Wedding Venue Teaser!

I think I may have found a wedding venue.  But sorry guys, no pictures in this post, at least not until my fiancé sees it.  But let me bring you on this journey I’ve been on for the last few weeks or so.

Austin and I got engaged in July, and very soon after, my grandmother died, and my mom was very ill, so we really just not have begun some of the planning we need to do before we get married next year.

So you do the thing.  You go to all the venues you’ve seen folks getting married at, you take suggestions, and you visit all the venues on your list.

The photos.

The pictures of the place on the website will almost always be deceiving.  Beautifully lit, a white couple dancing happily while all of their white friends dance about.  And then you pull up to the venue.  “This….is it? Are you sure we’re at the right place hon?”

The visits. 

We visited a few venues.  There was the venue where the chain-smoking coordinator pranced out of the women’s bathroom with still-wet hands.  Declining to shake my hand, she gestured grandly to the room, which looked like a high-school auditorium, and she referred to it as having a “country-club feel”.  There was a stain on the carpet.  A large, mysterious stain.  This perhaps, was a country club in hell.  But not for our wedding.

I spoke with a woman who was nonchalant about the $20,000 food minimum we’d have to hit on a Saturday evening.

visited a restaurant where I’m pretty sure the guy I was speaking with was high as a kite.  Didn’t do a whole lot to make my comfortable about our big day.

And I visited a place where the woman, a “close-talker” breathed her cigarette-breath in my face the entire meeting.  Would should be breathing on my guests in this same manner?

Last night. 

I pulled up to the venue.  The venue actually looked like the pictures.  (Point)  This was new!  I toured the facility, where I was greeted by a jolly guy with a southern accent.  (Another point)  He was playing John Legend’s new album over the speakers.  (Yet another point) And I began to visualize myself getting married there.  Bingo.  Just to make sure, I drove to Elon and went for a run around campus to make sure I still loved it, to mull it over.  I still did.  And Elon’s campus was gorgeous, even despite the fact that it was dark.  Next step?  Get approval from the fiancé, and make this thing official! Pics to come!

Destination Run – Elon Univeristy!

So yesterday, I went to see my friend in the bustling metropolis of Burlington, NC to see him in The Music Man.  Great show.  Great music.  Good-looking cast.  Absolutely bizarre ending.  You know what I mean if you’ve ever seen it.

Music Man

So I decided to do a “destination run” thing to change my long run Sundays up. That always seems to put a little extra pep in your step, and I finished 10 miles a little faster than the last few weeks have allowed me too. I found myself at my old gorgeous alma mater, Elon University, and something about being back in my old place gave me a little extra runner’s magic.

Marathon Hair

First, I had to decide on my hair. You guys know, my hair that keeps growing and getting heavier by the minute, had caused me a little stress during this marathon prep. So I called on my good friend Kerri Walsh to inspire a hair style, and as always, she came through.  My stuff’s too thick for a braid, but I enlisted the help of a highly specialized device created by Scunci to help me maintain the overall look.

Kerri

Thanks, Doll! You’re the greatest!

Elon

This is Elon.  The photo, that I took as I did my first loop through campus, simply doesn’t do the University, or the spirit of the University, any justice.  Elon is literally a botanical garden, and the facilities are to die for.  The blue of the sky?  We always have it.  On orientation weekends, it’s said that Jesus smiles, so birds sing, the swans come out, and the food in the dining halls is actually good.  I remember days where it had just snowed, and the sky looking like that less than a day after.  I almost went to University of Pittsburgh, and after laying eyes on Elon, I decided that that was where I was going to end up.  I don’t think I’d be half the person I was without what I was taught here.

Elon House

I ran past this little house I lived in after my senior year with Emily Main, still to this day one of the sickest roommates ever.  Right behind  this house was the house belonging to my acapella group where I spent most of my junior and senior year Saturday nights.

I also discovered (as you do when you run a place instead of rushing around everywhere in your car) that Elon also houses a forest?!  How in the heck did I miss that one?

Anyhoo, try this if you’re feeling a little bored with your running routine.  If you’re going out of town, like to the beach or to do laundry at your parents’ house (guilty!) map a run in an area you’re pretty sure is safe, but new to you!

Is working out for White people? (hint:nope)

What a lucky week!  We have not one, but two guest bloggers this week!  Let me start by introducing our topic.  ::sips Crystal Lite:: Ahem.

I’m training for a marathon (number 27 of the list of “Stuff White People Like”).  And I get mostly encouragement from my friends and family, but I get the occasional hate from folks, and a whole heck of a lot from other black women.  Saying I’m crazy, saying I work out too much, and that I’m too thin.  But for doing a seemingly good and healthy thing for myself, I’m getting a lot of discouragement.  So the past few weeks on the road, on the treadmill, and in the studio, I’m looking around, and I seem to be in the minority in these places.  And according to stats on obesity, it looks like I’m right, we (black women) are not doing a whole lot of working out.  So I asked Facebook, I asked Huffington Post, and I asked my pretty friend Theresa what the deal is.  Why are we (black women) in the minority at the gym and in races?  Why is the gym so white?  Why don’t black women work out?

Helmer Graduation

T: “I’m not sure how many times I’ve heard/read that black women don’t work out. Countless times I’m sure.  But I’ve never really understood it because for me personally, and all the black ladies I know, this isn’t necessarily a reality.

After reading an article from Huffington Post, (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/06/black-women-exercise-hair-bronner-brothers_n_1747535.html),  and seeing a few threads on reddit

(http://www.reddit.com/r/blackgirls/comments/140cp8/workouts_fitness_classeswhat_do_you_recommend/

http://www.reddit.com/r/blackgirls/comments/13hbjk/do_black_girls_work_out/

http://www.reddit.com/r/blackladies/comments/16ndkm/exercise_and_hair_where_do_you_fall_in_this/)

I wanted to say my piece:

This whole ‘black women don’t do exercise because of their hair’ is a tired narrative, y’all.  I mean I get it, our hair requires a different kind of maintenance and products than advertised in our society, therefore people think we have the short end of the stick in the appearance and hair department (we don’t, IMO).  I don’t want to go on a hair rant because I’m here to talk about my experience and observation as a black lady who exercises.  I started swimming in the 1st grade and did so competitively until 10th grade.  During this time (3rd grade-10thgrade) I was getting my hair chemically straightened and I would blow dry my hair and straighten it every time I swam.  It’s honestly a wonder I even had a hair on my head with all that chemical damage, but I digress.  After I quit swimming, I took up working out at the gym.  Nothing deterred me because I viewed physical fitness as part of my life and something that everyone in my family was always interested in.

After reading through those reddit posts, it seems that many women are interested in exercising whether it is running, classes, or sports.  The main thread throughout is like I said above, exercising isn’t viewed as a priority.  And until it is, I feel we’ll still be here spinning our wheels and waiting for some different result (that really won’t happen unless there’s some sort of grassroots effort).

My expert opinion? It’s really not all that serious.  People are making all these excuses for black women not exercising like hair and other appearance factors when I personally think it has everything to do with cultural indoctrination that exercising isn’t fun or it’s too hard AND that it would seem that some black women don’t have support systems encouraging health and fitness.  Without someone laying the foundation in the home, how is the idea supposed to diffuse amongst the general population?”

Theresa makes some excellent points.  As a woman who exercises, she doesn’t feel that the hair thing is a good excuse.  I’m honored to have perspective from another woman of color.

Here a few bullets from other ladies that we’ve gleaned from our research.

Black women don’t exercise because:

  • They think exercise is for white people.  Yoga, Pilates, and Zumba are perceived as being for skinny white girls. Not so, but that’s the perception.
  • Like we said before, the hair thing.  They don’t want to spend a ton of money on their hair on Saturday to sweat it out in my Zumba class on Monday. (I hope everyone recognizes that this particular line of reasoning means you’re choosing your hair over wellness)
  • Exercise isn’t viewed as being valuable.  Why go work out when you can go home and take a nap instead.
  • Exercise sucks/hurts (but you feel so good after)!
  • Black culture reveres a more curvy shape. Being thin is not necessarily considered a good thing.  And working out may cause you to lose your shape.  (You can still have a nice shape if you work out).
  • Exercise wasn’t a thing in a lot of our households! I grew up mainly in the suburbs.  But a lot of minorities and a lot of people with lower SES status live in areas without yards, sidewalks, YMCAs, and all the other good stuff that cultivates a good relationship with diet and exercise.

Long story longer, four out of five African-American women are overweight or obese. In 2010, black women were 70 percent more likely to be obese than their white counterparts, according to the US Department of Health.  That’s bad.  That’s really bad. Obesity influences rates of cancer, Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attack, high cholesterol, and hypertension.  All that to avoid sweating for an hour a day?  Not really worth it.

So here’s the deal.  Just…MOVE.  You don’t have to run a marathon to get the bennies and perks of working out.  Walk!  Dance!  If you like to shovel, shovel your way to fitness, I don’t know.  The point is, get moving so we’re not suffering all for the sake of a good perm.

Guest Blogger

Me and Ashley

The beautiful young woman pictured to my right is one of my best friends in the entire world, Ashley Little.

We met freshman year at Elon University, and it has been nothing short of a pleasure to be her friend.  Ashley Little is beautiful, smart, like-minded, hardworking, and did I mention, beautiful?  And I am honored to have her guest blogging here today.  Ashley, who is also a wonderful writer, honored me by speaking on why Haiti still needs our help.

“You might say that the tiny nation of Haiti was born out of struggle.

In 1804, after a bitter, long fought battle, Haiti became the first black republic to declare its independence. Sadly, the country (the poorest in the western hemisphere) has been plagued by political, social, and economic turmoil ever since.  And in January 2010, it was dealt yet another devastating blow: A 7.0 earthquake descended violently upon Haiti, leaving behind an unimaginable, and catastrophic path of destruction.

In the days and weeks to come, the worst earthquake to hit Haiti in 200 years became a fixture in national news.  And the global response, (particularly in terms of humanitarian aid) was extraordinary. But even a natural disaster of this magnitude proved to have a short shelf life, quickly fading from the public conscience.

Amongst all of the rubble, Haiti is a country of endless beauty; manifested especially in the resilience, and optimism of its people. However, there is still much work to be done:

40 % of the 10 million people in Haiti do not have access to clean water. (source: http://www.waterandhealth.org)

Cholera is rampant, and has claimed over 7,000 lives while afflicting 6 percent of the population.

Hundreds of thousands of Haitians remain housed in camps and otherwise overcrowded, and deplorable conditions.

(sources: http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/news/article.cfm?id=6362&cat=field-news)

Out of struggle and tragedy also comes triumph.  And together, we can continue to rebuild, and restore Haiti. They are still in dire need of our help today.  Let’s start one mile at a time.”