When we first rolled out our Freedom of Flight prompt to our community we weren’t sure how many people would respond quickly. After all, people’s schedules are crammed full these days, and catching someone’s attention mid-scrolling spree is almost impossible, let alone having someone take the time to write a personal response. Despite our expectations, we received a wonderful array of responses, from happiness and joy to building confidence and strength, to deeper connections. In fact, those were the three dominant themes we kept coming across - Joy, Strength, and Connection. Through reading these responses we couldn’t help but feel uplifted, rooted in community, and ultimately appreciative of the way running makes us feel. What better way to continue celebrating the freedom of flight than to share these responses?

Here’s to the freedom of flight...

Theresa Hailey // Haute Volée

I run because it brings me so much joy and gives me a sense of identity and purpose. Before I started running back in high school, I really had no idea who I was or where I was going. As a child of eight, it was easy and natural for me to absorb the personalities of my siblings, leaving me feeling empty and uninspired. Running changed that for me. It helped me think more for myself, challenged me, and gave me goals; things I had never had or done before. Running allows me to be vulnerable and has been there during the toughest parts of my life. Running is not just a hobby, it's a part of me. It has also brought out my sense of humor, made me more confident, and given me the greatest community I can rely on.

Maria Michta // Haute Volée

To me, running is joyous and carefree. It’s unstructured and unrestricted compared to the form and regulations of race walking and mentally freeing because I utilize it as a form of cross-training where there is no pressure on pace or performance. The role of running in my life has come full circle now as a Mom to a very energetic 4-year-old. For the same fields and playgrounds I used to dash across in childhood I now traverse chasing and being chased by my daughter. Sharing in the freedom of flight afforded by running with her is priceless!

Jamie Mast // Volée

When everything falls into place, running makes me feel like I'm in the flow, like hardly any effort is being exerted. And I think that every time I go for a run, I'm chasing that feeling of flow.

Running in general makes me feel like the very best version of myself. I'm kinder to others as well as myself, I'm so much more outgoing, confident, and comfortable with myself, and I don't care that I'm not the best runner ever, because I'm doing it for the joy.

Joy Perkett // Volée

Running makes me feel free. This December, I experienced a sudden onset of adult epilepsy, which has since been treated successfully. Because of my seizures, I could not drive for five months and was largely homebound. Running was the highlight of my day. It was the moment when I could escape the monotony of the same four walls. I experienced pure joy on my long runs, where I run to a trail by myself and visited my friends and the trees. I fantasized about my long run every week. I ran through the cold winter for the first time and loved it. I pushed my muscles; I breathed hard; I put miles and miles on my feet. It colored my world when everything felt grey. I listened to and read a dozen running books. The authors accompanied me through their running stories. I spent a lot of time alone but, with the gift of running, I was never alone. I have been driving for a month and did my first 16-mile adventure run in the Shawangunks last Friday. I feel free. I feel alive. I feel enamored by the Joy of the run.

Michelle Yaiser // Volée

Running makes me feel connected to my whole self. I’m aware of every breath, every footfall, every part of my body. I let my mind fly to wherever it longs to go. After a great run, I feel invincible. After a bad run, I’m motivated to do better next time. Every run is a run for my body. Every run is my run.

Nora Jensen // Volée

Awe—to realize how powerful my mind and body can be and the gift that is the ability to move. Awe—to realize how small I am amongst the rocks and the trees and the great wild woods. Awe- in the rhythm of the breath, the changing cycles and seasons. Running connects, grounds, and inspires me.

Jacqueline Hardt // Volée

Centered. It grounds me and gives me a connection to my body and my soul. Allows me to direct my path and move intentionally. It roots me to the earth, and to myself.

Steph Miller // Volée

Running is empowering for me…it reminds me that I am capable, and allows me to reconnect with my body/mind. It helps me “reset” when I’m having a challenging day & feeling anxious.

Ashley Flintoff // Volée

Running makes me feel strong. It reminds me that I’m stronger than I think and that my mind and body are capable of amazing things. It’s also a chance to clear my mind and focus on putting one foot in front of the other, a reminder to just breathe.

Veronica O’Malley // Volée

Strong and confident. I find the running community to be one of the most welcoming for people across all walks of life no matter your experience. When I run, I feel free and completely un-judged by the world.

Vicki Rogers // Volée

Running makes me contemplative; I can work through a lot of problems I have in my life while my feet hit the pavement. It also reminds me how strong I am and how far I’ve come in my life. It’s a glorious thing!

Thank you for sharing what running means to you. We love seeing the various ways our community connects to the freedom of flight and we hope to incorporate the same pursuit of joy, strength, and connection into all that Oiselle does. Head up, wings out—let’s keep flying.

July 28, 2023 — Hannah Calvert

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