September 26, 2014

Go out in the woods, go out. Let the heart lead you.


Words that will be wise and clear. Words that will provide clarity. Searching and scouring for words, it keeps a person busy. But busy is not the goal. Progress, knowledge, social change, self-improvement, a full life built around smart and interesting people – that is the ultimate goal.

I’ve recently taken a few earnest leaps forward and I have been trying to articulate what it all means. Simply stated, I am and have always been in an ever-changing place that is constantly growing, moving, and searching. We all are.

And so friends, here I am. Right here.

I am tackling the training for another marathon after a two-year hiatus from the distance. On Sunday, November 23, 2014 in Philadelphia, I will line up with the elite women to race the elusive, daunting, and thrilling 42.2 kilometres in pursuit of a personal best time.

Observers may call this a self-imposed sufferfest and yes, it will be hard. Mentally and physically I am ready. At seven weeks into this training cycle, I have run over 100 kilometers per week with a long run progression week over week. I’ve raced a 5K (clocking a best time at that distance) and a 10K (running 1:20 faster year over year on the same hilly course at the Toronto Zoo). In three weeks, my next race will be a half marathon at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon where I will aim to run my fastest time at that distance.

My best thinking happens while running. I’ve taken the pressure off myself, using mantra’s like “this is what you love” or “fly, just fly” when I’ve had to dig pretty deep during long runs, races, or workouts. I draw inspiration from Shalane Flanagan’s story and her pursuit for greatness.

More than anything, I am grateful to my coach, teammates, partner Michael, and brother Ben for pushing and supporting me during workouts and long runs. Training for a marathon is a journey and process made more fun when you share it with others.

“Because I always feel like running, not away because there is no such place, because if there was I would have found it by now.” - Gil Scott Heron

Canadian 10km Road Race Championship in Toronto, Ontario
Angels at Canadian 10km Road Race Championship in Toronto
At Canadian 5km Road Race Championship in Toronto

I resigned from my corporate job to pursue a life of writing, purpose, and entrepreneurship. It cannot be said: “Do this, and this, in this particular order, and all will be well.”

Over my lifetime as I’ve shifted, altered, and puzzled at exactly how to live, I know it is worse to stay where one does not belong at all than to wander about lost for a while and looking for what one requires. It is best to be courageous and patient, hold out till you find the ones you belong to. Let the heart lead you.

The curious questions I have received over the past few weeks include, what are you doing now? How are you spending your days? What do you need? What do you want to do? I’d love to throw it back out there, does a traditional 9 to 5 job allow a person to answer those questions in a more meaningful way, I doubt it. My life has never been defined by work but rather my passions, dreams, goals, and ambitions.

In fact, I have more time to spend reading, writing, meeting and talking with as many interesting and new people as possible, and revisiting what is it that I am truly passionate about.

Organizations like MaRS and SheEO have been extremely helpful, and the co-founders of The Gal’s Got Game have been equally influential.

At SheEO networking event for entrepreneurs in Toronto

Here is a short list of books that I have read over the past few months while I’ve made this decision or continue to read while I live the change.

The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss
Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype by Clarissa Pinkola Estés,
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews
The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau

Thoughts to share from these books.

“There is only one way: Go within. Search for the cause, find the impetus that bids you write. Put it to this test: Does it stretch out its roots in the deepest place of your heart? Can you avow that you would die if you were forbidden to write? Above all, in the most silent hour of your night, ask yourself this: Must I write? Dig deep into yourself for a true answer. And if it should ring its assent, if you can confidently meet this serious question with a simple, “I must,” then build your life upon it. It has become your necessity. Your life, in even the most mundane and least significant hour, must become a sign, a testimony to this urge.” -Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

“For all of the most important things, the timing always sucks. Waiting for a good time to quit your job? The stars will never align and the traffic lights of life will never all be green at the same time. The universe doesn't conspire against you, but it doesn't go out of its way to line up the pins either. Conditions are never perfect. "Someday" is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you. Pro and con lists are just as bad. If it's important to you and you want to do it "eventually," just do it and correct course along the way.” -Timothy Ferriss, The 4-Hour Work Week

"The goal is not to simply eliminate the bad, which does nothing more than leave you with a vacuum, but to pursue and experience the best in the world." -Timothy Ferriss, The 4 Hour Workweek

“What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do.” -Timothy Ferriss, The 4 Hour Workweek

“Go out in the woods, go out. If you don't go out in the woods nothing will ever happen and your life will never begin.” -Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype

At Ruby Watchco in Toronto - this place is remarkable!

In early September, I turned 30 and spent the day with those who have left deep footprints on my life.

It was the first birthday that I’ve spent with my mom since 2001 when I lived in Kenora. She spent a wonderful week in Toronto with my Auntie Gail for the Toronto International Film Festival, their visit goes down as one of my favourite weeks in this city.

The start of a new chapter.

To top it all off, Ben and Ali moved to Toronto. Officially. They make my life so much better. It’s only been three weeks but their presence is immense and life continues to get more and more exciting each day that they are here.

I’m loving being a coach and helping others through my online run coaching business, Gusto Running. Running is having a moment and I am so happy to be a part of it.

And finally, I find myself with time to pursue something that I’ve been talking about for years, creating and launching a girls running program in Regent Park, an area of the city I have come to love for all its complexities.

The program aims to empower girls through running. There have been very few endeavors that I have been more excited about.

“If there is to be change, we are it. What you do today influences your future. The daughters of your daughters of your daughters are likely to remember you, and most importantly, follow in your tracks.” -Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype

As I watched Emma Watson’s speech for the UN Women this week, I thought about her words as she closes off her point - if not me, who? If not now, when?

And so yes, I am in the process of getting faster, inspiring girls, learning something new everyday, writing, looking at how to bring my dream of traveling to Kenya to train a reality (I had tucked that goal away), loving the people in my life deeply and living a full life.

I have ONLY the choice to say, yes, it will be me and it will be now.