What I Know About Community

She.is.beautiful 5k and 10k started eight years ago with 500 women the first year. Eight years later, the Santa Cruz event sells out to 6,000 women and girls and the Santa Barbara race sells out to 2,000 women and girls. SIB is more than just a race, it’s a community, it’s a lifestyle. It’s full of love, gratitude, and human connection. While they have professional runners lining up on the start line race for prize money, there are many women and girls of all ages, all backgrounds, all levels- some of them there for their first race experience ever. The event’s founder and director shares with you the secret sauce to what she believes has made this event so special and she calls it the “heart ping”.

Have you ever listened to a song that speaks so strongly to you? It’s a feeling, a ping of the heart. Maybe it’s the sound of the artist’s voice, maybe it’s the actual words that are being sung. Often times, it’s when the artist makes a statement of their truth that you relate to. This is what I believe community should feel like.

Sometimes community looks like someone helping you out at the grocery store when you’re struggling to carry all your bags or if a stranger pays for your coffee. Sometimes community looks like someone sharing with you that they had a really bad day and you reminding them that it happens to all of us. Sometimes community is smiling at the person on your morning run knowing they are probably tired too. Sometimes community is high-fiving, hugging, or smiling, in real life or emoji form.

When She.is.beautiful started 8 years ago, it was built on feelings and experiences that we all share but in our own unique way. Real. Life. Stories. Sweat. Challenges. Insecurities. Breakdown. Breakthrough. Changes. Love. Heartbreak. Courage. Empowerment. Togetherness. Embracing. See, heart ping. All the feels.

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We believe community should be a space where you can show up and feel valued. Where you can feel like you are enough, just as you are. Where you can push yourself or try new things knowing you will be supported regardless of the outcome. Where you can share your story and you can see others acknowledging your truths like, “Yes, I get you!”

When starting this She.is.beautiful community, I couldn’t put into words how it would be created, I just started doing, making, and showing up. There was no business plan. No end goal. It was just what we wanted in the moment. This is still the way we roll. If we didn’t have our hearts fully in this game, we wouldn’t be here.

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A web of women from all walks of life. We want your story on our start line. Because your story matters and is more inspiring than you may realize.

Your story. What you have overcome. What you dream about. What you want your life to feel like. What makes your life challenging. What scares you. Where you want to do better. In our community, we want you to show up just as you are. Leave your professional or “I’m together” aura at the door, because we want your truth (I know, sometimes that’s scary… it’s so much easier to show up with your sh@t seemingly together).

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Here’s the thing about moving our bodies. It’s taught us that our truth is what makes us special. Our truth is enough. Our truth is messy and beautiful. As the sweat drips from our forehead, love, challenges, strength, and weaknesses are revealed. We become undone and then come back together. Moving our bodies shows us how to be vulnerable, how to be strong, how to keep going.

 

I show up to our community as I am. Like many of you, over the last eight years I’ve grown, learned, cried, celebrated, struggled, fought, high-fived, and boy, have I run. I have worked hard and continue to not apologize for this person I continue to grow into.

Hi, I’m Melissa. I love to run and move my body because every other aspect of my life feels better when I make time for myself in this way.  I’m a daughter, mother, wife, sister, and friend. I have a hard time letting new people into my life because of the hard loving I’m doing on the people who have already been in it. I’m working on that while also balancing the energy to hold within myself that I need to be able to feel whole. I work hard at my job and am proud of that. I didn’t get into the colleges of my dreams the first time around, and I think that was a wake up call that I would have to work really hard in the real world to create the life I wanted.  Sometimes I feel inadequate because I’d rather be outside than cook a good meal or make my hair look good (good thing messy buns are trending). I care deeply about our communities and worry everyone is online too much. 18622371_1555658851119064_1970546904730378917_n I love my family, ice cream, and couldn’t live without running—it makes me more patient and kinder. I get nervous showing up to events where I don’t know anyone, but I’m trying to do more of this because it’s still awkward for me. Sometimes I move too fast in my day, misspelling things or missing out on tiny details, but it’s because there’s so much I want to do. Sometimes I forget to pause. I try to always see the best in people.  I have learned that not everyone will like you and that’s ok (I still have a hard time with this one!).  I love my body for all of the places it has taken me, but there were times in my life I was insecure with it although I was always grateful for its strength. I have wrinkles and don’t plan on using Botox– but I feel pressure to sometimes. I love a warm cup of coffee and sweatpants. I like to surround myself with positive people who want to make the world better.

Where am I going with these fun facts? Maybe you see some of yourself in me, maybe you don’t. Most of the time we can find a way to connect with most people in some way or another. I think finding connection with as many people as possible is a good thing. Because the more love in this world the better. In fact, sometimes when we learn more about people, we are surprised how much we have in common with them.

Maybe you don’t want to share things about you, but you want to hear about others. You want to smile, laugh, or cry because their story is similar to yours. We are here to live our stories. To share them in all their mess and all their glory. Start lines and finish lines, in running and in life.

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At the end of the day, community is energy that connects us in spaces we feel safe. Often times, this space inspires us to be more of who we truly are, inspires us to keep going, to grow into the people we want to become. Community feels just like our favorite songs.

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