She almost gave up before her triathlon, but strangers helped her find strength.

At one point or another, many of us have probably flirted with the idea of making big, sweeping changes to our lives.

Maybe we'll learn a new language. Perhaps we'll change careers or finally learn how to play an instrument. These grand ideas come to us without warning, but most are swept aside or forgotten about after some real talk or a good night's sleep.

But sometimes, on rare occasions, we take the risk. And truly amazing things can happen.


Teej knows all about this. After a health scare, she decided she wanted to take better care of herself. For most of us, that might mean taking a few more walks or switching to decaf in the afternoons. But Teej went bigger, much bigger and decided to sign up for a triathlon.

Hours of swimming, biking, and running in a highly competitive environment? That's one way to jump-start a fitness routine. She spent the next year training for her big race.

Preparing for your first competition is daunting for any triathlon novice, but Teej had an even bigger hurdle to climb.

"I don't know how to run, bike, or swim," she says. "So I had to kind of teach myself how to do these things."

But she surprised herself, toughed it out, and made it to the starting line — only to discover her biggest competition wasn't the racers lined up beside her, it was the little voice in her head that said she wasn't an athlete at all.

Listen to Teej tell the story of her first triathlon and the boost of confidence and new friends she gained along the way.

And give a little more consideration to your next big, sweeping, grand idea. It may just change your life.

Courtesy of FIELDTRIP
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The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected diverse communities due largely in part to social factors such as inadequate access to housing, income, dietary options, education and employment — all of which have been shown to affect people's physical health.

Recognizing that inequity, Harlem-based chef JJ Johnson sought out to help his community maximize its health during the pandemic — one grain at a time.

Johnson manages FIELDTRIP, a health-focused restaurant that strives to bring people together through the celebration of rice, a grain found in cuisines of countless cultures.

"It was very important for me to show the world that places like Harlem want access to more health-conscious foods," Johnson said. "The people who live in Harlem should have the option to eat fresh, locally farmed and delicious food that other communities have access to."

Lack of education and access to those healthy food options is a primary driver of why 31% of adults in Harlem are struggling with obesity — the highest rate of any neighborhood in New York City and 7% higher than the average adult obesity rate across the five boroughs.

Obesity increases risk for heart disease or diabetes, which in turn leaves Harlem's residents — who are 76% Black or LatinX — at heightened risk for complications with COVID-19.

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As the once-celebrated Information Age devolves into the hell-hole-ish Misinformation Age, many of us feel a desperate sense of despair. It's one thing to have diverse perspectives on issues; it's entirely another to have millions of people living in an alternate reality where up is down, left is right, and a global pandemic is a global hoax put on by a powerful cabal of Satanic, baby-eating, pedophile elites.

Watching a not-insignificant portion of your country fall prey to false—and sometimes flat out bonkers—narratives is disconcerting. Watching politicians and spokespeople spout those narratives on national television is downright terrifying.

Clearly, the U.S. is not the only country with politicians who pander to conspiracy theorists for their own gain, but not every country lets them get away with it. In a now-viral interview, New Zealand's Tova O'Brien spoke with one her country's fringe political party leaders and showed journalists exactly how to handle a misinformation peddler.

Her guest was Jami-Lee Ross, leader of the Advance New Zealand party, which failed to garner enough votes in the country's general election this weekend to enter parliament. The party, which got less than one percent of the vote, had spread misinformation about the coronavirus on social media, and Ross's co-leader, Billy Te Kahika, is a known conspiracy theorist.

But O'Brien came prepared to shut down that nonsense.

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
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Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has upended education in every way imaginable. While it's great that modern technology allows us to attend classes through Zoom or Google Meets, it's just not the same as in-person interaction.

It's also tough to recreate the camaraderie that can develop in a classroom.

The impenetrable distance that exists between teachers and students in the COVID-19 era was bridged recently when a group of students came together to tell their professor how much he really means to them.

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One of the questions many Americans had when Trump became president was how he would handle LGBTQ rights. Public opinion on same-sex marriage has shifted dramatically in the past decade and the Trump administration hasn't publicly signaled a desire to change that. Trump even added an openly gay man to his cabinet, creating somewhat of an appearance of being LGBTQ-friendly.

However, his record with transgender rights betrays that appearance. Transgender people have become a favorite target of conservative politics, and actions taken by Trump himself have been considered discriminatory by LGBTQ advocates.

These actions were highlighted by a mother of a transgender child at Biden's town hall event. Mieke Haeck introduced herself to the former vice president as "a proud mom of two girls, ages 8 and 10," before adding, "My youngest daughter is transgender."

"The Trump administration has attacked the rights of transgender people, banning them from military service, weakening non-discrimination protections and even removing the word 'transgender' from some government websites," she said, then asked, "How will you as president reverse this dangerous and discriminatory agenda and ensure that the right and lives of LGBTQ people are protected under U.S. law?"

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