Ten years ago, I said, “Let’s do this, Vanessa!”

I always wanted to run a marathon. I know it’s kind of extreme running a marathon, but I thought I could do it.

I entered the race to fundraise for the AIDS Foundation. and after I ran a half marathon, I quit. It was just too hard or at least that is what my mind said.

In the last two years, I have discovered running again. I feel so free and amazingly, taller. I don’t know what that means, but I love it! In discovering this journey of running, I noticed that I approach running like I approach other areas of my life.

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks, “What is it to really be committed to something?”

Since I asked myself this question, I am seeing what kind of person really is committed.

During this discovery of running two years ago, I also had a bunch of hardships. I lost my job. I got in a car accident; I wasn’t hurt but my car still needs repair. I started three successful business partnerships and gave all of them up. I haven’t had consistent income in months, not to mention I am a single mother of two growing children.

All that being said, those are all circumstances. This is what everyone in the world goes through. Maybe not these particular things, but EVERYONE has circumstances. That’s when everything changed for me. I started to see the possibilities of my life, and I have the power to create whatever suits me in mine.

In November 2019, I entered the 2020 Chicago Marathon to fundraise for the Chicago Parks Foundation. The Chicago Park District has over 700 parks in the city of Chicago, and this is where community convenes. The parks are essential for us to be with one another and to have a public space for us to celebrate.

I grew up in Chicago Park District and am now the newly elected co-chair of the Austin Town Hall Park Cultural Center Park Advisory Council and the chair of the Art & Culture Committee. Our green space is so important to living a thriving life in the city and for our youth. The park is a place for us to really get what community means and the place to create it. I am running for the Chicago Parks Foundation to create awareness of our parks on the West Side.

Being back on the road to running, I see how I approach running correlates with all the other areas of my life. Being committed means not letting my thoughts, people and situations slow me down or stop me from what I’m up to. What I am present to is staying in action.

Action is performance, and when I stay in action, the results that I want in my life will show up. Maybe not the first time I decided to run the marathon or with the people I started working with or maybe not in the businesses that I created, but as long as I stay in action and stay committed, I will be fulfilled.

Vanessa Stokes is a West Side resident, artist, community organizer and mother. When she is not running, she loves to chat with everyday people, cook, of course, eat and journey through her father’s, Dorrell Creightney, photo collection. Share her journey this year as she trains for this year’s Chicago Marathon.

CONTACT: michael@austinweeklynews.com