I ran yesterday, for the first time since I had surgery on my
leg four weeks ago. My usual slow-but-steady 5 kilometers. I did it
again this morning. It has been years now since I have gone for so
many weeks without running. (How did I become one of these strange
person who runs so frequently? Bizarre.) It felt so good (except
for a bit of leg pain)! I finished my run feeling deeply
I had forgotten how much I need to run - how those minutes of
turning off my brain and making my body work are precious and
healing. I did not realize how much I had missed it. It made me
think of the other things that I know are healing and important for
me and for which I should carve out time more regularly. Talking to
the people I love, playing the piano, and writing top the list.
- Still my favorite running picture ever:
running in the Kass Marathon just like I run here everyday -- me
working hard and surrounded by barefooted children easily keeping
In the past 3 weeks at home in the US, I have been able to spend
some time talking with the people I love (although never enough!),
but the others have been neglected. I especially have a hard time
writing for myself, for this blog, for my heart when I am writing
writing WRITING for work. ('Tis the season of one grant application
after another.) So, I choose to carve out a few of my precious
minutes to write today.
I feel like I could write about a hundred sadnesses and
frustrations from this past week while I have been in Kenya. The
shooting in Charleston has my heart breaking over the systemic
brokenness and injustice of racism and gun violence in my home
country. The poverty and pain in which children here live everyday
overwhelms me. The endless problems of this global health research
program for which I am now responsible seem beyond my ability to
It feels like TOO MUCH.
And yet, as Anne Lamott says, life is such a mixed
grille - "hard, magical, brutal, gorgeous, unfair, hilarious,
sweet, wild and mysterious, all at once." I cannot deny
the magic, the gorgeousness, the sweetness.
I am grateful for my multinational team every single
day. They are so smart and capable and hard-working.
They love our children here every day through their work. I don't
know what I would do without them. I trust them to carry out my
ideas and a hundred other things besides.
I am grateful for my friends from near and far who
cheer me on. You send me messages and pictures and
words of encouragement when I need them most. You may not realize
it, but sometimes, my ability to lean back into the enormity of the
challenges here sometimes depends critically on those moments of
connection and encouragement. For all the flaws of social media,
your "likes" and comments sometimes help me to know that I am not
alone and to press on.
I am grateful for the beauty of this
country. Even if I am mostly confined to the hospital
and the poorest parts, it is rich in the beauty of its skies and
savannah and animals and people. The flat, majestic presence of the
acacia trees light up my heart.
I am grateful for the opportunity to work to bring
about health for the children and families of this country and
countries like Kenya. Your children are so beautiful.
It is my deep privilege to fight against the daily deaths of 17,000
children under the age of five. Even when it seems impossible, I
would rather be in the fight any day.
Yesterday, Monicah, age 10, looked me in the eye and told me
that her dream for the future is to become a teacher. "I wanted to
one who can change the future for children," she said. Her eyes
sparkled and shone with the power of her dreams. Let it be
So, here I am. Fighting, working, running, writing, practicing
gratitude. Let it be so.