Not For the Weak Stomached or Minded 💪🏾

I’m way too hard on myself. I am my toughest critic! I’m sure many people can say this about themselves. But I’m like really REALLY hard on myself. I expect greatness at all times! I know my strengths and how far I can push myself to achieve greatness. I’m an athlete so this is second nature to me. I’m on a new path in life, and I’m actively making some conscious decisions to change to live a healthier lifestyle. And one of my choices happened this morning.

I called out of work today. For some, this isn’t anything special. People call out of work all they time. I legitimately don’t feel well. It’s not the flu nor a head cold. I’m not dying and I can walk, so why did I call out today? My f’ing PERIOD! Damn my bad, that was kinda rude to just hit y’all with it like that! So let me give you a headsup, this will be a blog about my body, my menstrual period, and other feminine issues. If you ain’t about that life, I understand if you tap out now!

Now what was I saying again?! Oh yeah, I called out from work today because of my period. Now before the judgemental side eyes start, let me go back and explain somethings. I didn’t get my period until the summer going into my freshman year of high school, I was 13. For the most part, my periods have never really bothered me physically. I’ve ALWAYS bled REALLY heavy, but I figured out how to layer up and change out every 30-40 minutes. I understand now that this may not be common, but I’ve been dealing with my cycle for the past 19 yrs so I’ve figured out some life hacks. But for the most part I don’t have any crazy stories about having to miss school because of cramps or any other menstrual symptoms.

Growing up, I was extremely active in sports. As a teen my doctor once told me this was the reason I didn’t have bad symptoms. I didn’t fully understand it, but would thank God that I didn’t have bad cramps! In school I knew some girls that were out of school every month because of their cycles. In my younger, super naive and judgemental mind I would call these girls weak! I didn’t understand their pain. For the most part I just bleed way too heavy which only granted me some me pretty embarrassing moments. But for the most part, outside of the bleeding and occasional mood swings, I was good. Because my period never hit me that hard, there have been times in my past, I’ve been extremely desensitized to what women actually go through…. Until now!

I will never forgot the change. It was a late Spring night. A group of us were packed in my ball sister Frenchie’s car headed to play open gym. Sidebar: We used to have some EPIC battles at Rahway Open Gym, I digress. Somehow we start comparing “Period” stories. My naive ass was in awe of the stories my basketball sisters were telling! I had never experienced any of this growing up. I would often call girls who complained about their periods WEAK! Shame on me. I remember Frenchie saying “Just wait until 25”. I was 24 at the time, and didn’t believe the hype. But oh hunnie, when 25 hit, my body definitely decided against my will to shift!

It seemed as if I started bleeding even heavier and all of a sudden I started having crazy painful Cycle Symptoms! Extrem fatigue, back pains, bad cramps, dizzy spells, the works! I tired for the first two months, to woman up and take it like it was. But bye! I couldn’t take it anymore, plus I had full Heath insurance so I went to my OBGYN. Of course her reason was because I wasn’t as physically active any longer, my body was changing. She said some other things but ultimately she convinced me to go on birth control. We decided the Ring would be the best way for me to go. At first the ring was cool, my flow was light for the first time in my life! I had gone from five heavy days to only three! I’m on a high again, I had mastered the period game once again, back on my grind.

Fast forward a few yrs to this morning. No longer on birth control, laying in my bed in bloody pain, calling out of work. How the hell did I get here again? I thought I’d figured this thing out. How am I this weak, to call out of work because of a period? As I’m disappointedly asking myself all these questions, I check myself! ‘Jada Girl Bye, you are human. It’s ok’ I tell myself. This is life, this is the moment I am currently faced with. I have two choices at this point. I could try and be Super Woman again today, push my body passed this pain, pop MORE pain killers. Go to work and unproductively get all my cases done or I could take a day.

As you already know, I choose the latter. So as I’m soaking in my jacuzzi tub, with a hot cup of tea after placing my soiled sheets and pjs in the washing machine, I breathe. This is not the end of my word, I am not a WEAK woman who can’t handle a “simple period”. I am a conscious woman who now understands that I must respect my body in order to maintain a healthy mind, spirit and lifestyle! As long as I’ve grown and learned from this experience, I have overcome a huge mental battle. Im good, I will live to fight another day!

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Why EspnW’s “Be Honest w/ Cari Champion” featuring Sage Steel Interview Was Needed

“I would watch Sports center specifically for you. I would root for you silently.” Cari Champion told Sage Steele this week during her podcast ‘Be Honest with Cari Champion’. Steele and Champion were able to finally sit down during the 6th annual espnW Summit. Champion welcomed fellow ESPN journalist Sage Steel for one of the most powerfully honest, and empowering interviews between two African-American women to date. Can I quickly state how FAB both women are and look. Clearly, looking a both women, BLACK DON’T CRACK, and if this is what I can look forward to at 40, I can NOT wait.

For those who don’t know who these dynamic women are, here is some background. Cari Champion was hired by ESPN back in 2012 as a co-host on ESPN2’s ‘First Take’ along side Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless. In June of 2015, Champion was promoted as an anchor for Sports Center. Stage Steele began her ESPN career in 2007 as an anchor for Sports Center. In 2013 Steele became the first female full time host of NBA Countdown. Steele has been the MC of the espnW Summit for the past 5 years.

During this amazing interview, both women let their hair down and got real about a few issues within the “business”. To begin, Steele explains the significance of espnW and the espnW Summit. “It isn’t this feminist movement. It’s hey little more- ok a LOT MORE recognition deserved in front of the camera, behind the camera, corporate boardrooms”.  Champion chimes in “espnW has been able to give women who don’t necessarily have a voice, a voice”. She goes on to say, “We all had something to say. And it wasn’t like we never had anything to say, we had something to say, No One Asked Us.” Both women took the time to give props to ESPN and the men who have helped supply a platform for espnW.

Later during the interview, Steele got extremely personal and honest. Following a question as to why she thinks her and Champion’s relationship didn’t take off from the first meeting, Steele responds “I actually have always had a fear that other black women didn’t think I was black enough”. For Steele who’s mother Mona is white and father Gary Steele, who was the first African-American to play varsity football at West Point during the mid 1960s, it hasn’t always been easy. Steele explains that her insecurity which lead to her reservations, began in college. Steele’s husband is a white man, and has been told that she is a “sell out” by both black men and women alike.

In a move which ignited my inner Emmy Taraji P. Henson, Champion apologized for all the hurt and pain Steele had endured from other black people. Champion goes on to state,”…I’m very much aware of the fact of who I am. I wear my brown with so much pride.  I am so happy to be an African-American woman. Standing in front of you today on Sports Center, I love everything it represents”.

Through out the rest of the podcast, Champion and Steele discuss their bond and respect for each other as two African-American women doing their thing in an industry which still in a way shun women. Side note, I love how the women explain their relationship with fellow ESPN journalist Jamele Hill. I could totally see Ms. Hill rolling up on both women like “you are going to be my friend”. This interview was so necessary, for not only African-American women, but women in general. The respect and encouragement displayed not only through this podcast but via Periscope as well, demonstrates that the women of SPN are some pretty classy women. We need to stick together and uplift one another through life. Weather on ESPN, in the White House, in Cororporate America, or simply in our own local communities, WE ARE OUR SISTER’S KEEPER!

Check out full interview here. 

How I Found Life Through My Sister’s Journey and Passing From Cancer

It’s been an emotional two weeks for me. Last week was one of the most draining and emotional weeks I’ve had at my job in a very long time. I am a social worker, and now that I am a processor, I love my job. I am grateful for it. I go to work, put my music on, and process paperwork. For the most part I love it because it is peaceful, and with the new changes in Medicaid, and President Obama’s Obamacare, in my own little way I am able to help thousands of people be able to obtain medical coverage. I’m also learning to be positive and thankful for what God has blessed me with. With all this being said, last week, my spiritual guard was down and I allowed some negativity to get me off track. My job can be very stressful and some of the people can be very negative. I am learning that I have to work extra hard to keep negative vibes and people away from my spirit and mind. Last week I didn’t do so well. I am human, I had a bad week, I almost allowed situations and certain persons make me feel like I am the worst person in the world. I almost allowed the devil to get in my head and have me on the road of negative thoughts about myself, but then God sent a reminder through my now angel in heaven Alaia Robinson.

Last Friday, I came home and instantly laid down for a nap. Like I stated earlier I was seriously drained, it was a VERY long week. I figured if I just closed my eyes, and slept it off with a quick nap, I could wake up refreshed and get some other work done. Although I managed to get a nap in, I was awaken by a thunderstorm. Like most people now a days, the first thing I did was roll over and checked my phone. ‘One missed call from Aliyah, ok I will call her back in a few. Text message from Frenchie “Hey Sis, Alaia isn’t doing well”. Damn it, ok so now I understand Aliyah’s call’. For some reason I subconsciously didn’t respond to Frenchie’s text. I think for me, had I responded via text in writing, that would have made her comment too real to me.

I opted to called Aliyah back. As we spoke about our basketball sister Alaia we shed some tears. I switched up the convo and tried to bring light to a sad situation, trying to convince myself more than Aliyah that God is in control and we have to trust His plans. By the end of the convo it was agreed that we would be going to go visit Alaia the following morning. Before hanging up, Aliyah and I told each other we loved each other, something we don’t say often but its understood. The following morning, about 6 of us hopped into a couple of cars and rolled to Alaia’s hospital room in Manhattan. We do this often, usually about 5 or more deep. We simply go spend time with our sister. The bond I have with my basketball sisters is amazing and such a blessing. It’s amazing that we are all connected through basketball, a simple round object, a game that has tied us together since childhood, and which has bounded us all as family now as adults. We grew up playing with and against each other. We all went away and came back and still play with each other throughout the years. My Jersey basketball sisters are an amazing group of women. We honestly are a family and I love each and every one of them, through good, bad, and ugly.

For me, this particular Saturday was a little different from past trips I’ve made. This was my first time meeting some of Alaia’s extended family members. We all spent about 5 hours in the room as we usually do, with Alaia coming in and out of convo from sleep. We laughed, we spoke politics, sports, life, lessons, religion, goals, and our love for Alaia. Doctors and nurses came in and out all day, and it amazed me that even in Alaia’s physical state, which wasn’t good, she still managed to ask each doctor, and nurse how they were doing. On the few occasions when we as a group had to leave the room so the doctor’s could do their thing, upon our return, Alaia would ask for each of us. It was like she wanted to simply put her eyes on us, or wanted to check and see if we were ok and still there. We shared so much love in that room, and by the end of the visit I felt I had gained more family.

Leaving that hospital, again I was reminded of strength. I made a mental note, ‘Ok Jae, if Alaia can find a way to keep fighting and stay so positive and upbeat through her pain and cancer, surely you can’. I was ready to take on the week. The following Monday October 12, 2015 was the year anniversary of my friend Aki Jones’ passing. It was an emotional day but with the conscious reminder of Alaia’s light, and my little cousin Chevie and home girl JD, they helped me get through the day. A brief catch up for those of you who may not follow me on social media, and don’t understand the dynamic person Aki Jones was. He was this larger than life man literally and figuratively. Aki and I went to Fordham University together. He was a beast on the football field and an comically cool asshole off. He was an amazing person and great friend. Aki Jones is another significant young person in my life, who daily helps remind that life and short and I should never take it for granted. Fast forward to Wednesday October 14, 2015 a little after 10pm, as I’m leaving a get together at my Fordham team-mate Lara’s home, I get the call that Alaia passed.

I’m not totally sure that it has really hit me that I will not be able to see this amazing woman ever again, but I thank God that she is with Him. I thank God that my sister is no longer in pain. She fought an amazing fight against cancer. Well over 3 years of pushing through. The light she gave me will help illuminate my darkest days. Although I am nowhere near where I want to be, Alaia Robinson has shown me what it truly means to be a fighter. She has shown me how to appreciate life. Although my current career as a Family Service Worker is not my ideal career, I will thank God for it and continue to do my work to help change the world.

There were a few times during Alaia’s battle with cancer, that her medical coverage was cut. Times when she couldn’t come into the office to do paper work to reinstate her medical because she was literally in the hospital fighting for her life. I never personally handled Alaia’s case because this would be a conflict of interest in which I could lose my job. However, I thank  God who trust and bless me with the job and knowledge of who and what needed to be done to help Alaia. I take my job seriously. Everyday I have the opportunity to help a person who may not have had medical coverage for years because of whatever reasons. Through an my angle Alaia Robinson, I have learned to push through, to be in the present instead of stressing my past mistakes. I have learned to appreciate the now, and the time we have on this earth. I am not the best person in the world when it comes to reaching out to friends and family, but I understand quality time. Quality Time is definitely my strongest Love Language. Alaia Robinson, Aki Jones, and Charlie Slade are a few phenomenal people who came and went too soon. They all help motivate me to be my best and continue to push through even when I feel like I’m not where I’m supposed to be.

I will never understand why it had to be them. And although it hurts like hell our loved ones may no longer be physically walking with us on this earth, we must not forget to thank God for the time we have together and the lessons we can all learn from each other and every situation.