Friday, December 30, 2011

Thank You 2011!

December 30th, the day before New Year's Eve, seems like the perfect day to reflect on 2011. In fact I've been really looking forward to this post and having the time to finally dedicate time to writing it down. This blog post is going to be a bit more personal, as it is reflective of a year in my life's journey. It will allow you to know more about me, and thus, my personal philosophy that relates to who I am as a runner. 2011 was a really tough year. In ways, it was one of the hardest years I've had in a while. But at the same time, despite the challenges, it was one of my best years yet. 

I decided when I turned 30 last year what being 30 meant. I decided that the 20s were the years we spend figuring out a lot about who we are and what we want in life after getting over the awkward teenaged years of angst. While I believe we spend our entire lives getting to know ourselves, our 20s are extremely formative years. That's when many of us take on post-secondary education, start our careers, search for our significant others, and so on.  I decided at 30 that I was there, I understood myself, and the 30s were all about living the life I worked so hard to understand. I was excited and I was somewhat right with my theory. I had a steady job, a mortgage, my university degrees, I had turned my health around with goals well in sight, and of course, I was well into my relationship with the love of my life, Cam. 

But my theory on 30 was not entirely right. What did I know then? And seriously, what do I really know now? My 31st year has thrown me a number of curveballs. Being laid off from my job that I'd had for a number of years without notice or explanation was the largest of these, and thus, the start of months of personal strife. My career was "over" as far as I knew (of course that's not true, but it's how I felt) and I was faced with several months of rejection, resentment, confusion, worry, and doubt. I doubted who I was, what I was capable of, how others viewed me, what my true talents were, and what purpose I served in this world. Am I really good at anything at all? Or am I just one of those Jill-of-all-trades but master of none? 

I fall into a trap from time to time of thinking these negative thoughts, but for the most part, I am able to silence them now. I've been able to flip this period of doubt on its head and view it as an opportunity to re-evaluate what's important to me and who I wish to be. I said, "to heck with what others think of me". Or rather, perhaps I was looking for approval from the wrong people. There are plenty of people who think the world of me and whose lives I've been an important part of. I needed to have an It's a Wonderful Life moment, think about a world with me removed from the equation, and realize my importance. But really, the most important opinion of myself is my own and I needed to recognize the faith I've always had in myself. So my theory on 30 is somewhat true in that, at 31, I have a very healthy confidence and BELIEF in myself. I may not know who I am yet, but I know I believe in who I am.

My old career was wrong for me. I loved so many aspects of the work I did and am thankful for the opportunity. I learned a great deal and met some incredible people. I'm proud of what I accomplished and how I helped others. But I needed a change but just didn't know it. What I needed was a life and career with a commitment to healthy living being at its very centre. The moment I left, I was truly free to live. I've felt truly ALIVE and AWAKE since then. While I may have experienced sadness, I never truly looked back. I have been able to dedicate time and real energy to ME: my art, my writing, my friends and family, and of course, my passion for the sport of RUNNING.  

I've read about people who lost their jobs and trained for great races. They used the spare time and the need to burn off negativity in a positive way to fuel their training. And this was surely true for me. Being free during daylight hours for the entire summer allowed me to maximize my training and do better than I ever thought possible in my 3rd half marathon - my first one in 7 years. I ran hard, I ran often, I pushed myself, and I learned a whole lot more about the sport. And all that stupid negativity, I got rid of that beast through running. I spent time with myself and made peace with myself day in and day out through running.  I didn't solve my problems, but I certainly made sense of them, and found ways to not let them stop me from living. Running gave me a tangible goal to work toward and a sense of accomplishment in a time where purpose found from going to work everyday didn't exist anymore.  Running proved to me that I am alive and capable of anything I set myself to do. I am a WOMAN with incredible STRENGTH and the only limits there are to what I can do in life are the limits I place on MYSELF.

No, I don't have everything figured out yet. Like everyone else, I remain a work in progress. My career is still very much in transition, but there's direction and purpose. I've been able to make a difference to others and will continue to do so. Others are able to recognize that ability in me. And most importantly, I recognize that power within myself, my very own self. 2011 was a year of self-discovery and learning how I want to live my life. I want my 2012 to be much of the same. I don't want to just live in 2012, but I want to thrive in 2012, much like I did in the second half of 2011. 

So with 2012 just around the corner, and a new year to THRIVE approaches, I think it's best to bid adieu to 2011 with naming a few highlights from the year:
  • Cam and I made things a bit more 'official' and finally started living together
  • My nephew turned one, started walking, running, and becoming quite a charming chatterbox
  • My niece turned four, continuing to grow beautifully and reveal more about her amazing personality and energy
  • I ran two races and achieved my personal best in both distances (half marathon and 10K), the first of those races I ran side-by-side with one of my closest girlfriends after running the majority of our Sunday long runs together
  • I lost those last 20lbs to reach my goal weight after 3 years of hard work (125lbs weight loss in total!) and learned how to maintain this moving forward
  • I was laid off from a job I wasn't entirely happy with and had the opportunity to make a much-needed change in my life
  • I got hired on with PHSA, got a taste of the world of healthcare, and worked with an incredible team of nurses during the flu vaccine campaign
  • I got hired on with the Running Room and am able to look forward to working with like-minded people and being part of the local running community
  • I dove head-first into the world social media and became part of online communities such as #runchat and #wellnesschat on Twitter - I've made some wonderful friends with inspiring runners from around the world
  • I launched this site, Run With Zahida, to reflect on my experiences, and connect with others online more personally
  • I was a participating artist in 3 group art exhibitions and sold some of my work
  • I got reacquainted with old contacts and was contracted to teach workshops to help keep me engaged in the field of international education
Of course there are many more, but I'm going to leave it at this. Thank you 2011! You were one heck of a year, for which I am truly thankful. I know 2012 is going to be even better. I may not know what it holds, but I have faith in its ability to, with the bad that is likely to come, also include many good things for me. I know it will be a year, a full 366 days, of living AND thriving!


  1. I loved reading this post...your honesty and candidness is really appreciated. I feel honoured and lucky to be a friend of yours and I can't wait to tackle our next races together.

  2. Thanks so much Patti! I am so blessed to have you in my life to. Here's to many more races together. <3

  3. This was a great post Zahida. You're positivity really sets you apart from others and will no doubt take you wherever you want to go!