The Year of Jess

I earned it. I deserved it. I hated the name of it. I fought it. I chased it. I want another one.


I was finishing a blog post on New Year's Eve 2018. So much had happened and I had so many people to thank, update and maybe inspire (I secretly hoped). As I was working on the update and self reflection of all that had happened over the last 2 years, I took a break to scroll through Instagram. One of my favorite podcasters and therapists (not my therapist, but I loved her public speaking engagements and podcast interviews) posted about a retreat she was partnering on. My mind was blown. Hillary McBride + Running = Best thing ever! Almost too good to be true.




As a running coach and Training Groups Coordinator for 9 Fleet Feet Spokane stores in the PNW running was literally my life. I started running late in life as a way to loose weight and manage my PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). It was my super weapon to feeling good despite my health. But this year....wow 2018 literally changed it all. In 2017, I lost my sight in the left eye in a matter of weeks. Running now meant tripping, falling, daylight runs, pretending I wasn't blind and running with my favorite running guide, my husband. I was not able to push and challenge myself in triathlon or running as I had before. The tumor priority. In 2018, 2 craniotomies in a matter of 4 months just took the wind out of my sails. Healing was hard, long and honestly....I just didn't know how to have relationship with running. I had no idea what it could be or should be.


Hillary's post on IG made my heart bounce. She used a word that had no real meaning to me but drew me in anyway....Embodied. It was an Embodied Running Retreat in Tanzania, Africa. My soul was there. It had packed its bags and bought the plane ticket.....but the rest of me.... The rest me reached out in a direct message to Hillary to see if there was collaboration possibilities for the runners in the PNW that I worked with. Could we scale it down into micro retreats (then I could actually go!).


My life could be summed up as a great collaboration for everyone else's interest. I loved the work of networking. I would soon realize that the work of 2019 was not going to be about others. It was going to be about me. And that, my friends, is gravely uncomfortable.


Hillary responded to my DM. Wow. That was enough to make my year. I had been in such awe of her work in the area of trauma and spirituality. It was a work I was doing in myself for quite some time and she was the sidekick in my journey (unknown to her). She then connected me with Karly from The Public Run Club, her co-host for the retreat. Karly soon became a part of my journey that was unexpected and absolutely necessary to healing my body in all its senses and engagements. She calls herself a running coach/guide....but she's actually a healer. She makes space for runners to heal their relationship with running and their bodies. So I let her begin healing me. Actually....she taught me how to heal myself.


I worked with Karly to coordinate an Embodied Running Clinic throughout the Fleet Feet locations we had in the PNW. Karly and I had big vision and hope for what this could do for runnings in Idaho, Washington and Oregon. Not all of it played out as we had hoped, but the process of it all brought me to a moment with my husband. "I need to go to Africa." It was one of the hardest things for me to say out loud. I don't like to ask for things for myself and this was the biggest thing I could ask for. (maybe the exposure to two strong women who kept challenging me to listen to my body had something to do with it!)


Casey's reply was so quick....YES! Let's do this!


In my New Year's reflections and my blog writing, I had realized that after all that I had put my body through to save my eye, it needed me to listen. My body had experienced multiple traumas in a very short amount of time. Her response was to tighten up, fatigue out, and hunker down. She wanted to be safe. But "Movement is Life" kept echoing in my head. I knew she needed to run and play again. Trauma had overtaken and we had to learn to trust each other again. Coming back to running proved harder than ever. A few weeks in I had developed compartment syndrome in my right calf. This was now going to take intentional work. I needed a PT, massage therapist, MD, chiropractor and my surgical specialists to help me move forward....literally. Casey said that healing my body needed to be my top priority. He wanted me to listen to the needs it had and do whatever it needed. He said it will be The Year of Jess. Our focus would be on healing my body inside and out. The only condition I placed on my year - No more surgeries. So it began....





Every day of 2019 was intentional. I hired a life coach, Madison Hedlund, to help me get unstuck. I quit a toxic job environment that was killing me from the inside out (note: loved my job and co-workers and customers....toxic employer environment). I think I learned more about my voice in this process of having a life coach guide me through finding me than any thing I'd done to date.


Let's take a head count for a second. I had a running coach, a podcaster/therapist, a life coach and a rockin PT that were cheering my body on to heal! Women are amazing creatures and when they hold space for a sister, its magic!




Africa was, well, Africa. She breathes magic! But the 6 women on this trip (including myself) have left an imprint on my whole being that I still have not found words for. It was hard healing work but it was so good. Again...women. We are the Super Heroes in the world.




Everyone needs a Year. A Year to heal. A Year to find their lost self. A Year to discover. A Year to take risks. A Year to adventure. I don't think my year is truly over. I won't be traveling to Africa again (although I could be easily enticed!). But I will always live with the work of healing in the forefront of each day. I'm discovering new ways to engage all me and offer my body safety and wholeness.


My journey is not about brain surgeries. My journey is about being brave enough to finally embody ALL of the circumstance, whatever it may be. I can survive anything, and I will. But more than that, I want to live. Being alive means feeling all of it. Being brave is allowing yourself to feel all of it. I believe we come to life by feeling the very moment we are in.


Hold Tight. Plant your feet. Settle in. Embrace it.


Embrace it.... the now, the hard, the pain… and fear will have no space to win.


Peace with IT births YOUR Super power. Wouldn’t you like to know what your Superpower is?

Surviving can show your strength but strength can be built by an action or discipline done over and over again. Your Superpower comes alive when you allow it ALL in. The pain, the fear, the unknown, the hope, the determination, the broken hearts.


Your Superpower is Your Essence soaring. Let's soar HIGH!






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