One mother shares how running helped her gain control of her life.
"Mommy Talk" is series of interviews between ESSENCE's own ChicBusyMom and everyday mothers doing extraordinary things. Meet Korri Jackson, a member of Black Girls RUN, who has found an outlet in jogging as well as a supportive community.
Chic Busy Mom: What do you do for a living?
Korri Jackson: I am the Director of Communications for an International Higher Education Corporation.
Chic Busy Mom: How many children do you have?
Korri Jackson: I have two children, ages 12 and 10.
Chic Busy Mom: I hear you’ve started to running as an outlet. How has this impacted your life?
Korri Jackson: Dance was my sport of choice since the age of 4, until my sophomore year of high school when I joined the track team. So while I was exposed to running many years ago, in 2005, I picked it back up out of need to simply save my life. After moving back to the East Coast after four years of living in California, lots had changed; namely two beautiful children, a house, a job and everything that goes with it. Running helps me manage my stress, gives me "mommy time" alone with my thoughts and dreams, has allowed me to join a sisterhood of women who are of the same mindset and helps me stave off the weight and body shape changes that we go through as we age. I’m trying to make it to one of the ageless issues of ESSENCE Magazine!
Chic Busy Mom: You’re also an active member of Black Girls RUN! and have graduated to even participating in marathons. These things require time commitment to train, etc. How do you juggle this along with your work and family?
Korri Jackson: Yes, I have been a member of Black Girls RUN! for the last three years and they are a fantastic group of women who take healthy living very seriously. This group, along with my running partner, Minka Carter, have been great sources of inspiration and accountability for my choices and in setting running goals. To stay committed to running, I frequently sign up for races. To date, I have ran several 5Ks, 10Ks, half-marathons and two marathons! Training for a half or full marathon does require a huge time commitment and the only way I’ve been able to do this is from the support of my husband Daric and our children. They support me by allowing me to run five days a week and on Saturdays toward the end of my training, I can be gone for up to five hours. With the support of my family juggling it all is simple, because it’s a priority in my life. In order for the rest of my life to fall into place—to have joy, to have peace, to not yell at my children or just to have perspective, I must run.
Chic Busy Mom: Can you share a little more about how your family’s support has made you a better parent and partner?
Korri Jackson: It wasn’t until a year into my running that I had a breakthrough. I told my husband that I was stressed beyond belief and was scared. I was trying to be the best mother, wife, house cleaner, colleague, sister, daughter, manager, bill payer, committee member, Board member—you name it, I was doing it. But I loved it all. The problem was my body, mind and spirit didn’t agree. I found myself running and thinking that I was using it as stress relief, but I realized I was abusing it. I was really using it as a control factor since I didn’t feel I really had any control over my life. My life wasn’t my own. I was taking care of everyone else but I had taken it too far. I lost a ton of weight, my diet was terrible for all the running and I was ultimately in bad shape. Now, everything is aligned (mind, body and spirit) and I'm less stressed. I'm able to focus on my children’s collective and individual needs and focus on my husband’s needs, all without feeling the guilt of being away because of training. As mothers, working and non-working, it is easy for us to feel guilty about the smallest things—“I didn’t pick up toilet paper,” “I didn’t say I loved you to my son,” “I was late to her recital,” etc.—but the fact that my husband and children are supportive is my main source of inspiration.
Chic Busy Mom: As moms, we often take care of ourselves last. How has your choice to become a dedicated runner made a difference physically and mentally for you?
Korri Jackson: As I’ve mentioned, running has allowed me to focus, release stress and relax more. It's also taught me to prioritize and to not sweat the small stuff. It’s because I have this time to myself to feel like myself. I’m not on anyone’s terms, just my own. I can choose to run one mile or five miles, fast or slow, with running partners or without. My body feels good because I’m treating it well by giving it healthy food and exercise, so my body treats me well. Mentally, I’m sharper at work. I’ve always been a good multi-tasker, but I’m now able to manage multiple projects and actually get them done. I am blessed to have a great job and a great manager who finds value in having balance in your life.
Chic Busy Mom: Have your kids or your husband run any marathons with you?
Korri Jackson: Actually, no, but I am proud to say that my family has shown me an even higher level of support by participating in the sport with me. I think they see the residual benefits and would like to learn more about it for themselves. My daughter started track this year for the first time and we ran and trained for her first 5K in June 2013! It was one of the best moments of my life. My husband has now run two races with me, a 5K and a 10K, and I am trying to convince him to run the Baltimore half-marathon now. I think it’s a long shot, but I know he’ll do one in the next six months. I am so happy when he’s with me and running alongside me. I feel blessed that he loves me enough to participate in something that I love.
Chic Busy Mom: What have you been able to share with your family about taking care of themselves and being healthy? Do you and the kids eat the same things or do you have to make multiple meals?
Korri Jackson: I am a practicing vegetarian, so there are certain food items that are not allowed in my household. However, I hope to lead by example and when they are ready to fully adopt this lifestyle then I’ll be ready. In the meantime, meat is limited and fruits, vegetables and water are in abundance. I will often cook chicken or fish for my family and then I’ll eat the veggies only. So, it’s rare that I cook multiple meals. It’s just not a good use of my time. I don’t cook beef or pork. If my family wants it they usually go out to eat or buy it and cook it themselves. I’m glad to say that my husband is now a frequent water drinker and I’m thankful that my children continually make healthy food choices. As far as sports, it’s important that the children participate in sports activities. They’ve played many sports over the years and just like diet, leading by example with physical activity is important for my children to see. They observe mommy racing and daddy going to the gym, just like I observed my mom playing tennis.
Chic Busy Mom: Has there been any challenges to making this commitment in terms of the affects on your family?
Korri Jackson: Yes, there have been challenges but those are the times when you need to take inventory of how your actions are affecting your family and make adjustments. It always requires perfect communication with your spouse, making sure you are tending to his/her needs first and sharing as much as possible as quickly as possible is also helpful. I would also stress that as mothers, just because you want to run a marathon, doesn’t mean that everyone else is running a marathon. We need to attend to whatever roles that have been decided on as a family. Whether that be cooking and preparing meals ahead of time, making the kids lunches ahead of time, laying out clothes, washing and folding clothes, etc. If these things aren’t done then it can lead to confusion, unsettled feelings, an element of mistrust with your family and can lead to a sense of abandonment.
Chic Busy Mom: What tips would you provide to any mom who’s making a major life choice that would potentially impact her time away from or around the home?
Korri Jackson: I suggest that you gain the support of your family first. There is always a way to work things out if your family leads a busy life. Seek resources to help you manage your responsibilities. Take care of your business so that you can empower those to help you take care of yours.
Chic Busy Mom: Give us two mommy secrets/tips you can share?
Korri Jackson: Find an activity away from the home that is only for you to enjoy; no one else. Also, spend quality time with each member of your family alone.
Chic Busy Mom: What do you do for "me time" and "we time"?
Korri Jackson: For “me” time I go shopping, running, dinner/trips with girlfriends and bathtub time with headphones plugged up to my computer. For “we” time I do dates with each member of my family, family date night, movies, dinner nights out, bike riding or walking in the neighborhood.
Chic Busy Mom: What is your guilty pleasure?
Korri Jackson: I love anything entertainment and fashion, so magazines, websites, blogs, etc.
Chic Busy Mom: What are the top five things on your bucket list?
1.) Start my own business.
2.) Visit Australia.
3.) Participate in a triathlon.
4.) Become a millionaire.
5.) Visit South Africa.