So it's June… another month with all the feels.
My deceased grandfather's birthday is June 1st. Two of my cousins died on June 2nd. My deceased grandmother's birthday is on June 3rd. My daughter died by suicide on June 29th, 2011. My great aunt also died on June 29th, thankfully of old age. And one of my favorite aunts that passed this year well, her birthday is June 29th.
Another year with Juneteenth as an official holiday! I even have two gigs related to Juneteenth! Lots of ups and loads of downs.
And then every year (in May or June) I do this walk. It's called the Overnight Walk. It is sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). It's not just any walk. I've mentioned it before. We walk 16 to 18 miles overnight. It starts at dusk and it finishes somewhere around 4 in the morning depending on how quickly you walk.
I started volunteering with AFSP in 2009 after my daughter's first suicide attempt. #siwelives
For many reasons, I was not looking forward to the walk this year. It's a L O N G walk. I feel like I'm out of shape. I have arthritis in both feet and one shoulder. I'm heavier than I would like to be and just didn't feel physically prepared. However, this was my 10th year walking and I really wanted to be there. I went.
A good friend of mine let me stay at her place. It was like a sleepover with her, her husband and her mom before and after the walk.
I packed light and I took the bus from NYC to DC. I was concerned about the bus ride but it was the most affordable way. I bought TWO seats on the bus going and coming back so I wouldn't have a concern about who I was sitting next to. I was able to get assigned seats and make sure I was in the second or third row of the bus.
I packed snacks. I had headsets and music. No drama for me. Round trip that worked out. Whew!
Every year on the walk I give myself permission NOT to finish it and I do finish it. I walk slow. I walked when I could. I took breaks when I needed to.
Do you remember me talking about my soundtrack? Well, the last four miles started somewhere around 2 in the morning. I was T-I-R-E-D. Then this great idea to put on soca music came to me!!! Specifically, "Differentology (Ready for the Road by Bunji Garlin)." Have you ever heard that song? Have you ever been to Carnival? Think of it. Hundreds of people dance and sing for miles and hours through the day through the heat and sometimes overnight. Same same! I was shocked I had never thought of it before. I literally danced through the finish line.
It was the most amazing perspective shift!
Began with: I don't want to do this. I want to get on a “sweep.” Somebody can drive me to the end and I'll wait for the opening ceremony. Maybe I'll just go home and then I'll take a cab back for the opening ceremony which doesn't start till 5:15 and it's like 2 in the morning. I'm gluten-free and I'm eating stuff that in theory I shouldn't be eating and will get rashes on my skin. (We'll talk more about that in another time.)
Ended with: Every time I saw somebody that I hadn't seen and just looking at the people and the beads that they were wearing and reading their t-shirts and knowing who they were walking for, it was so beautiful. Even as I'm writing to you, I'm almost in tears with the memory of how special it was and I'm excited about next year.
Time to be perfectly transparent and vulnerable. Even as the chief joy connector, sometimes there are things that I do, that I don't want to do. I have to shift my perspective too.
While staying with my girlfriend and talking to them, her mother shared about the different people she knew that had been suicidal or died by suicide. Even her husband had lost a boss to suicide. So the more we talk through these uncomfortable conversations, the more we learn. I'm always so touched when people share their vulnerability about what they have experienced and how they got through it.
I took a LOT of pictures. These are just a few, and each one has story I could tell.
In summary, I'll come back to what I always say in my book and in my talks, joy is your birthright and transformation is possible.
This story is one long example of that.
I hope you have thought of a few ways you have had (or desire) a perspective shift. I would love to hear from you. I love knowing you are reading these emails and get value from them.
Author, Coach & Chief Joy Connector
P.S. If you're on social media, hopefully you'll check out my Tuesday Teas. I do a live, every Tuesday about 3pm on Instagram.
Oh yeah, there are still a couple more beds left for the retreat this weekend.
You should listen to the last podcast I was on, Our Body Politic, Finding Joy in Wellness at Every Age. I generally update my linktree with those links as they are done. Here's the link.
And if you want to hear me speak live, you can register for this pre Juneteenth event.