Mina Samuels is a writer, playwright and performer, and in a previous incarnation, a litigation lawyer and human rights advocate, who is passionate about health and wellness, lives a healthy lifestyle, and helps others to live productive lifestyles as well. “Health is not a destination,” says Mina. “You don’t suddenly arrive. Health is a resource that you nurture by striving to make healthier than unhealthy choices. You can start anytime. It’s never too late.”
In her newest book, RUN LIKE A GIRL 365 DAYS A YEAR: A Practical, Personal, Inspirational Guide for Women Athletes (Skyhorse Press; June 18, 2019), she talks about personal growth and honoring the intuitive power of one’s body by plugging into one’s own gifts for an abundant and healthy life, as well as the transformative impact that sports has on women’s lives. As Mina states in her books and talks, “The world of inspirational aspiration is over-saturated with people who will tell you how to aim higher, run faster, be healthy, and live in the moment. The problem is their advice comes from above—people who tell you how to do things, rather than do them with you. They’re about direction, not connection.”
Mina began her career as a human rights attorney looking to bring a more robust citizenship into the world. Her specialty at Human Rights Watch was to help incarcerated children. Today she works to make a day-to-day difference in women’s lives. Salonpas sat down with Mina to learn how we can experience personal growth and live our best lives
Why do you think the phrase ‘run like a girl’ became a disparaging expression in our culture?
In the same way that so many expressions use the feminine to denote weaker, less capable and ineffective, this expression mocks a cartoonish and false picture of how girls run. As if all girls (and unacceptably effeminate boys) are awkward and slow. I wish it were remarkable that such an expression exists, but all too often routine catch phrases disparage women and girls.
What does it really mean to ‘run like a girl’ and why do we want to?
Here’s the reality—running like a girl is empowering! Running like a girl is an everyday experience. Running like a girl happens on the road and off. Running like a girl invites us to engage with the world. Running like a girl means challenging our bodies and minds to be stronger and happier, and accessing our ageless girl-spirit, where the clean-slate optimism of “let’s go” meets the seasoned wisdom of “I can.”
What was the inspiration for your new book, Run Like A Girl 365 Days A Year and what is the primary takeaway the reader can receive?
My first Run Like A Girl book came out in 2011. That book was about the transformative impact of sports on individual women’s lives. After the book appeared, I realized that it did not tell the whole story which iss that we don’t do these sports just for ourselves. Our strength (physical, mental and emotional) exists so we can manifest our highest potential in service of others and that we can contribute our good energy into the cycle of human possibility. The biggest takeaway is that our health is a resource, not the end goal. Our health and wellness enable us to show up in the world and offer our best. And I don’t mean that we all need to be doing huge things. I mean that we bring a mentality of generosity and kindness (of abundance!) to our daily interactions in the world, which elevate the positive energy around us. The more people who do this, the wider the ripple effect.
Were you always living a healthy lifestyle? If not, how did you come to it?
I feel very lucky to have grown up with parents who were embarrassingly “granola,” in a time when it was not hip to eat homemade bread and fresh vegetables bought from a farmer’s market. Plus, I was sent to an all-girls summer camp, which solidified my love of the outdoors. As a result, although there have been short periods in my life when I ate poorly and even smoked, home base for me is healthy food and an active life. My go-to comfort foods are largely non-processed foods. I was not particularly athletic until my late 20’s, when I took up running and learned how to take care of my body with more knowledgeable intention. Which is not to say that I can take anything for granted or that everything is easy. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is an ongoing exercise in finding balance.
Describe a typical day in your life; from when you wake up to when you retire?
On a typical day, I start around 7:15 a.m. with a workout of some kind. Though my exercise might also happen midday or end of day. Plus, I always take at least one day off a week to rest my body. I have breakfast with my partner and we catch up on what we’ll be up to for the day. Before I start work, I meditate for 10-20 minutes (sometimes longer). I check email and try to clear anything quick and time crunched. Then I write for the rest of the morning. I might have lunch with a friend or my partner. The afternoon is for research and project related reading. I try also to put meetings in the afternoon. I know my energy flags for a while after lunch, so a meeting will help me regroup my energy. The evening is usually for time with my partner and friends; theater, a movie, my Wednesday night meditation sangha or another event, followed by dinner. I know the wisdom is that I shouldn’t eat last thing before bed, but I so love the conversation that follows a shared activity or cultural event, that I can’t bring myself to follow that guideline. I am usually in bed by 11:00 p.m. Lots of nights I’ll read a novel until I fall asleep.