People 15 November 2018
While traveling around Africa on vacation, I needed to go for long training runs as I was slated to run an IRONMAN Triathlon the day after returning to the United States. I strategically plan my races at the beginning of the year so this was very important to me.
When I asked the managers at the camp in Tanzania for a good route for me to run, they told me that I would be required to have security guard accompaniment in case I encountered any dangerous animals. They also told me that I was the first woman ever to request an outdoor run, which was crazy to hear!
I went for runs two days in a row, and a group of locals joined me on the second day. Several of them commented on how they rarely have the opportunity to enjoy exercise given the risky circumstances of their environment.
This experience and their perspective made me mindful about the degree to which we often take self-care and access to safety for granted, and it inspired me to want to become more involved with global wellness initiatives.
As word spread about my runs in Tanzania, I was asked to participate in the first ever Serengeti Girls Run, a 55-mile run over the course of three days. I was also asked to speak to a group of 400 local high school students about confidence, self-esteem, and empowerment. I was honored and really excited to be able to share some experiences with them and hopefully make an impact. I am so passionate about STEM and mentoring our future leaders that this was right up my alley.
In October 2018, I participated in the first-ever women-only run across the Serengeti wilderness as part of a fundraiser for female empowerment programs hosted by the Singita Grumeti Fund and BRAVE:
The run aims to raise funds and awareness about the challenges facing girls and women living in nearby communities and seeking sustainable solutions.
The main focus is on opportunities for women to become leaders in conservation in their communities and countries.
Singita Grumeti Fund programmes include a secondary school, vocational studies and university scholarships, life skills, enterprise development training, environmental education, and internships.
On the first day, I spoke to the crowd and then joined the other participating women for a solidarity ‘fun run’ with girls from the local community. This was an incredible experience for me. During the ‘fun run’ a few of the girls ran along my side, holding my hand, and we sang Beyonce for the 4 miles. I will never forget how happy and free those girls felt as they ran down the streets of Tanzania.
Later, I showed the girls an iPhone, and many of them commented on how they had never seen the technology and hadn’t seen pictures of themselves before. The girls were grabbing the phone to see their pictures and more importantly asking questions-very curious and intriguing minds. The 400 school girls that I met along the journey wanted to know everything from self-esteem, to what it takes to work hard, to what to study, and to what I like to eat. They asked loads of questions.
For the Serengeti Run itself, I ran 18 miles each day for three days (for a total of 90 km / 55 miles), accompanied by the Singita Grumeti Fund anti-poaching, Special Operations Center armed guard scouts and nine other women. While running, we were able to witness the wildlife in the plains. It wasn’t about just doing a race- it was the people coming together from around the world and doing this for a cause that helped Africa overall and made a difference in the world. The bonds that I formed with these women are some that I will cherish for the rest of my life. I was inspired, uplifted, and so proud of what we accomplished together. The bonds made friends for life and a moment captured in my life that was so unique that it couldn’t be remade- we made history together through the Serengeti.
I was so inspired by the locals, my fellow participants, and all of the folks that I encountered on this trip. They are now my friends for life.
It is one thing to read and another thing to understand what you are reading. Not only do you want to understand, but also remember what you've read. Otherwise, we can safely say that if we're not gaining anything from what we read, then it's a big waste of time.
Whatever you read, there are ways to do so in a more effective manner to help you understand better. Whether you are reading by choice, for an upcoming test, or work-related material, here are a few ways to help you improve your reading skills and retain that information.
Read with a Purpose
Never has there been a shortage of great books. So, someone recommended a great cookbook for you. You start going through it, but your mind is wandering. This doesn't mean the cookbook was an awful recommendation, but it does mean it doesn't suit nor fulfill your current needs or curiosity.
Maybe your purpose is more about launching a business. Maybe you're a busy mom and can't keep office hours, but there's something you can do from home to help bring in more money, so you want information about that. At that point, you won't benefit from a cookbook, but you could gain a lot of insight and find details here on how-to books about working from home. During this unprecedented year, millions have had to make the transition to work from home, and millions more are deciding to do that. Either way, it's not a transition that comes automatically or easily, but reading about it will inform you about what working from home entails.
When you pre-read it primes your brain when it's time to go over the full text. We pre-read by going over the subheadings, for instance, the table of contents, and skimming through some pages. This is especially useful when you have formal types of academic books. Pre-reading is a sort of warm-up exercise for your brain. It prepares your brain for the rest of the information that will come about and allows your brain to be better able to pick the most essential pieces of information you need from your chosen text.
Highlighting essential sentences or paragraphs is extremely helpful for retaining information. The problem, however, with highlighting is that we wind up highlighting way too much. This happens because we tend to highlight before we begin to understand. Before your pages become a neon of colored highlights, make sure that you only highlight what is essential to improve your understanding and not highlight the whole page.
You might think there have been no new ways to read, but even the ancient skill of reading comes up with innovative ways; enter speed reading. The standard slow process shouldn't affect your understanding, but it does kill your enthusiasm. The average adult goes through around 200 to 250 words per minute. A college student can read around 450 words, while a professor averages about 650 words per minute, to mention a few examples. The average speed reader can manage 1,500 words; quite a difference! Of course, the argument arises between quality and quantity. For avid readers, they want both quantity and quality, which leads us to the next point.
Life is too short to expect to gain knowledge from just one type of genre. Some basic outcomes of reading are to expand your mind, perceive situations and events differently, expose yourself to other viewpoints, and more. If you only stick to one author and one type of material, you are missing out on a great opportunity to learn new things.
Having said that, if there's a book you are simply not enjoying, remember that life is also too short to continue reading it. Simply, close it, put it away and maybe give it another go later on, or give it away. There is no shame or guilt in not liking a book; even if it's from a favorite author. It's pretty much clear that you won't gain anything from a book that you don't even enjoy, let alone expect to learn something from it.
If you're able to summarize what you have read, then you have understood. When you summarize, you are bringing up all the major points that enhance your understanding. You can easily do so chapter by chapter.
Take a good look at your life and what's going on in it. Accordingly, you'll choose the material that is much more suitable for your situation and circumstances. When you read a piece of information that you find beneficial, look for a way to apply it to your life. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge isn't all that beneficial. But the application of knowledge from a helpful book is what will help you and make your life more interesting and more meaningful.