This house became our home seven years ago this summer. I fell in love with the trees, the neighborhood, and the energy of the home. It was love at first sight. We bought from the original owners. Built in 1960, a family was born and raised here. You could feel it the moment you walked in the front door. As we toured the house, I saw Cole running from his bedroom, down the stairs to a room filled with Christmas presents. I heard the laughter of children in the walls. I was very much in love.
Our dreams were big when we moved in. The house needed (needs) love poured back into it. This home has poured its love into others, and it was (is) begging to be loved in return. We had a five year plan. We’d make it ours.
Then life happened. Chet joined our family. Income shifted to daycare and new cars. Little by little we made some changes. A new bathroom, new furniture to create an office space for Christian, some new paint, yet the five year plan sat on the shelf. It gathered dust with all the untouched projects in our home.
This morning I woke up, and I knew it was time. Clouds filled the sky cancelling our pool plans. Instead we began what we always intended to do. First on the list was the removal of the family room’s built in shelves, gun cabinet and closet. Occuping the last three feet of our family room, it had overstayed its welcome.
Demo began. Layer by layer we peeled back all the wood that was no longer serving our home or our family. We pried each nail out of the wall. We patched the holes. We laughed at everything we exposed (mint walls and mint speckled lineleum floors). Our room began to breathe.
Like all good life renovations, it’s never easy. It never ends quickly. One problem exposes another until you’re left with a clean slate and a solid structure to rebuild your existence.
Tonight we are left with a room filled with clutter, half painted walls, missing carpet, and a brand new perspective of our home. The vision of what our home is meant to be is starting to take shape.
As we purge, clean and carefully select everything we want this space to be, we will be living in the mess for a while. Transformation can’t be rushed. Change happens slowly. Little by little we are pouring love back into this home.
Together this house and I are finding our room to breathe.
“This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival” ~Rumi
Last Wednesday I unrolled my yoga mat with nearly 500 other yogis. Together we lined up with only inches to spare on the deck of the USS Wisconsin. The class was a celebration of endings and beginnings. The community of Norfolk is rich with culture. It is vibrant. It is alive. Part of that community is Bhav Brigade – a group of yoga instructors determined to make yoga accessible to everyone by eliminating barriers and bringing openness to each practice. This class was a farewell to one of their founders, but also a congratulations as she steps into the next chapter of her life.
Every time I unroll my yoga mat, I believe it’s an opportunity to welcome something new. It is a beginning. When I show up empty and open, I am always gifted with exactly what I need. This class was no different.
While the deck of the boat was filled with my friends, I found myself shoulder to shoulder with strangers. Before class even began, I knew this class belonged to me. As I sat on my mat staring over the river, I was flooded by the urge to shed: emotions, anxiety, and the weight on my body. Everything felt heavy.
The yoga practice began, and my body resisted the movement. My head fought back as I tried to settle myself. Finally it happened. I arrived on my mat.
Prompted by the yoga instructor, I brought my attention to what I was holding on to? What are you holding on to? What of that is no longer serving you? As I took physical inventory, my body melted. My jaw relaxed. My shoulders dropped. My chest opened. I found the way into my practice.
Just like the best runs, my physical existence always directly connects to my emotional existences. Moving my body always exposes every aspect of my life. My yoga practice is the same. When I relax my jaw, I relax my heart. When my shoulders drop, my breath deepens. When I settle into my yoga mat or my stride, I settle into my life.
Life has felt a little chaotic lately. The full moon brought with it full energy. My pace has been a little too fast to feel settled. I have found myself asking the same questions my yoga instructor asked me last Wednesday. What am I holding on to? What is no longer serving me?
Life is reminding me to slow down. It is reminding me to be intentional. It’s reminding me to take inventory of what I’m holding on to and what is serving me. Every morning, every time I unroll my yoga mat or I put on my running shoes, I have a choice. I can show up empty and open, I can welcome what arrives, or I can hold myself back.
Embracing the flow of life is my greatest struggle. I speed things up, I push too fast, and I forget to settle.
Today I took my practice to the trails. Tired is clinging to me. Instead of forcing the run, I listened. I slowed down. I walked. I enjoyed the views, the fresh air, and the dirt beneath my feet. Movement is movement. It doesn’t matter how fast or how far I go. Real growth in life comes from the moments when we let go and met ourselves where we are at in life.
I am craving depth and light. Every part of me wants to shed the extra weight I’m carrying with me. I want openness. This is where I’m placing my priority this season. I know that summer can be a hard season for me. Heat can be restrictive. It makes it hard for me to breathe. I’m not fighting it this season. I’m welcoming it, and I’m giving myself the tools I need to remain open.
Embracing the flow of life, existing without expectations, and following the path that allows me to breath deeply is the only direction I’m willing to head this summer.
When this training cycle all began back in January, I wasn’t trying to accomplish anything. My only goal was to recommit to my training. I saw gaps in my previous training cycles, and I wanted to over come them. I wanted to conquer early morning runs so family time in the evening wasn’t sacrificed. I wanted to tackle tempo runs that terrified me. I wanted to be invested in myself and my family, and I knew my running shoes would take me there. I knew those early morning wake ups would result in better days. I knew tackling my tempo runs would add vibrancy to daily interactions.
With each training run, I felt more alive. I became more engaged. Work flourished. My commitment to the running community took off. Every corner of my life felt fulfilled.
When life is good, running is good.
While the weeks between the Shamrock Marathon and my race in Delaware were not picture perfect (hello Flu and goodbye husband who was out of town for work commitments), my coach was quick to remind me that there are many chapters that make up our race day story. I was ready for race day.
I was confident. I was scared. I was excited. For the first time in a long time, I wanted a personal best. I didn’t just want a strong race and a happy race, I wanted to be my best.
There is no better time to risk failing than when life is good. I had nothing to loose. I finally had the confidence to recognize that I do want a 1 as the first number of my half marathon PR. I’ve never doubted that my legs have the ability to move so much faster than they ever have, but I have always doubted that my training was perfect enough, that my body felt strong enough or fast enough for it to happen on race day.
Going into this race I still wasn’t sure, but I didn’t care. I wanted to try. I wanted to take the risk. I needed to take the risk.
Race day arrived. I had nerves, but I knew this was good. It was a sign of my desire to reach for something just out of my reach. I knew I could do it. I felt it. It was mine to claim. With my dear friend Karen by my side, our race started as corral 2 was released on to the course. We made our way north along the coastal highway. The weather was perfect. The light breeze felt refreshing. The course that was waiting for us was gorgeous. It was going to be a great day.
We were running. My body felt engage. I wasn’t having hip pain. As doubts appeared, I quickly pushed them away. But something wasn’t right. I had no energy to give. I hoped that mile 1 was a liar, but mile 2 told the same story. So did mile 3, 4, 5 and 6. By the time we crossed the 10k mark, I had used every trick I knew to keep myself going. All I wanted to do was nap. I wanted to stop, lay down, close my eyes, and try again. My legs felt great, my breathing was easy, but I was so fatigued.
In my self proclaimed year of waking up, the last thing I expected to feel on race day was a deep desire to sleep. When I couldn’t will myself to move forward any more, I walked and all those ugly doubts I’ve spent a lifetime telling to move on took my break as an invitation to move back in. I was sad. I was embarrassed. I was disappointed. I felt like I let everyone down. At mile 11 after run/walking for the last 3 miles, a sob came out of nowhere.
I wanted that 1:xx half marathon time not just for me, but for my husband who has supported my crazy love of running for longer than our marriage. I wanted it for my coach who has invested so much into me as a runner but even more so as a person. I wanted it for my boys and my parents who give up weekends so I can race.
My race plan was to place an exclamation point at the end of this training cycle for myself but also as a thank you to everyone who invests in me. At mile 11 I felt like the opposite of an exclamation point. I just felt sad. And tired.
I crossed the finish 11 minutes later than I had hoped, and I knew I needed a few minutes to digest everything that had just happened on the race course. After a few intentional inhales and exhales, I wiped the tears off my face and joined my husband (who just so happened to place 2nd in his age group at the 9k) and friends for a celebratory beer!
The disappointment clung to me on Sunday. It followed me to dinner and to coffee and to a walk on the boardwalk. It hung out through dinner and while playing scrabble with my husband. I fell asleep with my sadness, and I slept more deeply than I have in ages.
I woke up on Monday with a fresh perspective. I woke up with gratitude for everything that went wrong the day before. I woke up and loved every moment of the 2 hours and 11 minutes I spent on the race course.
On Sunday, I showed up to race day ready to take the risk. I took the leap. I didn’t fly this time, but I showed up to the race with the courage to try. I showed up with the desire to want more.
This race brought me right back to the reason why I run. I’ll always run happy. I’ll always run for the community of running. But I also run for me. I run to be the best version of myself. I run to polish my heart. Chasing dreams is what I’m made of. This race connected every dot for me. In my failure to fly on race day, I saw all the beauty around me as I made my way back to the ground.
Aiming to be your best does exactly that. It makes you your best. Just like I knew my running shoes would deliver me to my year of waking up, my running shoes will also deliver me to be the best version of myself. Whether I snag a PR on race day or not, its the journey of wanting it, going after it, and showing up for it that matters most.
Running is never just running for me, but it is also just running. This entire training cycle has been layered with so much success. My worlds are colliding in the best possible ways and this race brought that all into focus for me. I’m awake. I’m engaged. I’m loving this life of mine.
I wanted an exclamation point on race day. I didn’t get it. What I got instead was a training cycle and a life worthy of ending with a exclamation.
Perfection is found in the process.
Our best is found in trying.
Give me a life of striving!
I’d much rather enjoy the journey than simply celebrating the finish line.
When you release you’re intention into the world, it always comes back to you. I’ve been reminded of this over and over again. Release something, and the world rewards you. It challenges you, provides opportunities for practice, and rewards you.
Before my words go wandering down this path, let me be clear. I don’t believe the world is here to serve me. Nor do I believe all I have to do is ask for something to receive it. I don’t believe anyone or anything is responsible for the outcomes in my life but me. What I do believe is that when I chose to focus on something by setting intentions, I start to notice it more. I become observant of the world around me through my intentional practices. The lens I use to view the world changes. It provides purpose to my daily interactions.
Writing my intentions for the Coastal Delaware Half was my release. The moment my words took shape on paper they solidified their presences in my heart. Now I’m finding pieces of it scattered through out my life.
Last night was a full moon.
Last night I also happened to be the only person at home for the first time since possibly Chet was born.
When a popup full moon yoga class appeared on my newsfeed I knew I would attend. With the sounds of downtown Norfolk as a backdrop, with the full moon as a spot light, and with an amazing breeze off the river, I happily unrolled my yoga mat.
I set my intention:
“Let the waters settle and you will see the moon and the stars mirrored in your being.” ~Rumi
After a tough tempo run, after rushing home to feed the dog and myself, and after rushing back to Norfolk for this yoga class, I knew I needed to settle into my mat. My energy felt frantic. As we moved through poses, I found myself looking outward instead of inward. I needed to settle within myself.
We moved through a series of poses that were new to me. The sequencing was fresh. After completing both the right and the left side, we were instructed to move through the sequence again on our own. Gracefully the teacher told us to let our intuition guide us. Our bodies would remember. For a moment I panicked. Settle. I don’t know the sequence. I looked outward. Settle. I closed my eyes. I focused on my breath and my body found the movement. It found the movement it needed.
And there it was. The reason I showed up for the yoga class. Toss your intentions into the world and look for opportunities to practice them.
I told my running coach I didn’t want a race plan. I asked for no guidance on race day. I want my body to guide me. I want the freedom of running by feel. I want to give my body what it needs on race day. In the full moon yoga class, I was given exactly that. For a moment I panicked. I wanted guidance. I looked outward instead of inward. Then I reminded myself to settle. I know I’ll need this reminder again on race day.
When moving through life (or running a race or practicing yoga), to get to where you want to go you have to push beyond the panic. Fear paralyzes all progress. For me the only way to do that is to settle. I have to calm myself down. I have to relax. To find freedom in living and in running, I have to turn inward. I have to trust that my body knows the movement.
When all the fear and the panic settles, I’m left with nothing but the magic of my life.
Last nights yoga practice was the perfect reminder. My race in 10 days will be another chance to practice.
As the days have grown longer, running after work on Tuesdays and Thursdays has quickly become my new pattern. With daylight illuminating every new path, I have an endless amount of new ground to cover. Each week my runs have expanded. My normal 3 mile loop has grown into four or five or six miles. On my map, my reach has expanded. More sunshine has casted light on my confidence to explore.
Isn’t this how it always works? A new running route, a new adventure, or a new chapter of life can cause me to become timid. While navigating the new course, I’m cautious. Then the light creeps in. Comfort is discovered. Confidence grows. My circles expand.
This year has been all about recognizing the ripples in life. Circles are expanding. Some of them are literal circles like my running path at work. Others are as figurative as the expansion of energy rippling outward from my heart and lungs.
On Friday I sat across from my running coach. It’s two weeks until race day. Like all the other ripples in my life , our trust and understanding of each other has also expanded. He has known long before me what I need from my running. Today I’m trusting it too.
For some people, running is simply running. Race day is the day to put your game face on, turn off your emotion and compete. I wanted this. I wanted nothing more than to take my head and my heart out of the equation. I thought to compete I needed to silence the part of me that felt too much and thought too much. In order to perform at my best, I spent many years trying to simply perform. Give me a race plan. Let me execute it. I thought that was the winning strategy because for some it is. For some runners it works brilliantly. My running coach may have always know this doesn’t work for me.
Silencing the part of me that thinks too much and feels too much is like chopping of my legs. I was fighting myself instead of racing. I had lost before I even started. Feeling too much and thinking too much is my strength.
I left that meeting with a very simple race plan. Race day is my exclamation point.
Two Tuesdays ago I was supposed to run mile repeats: three of them, four if I was feeling on fire. My legs wanted nothing to do with it. They’d only run one pace, and that was easy. I finished my run a little deflated. I had some thinking to do. Did I want race day to be an attempt at a personal best or did I want to run easy? What did I need from the race?
All week I had dreams filled with memories that made me feel alive. I had dreams that kept connecting me to times where I felt uninhibited and free. When I close my eyes, breathe deeply, and recall life moments that take my breath away, there is always one that stands out the most. It wasn’t my wedding day or the day I birthed my boys. It’s a simple night in Austin, Texas. After sitting speechless on a staircase listening to Andrew McMahon play music on his piano, I walked out on to Sixth Street. Surrounded by friends, we raced. We ran down the streets chasing nothing but the feeling of being alive. Maybe it was Austin, maybe it was the music, maybe it was the brand new territory in my life, but that night I knew what magic felt like.Because I know better than to try to seperate my life from my running, I knew there was something hidden in my dreams.
That’s the one thing.
There’s no safety in desire.
Preserving life is as good as dying.
🎵Andrew McMahon, So Close
This ripple pattern that I’ve come to notice in my life, it expands or contracts based on me. So many times I feel myself shrinking and caving in. So many times in my life I’ve felt so close to achieving it, touching it, experiencing it, and I’ve shrunk back out of fear.
And these could be the best or the darkest days.
The lines we walk are paper thin
And we could pull this off or push away
🎵Andrew McMahon, So Close
My biggest challenge is in letting go. Once I find my edge, too many times I’ve retreated backwards. How many times have I cheated myself out of enjoying the free fall that comes once we embrace the edge? How many times have I not run down the street for no other reason than it feels good to run? Once you push beyond the panic, the magic of life is waiting.
So close to giving up
So close to going all the way
So close to taking off
So close to going no where
🎵Andrew McMahon, So Close
At the beginning of this training cycle, I drove to the oceanfront with Andrew McMahom playing in my car. His song So Close playing too loudly for 6am.
As I drove I thought to myself, running is the punctuation of my life. It defines the content. It gives structure and shape to everything I do.
On Friday as I told my running coach I didn’t want a race plan, that I wanted to run reckless, that I wanted to get so close and not give up out of fear.
I wanna go there.
I wanna go there.
🎵Andrew McMahon, So Close
With every thought, every feeling, I’m showing up in Delaware. There is no plan A, B or C. There is no pace to hit for each mile. There are no bullet points outlining the details of my plan. There is only an exclamation point – the one my coach drew on my notebook after I told him what I needed from this race.
As a parent, I strive to be an example for my children. I want them to see me working hard. I want them to see me chasing a dream. I want them to know that if we want something, we have to work for it. So often the focus is on the end result.
As I reflect on the last year of my life, I’m filled with gratitude. This has been the best year yet. This is the current of my life. It’s the vibration behind everything I do. I’m living my best right now. Thirty six has been so good to me, but it’s not because I’m focused on an end result. I’ve been focusing on each moment.
Birthdays are perfect for reflection. While today I’m convinced I’m exactly where I’m meant to be, the truth is this year was hard. Having walked away from a “dream job” just before my 36th birthday, I questioned everything. I doubted myself, my strength, and my ability. The year started in pieces. Each fragment unsure where it belonged. The summer was dark. I was hot and stuck.
Each day I continued on. I kept honoring myself. I made my way. Each moment and each step of the way created opportunities to write my own story.
Today as the sunset I stood beside the river with my boys. Helping Cole work through disappointment of his own, I found myself telling him to keep working, to keep striving, and he’ll find his success. But is that the message I really want to teach my child. I stopped myself. I started over.
This time I told him it’s okay to feel disappointed. That disappointment will turn into other feelings too. That’s okay, and it’s important to feel them all. It’s also important to keep moving forward. It’s important to keep making a path. That might be a dream to chase or a goal to hit. While those dreams and goals help us bloom, it’s the process of chasing them that fulfills us. Disappointment is just another chance to reevaluate what we really want.
Thirty six was my year of reevaluating. It was a year of prioritizing. In all it’s ugly messy middle, it was magical.
I’ve quit assuming what the next year will deliver. Instead I’m learning to celebrate it all.
Thirty seven: lets do this! I’ve got a lot of life to bring you.
As much as I love pacing my training team and supporting on race day, I have discovered that in order to push my teammates, I need to push myself. Since I’d be on the sidelines during the half and full marathon on Sunday, I took the opportunity to race the 8k on Saturday.
I had two goals: PR (sub 44:09) and run faster than I did at the Wicked 10k (8:39 pace).
I didn’t taper. I didn’t prepare for this race. The day before I worked from 6:30am until 9:00pm. There was a lot stacked against me and if I wanted to look for an excuse to have a bad race, there was a lot I could have grabbed a hold of race morning.
Quite frankly, I’m sick of not PRing. I’m sick of having mediocre races. I was either going to hit my goal, or I was going to crash and burn. I was going for it.
Race morning I took my place in the second corral with my kickass friend Karen by my side. She was ready to be my reality check if I started to falter. In front of me in corral 1 was my husband. Given the day and our own individual races, I knew he had a great shot at beating me for the first time. I also had a shot at catching him.
Karen and I started fast. Heading south we had the wind in our face. We both laughed knowing I was too fast for a conservative start, but sometimes you just have to roll with it. The first 3 miles felt like work, but in a five mile race I knew I needed to work the entire race.
8:26 8:39 8:44
After mile 3, I was freed from the boardwalk. I may have let out a primal moan as Karen and I made our way North. I was ready to be done. At mile 4, my teammates had created an epic cheer zone. I felt like a celebrity.
As I hit my last mile, I felt the all to familiar feeling of panic. My head started spinning. Breathing felt impossible. For the first time ever in a race I said out loud “I need to calm myself down”. As soon as the words left my mouth, my anxiety followed. I had acknowledged it, and I had let it go. Mile 4 felt awful and amazing all at the same time. I knew a PR belonged to me.
As soon as I crossed the finish line, I saw my husband’s smiling face. I had forgotten about him on the course as I ran my own race, but was curious to see who won the Maute show down.
The race wasn’t even close. He destroyed it with a finish time of sub 40 (sub 8 minute miles). Christian is the official owner of the fastest Maute crown. Not too shabby for a guy who ran 11 minute miles a year ago.
My official time: 42:40 (8:33 pace). A new PR and a perfect set up for my half marathon next month.
While the PR and the pace feel amazing, I’m even more proud of my ability to mentally overcome the panic that normally takes me down. The wheels didn’t fall off. I’ve got this!
“On a given day, a given circumstance, you think you have a limit. And you then go for this limit and you touch this limit, and you think, ‘Okay, this is the limit’. And so you touch this limit, something happens and you suddenly can go a little bit further. With your mind power, your determination, your instinct, and the experience as well, you can fly very high.” ~Aytron Senna
31 days until the Coastal Delaware Half Marathon. With Shamrock behind me, I plan on being selfish with my running for the next four weeks to see what my legs (and my head) can do for a half marathon. The goal is the same as always! Sub 2.
“Be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help, and brave enough to ask for it.” ~Mark Amend
If I could pick the shape of my heart, I’d draw a shamrock in the middle of my chest. Shamrock Marathon weekend is my heartbeat. It’s the place I discovered my strength. Over the course of 13.1 miles in 2010, I became the narrator of my own life. Prior to that race, I lived the life I thought I should love. After I crossed that finish line, I began to live the life I wanted. Shamrock Marathon weekend empowers me year after year.
This year my shamrock story began to take shape as I stood on the sidelines of the Richmond marathon last November. I witnessed “coaches” running up and down the course encouraging their runners. The moment I saw it, I knew that was the role I wanted to own race weekend.
It didn’t take much convincing for my coach to say yes. In fact I think he said yes before I finished asking. My friend and fellow pacer, Steve and I would strategically place ourselves outside Fort Story before mile 10 and mile 23 of the Shamrock half and full marathon.
Race morning arrived along with terrible weather. You won’t read a race report that doesn’t talk about how the cold/rain/snow/sleet/hail/gail force winds impacted everyone’s race. As course support, I couldn’t let this impact me. I packed multiple outfits, extra shoes, and four coats. I needed to be ready.
My job as a spectator started with the half. I watched the first half of the race head north from 80th street. With enough time to catch the front runners, I made my way to 89th street. This is when my real work began. It was time to run with my team.
Our fast runners came through. Tucked in with pace groups, they looked strong. I knew the race belonged to them. One by one my teammates came off the fort. They arrived faster than I expected.
Every half marathoner looked strong. They were focused. They had fight. Not a single one faltered. Steve and I ran up and down Atlantic Ave between 89th and 82nd street running with our teammates and cheering on every other racer. It was a tough day, and if I could give someone a boost of energy, I was going to do it.
As the last half marathoner came through, the weather took a turn for the worse. Maybe it had already been that bad but when I was running with my team I was oblivious to the weather. When I stopped moving and waited for the marathoners to make their way to us, my body began to falter. Wet, cold, shivering, and a slight shade of blue, Steve and I took cover under a tree. Time stood still, and the ugly doubt that creeps in on race day found me. Trembling, I wasn’t sure I could endure several more hours of the weather. Steve saw me falter, and like a true friend and pacer he came to my rescue. He was able to move my car from 80th to 89th so I could remove my wet layers, blast my heat, and warm my body up. He took over so I could stop shaking.
Our first marathoner came through. Seeing Steve run with our dear friend unfroze my brain. I had a job to do. I put dry socks on my feet, layered on clothes that felt the least wet, and I resumed my position on the course.
The marathoners needed us more than ever. By Mile 23, everyone hurt. Everyone was frozen. Everyone had doubts. Everyone wanted to be done. My job was to shower them with positivity and praise as they attacked their final 5k.
One by one Steve and I ran with every runner. The race course felt like a ghost town. Unlike the crowded half, the marathon felt empty. The familiar faces of our team were easy to spot. We tied shoes. We opened Gus. We dug water bottles out of camelbaks. We ran. We high fived. We didn’t stop until we found our last runner.
After nearly 8 hours of running with our team, Steve and I had crossed our finish line. The race was done.
While the logistics of the day are easy to describe, the emotion of the day keeps slipping away from my finger tips. I got to witness everything. I saw hope and strength. I saw gratitude and fight. I saw desperation and panic. I saw courage. I saw the spirit of what it means to be human for 8 hours, and for a moment I was able to add positivity to someone’s day.
While every single runner responded to Mile 10 and Mile 23 in a different way, there was one common theme amongst all my teammates. When they were at their edge and at the point of breaking, they all had one question. They wanted to know how everyone else was doing? They wanted to know if a teammate and friend was on pace for their goal. They wanted me to know a teammate was right behind them. They told me what they were wearing so I wouldn’t miss anyone. Everyone was more concerned about a teammate then themselves. At their lowest, my teammates wanted to make sure their teammates were given the support they needed.
I learned more than I ever thought I would on Sunday, and yet I saw once again the same lesson every marathon I’ve ever run has been trying to show me. It doesn’t matter how fast or slow you run. It doesn’t matter how many miles you conquer.
Strength matters. Be strong enough to stand alone.
Being smart matters. Be smart enough to know when you need help.
Bravery matters. Be brave enough to ask for help.
Collectively our entire team was strong, smart and brave on race day. This is the magic of our team. We are our best when we are together.
And just like that, the season is over. The bad weather moved out. The sun started to shine as the finish line came down. Spring is here, and we all endured more than we every thought we could.
So long Shamrock 2017! This year we learned there is nothing we can’t handle.
Today is International Women’s Day. It is a day to recognize the strength and importance of women in our culture but to also draw attention to the exclusion of women from our world. This year the campaign is asking us to #beboldforchange by taking groundbreaking action that truly drives the greatest change for women. Each one of us – with women, men and non-binary people joining forces – can be a leader within our own spheres of influence by taking bold pragmatic action to accelerate gender parity. Through purposeful collaboration, we can help women advance and unleash the limitless potential offered to economies the world over.
As I got ready for work this morning, my thoughts wandered as they often do. Driven by my own personal desires to create change, I often feel paralyzed. How do I make that bold move for change? How do I create an impact? How do I reach the outer circle of life where change seems to occur? More often than not it feels beyond my reach.
A reoccurring pattern keeps appearing in my thoughts: circles and ripples. They have become one in the same. If I am the center of my life, my most immediate impact is the circle that is next to me. As change reaches my family, the circle expands. My impact begins to ripple outward towards that unreachable space.
Perhaps the most impactful way to #beboldforchange is to start by living small. You have to start in the center. You have to start with you.
Breath of Sunshine began the moment I realized I missed writing. Touched by the ripple of a blog from women in Vancouver, I created a space for myself. I would share my story as a means of writing again. I wrote for no one but myself. The more I wrote, the more I fell in love with my story.
I shared my story. My family began to read my blog. A few friends began to follow. My reach grew. A few strangers found the space I had carved out for myself. My blog is small, but many have thanked me for its impact.
For six years, I’ve capture my heart “on paper”. While the content of my blog has evolved, I’ve never stopped writing for myself. I’ve always been an audience of one. I write for myself. I will never tell you how to live your best life, how to run faster, how to parent a child, but I will always share the lessons I learn along the way. I write them down so I can process the lesson. I write them down so I remember. I share them so I can feel the impact of my life.
Today on International Women’s Day when I’m desperately wishing I could reach the outer circle where change magically seems to occur, I’m taking the time to reflect on the change that occurred the moment I recognize the worth of my inner most ripple. As I approach my 37th birthday, I see how lucky I am. I love every piece of my life and every part of who I am. I know I am loved. I know I am privileged. While today I feel an abundance of gratitude for the life that I live, I know that this didn’t occur over night.
My inner most circle if filled with love. This floods the next immediate circle, my family, with love. Through my story, by sharing myself, I believe that the next circle and the next circle are also touched by the love that exists in the center of my life. This blog, no matter how small, has allowed me to cast ripples into the world.
On Saturday, I had the privilege of running with one of the most dynamic and life filled women I have ever met. She has dedicated the remainder of her life to creating ripples of love and support to those who need a reminder that they are worth the fight. As Kim spoke, her words, her ripple nearly knocked me over. When describing the people she’s met along the way, she described them as the following:
The Light that Reflects Light
My life, my love, and my heart is filled with light. My grandparents must have had a glimpse of the life I would someday live when they nicknamed me Sunshine.
Most days I feel like my light is my own. I’m honored when people recognize it, but my intention has never been for people to recognize it.
This year, the year of waking up, I am starting to wonder.
But when should I go big?
The best way to reflect the light of others is to let my own light shine. Once the light shines, don’t I have an obligation to spread my reach? Once you’ve reached the most immediate layers, what responsibility do we have to make a bigger splash? This is where I falter. This is where the doubt creeps in.
My voice isn’t unique. There are hundreds, thousands and millions of other women who stand on my same platform. There are bigger voices, louder voices, more impactful voices that say exactly what I say. Why should I share? Why should I speak? These are all the questions I ask myself. These are the doubts.
Today I’m setting a new intention to change that. Why shouldn’t I? Why not me? To that question, I don’t have one good answer.