Heather Stephens

Back in October, I was in a weird place of feeling single, feeling like I was getting old (27, yes it's relative), and feeling like I needed some adventure in my life. So, I got on Skype with my two of my best friends from college. We spent four years running, training, and racing together at Syracuse. It had been a while since we talked but we didn’t skip a beat.  After catching up for awhile, we started talking big ideas about travel and seeing the world. The idea took off. We hadn't spent more than two days all together in over five years, so we decided a girls trip was needed. 

We poured ourselves a glass of wine, cheers’d through our computer screens, and booked round trip plane tickets to Europe. 


The next morning, I woke up in a weird fog of WTF. No way did I just do that. So spontaneous. So out of character. So did not ask my people at Oiselle if it was okay yet! I took a big brave breath and posed the idea to my friends at the Nest. The wonder women that they are, wished me the best on my two weeks away. 

All said and done, we booked stays in Brussels, Rome, Florence, and Amsterdam. Pre-trip we built a shared document with all of the must see sights, museums, restaurants, and boat cruises. At the start of our trip, we went off our document. Checked boxes for all the things we did and saw along the way. 

Check, saw the little peeing man.


Check, walked through the Red Light District.


Check, saw The David.


Check, ate the pasta.


Check, went to the Colosseum. 


Five days into the trip, we were in Rome and plotted a run tour to see all the sights. The plan was to run by the Vatican and then finish at the Colosseum.


It was New Year’s Day and after passing the Vatican, we ran along the Roman Forum. 


The sight of it was beautiful and haunting all at once. The ancient ruins standing broken in contrast to the beaming white thrown in the distance. Strong enough to last the storms and weather and of time. Bold enough to be broken down, but not broken all together. 


Running by the memorial grounds of wreckage and resilience, I couldn't help but stop. I closed my eyes, opened and looked out, and just breathed it all in. Without knowing it, it was just the place I had been seeking. Just the moment I needed to witness, feel, and touch. It wasn’t a box to check on our list. It was a moment frozen in time, when I unintentionally pressed pause. 

Whether it was the background music of the Roman Quartet on New Year’s Day, or the stunning backdrop I was staring out at, I felt thankful, at ease, and heard a whisper that told me: This is it. This is what you came for. The beauty is in the breakdown after all. Millions of people travel to marvel at this site from all around the world. And why? Because maybe the place and the history speaks life into everyone in its own way. A worldly wonder that takes your breath away.


There is something magical about international travel that invites moments of pause. When you see, feel, taste, and touch all the things in a childlike way. And breathe it all in, filling your soul up with goodness and gratitude. 

Coming back from Europe, I felt the starry-eyed wonder slipping away. Back to reality. The glorious grind. Wonderful in its own way. But how would I replicate the feelings felt in Rome? How would I find the moment? Mind the moment? And make it count?


Steph Bruce's March #WheelsUp17 Challenge has been the best answer for me. Make time to #PressPause each day. No matter the place. No matter the sights. No matter the situation. Mind the moment and make it count. Soul shaking runs along the Roman Forum don't present in the everyday. But with an intentional pause in each day, it's possible to breathe good vibrations into your life. It's possible to make gratitude a daily habit. And for me, I'm seeing that it's possible to bring a little bit of Italy to Seattle. A little dose of mindfulness and magic to the ordinary. 


Join in the challenge this month, and mind the moment. Take time to #PressPause, and make gratitude a daily habit.


March 14, 2017 — jbarnard

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