An Open Letter…

“Be around the dreamers, the doers, the thinkers, the believers.

The people who are up to big & bold things in this life and they wholeheartedly believe that what you’re up to is just as brilliant and beautiful.

They constantly challenge you to see more, say more, to feel more, to love more, to be more.

These people are the light bringers.

These people are the magic makers.

These people are the world shifters.

These people are your tribe.

And once you’ve found them, you have the greatest gift you can ever hope for.” – Anon

It’s true what they say about it taking a village, it took a small village to help me get through and to the other side of the past few months. Heck it takes a village for each of us to work through the ups, downs, triumphs and forks of the road in this life, but there are moments where this village becomes the necessary support system that you may or may not know you need at the time.

It seems bitter sweet writing this post, I knew that at some point these weeks of thoughts and scribbles would be compiled into a post to signify my gratitude, feelings and thanks to what has transpired over the past few months.

If I’ve learned anything over the last few years it’s that having a plan doesn’t always mean stability and safety, I did however feel that I was at a place in my life where I did have these two things. A little over six months ago things changed quite quickly for me – while I was confident in my job, comfortable in my life, I had a lot of goals I was working towards and everything was on track, little did I know life had other plans for me – I was laid off.

The first person I called was my mom – for obvious reasons – she is my number one, within in a matter of minutes once I had filled her in on the details, the next person I told was my coach. Heather and I had already been texting over the course of the morning, without hesitation I told her the news, she immediately responded with, “Do you want to spin tomorrow morning?” I responded with a resounding yes before I even asked how early I needed to be up and where the studio was located. Signing-up for this class was the start of me cementing my commitment to taking care of myself during this time of change in my life, I was hopeful that by giving myself the physical outlets to continue to strengthen my body and burn off stress that it would help my mental and emotional well being too. I opened myself up to  this community so that I could spend time surrounded by people who understood where I was knowing in my gut that they were going to let me be me a few times a week outside of being the ambitious hustler who would now be looking for a new role and spending days putting my best foot forward from 9 to 5pm.

Over the time that I was off I was open about my situation with my small group of people, as you’ll see through a series of posts over the next few weeks I was quick to realize how many people in this situation keep to themselves or do not talk about a layoff likely out of embarrassment or fear of judgement. Even though it is becoming more and more common for our generation to face unstable work and employment, so many still hold back from starting a conversation up about how it has affected them. I naturally worked through stages of grief which are interchangeable when we face any loss within our lives: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I’d like to attribute this run/sweat life for giving me the ability for me to work through these stages quickly and not dwell on things that were out of my control. It’s through my tribe and fitness that I have been able to foster a sense of vulnerability and resiliency unlike any other. It’s amazing what dedication to a 12-week training plan, commitment to working through setbacks + injuries and the ability to mentally stick with yourself for a two hour half marathon that help develop these important characteristics.

Throughout it all the one constant was my run family/sweat family, many of these people knew early on, they were the individuals who allowed me to continue to be myself during this time and provided me with the ability to continue to be “Allison the runner/sweat life junkie/run mentor”, I never felt like I needed to “put on the happiness or the smile” as my run family allowed me be whatever version of myself I was when I showed up each week to run. Through this community both near and abroad I quickly connected with runners who were dealing with the same change in their life or had recently experienced a restructuring at work, to Gemma, Linda, Bianca and a few others who openly shared their journey with me I am grateful to have had this community allow us to cross paths via coffee dates, lunches and long distance chats. These fearless women who were putting their own best foot forward on and off the pavement helped me really think about what I wanted and how this situation could really be a great opportunity.

I firmly believe that what got me through this time was a combination of my family, run family and sticking to a routine, it kept me sane and allowed me to navigate through the feelings, changes, thoughts, stress and emotions of the past few months without going crazy. Yes, I still got up at 6am twice a week to sweat at Fuel Training Club, but taking care of myself, maintaining a routine and not settling into bad habits was a big thing for me. There were moments where I would ride the frustration, anger, doubt or fear wave hard, but I also channeled a lot of those feelings and thoughts into my training to utilize those opportunities as an outlet to let go and continue to focus on my well being. Throughout it all the running, sweating yogi’ing, dancing, lifting and cycling helped make all of this a more manageable and bearable at times.

I truly believe that lacing up and finding my fierce in this tribe has given me a strength and resiliency that I didn’t have before, these were two things that were important for me to harness during this time. The confidence I have in myself was shaken during this part of my journey, but while one thing shifted in my life I held firm and steady which is one thing you learn all too soon as someone who races. You need to be confident in the work you’ve put in and resilient in the position you are in now, it’s only forever if you allow it to be that way. Just like you would in any training session or race sometimes you need to harness that resiliency and confidence to push yourself out of your comfort zone and own the moment.

A Note of Thanks

Tribe Fitness & Coach Heather – this paragraph does do justice to all of you, it was Wednesday nights, finding some grounding Sunday nights at yoga and the opportunity to mentor the Learn 2 Run Program that brought me moments of joy, laughter and distraction. It was knowing that I could spend time with people who knew what was going on but weren’t going to let it define me in my run life that left me excited for these times during the week when I could connect with all of you. From the runs that include laughter + life chats, to the nights you allowed me to tune out to tune into a run that was more focused on me pulling away on my own to find my legs and clear my head, thank you for letting me have these moments with you all along side me. To my coach and friend Heather, it’s always hard to find the words to convey how grateful I am for you and the community that you’ve cultivated. Thank you for being a contributor to the strength I have, for encouraging me to chase my goal to get spin certified, invites to mid-day workouts to breakup sessions at the library and for keeping me close to my tribe during this time. We all know Tribe Fitness is a big part of our lives, but you really don’t fully grasp the importance of these people or this sport until you need your run family most.

Friends & Family – there are a lot of you to thank, a lot of you who supported me unconditionally and that I have thanked and will continue to thank personally. It’s in times that this you find out who will truly stand by you, I’ve always been lucky to come from a family where we stick by each other through thick and thin, this family is rounded out by a few close friends who I’ve adopted as family and are an extension of my tree. Lauren – from late night chats to Saturday morning spin your laughter and sass have kept me motivated to continue to be the ambitious lady that I am. To my rock JC – I honestly don’t know what I would do without you to be my sounding board, confidant and short notice coffee mate, you truly never cease to always be there for me. Dustin – distance is no object for us, even thousands of kilometers can’t stop you from being one of the strongest supports in my life and I am grateful to FaceTime chats always. Juleigh – your company at the library, run chats and assisting with your floral ambitions were a welcomed adventure to my days. Lastly to Ty-  the guy who reappeared in my life a few months ago after almost seven years, just when I thought my life couldn’t surprise me anymore here you are. The universe had other plans for us seven years ago and for a reason that may never be known to us we have been reconnected at a time of change in my life but you took a chance on me anyway. The abundance of love and support in this paragraph alone is unfathomable, you all mean so much to me.

Fuel Training Club – to my trainers Jamie and Sean who let me have my rough moments in the gym but continued to push me to #bebetter, you both rock! The 6am Sweat Crew was vital to me maintaining a sense of routine and being able to continue to see improvements in my performance at Fuel pushed me in others areas of my life as well.

RSVP 33 – to Founders Saschie and Roman in YVR to the YYZ crew of Colours and Shelby, I was very lucky to have the opportunity to continue dancing this November and December as I tried to find time each day to focus on me outside of the daily grind of figuring out what would come next in my life. Having a space to focus on learning choreography was a welcomed change of pace compared to reading job postings and writing resumes. The community that you have created allows everyone to come to the dance floor and be their authentic self while leaving the confides, stresses and challenges of life at the door is really unlike anything else.

As I continue to share my thoughts and scribbles over the next few weeks I want anyone who reads this to know that I’m sharing this all out of a place of vulnerability, it hasn’t been easy to find the right way to thread these events together. But, I am okay with it knowing that my paying it forward to share my story – as some of you did during the past few months with me – maybe one other person who is struck off guard by a change in their career can find some solace or direction based on how I handled it during my time.

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