So Close…Are we there yet? by Kimberly Hodges


Kim Hodges serves as Program Director for Social Justice and Leadership Education in Residential Life at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. This role allows her to advise identity specific student groups, conduct inclusiveness training and development sessions, as well as facilitate diversity programming.

She obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Kim was greatly influenced by her ‘Bigmama’, Ann Dunmore an activist for HIV/AIDS in Chicago. When alive, her grandmother’s zeal for marginalized populations having access to much needed resources impressed a tenacious nature upon Kim. This transformative energy continues to motivate the work she does in higher education and her wellness journey. Kim’s first 10k for the Chicago AIDS Foundation was an emotional run in memory of Bigmama who passed away in April 2010. More than anything Kim is moved by love and laughter.



“I Kimberly Hodges choose to be Love’s expression. I commit daily to share, give, and receive love. By doing this, I am going to improve who I am. By properly loving myself, I will be able to better love The Creator of the Heavens and Earth, my family, my friends, my community, my nation, my fellowman, and the World. This love will cause me to make better decisions about my overall health, mental, emotional, spiritual, financial, sexual, educational, family, relationships, and physical wellbeing. And like the Sun, my love will shine bright and radiate to the rest of the world. I understand that love is the most powerful energy in the Universe. Therefore, I choose to be love’s expression.”

I came across this passage in a recent reading and it captured my wellness philosophy, perfectly. You must first know my top 5 talents are: Connectedness, Communication, Belief, Woo, and Futuristic. So, I’m that ‘wannabe’ deep person that has to make meaning out of everything. And every person I meet I find the need to connect my purpose to their purpose, so we can be forever linked. Stereotypical Woo traits; I can be a bit much. But, this above statement gives me purpose and angst. Having the onus to hold myself accountable to such a vast principle is difficult to measure. So, I often feel like I am so close, but not there yet.

Unforgiveable                                     Click Clack

   So forgivable                                      Pitter Patter


       I am you and you are me


Faint smells of death, never close enough to feel it

Light hints of desperation, not enough zeal to impel my shift


Whispers of hope, mentions of peace

…and yet just enough to sign my new lease

We are just days away from the New Year and an opportunity for a new genesis is upon us. There are times we need to reconnect to our core. This core is your purpose statement, it is your truth. Our health and wellness is about the very substance of who we are. So realigning is essential so we can feel alive and free. You have experienced a genesis before. If it was wellness related or a major life change, this is not your first rodeo. We have been up and down, and right now we are somewhere between here and there. The struggle to determine our new destination is a matter of focus.

In the newly released and highly acclaimed Beyonce album, she sings, “I woke up like this,” but no ma’am you didn’t. I wish I were flawless but the reality is, I’m not. In 2011 ‘I woke up like this’: overweight, single, grieving, depressed and did I mention, fat. I had reached 260 pounds. Although my stark realization made it seem like an overnight experience, this had been 25 years of conscious and unconscious abuse. Emotional eating, spending, and other ill behaviors led to empty ice cream cartons, relationships, and bank accounts. Until this point I had not clearly identified what holistic wellness was for me and how I could live it out. I simply wanted to lose weight.

Like any abuse, healing is necessary. You see, my body had become victim to my wrong doing and it was in need of an intense healing. I have come to realize that such a healing is perpetual and continuous. My healing required the type of love that would deny yet nourish. This is a lesson that transcended physical fitness but allowed me to rethink how I engage romantic partnerships, familial relationships, and even professional development. I had to become strategic about my career aspirations & health.

My healing began with deep reflection. I had to identify the root as to formulate my genesis for physical wellness. I was reared in a dual class family; stable high income, yet working class disposition. My parents grew up working poor, so they were often concerned with quantity rather than quality. My parents wanted to ensure we had more than enough because they were reared not having the same experience. I can remember family eating contests where we could win a prize for eating the most food. I won a few White Castle burger eating contests — Sick, right? I often remind my father that I am morbidly obese because of these eating habits. There was and is no time for blaming. It was time for me to unlearn many things, such as what a healthy plate was and when to stop eating!

During a supervisory meeting I remember talking about being over the up & down, back & forth with my weight. It was like, and at times continues to be, a never ending road trip, “Are we there yet?” Life doesn’t stop while we try to figure out life so, we have to be open to being transformed in unfamiliar and unpredictable ways. While cluster facilitating at Leadershape, Julie Leos encouraged me to go for a run with her. I quickly explained to her that I had never seen Black folks run, and especially not folks my size. Well, Julie’s cheerleading won me over and my pitter patter began. I clicked and clacked for 3.5 miles. Julie promised not to leave me, and she didn’t. I just needed someone to start the journey with me. We have to know that a genesis experience doesn’t have to be a solo commencement.

Thereafter I began running, then added days for Zumba, tennis, and anything else that would keep me active. I even found a group of Black folks of all shapes and sizes that ran.  There is nothing like the days when you beast a workout; I felt like I could conquer the world! I ran my first 5k in the rain, raised thousands of dollars for the HIV/AIDs 10k, and now I have my eyes set on a half marathon. Some of you have completed full marathons and even a triathlon. Think about that first pants size dropped or that muscle you gained. Beyond our physical health, flourishing relationships, professional advancement, and emotional maturity are big wins. A few years ago I decided to get braces and loc my hair, so I now have physical reminders of my joyous yet painful journey. Genesis experiences often feel amazing, but are never ending.

Now it is time for you to get to work. As my daddy says, life is work with short breaks along the way. We must first posture our beings, heart and mind, for this reality. Our closer is a destination that will continue to change because we will continue to grow. When we get there it will be our short break until the next. So, we need to create our plan to make it to the next goal.

The perpetual healing is a cyclical renewing process. Let’s establish love’s exchange destination. Where will you make the exchange? My exchange is created by ‘who & what’ nourishes my spirit, and what keeps the healing going is the frequency of these doses. My love exchange is represented below, but your love exchange may have different ingredients. This must be life producing, which means it may not always feel good.

 kim blog 

One day you’ll be so close

…the sweetness will taste like honey and feel like sugar


Rigid graininess can still feel sweet


To get ‘there’ it will feel like hell, yet taste ever so delicious


As you create your plan for your new genesis for wellness, be honest with yourself. Connect with another person that will support your journey. And once you start living it out, BE:


…Be consistently obedient to your truth

…Be Dynamic

…Be Critically Conscious


You were made to live not just exist. You will no longer have to ask if you are there yet, or even wonder if you are close because you will realize this journey is your “there”.

2 comments to So Close…Are we there yet? by Kimberly Hodges

  • Julie Leos  says:

    Thank you for sharing your story Kim! You are an inspiration to so many. I am so proud of what you did to regain control of your life. You are in my prayers everyday — so He keeps you well in order to continue to serve the students and community you love so much. Happy New Year.

  • chris  says:

    Thank you for sharing! Great way to start 2014!

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