When I think of Black History Month, I usually think about historical figures who made a difference in the abolishment of slavery or during the civil rights movement, but there is so much going on right now that in our culture to divide us that I want to highlight a few African American women who are inspiring us all in the Olympics.
The inspiration for this post came from Erin Jackson. Have you heard of her yet? I just watched her in the 500m speed skating event, and even though she is currently in 14th place, let me tell you why she is so amazing. Guess when she started speed skating? September. Yep - just 4 months before she made the Olympic team. She has been an inline speed skater for years, but she hadn't put speed skates on until September. That is just incredible! I love that she was willing to go for it too. So many would have probably never dared to dream they might be able to pick up another sport and excel at it (let alone excel so quickly)! I want to dream with that kind of audacity.
Lauren Gibbs is part of a 2-woman bobsled team, along with Elana Meyers Taylor, and is making her Olympic debut. After playing volleyball at Brown University, she earned an MBA from Pepperdine. She then left a sales job to try bobsledding. She said, "You have to find what you’re really passionate about, throw yourself into it, and focus on those small wins." I love that she said "small" wins because sometimes it's easy to get discouraged when those bigger wins seem far away or as if they'll never come. It's so important to have those short term goals in addition to the long term goals so we enjoy the journey and the process as much as the outcome.
Finally, I couldn't leave out the hometown gal, Aja Evans. She's from Chicago and in addition to her bobsledding career, she's a spokeswoman for Olay beauty products. She has been open about how she wasn't always secure with her athletic body-type, but that once she started to embrace who she is, she began to feel empowered. " The attractiveness comes from that confidence, from being in love with who you are, regardless of what size it is." Amen, sister! What a beautiful role-model she is! Aja already has a bronze medal from Sochi, and has high hopes for Pyeongchang. We'll be cheering her on!!