I never planned to be a runner. I never liked working out or running or anything fitness related. I liked my “watch what I eat” and “look at those crazy gym/running people” lifestyle. Running did not come naturally nor easy for me. Each run was a struggle. As I got more confident, I signed up for a few races in the fall and put running to rest for the winter. Come spring I saw an ad for a race called “WonderGirl”. It sounded like something I could do and not feel intimidated plus it was on the lakefront. Perfect. So I signed up. When I got to the race I didn’t realize that my life was to change that very day. I ran alone but felt more at home than ever. The “Girl Power” was amazing and the support phenomenal. I didn’t realize then that this was what I had been looking for and longing for all my life.  I wanted to know more but was not ready to make the effort.
A year later, I ran the same race with my oldest 2 girls and while we were hot, miserable and chafed, we were so happy! I felt like I had never felt before…called to know more, do more and take action. I contacted GOTR that week and began the process of bringing the program to my school. It was an uphill battle as it was a new program to the area and was not in many schools. But I pushed and by the time my youngest daughter was in 3rd grade, we had a program and she would be in the first ‘class’. My older girls came to each session to help and got the lessons by osmosis but not like my baby girl. She soaked up the GOTR messages like a sponge. She could not wait until the next session so that she could learn more.
Fast forward 7 years and we are still deeply involved in the program. By this time I had read all there was to know about the Foundress, Molly Barker. By some twist of fate Molly and I became friends on social media. I sent her a message thanking her for not only changing my life, but the lives of my daughters and other girls as well. We would comment periodically on each others posts and often say one day we would sit and have coffee together.  I longed for that day. I wanted to hug this woman and thank her in person for all she has done for me and others.
That day was yesterday. Molly came to town to discuss her newest venture, The Red Boot Coalition. Another woman and I were cohosting the event together in this woman’s home. I was to arrive early to have dinner with my cohost and Molly.
As I got dressed, I was nervous as to what to wear and asked my kids. My 11 year old son said, “Mom!  Its Molly!  She doesn’t care what wear!  She wants to see YOU!” I knew at that moment that my son also got the GOTR messages by osmosis as well!  So I got dressed and headed to dinner. I thought I would be nervous and my drive would be one filled with anxiety…but I was strangely calm.

Pink Boots inspired by
the Red Boots

I arrived and was informed that Molly was running a little late so my cohost and I  began eating and getting to know one another better. Soon Molly arrived and I was thrilled!  She entered the room and we hugged…but not one of those “Oh my GOD! I am so stoked to finally meet you!” hugs. It was the kind of hug you give your best old girlfriend that you haven’t seen in a while…that calm, quiet, “I’m so happy to see you again” hug. It was funny, the moment I was in her presence, I felt like I was with my best friend…you all know that friend…the one that you could see every day and never get tired of that is the same one that you can go for weeks without talking to yet pick up right where you left off? That is just how I felt.  It was so familiar. We sat together with some others around a kitchen table and talked some more before other guests started arriving.
Once we moved to our meeting space, I sat next to her and listened as she spoke to the group. We all talked and shared ideas for a few hours. It was amazing. Afterwards,  we all chatted in small groups about different things but ya know that feeling when you are at a party with your bestie and you don’t need to be together…you want to spend time on others because just knowing that your bestis is there sharing space and breathing the same air is good enough for that moment? Yup…that was the feeling I had. I am not sure if Molly felt the same but that’s ok. I was in a space of peaceful bliss.

Molly and Me!

It was finally time to call it a night and people started to leave. I walked to my car after saying goodbye and as I turned around, there was Molly. We stood together in the dark driveway for a moment. You all know those final moments at a party that you spend with your friend… the last words and final hug you want just shared between the 2 of you? She shared some words of wisdom and we hugged one last time. As she walked away, I wish I could have snapped a photo but the image is seared in my memory…she headed off in the dark to her car ringed in the light of the perfect full moon looking like an angel. My angel. My friend. The one that changed….no….saved my life. Forward is a pace. Peace.

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