This blog briefly reflects upon my adventures in both running and life, and what I've learned along the way.The purpose of documenting these adventures is partially a meditation tool for myself, but also to help you and others learn with (or from) me. Our journeys may be separate, but we can all push eachother to reach our peak potential.
A few months ago, I wrote a blog
entitled “The Beauty of 2nd Place” where I shared some of my
thoughts on what it means to win.Over
the years I have to realize that any sport or “competition” really has nothing
to do with getting that number one spot, and everything to do with getting the
best out of yourself…and others.
[Most of us view competition as a healthy
activity that sometimes can be taken too far.However, I’d like you to take a look at how competition is defined. The Merriam-Webster
Dictionary defines “compete” as: to strive consciously or
unconsciously for an objective (as position, profit, or a prize) : be in a
state of rivalry.That definition may
have its proper place in some places, but I do not want it to define my running.To me, that definition is lacking.It needs to include feeling, yearning, and the
want to do one’s best for the sake of seeing what one is capable of… and, the
push to see what other’s are capable of. ]
Not long ago, I read “How Winning Works: 8 Essential Leadership
Lessons from the Toughest Teams on Earth” by
Robyn Benincasa and was stuck by the challenge she presented to “…wake up every morning and make the
conscience decision to see a world of full of teammates instead of a world full
of competitors.”How much easier life, and running, would be if
I changed my perspective to match that attitude!
My first ultra of the season is Sunday.With my first ultra, I have a new goal for this year of ultra running:To view the other women runner’s as allies,
all of us pushing one another to do and be our best.This year, I will not run against the other
women…I will run with them, and I will run for them.
After all, one of the reasons I run ultras and endure the pain of so
many miles has always been to empower other women.I want all women and girls to know what they
are capable of, if only they find the courage to try.I want them to see how strong and beautiful
they truly are.
I also want to run for my sisters overseas…the ones in 3rd
world countries who have undergone more cruelty than I can imagine, the ones
who are fighting for their lives every day.
Last year I read an extremely powerful book entitled “Half the Sky”
about the oppression of women around the world, and how it can be changed into opportunities
for them to thrive.I recommend that
book to everyone, but especially women.I
can’t remember what country they were from, but I remember reading a story of a
young girl and her sister who were beaten and raped.One of the sisters ended up being murdered,
and the other sister had to go on without her.I thought of my own sisters, and I wept.The love I feel for my sisters is so strong that if anything ever happened
to one of them, I don’t know how I could ever go on.I resolved that in some way, I needed to help
my sisters overseas to keep their sisters close and alive.
Of course, women in America too face many problems.Despite winning many of our legal rights for
equality, we still struggle.Most of
that struggle is internal…we feel we are not good enough, beautiful enough,
strong enough…just never enough.But we
can change that too.
I want to acknowledge the men here too.There are so many amazing men out there that our supporting women in
various aspects, from encouraging them to go after their dreams (thank you
Steve) or taking lead roles in organizations that support women.If you’re a male reading this, I want you to
know how awesome and appreciated you are.THANK YOU!
However, I believe it is women who need to take the lead here.It is our sisters who are struggling, and who
better to help them realize all of their potential than another woman?As women, we can empathize with them, share
in their struggles, and lift them up.
Despite not having much money, I have found (and am still exploring)
numerous ways to empower other women and girls.One, as mentioned above, is running.Another way is simply by educating myself on women’s issues through
books and the news.Then, there are
literally hundreds of great organizations out there that are working to empower
women and girls by giving them the tools they need to overcome their struggles
and succeed.You can probably even find
one tailored to your specific interest, from running to making sure girls in
Pakistan go to school, and helping women earn degrees in engineering to micro-funding
women to start their own businesses.
Mission: Girl Up
is an innovative campaign of the United Nations Foundation. We give American
girls the opportunity to become global leaders and channel their energy and
compassion to raise awareness and funds for United Nations programs that help
some of the world’s hardest-to-reach adolescent girls.
Steve, his daughter Marie, and I have “change
for charity” containers we decorated at our house.Each December, we donate the money to
charity.This year we chose to donate to
“Girl Up”.Yes, it was a small amount,
but a small amount can make a big difference in another country, and many small
amounts can amount to making a big difference!Through their website, I have also sent a few emails to congress to
advocate for change.It literally takes
for Women International supports women in war-torn regions with financial and
emotional aid, job-skills training, rights education and small business
assistance so they can rebuild their lives.
such a wonderful organization!I highly
suggest you check out their website, but in the simplest of terms, the money
raised is given to women in 3rd world countries who then enter a
year long program to learn business skills and job training so they can earn
their own living.I was first introduced
to this organization by a friend, Crystal, when I attended her charity run for
the Women for Women. She then ran and completed the 135 mile Badwater Ultramarathon,
donating all the money she raised to the organization. (Go Crystal!)I then learned more about their incredible
work when reading Half the Sky.
Mission: We inspire girls to be joyful,
healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively
I tell everyone I know that I love Girls
on the Run and I wish the program was around when I was in school!It combines my passion of running with
helping girls embrace who they are and realizing their potential.I’ve now been a volunteer coach with the
organization for 3 seasons and it has been an extremely rewarding experience
for me.This year I have even had the opportunity
to share experience with my boyfriend’s daughter in 3rd grade, which
is undoubtedly making a relationship even closer.There are several ways to become involved
such as volunteer coaching, donating money, becoming a Sole Mate, or
volunteering at the 5k.
In addition to the many organizations we can support, we have the opportunity to
help and empower women and girls in small but very big ways in our daily lives.
For example, please stay away from using
any negative adjectives and descriptions of women…even if you are just joking.
Let all the women in your life know that they are beautiful.Better yet, let them know that their beauty
comes from within.It is what is in our
hearts and minds that shines through us. Women: Stop comparing yourself to
other women and stop judging yourself…especially in the mirror.You are more than a reflection!Support other women my encouraging them to do
their best and go after their dreams.Help
them to see how strong they are.Give
compliments!Ask women for their
opinions and feelings!Recommend a good
book!Those are just a few suggestions,
but there are many ways you can run with, and for, the women in your life.