When I open my eyes most mornings, I blow God a kiss, and then my mind starts racing. What time is that planning meeting today? Wonder if the Bucks won that game last night. Oh, I forgot to put eggs on my shopping list. I’ve got to remember to take my vitamins today. Did I remember to text him back? What’s today’s date? Do I have any clean gym clothes? Is it too cold to go to the gym? My friend popped into my dream, better check on her. Do I have any cash on me to pay for parking? Ugh! It’s nonstop.

Can you relate? 

Just this morning I caught myself on that spinning wheel of thoughts and nearly missed the sun shining through the edges of my curtains.

I bet many are saying: Yvette, you better slow down and take care of yourself!

OK, OK! I’m listening.

I know if I don’t it will affect my health. In fact, it has already a time or two. I woke up in the ER with vertigo, and nearly passed out from exhaustion behind my desk months later. The worried expressions from colleagues, as they stood over me laid out on my office floor, spoke volumes. 

Let me explain why I work so hard and put myself last. I’m the eldest in the family and have been raised to set a good example with my life. Secondly, as a Black women, it feels like society watches everything I do. From what we wear to the words that speak. Although it’s often unsaid, I shoulder the burden of representing Black women in a professional and positive light.

Lastly, statistics show that while Black women make up 7.4% of the U.S. population, we only hold 1.6% of VP roles and 1.4% of C-suite roles. According to IBM, nearly 1 in 3 Black women feel they are less empowered and supported to overcome professional challenges than the general population, as compared to just 7% of white women. The mentorship gap: Younger Black women have gained far fewer benefits from formal mentorship than their older counterparts.

A Pew Research Center study found the number of female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies reached an all-time high of 7.4% in 2020, with 37 women heading major firms. No Black or Hispanic women head Fortune 500 companies, while three Asian American women serve as CEOs. 

I say all of this to say, this is why I soldier on. Hoping to shatter barriers.

But I have to be healthy to do it. Right?! Right.  I’m back in the gym and I’m planning an overseas trip with my college crew. 

Please enjoy this year’s UMOJA’s health issue. Readers should find ways to enhance your mind, body and soul.

Here’s to your health!