but as I often say..my dad was God’s first and foremost. And I’m simply grateful He gifted my dad to me for the almost 40 years I was blessed to have him in my life. For that is time that I will always cherish.
Though this time of the year can be challenging in remembering this time 4 years ago, it pales in comparison to the the days, weeks, and years of time, experiences, words, memories shared with my dad. And if anything, out of respect to his legacy and being his child, his namesake, like him, I embrace that quiet strength that he always had. And I’m grateful to him for giving that to me…and so much more.
Over the last 12 years of racing triathlons, I’ve often spoken on my own experience of observing the transformation of individuals that participate in the sport now versus when I first started. Around 2007, it appeared there were very few individuals that looked like me that participated in triathlons. Though I was inspired by my college roommate and best friend, who is a powerful African American woman and now IRONMAN, in many of the races in which I competed, there were very few people of color.
In recent years, not just in the sport of triathlon, but also cycling, running, marathon racing, and even swimming, I’ve seen an incredible influx of people of color participating in these sports. And yet, one of the things that has been disturbing to me has been the representation or lack thereof in the depiction of them in these sports overall.
I’m very much self-motivated, so throughout the years, for me it has been about growing and improving in the sport of triathlon, while also inspiring and seeking to trail blaze by showing others, in particular African Americans and women, do swim, bike and run. I’m aware that others like me that are increasingly competing in marathons, triathlons, IRONMAN races, and more, however, why am I not seeing them depicted or celebrated, particularly in media outlets that cover these sports?
For 2019, some of the things I’m seeing and have become a part of speak to my desire for not just inclusion, but also honoring the variety and talent within these various sports.
This year I am a member of the ambassador team for Chicago Athlete Magazine, a publication that depicts, covers, and informs athletes and readers about various sports, races, events, training, groups, resources, and more in the Chicago-land area and beyond. Previously seeing limited depictions of athletes of color in various print and online media, being a part of this team fulfilled a deep set desire for me. I have embraced an increasing sense of responsibility for me to not just be a strong ambassador representing the magazine, but also an opportunity to emphasize what has been overlooked in the portrayal of the diversity of various sports.
In particular for the sport of triathlon, USA Triathlon released early this year their strategic plan for 2020. The plan includes a mission, vision, guiding principles, and areas, in which the organization seeks to focus and grow. Part of the growth area includes diversity and inclusion of the triathlon community of both women, as well as under-represented communities (of color and socio-economic status). It also seeks to explore outreach to communities or runners to increase their participation in the sport of triathlon.
As someone who has long wanted to see this, I find myself in the unique position to advocate for what USA Triathlon seeks to accomplish, as well as serve as an individual to promote representation as an ambassador for the sport. For me “diversity” & “inclusion” are not just a terms to give the appearance of embracing other people, but to truly seize, recognize, and showcase the talents and abilities of what is not the norm.
Time to Tri is a new initiative and strategic joint effort between USA Triathlon and IRONMAN, to grow the sport of triathlon by proactively recruiting and supporting athletes as they train for and compete in their first race.
I’m looking forward to continuing to inspire and bring new athletes to the sport of triathlon, but also to illustrate the transformation of the culture and participation within the sport, as well.
I was recently nominated to participate in a 10-Day Movie Challenge on Facebook by a college buddy. Ok, it’s taken a few weeks for me to have a moment to accept, but I thought to make this a post for a key reason. First, let me say that the challenge is to post 1 image per day for 10 days with no explanation from movies that had an impact on me, as well as to nominate someone else each day. After reflecting on a few movies, I decided to blog about it to share why I chose these movies, as most of them are symbolic in representing 1) my perspective on aspects of life, 2) people and things I’m passionate about, and 3) in some ways my personality and experiences. So, let me go ahead and jump in… (Note: these are in no particular order)
The Neverending Story
Including wanting to ride on Falcor myself, this movie was one of the most impressionable movies of my childhood. With so many impactful messages, even watching this as an adult, it proves to be inspiring. I recall as a child the story-line encouraging imagination and dreams, as well as, my love for reading. However, the underlying messages of “not giving up”, “knowing you are never alone”, “the power of spoken words and speaking it into existing”, and “doing whatever you dream” planted seeds in me.
This adaptation of the novel based on the life of Queen Jackson Haley, Alex Haley’s paternal grandmother has probably been one of the most profound movies to shape my perception of slavery’s impact and precursor to what we see today in the portrayal of black women, interracial relationships, and the black family dynamics. It is the reason why for the longest time I refused to watch the tv show Scandal, as well as other shows. It provided a baseline for my critique of the messaging and propaganda we see in media today, as well as the lack there of, of varying depictions of African American culture. Trust me we can have a real in-dept conversation about this movie and its correlation to society today.
When I was 16 years old, my interest in my family tree led me to become in some ways our family historian. Tracking and gathering information on cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents was something to which I was dedicated. A few years later, after watching Amistad and the connection to our homeland, it stirred a resurgence in my desire to see how far back I could go to track my family origins. The story of Cinque not only painted a picture for me of various countries involvement in the slave trade (Spain, England, Mexico, US) and the intertwining of people and cultures, African, Puerto Rican, Native American, African American, and more, but also instilled in me a desire to travel to Africa, specifically Ethiopia, to see and know more.
Not many know, but you can call out the conspiracy theorist in me because of this movie. JFK was eye-opening for me. After seeing it, I read and studied the book. This is one movie I had watched so many times thinking how could the American public at the time believe this “magic bullet” theory. And yet, it didn’t stop there. This movie launch my searches, viewing, and assessments of the killing of Dr. King, Malcolm X, Medgar Evars, Bobby Kennedy, and especially 9/11 documentaries and films. Thank you History Channel, A&E, PBS, Youtube, Netflix, and more. I guess there is no harm in posting, because I honestly believe the FBI/CIA track my online viewing anyway, so they know how many 9/11 and other documentaries I still watch to this day. And just so it’s stated, I’m not a terrorist or studying to be. I’m someone who seriously questions various entities in power, their motives, and their ability to act out hidden agendas, even if it means destroying vast numbers of people. I’ve grown skeptical of the management of our food industry, health industry, FDA, NCR and more, and it began with the film, JFK.
Hidden Colors I-IV
I’ve spent over the last almost 20 years reading books from historians, professors, lecturers, and more like, Josef Ben Jochannan, Chancellor Williams, Anthony Browder, Barashango, and others, after seeing how most of our history as Black people, especially that which illuminates our highest potential, was before slavery. Unfortunately, many of us are not aware, accepting or seeking that fact. The fact that we are still fed limited or misinformation in schools, as well as most representation and knowledge of a more complete picture of Black, African and African American history is not widely promoted, to see the release of Hidden Colors I, II, III & IV, I found to be a true treasure. For those that haven’t read such pre-mentioned books, this documentary series shines a light on many of the accomplishments, depictions, events, from “our” story and perception. Having had the opportunity to screen portions of the first of the series to a group of 7th graders was impactful for them to learn stories never shared with them before. It allowed them to learn how powerful of a people we have been, truly are, and can continue to be, yet in determining our future, we must know and embrace our past.
Jesus of Nazareth
To say that the story of our Lord and Savior is an epic one is an understatement, yet to have seen this movie depicting the life of one who I read about growing up left a significant imprint on my life. From biblical reading, to church bible study, to attending Catholic school from 1st through 12th grade, the film gave a powerful visual depiction of what I read & grew faith in since I was a child. It has served as a reminder of how much God loves us, his willing and sacrifice to become human to save us, the example he was/is, and the hope for days ahead and transition to after the journey of life on this earth is over. This movie is one I still watch from time to time to this day.
When you’ve known someone as multi-talented as Erica Faye Watson and have seen her accomplishments, you can’t help but say “yes, that is one dynamic woman, right there!” Entrepreneur, comedian, actress, director, writer, blogger, featured columnist and contributor are just handful of roles, she has held over the years.
First meeting Erica at the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign, even during undergrad years, she was wearing multiple hats. Juggling academics, while producing and directing shows, videos, and projects were an art form to a woman who would later venture out onto the national scene. As her career blossomed, in 2009, I had the pleasure of catching up with her and seeing her hilarious one woman show “Fat Bitch”, as she toured across the country.
In recent years, many recognize or know her from either her appearances on NBC’s “Chicago Fire,” Fox’s “Empire,” or her film credits including Spike Lee’s “ChiRaq” or the Oscar Nominated “Precious”. It’s delightful to see her in the mornings on ABC Chicago’s “Windy City Live”, where her personality, humor, and insight are true to the very woman she is. So, recently when she announced a knew endeavor, as always, I was excited to see what was to come.
This past November 2018, Erica launched a new make-up line entitled, fierce. She has introduced to the world an initial assortment of lip colors, highlighters and more. This past weekend I had a chance to try out her new line.
While at Nena’s Cosmetics in the Fashion Outlets of Rosemont, IL, I had the opportunity not just to get some goodies in person, but also to get a makeover and capture the look. Cicara, a wonderful and extremely talented & professional esthetician and Nena staff person, created this wonderful look for me.
I was so impressed with the fierce. line that I could not wait to share this. And as always when I see a sista doing amazing work, I can only imagine where Erica will take this new endeavor.
To check out or purchase fierce., visit: https://www.nenabrands.com/fierce-erica-watson
I often talk to my Black brothers, and no matter if single, married, divorced, young, or old, I’ve listened to them express feeling undervalued, ignored, hated, unsupported, and attacked. The way society and media in general often depict, negate, ignore & minimize them & their greatness has been something I often speak of and have been truly passionate about for years. I dare not make light of the plight of us women nor various issues that have plagued our communities, and yet it is not often enough that I see the championing of Black men.
Dedicated to the one who has been the most influential man in my life, my dad, Fred Holloway.
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?
Every year rather that making resolutions, I create & focus on commitments & goals I establish for the year. I read them at least monthly but more like weekly to check-in and see where I’m at, refocus, plan and take action to achieve them. Last year (2017) on of my goals was to improve my USA Triathlon ranking from 2016 State AG (age group): 49 and Region AG: 166.
Then I had my unfortunate bike accident that knocked out that possibility & made me ineligible for AG Nationals. This year I kept that same goal, but initially was focused on post-surgery healing, therapy and getting back into racing. I didn’t really feel that I improved much this year. I tried to accept that after an injury, it can take time. Yet I did come a long way and hit a few targets.
However, as I was recently updating my athlete CV, I checked my ranking and guess what?? For 2018, my rank is State AG: 23 and Region AG: 98! I’m so happy & excited to reach that goal this year!!
I wanted to share this for 2 reasons. One, to encourage any of you that despite setbacks, stay the course. It’s easy to be hard on ourselves, wane, give up, or not really even see what we have accomplished. (Because honestly even if I hadn’t improved my rank, I went from not being able to move my arm and get dressed in pain to getting back to swimming, biking, running and more). And the second reason..I’m keeping this goal for next year. So you all can keep me accountable and check back with me late 2019. I’m thinking to shoot for state AG TOP 10, BABY!!!
USAT rankings are available at: https://rankings.usatriathlon.org/Rankings/NationalRankings
Today, October 11, is the International Day of the Girl. Since 2011, this day has been observed as a day to empower, speak to, advocate for, and uplift girls and women. It is a day to create or increase awareness of gender equality, as well as the adversities that girls and women around the world face in today’s society. Using opportunities to demonstrate what girls and women stand form as well as creating relevant conversations and uplifting the female voice, while also being in ACTION is essential.
Here are videos featuring girls, young ladies, and women, where the question was asked “what key issue do you feel that girls and women face today is important to you and how do you feel you and others can address it?” View, share, and encourage dialogue not just today but moving forward to work towards resolutions and empowering our girls and women. And feel free to comment with an issue that speaks to you and what you can/will do to take action.
“Mistreatment of Women In the Middle East” – Anayah
“Women Being Targeted Sexually” – Jazmyne
“Respect/Discrimination In The Work Place” – Mikayla
“Body Image” – Tiffany Sharp
“Imagery In the Media” – Fredricka
I recently embarked on a 31-day “Self Love” Challenge, which has been pretty exciting. These types of challenges can embody pampering oneself, self-affirmations, ways to reinforce confidence, and a variety of other things. I decided to look at the ways that I show love and do things for other people (that I rarely do for myself) and do 31 things for me. I also invited others to join me or shared these to expand love to others. Demonstrating and truly showing myself love in action, words, deeds, and more has been uplifting. It is often said you cannot pour from an empty cup, so it’s important to pour into oneself and allow others to do so. As a result, we can then pour into others. I want to share that with you, for anyone else that may want to take this on.
Images from my 31-Day Self-Love Challenge: