One Woman’s Run to D.C. Women’s March Sparks a Domino Effect of Activism

I know I’ve been under the radar for a while. Did you think I ghosted you? I would never do that to you. I’ve just been caught up with the book. You know how it goes. I might have exciting news on that front soon, but I don’t want to jinx it so enough about that.

What I really want to talk to you about is this amazing woman I met. No, I’m not leaving my husband or switching sides or anything like that although that does seem to be going around, and it would be juicy, and if it comes to it, I’m not above creating some drama in my life so I can write a book about it and become a bestseller.

But this post isn’t about any of that. Let me get to the point.

After I attended the march in New York last Saturday, I raced to the T.V. the next morning and flicked on the news looking for reports about the events. I had to know everything. What happened in Washington? Who were all the speakers? What did Gloria say? Basically, after marching in New York, I wanted to attend the one in Washington via the T.V.

But I couldn’t find it. This was the largest march in U.S. history, and yet it was difficult to find coverage. How could that be? The news channels showed the same five pictures of the marches around the country (and around the world), but they showed no clips of anyone on the ground reporting on them or interviewing participants. The media only showed one two-second clip of Gloria Steinem and the same five-second clip of America Ferrera at the podium. Where was the rest of the event? What actually went on in Washington? What the hell did Gloria say?

There had to be something, I thought. It was inconceivable to me that such a historic event would garner such little coverage. I kept flipping through the channels until I landed on AM Joy on MSNBC where she had a woman on I’d never heard of before. The woman wasn’t a public figure or celebrity, but she was a serious activist in the women’s march so I was surprised I hadn’t seen any news coverage of her before.

This 31-year-old runner, Alison Desir, decided to run from New York City to the Women’s March in Washington D.C. to raise tens of thousands of dollars for Planned Parenthood. I slowly backed into a seat on the couch, never taking my eyes off the screen. I was mesmerized by this woman’s moxie, her fierceness. Here was a woman, just a regular person from Harlem, who woke up one morning and said, “You know what? I’m gonna run from here to D.C. and I’m gonna raise $44,000 while I do it, too.”

She could have been anyone, and that’s what struck me.

So many of us felt shock and despair after the election. We didn’t know how exactly to go about getting involved or what we could do to make a change. We felt powerless. What could just one person do after all? But Alison Desir is just one person, and this is what she did.

I was so impressed by her, I felt compelled to somehow meet her. So I contacted her. I arranged an interview to hear the whole story. I knew it would be uplifting and at a time with so many doubts as to the direction of our nation, I thought we could use a little of that. But the story, not just of Alison, but of all the people who came out to support her just kept getting better and better. In the face of all the negative news, I was actually hopeful again about our country and its citizens. Still, the whole time I couldn’t help from wondering, where was the national news coverage? Why wasn’t Alison’s face plastered across every newspaper and magazine cover? Why hadn’t we heard of her before? Might it be sexism? Might it be the very thing the March was designed to protect against?

More people needed to know about her. More people needed to hear this story. So please, if you’re feeling adrift after this election go read the article on Scary Mommy. You’ll feel different afterward.

Divine Messages

I’m not a religious person. But I believe in signs. Sent from God, a higher power, Allah, call it what you will. It’s all the same to me. Sometimes when I’m feeling lost I find messages meant, I believe, to keep me headed on the right path. They come when I’m desperate, unsure of what I’m doing, questioning my decisions, contemplating failure. Which is often. I received one such sign just the other day.

I was at the gym, which might seem like an unlikely place to receive messages from God, but actually it was rather well timed. I had set about following my New Years Resolution, which is to make a positive change for myself both mentally and physically in an attempt to achieve some sort of balance. Or at least counterbalance what I’m currently doing because that’s not working. Which is what I was doing at the gym.

I'm not a religious person. But I do believe in signs. Sent from God, a higher power, Allah, call it what you want. It's all the same to me. They come just when I need them.

I was on the elliptical watching the morning news and since my gym only gets about 5 normal channels in addition to their own Retro Gym channel, which is a complete waste of very limited options because who the hell watches a channel of the gym when you could just look up because you’re in the gym, I was stuck watching CBS. Not that I have anything against the CBS morning news per se. I’ve just never watched it before. Does anybody? That day, though, when CBS spread over the screen, the segment airing was about an Olympic athlete. I found the choice of topic somewhat odd given we were no where near Olympic fever yet, but either way CBS had Lolo Jones on the show. And Lolo spoke to me.

While I knew nothing of this woman and much of the discussion was about training, I continued to watch, mildly interested, because so often these things are inane PR pieces devoid of any substance. Still, any strong, confident women excelling in their fields or pursuing their goals with tremendous grit and determination, making names for themselves with their badassery, has my attention and respect. Lolo is one of them. She’s a track and field and bobsled athlete (because apparently one Olympic sport is not enough for this woman) who won US and World championships and went on to compete at three Olympics. Although she was a favorite to win, she failed to medal in her first Olympics, and in both subsequent Olympics. I didn’t know any of this, of course, until I watched the piece, and while I found it interesting, I wasn’t completely enamored with Lolo until the end of the interview when she was questioned about her motivation, what keeps her going and how she deals with vocal critics after making it to the Olympics three times and walking away without a medal. It was strange and unexpected, but her answer applied directly to me and my current situation. Apparently, training for an Olympic track event and writing are entirely similar.

I suppose this is true in the passionate pursuit of just about any difficult or lofty goal, but that day as I huffed breathlessly on the elliptical, contemplating my future, questioning myself, and looking for a reason to continue, I got my answer. This is what Lolo said:

When you’re pursuing a goal, you will fail. It’s part of the process. No one hits a home run the first time out. But carrying that negativity, that disappointment in yourself, that frustration with you will only taint your next attempt. The way forward is in adjusting your attitude. Look back at where you started. That first step you took when you had nothing, and remind yourself of everything you’ve achieved since. Everything you’ve built started with that initial step, from nothing. Rather than focusing on the failures, remind yourself of all you’ve accomplished and take pride in the obstacles you’ve overcome. And, perhaps most importantly, believe in yourself. Remind yourself, “I can do this.”

All this came from a woman with astounding achievements. She is a two time world champion, she’s the fastest indoor female runner in the world and she’s gone to the Olympics three times. How many people can say that? The fact that she didn’t medal does not detract from those achievements. With or without Olympic medals she’s incredibly accomplished. Of course having a medal would be the icing, but that’s all it is, a little bit of extra sweetness.

I need to remind myself of this daily. When I perpetually question and doubt myself, when feel overwhelmed and hopeless, when I’m dispirited, sometimes I sit at my desk and call up my blog. I gaze over the list of my writing. It’s physical evidence of my accomplishments. And it started with a blank page. I remind myself of that. I still hesitate to call myself a writer, and while I’ve been published in a book, I don’t feel like a real author. I’ve begun to doubt I ever will, but I have done something, some of it not too bad.

I'm not a religious person, but I believe in signs from above. They come just when I need them. @OneFunnyMotha
This is what it feels like.

That’s what I have to remember. Not what I haven’t done, but what I have. It’s still hard for me, but I’m trying.

If you like this (and even if you don’t because my essay in the book is nothing like this. It’s actually pretty funny) you will love my book, I STILL JUST WANT TO PEE ALONE, the third installment in The New York Times best-selling series from some of the funniest women on the web. For a good time get it on AmazonKindleiTunes and Barnes and Noble. I will love you forever. 

New Years Resolutions – Yea or Nay?

Do you believe in New Years Resolutions? I don't. Except for when they'll keep me from losing my ever loving mind like right now.

Don’t hate me because I made a New Years Resolution. It’s not like me, I know. I don’t like trite, inspirational phrases, and I don’t believe in New Years Resolutions.

Do people think there’s someone somewhere who doesn’t want to “live, love, laugh?” I want to live, love, laugh. But no one’s amusing me right now, Goddammit. Why is no one amusing me? Or, what about the saying, “Just breathe?” And then what, motherfucker? Turn right back around to all the problems you’ve been dealing with, which is the reason you can’t breathe in the first place? Or the best: “Live Simply,” which you’ll usually find printed on a bumper sticker attached to the back of a shiny, new Hummer. As if anyone anywhere except for maybe an agrarian society or the indigenous people of the Amazon are able to abide by this adage. As if we all don’t have mortgages and student loans to repay. Believe me, I want to live simply, but my kids, various doctors’ offices and the mortgage company are making that rather difficult for me right now.

So, no, I don’t typically see the point in making New Years Resolutions. Except on occasion. The occasion being when things have gotten so out of hand that a change is imperative to keep you for losing your goddamn mind.

Like now.

The thing is while I smirk at these simplistic, overly enthusiastic bits of advice, I realize I need them. I need to adjust my frame of mind. But perhaps I need the positive phrases packaged in a more cynical and sarcastic tone to really embrace and internalize them. I want to be positive. I just have a really difficult time with that.

But I’m trying. Which is why I drew up a New Years Resolution this year. I’ve needed it for some time, but with the new year approaching, I figured it was as good a time as any to make it official. I’ve written all about it on Romper so if you want to see how I plan to make some positive changes without losing my cynical edge (and you can, too!), go on over and take a look. Plus, I included a really awesome gif in there of a cat maniacally typing on a laptop. It’s my spirit animal.

Don’t forget. If you like this you will love my book, I STILL JUST WANT TO PEE ALONE, the third installment in The New York Times best-selling series from some of the funniest women on the web. For a good time get it on AmazonKindleiTunes and Barnes and Noble. I will love you forever.