Doin’ My Thang

Elliot Bay, Seattle. Look closely, you may find a man in a tracksuit sitting on a stoop

The sun is shining over Seattle as I walk through downtown toward Pike Place Market. Feeling good, I occasionally point my face to the morning glow, while soaking in the beauty of Elliott Bay as I stroll down Stewart St.

I approach 2nd Ave,  and hear a voice to my right. I turn to see who is speaking to me. An older man sits near the entry of a big, grand apartment building on the corner. 

In a deep, growly, bluesy voice I hear “Keep on doin’ your thang, baby grrrrl!”

He is wearing a Burgundy velour Adidas tracksuit with white tennis shoes. He has a black Kangol hat turned backwards on his graying head. He wears a big grin as I strut by. 

Out of my mouth comes “Thank you! I will!” as I pass him and his friends who I finally notice are playing cards at a small folding table near the stoop.

I am grinning ear to ear as I proceed to “keep on doin’ my thang”.

I realize those words may not not have exactly been intended as encouragement – perhaps more of a comment of my confident strut down the street that day, but it has never left my head when I need to keep moving forward.

The encounter with that gentleman happened several years ago, but I use it as a mantra when I am struggling, whether it be mentally or more recently, physically.

In the past few weeks, I have finally recovered enough from a nasty bout of Plantar Fasciitis to try a bit of running. 

Running has always been my church, my therapy, my zen. So it’s been a mind-fuck to not have the one thing that keeps me going in every way. Anyone who knows me well knows I ain’t got time for bullshit. I HATE that I can’t just jump right back into running a breezy 5 miles at a 9:40per mile pace.

I feel like I am constantly recovering. Always in recovery mode. I never feel fully healed from ANYTHING. including a radiated ‘breast’ that hates me.

Enough is enough. I WANT TO RUN. I fire up my running app and head out. I realize at mile 1 that I am a sloth. By mile 2, I might as well be running backwards. 

My whole body is slow, my pretend boob hurts inside my sports bra. I am cursing myself and feeling down about losing so much ground, so to speak. 

My mind is filling with negative thought. I worry I will never get back to the physical strength I possessed before all of this breast cancer nonsense. All the surgeries, chemo, radiation, drugs, aches and bullshit that have left me feeling lesser-than.

“Keep on doin’ your thang, baby grrrrl!”

Wait. Where is that coming from?

I put one slow foot in front of the other and hear it again. 

I realize it’s coming from inside my head. Somehow my subconscious knew I needed to hear the words of a dude channelling the vibe of Samuel L. Jackson, who randomly gave me the best mantra ever.

And it works.

I lift my head, forgive myself for what I should actually blame breast cancer for, and finish my 2 ½ mile run at a very slow 11:43 pace. 

I dig deep once again for forgiveness from myself.

This baby grrrrl will keep on doin’ her thang.